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Fun twists on classic Thanksgiving dishes

Posted on November 19, 2012 | by Mary Hornak

Are you hosting a feast to kick off this year’s holiday season? If you are the one wearing the apron, try switching up the traditional Thanksgiving menu this year. Integrating new ingredients and changing up classic dishes are sure-fire ways to win over party guests at your Thanksgiving dinner.

Candied cranberry brie bites

Impress everyone around the table with these hors d’oeuvres. Top crackers or pita chips with half-ounce slices of brie cheese and a teaspoon of cranberry relish, available at most specialty grocery stores. In a saucepan, soak two cups of cranberries with one cup maple syrup. Pour the cranberry sauce onto the bites and place lightly sugar-coated cranberries on top.

Roasted cauliflower mash

Looking for a healthier alternative to mashed potatoes? Substituting cauliflower for potatoes is a delicious and low-calorie way to remix this holiday favorite. Boil one medium head of chopped cauliflower in salted water for six minutes. Drain the cauliflower and mash with two tablespoons of light cream cheese. Throw in your favorite add-ins, such as grated Parmesan cheese, freshly ground pepper, salt and chopped chives.

Sweet potato ratatouille

Combine sophisticated presentation with nostalgic flavors this Thanksgiving with a sweet potato ratatouille. To prepare, parboil five to six medium-sized sweet potatoes for five to seven minutes. Strain and let cool. Peel and thinly slice potatoes. Layer in a circular pattern in a cast-iron casserole dish. Combine two tablespoons of light brown sugar with one teaspoon each of cinnamon and cardamom. Top the casserole with a spice mixture and two tablespoons of melted, unsalted butter. Bake this mixture in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. This delicious casserole can be served as a sweet side or dessert.

Pumpkin ice cream pies with candied pecans

Try this twist on the Thanksgiving classic to end your feast on a sweet note. Fill individual store-bought graham cracker pie shells with softened pumpkin ice cream, available at Trader Joe’s. Cover the frozen filling with whipped topping and place in the freezer to set. Meanwhile, scatter pecans on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg. Bake in a 375-degree oven until the sugar has candied — about eight minutes. Once cooled, place the pecans on top of the individual ice cream pies.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 19 print edition. Mary Hornak is a contributing writer. Email her at


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Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

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Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

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