Janine Gilbertson's Granite Kitchen: Light and easy Thanksgiving extras

By JANINE GILBERTSON November 22. 2017 1:17AM
Thanksgiving stuffing made with homemade rye and pecan raisin breads. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Thanksgiving has never been my favorite holiday.

I generally don’t enjoy eating big meals and feeling stuffed. Then there’s all the work of preparing a huge turkey dinner, then cleaning up afterward, dealing with the turkey bones and trying to figure out how to cram leftovers into the fridge.

And don’t even get me started on trying to save room for dessert.

That being said, it’s easy to lose sight of why Thanksgiving is celebrated in the first place. It’s a time to be thankful we have food to eat and people to share a meal with.

Some of us are facing the holiday season alone; maybe they’ve lost a loved one or they’re going through a divorce and are facing their first Thanksgiving dinner without their kids. Some people are struggling with depression, loneliness, drug addiction and other issues.

This is a good time to check in on family, friends and people in our communities who may be feeling lonely or who could use an invitation to a Thanksgiving dinner.

This will be my first Thanksgiving without my oldest son, who took advantage of an opportunity to live in South Carolina. It always seemed a chore to crank out a big holiday meal each year (that’s one of the downsides to being a good cook; everyone wants you to do the cooking) but we were all together at the table and I am grateful to have those memories.

I made an effort to streamline Thanksgiving dinner this year; a simple appetizer of baked brie cheese with a homemade cranberry sauce is an easy and elegant way to kick off the meal. 

Instead of having several side dishes to serve with the turkey, I concocted a stuffing with the leftover breads I made for last week’s column (My son would hate this; he isn’t a fan of dark rye bread) and will mash up some potatoes. Instead of making a classic pumpkin pie, I’m serving pumpkin cream pie for dessert. This is a fantastic update on an old favorite and a perfect way to finish off a feast.

Whatever your plans are for the holiday, try to take some time to reach out to someone who might be struggling or feeling lonely. Maybe bake them a pumpkin cream pie. I’m sure they will be grateful.

Note: The bread recipes from last week’s column can be found at goo.gl/4BRHyD

Homemade Mixed Bread Stuffing

4 cups raisin pecan bread, cubed and toasted

4 cups dark rye bread, cubed and toasted

1 sweet onion, chopped

4 ribs celery, chopped

1 cup butter

1 1/2 tsp salt

3 tsp fresh sage, chopped

2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped

1 tsp pepper

1 1/2 cups chicken or turkey stock

Preheat oven to 350.

Add the butter to a dutch oven and set over medium high heat. Once the butter has melted, add the celery and onion. Sauté until the vegetables have softened. 

Add the bread and herbs and stir to combine, then add the chicken stock and mix well. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the bread has absorbed the stock and butter, then remove from heat.

Transfer the stuffing to a baking dish, pressing down to pack the stuffing into the dish. Cover with aluminum foil and set in the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, until the stuffing is browned slightly on the top. 
Baked brie with fresh cranberry sauce. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Balsamic Cranberry Brie

12 oz package fresh cranberries

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup sugar

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

8 oz package brie cheese

Preheat the oven to 375.

Add the cranberries, orange juice, sugar and balsamic vinegar to a saucepan and set over medium high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the cranberries begin to pop and soften and the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set the cheese on the parchment paper. Spoon the cranberry sauce over the cheese. 

Bake for about 10 minutes, until cheese is softened. Serve with crackers.
Pumpkin cream pie is a lighter variation on the Thanksgiving classic. JANINE GILBERTSON 

Pumpkin Cream Pie

4 oz cream cheese, softened

15 oz can pumpkin puree

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

3 eggs

9 oz graham cracker pie crust

whipped cream for garnish, if desired

Preheat oven to 375.

Add the cream cheese, pumpkin, cream, brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice to a large bowl and mix with an electric mixer to combine. 

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. 

Pour the filling into the pie crust, and bake in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until the pie is set. 

Remove from oven and allow to cool before topping with whipped cream.


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