Thanksgiving is always the same. The turkey. The stuffing (or dressing if that’s what you and yours call it). The sweet potato casserole. The green bean casserole. The mashed potatoes. The rolls. The pies. Sound familiar?
Why not switch it up this year?
On a crisp September morning, I packed up my car with ingredients galore and Thanksgiving decor and headed to my parents’ house. I was ready to make Thanksgiving dinner—on a Friday in September. A little unconventional, right? That’s just the beginning.
On the menu for this unusual gathering: smoked turkey; almond potatoes with cranberry dipping sauce; rice, greens and tomato casserole; loaded sweet potato nachos with cayenne sour cream; and toaster cranberry hand pies. Not what you’d find on your grandma’s table.
With this being my first Thanksgiving dinner preparation, I’d say it turned out well. It took basically all day to make, but I’m guessing seasoned pros would have no problem, as the dishes themselves were easy to prepare. And I took the easy way out with the turkey. It only needed two hours of reheating instead of needing to be fully cooked.
About 5 p.m., the table was successfully set and covered with delicious food just waiting for my family to dig in.
The consensus among my dinner guests—my boyfriend, mom, dad and brother—was that dinner was a hit.
The smoked turkey, from HoneyBaked Ham, reminded everyone of ham. Luckily for me, I like ham much more than turkey. My dad enjoyed the flavor of the almond potatoes dipped in the special cranberry dipping sauce. My mom wasn’t such a fan—that might be because after reviewing the recipe, I may have put way too much soy sauce in. Oops! (Don’t worry, the recipe is correct on the following pages.)
As for the rice, greens and tomato casserole, it was a favorite among many, with my dad getting seconds. I’m a big fan of rice, so this was right up my alley.
The sweet potato nachos were devoured quickly. They were my favorite. Next time I make the dish, I plan to leave out the cilantro and jalapeño pepper. I think it would taste even better a little less spicy.
To end the meal, we had what I would like to rename “homemade Pop-Tarts.” Let’s just say I should have doubled—or tripled—the recipe. Everyone was begging for more. I’m pretty sure everyone said they were their favorite, but my 3-and-a-half-year-old niece taste-tested the not-so-pretty version earlier in the day and didn’t seem to like it. If you want multiple variations of hand pies at your holiday dinner, I’d suggest filling them with pumpkin pie filling and topping them with a glaze made of confectioners’ sugar, milk, melted butter and a dash of vanilla. That’s next on my list.
If you’re daring enough to think outside the box this Thanksgiving, you can’t go wrong with one of these recipes, or all of them.