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What's new in Thanksgiving?

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I am not "feeling" Thanksgiving this year. While I love to cook the side dish heavy menu that seems inevitable has me cranky.

My extended family wants:
creamed onions
sausage dressing
mashed potatoes
turnip
butternut squash
sweet potatoes
green beans
fresh cranberry something
canned or storebought cranberry nastiness for my Dad
a salad
gravy - lots and lots
parker house or cloverleaf rolls

plus a couple of dessert options
a starter and some nibbles to keep them busy while I am trying to get all that food turned out in a tiny, antiquated kitchen...

So, I am looking for some fresh ideas that might get me more excited. The guidelines are:
Must be budget friendly
Must not be too hot or too spicy or "too weird" - my family is not made up of chow hounds and foodies.
Must not be too labor intensive.

Thanks,
I am sure you all have some great ideas..

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  1. How demanding!! :-)

    This is a bit hard, as you'd like something to excite you but also have the requirement that it not be too weird for your family. So....why not experiment with different cooking methods? For example, instead of roasting squash, you could do a puree. Or look for a cool salad recipe that calls for sweet potatoes.

    If I were given your requirements and had to work in a small kitchen, I'd probably find myself throwing the squash, sweet potatoes and turnips together and roasting (easy). Maybe you can experiment a little with the stuffing - use cornbread instead of regular bread, for example. Make as much as possible ahead of time. Leave the gravy and green beans for the end. I love just blanching them and stir frying them with olive oil, wine, garlic, lemon and almonds. It only takes a few minutes.

    Have you started researching recipes at all?

    1 Reply
    1. re: chowkari

      I have found a recipe for apple butternut squash soup with cider and sage. I liked the sound of it so much that I started it today and will freeze the pureed vegetable base and finish it the day before T-day.

      I have also been looking at the High temp roasted Butterflied turkey and stuffing recipe from Cook's illustrated. The idea of all that crispy skin and the stuffing that catches the drippings appeals to me.

    2. I agree, I would throw the squash (with skin on and cut in slices), turnip, sweet potato in a pan to roast along with the turkey ( or put on the barbecue ). I like the idea of cornbread in t he stuffing. Buy the buns.

      How about a pumpkin trifle? It can be made the night before or early in the am. It would be nice with some caramel and candied pecans.

      1. I would also ask some of the "extendeds" bring some of the dishes i.e. the onions, the salad, the cranberries, etc. Then you can be excited by being surprised by what they brought. Cooking this much food by yourself is just wrong, and no one should expect it.

        1. Were I you, I would:

          1- ask that the extended family guests bring their own favorite side dishes
          2- cook those traditional dishes that I actually enjoy preparing and eating
          3- cook/bake a new dish or two that pleases my tastebuds
          4- enslave my immediate family to aid in executing steps 2 and 3

          1. I saw this recipe for cranberry parker house rolls on the NYT, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/12/din...
            It sounded awesome and the cranberry butter looked amazing. It fits with your current menu. I also made this turnip mash last year. I made it the day before and just reheated day of. It might be a new twist on your turnips.
            http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/in...