FOOD FOR THOUGHT—Prepare Early for Thanksgiving

By on November 2, 2015
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BY LYDIA BOLEN

You have gotten your Thanksgiving meal planned, but the early arrival of guests and others staying throughout the holiday weekend means you may have several meals and snacks to serve.

The holidays usually become one long eating marathon. Serve make-ahead one-dish recipes such as chili or baked pasta dishes that can be reheated before serving.

An easy appetizer is Baked Salsa Cheesecake. This makes a beautiful presentation placed on a raised cake stand. Serve with plenty of tortilla chips, sliced veggies, or pita wedges.

Spicy Candied Pecans can be enjoyed on Thanksgiving Day as well as the entire weekend. I like to place a small compote dish on the holiday table for passing.

Healthy Pumpkin Muffins can be served at Thanksgiving breakfast. They can be enjoyed with fresh fruit. This light breakfast can keep everyone satisfied until lunch is served.

 

SALSA CHEESECAKE

Salsa-CheesecakeCRUST

  • 1 1 /2 cups tortilla chips, finely crushed
  • 1 /4 cup butter, melted

FILLING

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 3 /4 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups (8 oz.) pepper jack cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 /4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the finely crushed tortilla chips and the melted butter. Press into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared springform pan. Place on a shallow rimmed baking pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add olive oil. Add the onions and garlic. Lower the heat to medium low. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent. Remove from heat and set aside.

Mix in mixer the cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Add eggs, then the pepper jack cheese, lime juice, smoked paprika, cumin, and salt. Mix well. Stir in the cilantro.

Pour mixture into the springform pan, spreading evenly over crust. Cover with plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight.

When ready to serve, remove springform pan. Slice cheesecake into wedges. Top each with salsa (homemade or store-bought) and a dollop of sour cream.

Serve with sturdy tortilla chips or pita wedges.


Candied-PecansCANDIED PECANS

  • 1 /2 cup Confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 /4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 /2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the Confectioners’ sugar, Kosher salt and cayenne pepper.

Add the pecans to the mixture, along with 4 teaspoons of water. Stir until the sugar is a sticky glaze.

Transfer the pecans to the prepared baking sheet and arrange in a single layer. Put glaze from the bowl over the nuts. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the pecans are caramelized.

Slide the parchment paper off of the baking sheet and let pecans cool completely. Once cool, remove the pecans. Break apart any clusters and store in an airtight container.

Servings: 2 cups (Can be doubled or tripled for a crowd)

 


Pumpkin-Muffins
PUMPKIN MUFFINS

  • 1 box pumpkin bread mix
  • 1 /3 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 /2 can pumpkin (regular-sized can)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with Pam.

In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients, except pumpkin. With spatula, fold in pumpkin last. Fill muffin cups with batter. Bake 18 to 20 minutes.

Praline Cream cheese spread:

  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 /2 cup brown sugar

Using mixer, combine cream cheese and brown sugar until smooth. Serve warm muffins with praline cream cheese.

(Adapted from Flair For Home)