By Karen Schulz
When I think of Thanksgiving, a few things immediately come to mind: family and friends gathered around the table; the Rockettes at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade; and mushy food.
Growing up, the Macy’s Parade was always on the TV while the cooking frenzy ensued. Gramma Napoli would be on high alert waiting to announce the moment when it was time for the Rockettes to perform. She would proudly gather everyone around to watch my second cousin, Barbara, seventh from the left, kick those famous kicks. This was such a thrill and to this day, I still pause for the Rockettes.
While I adore the meaning and many traditions of Thanksgiving, I am not a big fan of traditional Thanksgiving food. It is often bland, and there is no chocolate in sight. Mashed root vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, and parsnips fulfill your carb quota for the month and even the veggie casseroles and fruit take their place in the mushy parade. From the green bean casserole with mushroom soup and fried onions, to the canned cranberry sauce — I rest my case.
This Thanksgiving, maybe it is time to phase in some new traditions and flavors.
You do not have to eliminate the canned cranberry sauce, but you can also serve a beautiful Cranberry Apple Salad Mold. My mother introduced this salad years ago and it is now one of my favorite parts of the meal. It is colorful, refreshing, has texture, and is delicious. And, since you make it the day before, it’s one less thing to worry about on the day of, when the kitchen gets crazy.
Consider substituting Butternut Squash Tart with Chile Honey for one of the usual side dishes. It is a showstopper and is a perfect combination of sweet and spicy. You can even serve it as an appetizer in small slivers.
Each year we go to my brother’s house for Thanksgiving and I am on pie duty. I’ve often suggested some tasty alternatives to the traditional pumpkin, apple, and pecan pies but I get a lot of push back from the family. So, this year I decided to add more desserts! I will be debuting Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, which will bring the total to four desserts for eleven people. This might sound excessive, but these pies are worth it. I made them last week and to quote my 14-year-old son “These might be the best dessert ever. Can you please make them for Thanksgiving?” Done.
Happy Thanksgiving. May you find comfort in family, friends, traditions, and new flavors at your feast.