For many families, Thanksgiving has a set menu of classic family favorites. But if your family’s Thanksgiving playlist is more dud then delight, it might be worth straying from the set…
Thanksgiving has always been a bit of a groan with my family. Most of us have jobs in the service industry, meaning no big trips away or family flying in. Lots of long shifts mean little time for shopping or food prep and limited interest in actually cooking. As much as we love food, none of us are gourmet chefs. To make matters worse, most of our family don’t actually even like turkey. Our most popular Thanksgivings, I’m ashamed to admit, were usually take-outs.
But, with two little nephews, we are determined to make Thanksgiving into the delectable event it is supposed to be – just with a few… twists. From family, friends, and across the web I have collected some of my favorite holiday treats with a twist.
Turkey Ginger Garlic Stir Fry
Don’t click away! I know that for some of you even suggesting the inclusion of stir fry on a Thanksgiving menu is akin to blasphemy. But honestly, this is one of the few recipes I’ve found that actually makes turkey tasty.
Turkey meat, cut into one-inch chunks or finger-sized strips, fried off in a deep pan with lots of oil, soy sauce, scallions, and broccoli. Normally this is a leftover solution, a suggestion of what to do with all the turkey now filling your fridge other than just a turkey sandwich. But I’ve found my family actually tend to prefer the Stir Fry to the original bird itself.
Spiked Cranberry Punch
*NOT for the kids. This adult beverage brings all the cranberry flavors to the table without serving the jiggling semi-solid that is jellied cranberries in a can (which was our favorite part as kids). Essentially a large batch Cranberry Cosmo. My favorite version of this is also the easiest.
- Deep Eddy Cranberry Vodka
- Orange Sparkling Water
- Sweet & Sour Mix *optional.
- Garnish options; frozen cranberries, orange peel or orange slices, lime wedge.
Two parts soda water to one part Cranberry vodka. I prefer Deep Eddy as a nice reliable flavored vodka with a clean finish at a pretty good price. Add in a splash of the sweet and sour mix for sweetness if you prefer, about one tbsp per serving. Use frozen cranberries with regular ice as a cute garnish if you are Pinterest inclined. Orange Peel and lime wedges also go well and provide a pop of color and a little zing to the drink.
This is my brother’s idea of the greatest meal in the world all by itself. Essentially, we are combining the basics of green bean casserole and traditional stuffing with the additions of cheese and bacon because, well, why not? Each ingredient is able to be changed based on personal preference, but the base process remains largely the same.
Your creating balls of light, fluffy, flavorful stuffing wrapped around baked green bean casserole, crispy bacon, gooey cheese all coated in crispy French’s onions … yum.
Really, in an ideal world, these balls of thanksgiving goodness would be deep-fried. But as I don’t have a fryer (or a dutch oven), and I really don’t recommend trying to pan-fry. The balls are too soft and not structurally sound, flipping usually just makes these fall apart. My solution thus far has been forming the balls and then baking them in a lined cupcake or muffin tin. Unfortunately, they are obviously now more muffin shaped rather than ball-shaped, but they stay together, I don’t need to buy a deep fat fryer, and I am significantly less likely to burn my house down.
The Full Recipe is coming to TNN soon.
Stuffed Turkey Breast
Really, I could explain, but I think Donal Skehan does a much better job of it. And who can say no to that accent?
What I like about this is two things; (1) it saves me from having to buy a whole bird for a four-person family that don’t even really like turkey to begin with and (2) it is CUSTOMIZE-ABLE. In case you don’t know, this is kind of a big deal for me. I rarely follow any recipe completely as-is. With this, you can you any flavors you like to include in the stuffing. Orange and cranberry, onion and asparagus… bacon and cheese anyone?
Eggnog Panna Cotta
As winter holidays in South Florida can be anywhere from cool and breezy to 97 degrees and humid, warm boozy beverages are not all that fashionable for Christmas OR Thanksgiving. But I just had to give this one a shot.
Unfortunately, to get this dessert to set, your egg nog will have to be kid-friendly. But no ones stopping you from adding a splash of brandy over the top when no one is looking.
You Will Need –
- 3 cups of Eggnog
- 1.5 Gelatin packets
- A silicone mold of your desired size and shape for individual portions
Pour off some of your eggnog into a small bowl, add the gelatin and let bloom for 10 minutes. Bring the remainder of the eggnog up a boil on the stove and remove it from the heat before adding in your bloomed gelatin-eggnog mixture. Mix well to combine. Place your silicone mold on a flat tray or cutting board before filling with your mix. Refrigerate for a good couple of hours to let fully set. This is one of those recipes you can make ahead and just need to pop out of the molds before serving, which is great as it frees up valuable cook time. Serve with a sprinkling of cinnamon, nutmeg, a smear of cranberry, or even a splash of brandy.
Pumpkin Curry Soup
Earlier last month we did a feature on 5 Fabulous Pumpkin Recipes for Fall where we covered everything from selecting and cutting a pumpkin, to roasting and seasoning combinations. One of my favorite flavor combos was actually Curry Pumpkin. Just roast pumpkin with a little cumin, coriander, paprika, and garam masala. Or, if you don’t have those spices in your pantry (even though I think they are worth buying) a premixed ‘curry’ powder will do the job.
To make the Pumpkin soup you need; roasted pumpkin, seasoning, and coconut milk (you can use heavy cream if you prefer). Blend to combine. That’s it. You can check out that recipe here, as it’s an amazing way to incorporate pumpkin into your Thanksgiving meal even if, like my family, you maybe aren’t so fond of pumpkin pie.
Fiesta Corn Salad
While corn may not be on everyone’s Thanksgiving menu, it really should be. Especially down here in South Florida, the light bright flavors of a fiesta corn salad provide something far and above any bowl of leafy greens.
Now, I disagree with ‘The Stay at Home Chef’ here on several points, but in all fairness, this is her ‘simple’ recipe.
For a lot more added flavor and only a little more effort, cook your corn cobs on the grill, still in the husk, wrapped in tinfoil. Grill for about 15 minutes, rotating every so often. After they’re done remove from the grill and run under cold water to remove the husks and silk. Then throw them back on the grill, just for a minute or so on each side to get a little bit of charring. The added smokey flavor brings a new depth to the salad rather than the straight sweetness of frozen corn (although that is still better than canned).
We also add a little bit of queso blanco or cotija cheese on top because, well, cheese makes everything better.
Cheesy Cauliflower Bake
The one thing my family knows how to make is Cheese Potatoes. For years, if we were invited to an event or party or BBQ and ever asked what we should bring, the answer was always Cheese Potatoes.
Lately certain members of my family have been on a Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) diet for health reasons, and I am NOT making two dishes. So Cheese Potatoes has become Cheesy Cauliflower which, as it turns out, is just as delicious and actually even easier to make. Our family recipe varies a little from the recipe below, but I just can’t beat Tasty’s production quality.
We bake the cauliflower rather than boil it (personal preference). Our sauce also starts with a saute of onions and garlic in butter, and we use sour cream instead of cream cheese. Any other tweaks are a closely guarded family secre – okay, okay, we use equal parts Velveeta and cheddar, so sue me. It melts, it is neon orange, and dang is it tasty. Besides, it’s not like we’re doing this every night… normally…
There we go! A few classic Thanksgiving recipes, with a twist.
Does your family have any unique Thanksgiving favorites? Let us know by commenting below or give us a tag on Social Media at #TNNTwistedClassics
You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.