Planning the Thanksgiving menu ahead has been the attempted goal of every cook who is hosting one of the biggest meals of the year.
While at a social function recently, Ann Smith of Smithfield asked me what recipes I had planned for my next food column. That stirred my thought processes into finding some recipes that would fit in with a family menu and still be a bit of the usual fare.
I received an e-mail from the Food Network Magazine providing recipes for everything mashed - except potatoes. This included different squashes, parsnips, beets and turnips.
PRAYER OF THANKS — Jayna Noonkester, 8, daughter of Glenn Noonkester and Bobbie Jo Baine of Colliers, says a prayer for her food, even if it is only green beans with ham. She was with her grandmother, Diane Salisbury, a past Community Stars recipient, at the Purple Circle 4-H Awards banquet. Many will be giving thanks for life, family, friends and fellowship at Thanksgiving next week. -- Esther McCoy
To create a mashed butternut squash dish, halve a large, unpeeled butternut squash, about 3 pounds, and cut into thick wedges, discarding the seeds. Toss with olive oil and roast at 400 degrees until soft, 35 to 45 minutes. Remove the skin. Puree the squash, adding 3 tablespoons butter and season with salt. Warm a few tablespoons maple syrup with a pinch of cayenne pepper and drizzle over the mashed squash.
For mashed beets, combine 2 1/2 pounds whole unpeeled beets and a large unpeeled russet potato in a pot. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until soft, about 45 minutes; drain. Peel beets and potato and puree with 3 tablespoons butter. Season with salt and top with horseradish sauce.
For turnips, peel and roughly chop 3 pounds. Place in a pot and cover with equal parts milk and water, about 2 1/2 cups each. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a simmer. Cook until soft, 20 to 25 minutes and drain. Puree with 1/4 cup heavy cream and 2 tablespoons butter. Season with salt and top with crumbled cooked bacon.
For an unusual veggie dish, the Food Network Magazine has provided a different cauliflower dish. Toss 1 head cauliflower that has been cut into 1-inch florets with 1 1/2 cups seedless grapes, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons capers, 1 teaspoon each grated lemon zest and kosher salt and pepper to taste. Roast at 450 degrees for 25 minutes.
An easy but different dish is to cook 2 pounds trimmed Brussels sprouts in a steamer basket that has been set in a pot with 1 inch boiling water, covered, until tender, 5 minutes. Cook 4 diced slices of bacon in a skillet until crisp and drain most of the fat. Add Brussels sprouts and 1 tablespoon maple syrup and toss.
Thawing a frozen turkey seems to be the hardest part of preparing a roasted turkey for the holidays. Family Circle magazine notes that the thawing time for a 12-pound bird should be three days in the refrigerator, then it should be carefully rinsed and wiped dry with a paper towel.
The cooking instructions are to bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes then at 325 degrees for an hour and 20 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers 165 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh, without touching the bone.
A 15-pound turkey needs to thaw between three to four days in the refrigerator, then prepared the same as the smaller bird but baked at 375 for 30 minutes then at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 25 minutes or 165 degrees on the meat thermometer.
An 18-pound or heavier turkey needs to thaw in the refrigerator for at least four days, maybe five. It should be roasted at 375 for 35 minutes then at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 50 minutes or until the thermometer registers 165 degrees.
Be sure to remove the neck and giblets from the cavity of the turkey and save for another use. For an unstuffed turkey, cut an onion into quarters and place in the cavity along with 2 cloves of smashed garlic and 1 lemon, cut into quarters. Season turkey with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and your favorite herbs, if desired. Tuck legs under natural flap of skin or tie together. Fold wings under. Place turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan. Proceed with a cooking time.
To make easy pan gravy, strain solids from pan drippings. Heat 3 tablespoons turkey fat in a roasting pan set over 2 burners on the stovetop. Whisk in 2 tablespoons flour and 2 cups turkey broth from the pan until smooth, or use chicken broth if you do not have enough drippings. Simmer, whisking occasionally, for 3 minutes. Strain again if desired to remove any lumps.
Now we come to the recipes that are tasty but a bit different.
When we think of canned chickpeas, we think of hummus, but leave it to Martha Stewart to think of a different way to use them.
15.5-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup flour
1 large egg
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Pulse together chickpeas, scallions and cilantro until a coarse paste forms. Pulse in flour, egg and salt. Heat 1/4-inch olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add chickpea mixture to a skillet, making patties of 1/4 cup each. Cook until golden brown on both sides, turning once, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve on lettuce with lemon wedges. Makes six fritters. Make more than one recipe for company dinner.
This is not real new as some restaurants are now offering them as appetizers, but it might be new to some cooks. It is from Family Circle magazine as well.
3 cups vegetable oil
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
1 large egg
32-ounce jar dill pickles
Bottled ranch dressing
Heat oil in a deep pot over medium heat until it registers 370-375 degrees on a deep-fat fry thermometer. Mix cornmeal, 1/3 cup flour, pepper, cayenne and salt in a large resealable plastic bag. Whisk milk and egg together in a medium bowl. Cut pickles into spears, about 8 per pickle. Blot dry on paper towels and toss in a bowl with remaining 1/2 cup flour. Dip 8 to 10 spears in egg mixture, then add to bag with cornmeal mixture. Shake to coat pickles. Spread spears onto a rack and continue with all spears in batches of eight to 10. Fry each batch of ight to 10 for 3 minutes until golden. Transfer to a paper towel and repeat with all batches, returning oil to 375 degrees before adding each batch. Serve with ranch dressing on the side.
Here is a colorful veggie that looks rustic with a bit of the tops remaining on the carrot.
The carrots are baked with roasted chestnuts, golden raisins and honey. It is from Family Circle magazine.
Roasted Carrots with Chestnuts and Golden Raisins
2 pounds carrots, about 1/2 to 3/4 inch of tops remaining
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup peeled and roasted chestnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon honey
Heat oven to 400 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss carrots with olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Roast for 15 minutes. Stir in chestnuts, raisins and honey. Roast another 10 to 15 minutes, until fork tender. Gently toss carrots with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Lay carrots attractively on a tray and top with chestnuts and raisins. Makes eight servings.
This salad combines cranberries, a big part of the Thanksgiving tradition, apples and grapes to make a great salad. The recipe came from Bertha Cline, a longtime contributor to our Holiday Cookbook.
Regarding the cookbook, it will appear in the Nov. 26 edition of both the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. A video of the actual contest can be seen on http://youtube/1hjM3RFq4O4.
4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
3 cups miniature marshmallows
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups diced, unpeeled tart apples
1/2 cup halved green grapes
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whipped topping or if you are ambitious, whip your own whipped cream
Place cranberries in a food processor or blender and process until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl, add marshmallows, sugar and salt. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Just before serving, stir in apples, grapes and nuts. Fold in whipped cream. Serves 10 to 12.
Here is a pie that combines apples and pecans. It could be the second pie that is baked, along with the pumpkin variety for Thanksgiving dessert. It is from Woman's Day magazine.
Brown Sugar-Pecan Apple Pie
2 tablespoons butter
2 pounds golden delicious, Ida red or Jonagold apples, 4 large
2 pounds Granny Smith apples, 4 large
3/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup pecans, broken into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 pie crusts
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and 3/4 cup brown sugar and cook, tossing occasionally, until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and remaining tablespoon brown sugar. Sprinkle over apples and cook until thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add pecans and vanilla and toss to combine.
Let cool to room temperature. Heat oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll one disk of dough into a 12-inch circle.
Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim overhang to 1/2-inch, all the way around. Working on a floured piece of parchment paper, roll remaining disk of dough into a 12-inch circle. Spoon cooled filling into the crust.
Trim top crust to 3/4-inch from the edge of pie plate. Fold top crust under the bottom crust to create a thicker crust to seal. Crimp as desired. Brush pie with beaten egg and sprinkle with the combined sugar and kosher salt. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before serving.
(McCoy can be contacted at email@example.com.)