Holiday gatherings have a way of seducing even amateur chefs into the kitchen. The infamous Thanksgiving Dinner is a great time to experiment with recipes that include basic, healthful ingredients from food storage. Hearty grains complement the flavors of the traditional meal, and are an opportunity to rotate these items in your storage. The simplicity of these recipes will likely have you including them in your menus throughout the year.
Spiced Yam & Apple Casserole: To me, these are the flavors of the season. Apples and yams are great together, and a step up from the traditional whipped sweet potatoes or the casserole with mini marshmallows on top (I know, I love that one too.)
4 large yams
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups apple juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Apple Pie Spice
3 large apples – peeled, cored and sliced
Place yams in a large saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook 30 minutes, or until tender but firm. Drain, peel, and cut into 1/3 inch thick slices. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter with the cornstarch and brown sugar. Mix in the apple juice, lemon juice, cinnamon, and allspice. Alternate layers of yams and apples in the prepared baking dish. Pour the apple juice mixture over the layers. Cover, and bake 1 hour in the preheated oven. Remove cover, and continue baking 30 minutes. Baste frequently with the juices from the pan to prevent drying.
Corn Souffle: This simple recipe whips up fast and is delicious. If you pour it into a nice serving pan (before baking), it looks impressive. 1 can creamed corn1 c. sour cream
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 small box corn muffin mix
3 eggs, beaten
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1 c. shredded cheese
Mix all ingredients except cheese, then pour mixture into a greased 8 x 8 x 2 glass pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake another 10 minutes, until all is melted. Clearly, this one would be off the charts for Weight Watchers points, but it’s perfect for this once-a-year meal. I have cut the fat almost in half by using Smart Balance butter, light sour cream and light mayo with no reduction in flavor.
Make-Ahead Crescent Rolls: These are a standby in my busy house, but they make Thanksgiving special, allowing you to have homemade rolls for the feast without the effort on the busy day. They don’t need to raise twice like most breads. They freeze beautifully so you can pull out just what you need. And, the dough can be used for cinnamon rolls, homemade hamburger buns, fry bread, or bread.
3 c. warm water
3/4 c. sugar or honey
3 Tbsp. yeast
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
6 Tbsp. butter, melted (allow to cool so it isn’t hot when added)
2 tsp. salt
10-12 c. flour (I use about 4 c. wheat and 6 c. white)
Mix water and honey. Sprinkle yeast on top. Let set until yeast rises to the top and foams. Stir in milk, melted butter and salt. Stir in 5 cups flour. Stir until smooth. Keep adding flour until dough is soft and not sticky. Knead until satin smooth. No need to let rise. Make into desired shape. At this point, if you want to freeze them for later use, put them on greased cookie sheets over night and then place them in zippered freezer bags in the morning. When you are ready to use them, take them out of the freezer 2 1/2 – 3 hours prior and let unthaw and raise. If you don’t freeze them, place shaped dough on greased cookie sheets and let rise 15 minutes. Then bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until light brown.
My Favorite Orange Jello Salad:
1 small box tapioca pudding
1 small box vanilla pudding (cooked kind)
1 small box orange jello
3 c. boiling water
1 can mandarin oranges
1 (8 oz.) Cool Whip
Boil water; pour in all three pudding / jello boxes. Mix–mixture should be a pudding consistency. Let cool in fridge. It will cool faster if poured into a 9 x 13 pan.Once cool, stir in mandarin oranges and Cool Whip. Then serve.
Even mashed potato purists, who would never dream of using potato flakes for Thanksgiving Dinner (What would my mother-in-law say?!) would be surprised at how tasty “potato pearls” are. I should know…we used them for Thanksgiving dinner once ourselves (and my family makes homemade pies!) and they were great. They save a ton of time and taste equally delicious with homemade gravy. Since then, we’ve eaten them regularly with weekday meals. If I don’t feel like making gravy, I mix in Garlic Supreme and shredded cheese for scrumptious cheesy potatoes.