Thanksgiving at Home
I've been thinking hard about Thanksgiving. I love all of the wonderful posts I've been reading about delicious side dishes, salads and seasonal desserts. I want to join in and offer some fabulous ideas for Thanksgiving too. The thing is, my family's favorite Thanksgiving menu is filled with familiar comfort foods. That means we make very few changes in our Thanksgiving menu from year to year.
Once again, as Thanksgiving approached, I asked each of my family members what one dish they couldn't do without on the Thanksgiving table. One wants the corn salad with garlic sweetened pecans served in the antique corn bowl that was my aunt's. Another wants the sweet potato dish with onions and bacon that I added to the menu when I discovered that I especially like sweet potatoes combined with savory ingredients. My youngest craves the Pumpkin Yeast Braids we have been making at Thanksgiving every year that he can remember. I love my Dad's basic bread stuffing recipe he made every year as I was growing up and my husband wouldn't be satisfied without some creamy mashed potatoes and gravy. That leaves little room for creativity beyond a new twist on a dessert I might try, in addition to the usual pies, and maybe something new and different with cranberries.
So, what's a food blogging mom to do? I looked through folders full of recipe clippings and gathered everything that had to do with cranberries. Next I picked up several bags of cranberries at the market, along with some other potential ingredients. Then I began to experiment.
The most interesting recipe I pulled from my files was a magazine clipping from an old issue of Southern Living. It included a recipe for Cranberry Salsa with Sweet Potato Chips. I just love salsa and unusual fruit salsas always pique my interest. Pairing cranberries and chiles sounded intriguing and seemed like a nice change of pace from the sugary cranberry sauces I have come to expect at Thanksgiving.
What's more I was fascinated by the idea of making sweet potato chips in the oven. The idea of making chips that would be crisp enough to hold a salsa and still taste good challenged me. At first I was skeptical and while I was at Whole Foods I picked up a bag of Terra Sweet Potato Chips for backup.
I had to try them, and as I got into the recipe for the Sweet Potato Chips I found that it was really quite simple. I did have to watch carefully to remove the chips as they began to brown, and I let a few brown a little too long. Still they turned out to be crisp and tasty. I would definitely make these again.
Still, the Terra chips were a very nice easy substitute and I think tortilla chips, home baked or store bought, would also be fine for scooping up this delicious salsa. Whatever way it works for you I do recommend trying this fresh tangy salsa for a light appetizer at Thanksgiving or anytime.
(inspired by a recipe in Southern Living)
1 cup cranberries
1/2 cup jicama, diced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup toasted pecan pieces
2-3 Tablespoons honey
1-2 Tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon orange zest
1 Tablespoon orange juice
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch of salt
Cover and chill at least 2 hours to allow flavors to meld.
Serve with Sweet Potato Chips, tortilla chips or as a relish.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups. Easily doubled.
Sweet Potato Chips
(from an old clipping from Southern Living)
1 large sweet potato (approximately 8 ounces)
Vegetable cooking spray
1/4 teaspoon salt
Peel the sweet potato and slice crosswise into 1/8 inch slices using a very sharp knife or other vegetable slicer. (I used my mandoline which made this step simple.)
Spray two baking sheet with vegetable cooking spray.
Arrange the sweet potato slices on the baking sheets in a single layer.
Spray the sweet potato slices on the baking sheets with more vegetable cooking spray.
Bake at 325 degrees for 20 - 30 minutes, turning the chips and rearranging the pans after 15 minutes or so.
Remove the chips from the baking sheets and place on paper toweling as they begin to brown around the edges.Sprinkle with salt.
Serve or store in an airtight container when cool.