No day produces more fantastic ideas than Thanksgiving, probably because nothing stimulates creativity quite like falling into REM sleep at 2:30 PM. This year, create the best Turkey Day ever by recreating one of these spectacular starter and start dishes next week.
That's right, pilgrim: save yourself a holiday-food-idea brainstorm and just storm your brain (and mouth) with these creative twist on the classics. You know you love them, or don't know but will love, or know and like a lot but you just sort of want to explore and see where it goes.
SOUP, GLORIOUS SOUP.
I love to start a Thanksgiving meal off with a first course of soup. If you are a fan of mushrooms then you must check out Ina Gartens Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup. Even though it's full of healthy shiitake mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, cremini and porcini mushrooms, it also contains a full cup of half-and-half and a cup of heavy cream. Yes, it's indulgent but what else are the holidays for?
Shrimp Bisque. It's creamy and indulgent and perfect to serve to company! It starts with fish stock and then builds flavor with leeks, sherry, garlic, whipping cream, shrimp, tomato paste and a surprise ingredient, cayenne pepper.
This Winter Squash Soup from Bon Appetit starts with baking the squash in the oven for an hour, then adding the perfectly roasted flesh with butter, onion, seasonings, chicken broth and whipping cream for a truly lovely soup. Note that this can be made ahead of time and chilled in the fridge for a week. Rewarm on the stove and serve hot to guests.
Want to serve up a big bowl of the Winter season? This recipe for Butternut Squash Soup with Cider Cream is for you. In fact, this may be the soup I make for my in-laws this Thanksgiving. It's the addition of apples and apple cider that lend a pleasant sweetness to this beautiful soup - cider cream and the fried sage leaf is what puts this recipe over the (freaking) top! O to the M to the G!
VEGETABLE SIDE DISHES WITH A TWIST.
One of my favorite green veggies this season are Brussels Sprouts cooked tender crisp with lots of flavor. I especially like them seared in a skillet with bacon, and then add golden raisins, chicken stock and a little wine. Oh my, these are delicious! Read the complete head to head recipe post about Brussels Sprouts here. This side is super quick to make and actually, quick means more freedom to do whatever you want, and isn't freedom what we're giving thanks for?
Paula Deen has done it again with these gorgeous Green Bean Bundles. To make these easy bundles, you first blanch the green beans, and then wrap in a strip of bacon and bake in the oven until crispy. My family loved this twist on a traditional side dish and I bet yours will too. I mean, come on! "Bacon wrapped?" What is not to love!?!
Here is a wonderful twist on the traditional steamed cauliflower. This Roasted Cauliflower with Mustard-Lemon Butter is a real treat because blasting the cauliflower in a hot oven concentrates their natural sweetness, turning them into something akin to vegetable candy. DO AHEAD! This lovely side dish can be made 2 hours ahead and just let stand at room temperature. If desired, rewarm in 350°F oven until heated through, about 10 minutes and then transfer to a platter, sprinkle with parsley and serve warm or at room temperature.
Butternut Squash Risotto, despite what you might have heard about risotto. You need 10-20 minutes to prep and about 30-40 minutes to cook. I would suggest inlisting a little helper who can stand at the stove and stir while you finish up the other elements of the thanksgiving meal.
APPETIZERS THAT WON'T RUIN YOUR APPETITE.
Zucca Chips are completely addictive, but light enough to leave room for the main attraction.
While the awesome simplicity of this all sinks in, check out these other great ideas for Turkey Day Appetizers on this round up of hors doeuvres I've already done for you including my favorite Bacon Wrapped Dates, Foie Gras Stuffed Dates and Proscuitto and Fontina Pinwheels along with a few new recipes from Epicurious. They are all quick and easy, meaning you’ll have more time to watch football, play football, or imitate an actual football by lying motionless on the couch.
DESSERT, A FOOD ENCORE.
No matter how full your guests are, they will not be able to resist sampling this Spiced Pumpkin Mousse Trifle. It has layers of fluffy pumpkin puree and layers of ginersnaps drizzled with dark rum (left out if you have kiddos.) This dessert not only taste fantastic, but it looks so beautiful displayed in your trifle dish. Your family will surely be waiving the white flag in surrender by now.
From my home to yours, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I hope you get to spend wonderful quality time with your family and eat well too!