by BARBIE BUTZ

When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays. It still is, but of course, it has changed through the years. Members of our family and friends who joined my parents on that day have passed. However, the memories are always with me.

The menu was always the traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green beans, candied yams, relish platter, and Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce from a can. The menu ended with pumpkin pie, mincemeat pie, and pecan pie.

The meal on Thanksgiving day was absolutely delicious, as were the leftovers the next day. Of course, I think the people at the table helped make it a special day for all of us.

Thanksgiving will be different this year for many families. We probably will not set our tables for as many as we have in the past due to the virus with its physical restrictions. However, our menu will undoubtedly remain the same, but I suggest we “shake it up” a bit. I researched some ways to do just that, so take a look at these recipes and “go for a change.”

To give those yams a little lift, try this recipe.

Candied Brandied Yams

Ingredients:

  • 3 large yams peeled, cooked, and mashed
  • ¼ pound (1 stick) butter, melted
  • ½ cup brandy, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • marshmallows

Directions:

Bake the yams until soft and mash. Add the melted butter, brandy, salt, and brown sugar. Spoon into a buttered casserole dish and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Take out of the oven and top with marshmallows. Bake again at 450 degrees for a few minutes until the marshmallows turn golden brown. Watch carefully as the marshmallows will burn quickly. Makes approximately 4 cups. Serves 6-8.

Store the canned cranberry sauce for those leftover turkey sandwiches and whip up one of these salads instead.

Classic Cranberry Salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (14 oz.)
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice (from 2 oranges)
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped Bartlett pears (about 2 small pears)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh pineapple (from 1 pineapple)
  • ½ cup thinly sliced celery (from 2 stalks)
  • ½ cup chopped toasted pecans

Directions:

Bring cranberries, brown sugar, and orange juice to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until cranberries pop and mixture thickens, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Stir in Bartlett pears, pineapple, celery, and pecans. Transfer to serving bowl; cover and chill salad 4 to 24 hours.

Spiked Cranberry Orange Salad

Directions:

Prepare recipe as directed for the Classic salad, substituting 1 cup clementine segments (from 4 clementines) for Bartlett pears and ½ chopped toasted walnuts for pecans. Stir in 2 Tbsp. Orange-flavored liqueur and 1 Tbsp. orange zest (from 1 orange) with clementines, chopped pineapple, sliced celery, and walnuts. Proceed as directed in Classic recipe.

Cranberry-Apple-Ginger Salad

Directions:

Omit Bartlett pears and pecans. Prepare recipe as directed, substituting  ½ cup apple cider for fresh orange juice and stirring 1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger (from one 1/2-inch piece of ginger) and 1 tsp. black pepper into cranberry mixture before cooling. Stir in 1 peeled and chopped Fuji apple (about 9 oz.) with pineapple and celery. Proceed as directed in Classic recipe.

Note: The cranberry salads can be made three days in advance. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Salads can easily serve 12 and look beautiful in a glass pedestal dish.

To liven-up, the mashed potatoes consider topping them with bacon and crispy scallions or add in some cream cheese with herbs, shredded Parmesan cheese, and top with chopped fresh chives.

Wish I had more room to continue with our menu, but I will end with this message: Give thanks for your family and friends and for this great country! 

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you here in our wonderful County. Cheers!