Tips 'n Tricks — October 29, 2014 at 5:00 am

7 Ways to Spice Up Your Thanksgiving Dinner

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©istockphoto/mphillips007

©istockphoto/mphillips007

If you’re tired of dried out turkey and uninspired mashed potatoes, it might be time to reinvent your Thanksgiving dinner menu. We’re not saying that you need to eschew all your Thanksgiving food traditions, but swapping in a few new dishes might be a welcome change. Who knows—maybe you’ll even introduce some new traditions for Thanksgiving dinners to come!

Instead of Chips and Dip
You need something for people to snack on while you finish up prepping for the big meal, but plain chips and regular dip are an anytime kind of food. Thanksgiving deserves something a little special.

Kick your chips and dip up a notch with seasonal ingredients: sweet potato chips have a deep, smoky flavor and are much healthier than the greasy stuff from a bag. Pair it with homemade butternut squash hummus for a dish that just screams fall.

Instead of Turkey
No matter how you spin it, turkey is tricky to cook. It’s next to impossible to get the dark meat cooked properly without drying out all the white meat. This Thanksgiving, skip the big bird and opt for something more manageable. Try roast chicken – it’s easier to get it nice and juicy—or cook up individual Cornish game hen for something a little different.

Don’t serve turkey because you feel like you have to. If your family loves ham, then make your own Thanksgiving ham tradition!

Instead of Mashed Potatoes
It takes a lot of extra ingredients to bring life to potatoes—maybe it’s time to turn to another vegetable to create a flavorful side dish. Roasted turnips sprinkled with a few spices offer a delicious alternative. This root veggie is a great source of vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. Sprinkle on a little freshly-grated parmesan to take your turnips to the next level.

Instead of Plain Stuffing
Too many stuffing recipes turn out bland and soggy. Look beyond the bread: try out a quinoa stuffing that incorporates a lot of traditional stuffing ingredients, but that actually uses the steam to made it tastier.

Instead of Candied Yams
A lot of people find that candied yams are just a little too sweet. For something more savory with a touch of sweet, combine sweet potatoes with an unexpected ingredient: pear. A sweet potato and pear gratin is a tasty fall dish that is sure to satisfy your guests

Instead of Cranberry Sauce
If you’re not a fan of the tartness of cranberries, look for another type of sauce to dress up your meat. Try this Tuscan onion confit for a nice twist on the usual. Bonus for the chef: it can be made well in advance of the meal.

Instead of Pumpkin Pie
If you the love the taste of pumpkin but want to offer something more sophisticated than the usual pumpkin pie, you’ll love this recipe for frozen pumpkin mousse. It’s as delectable as it sounds, especially if you top it off with a walnut toffee crunch and a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Are you drooling yet?

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