Ideas galore for T-day get-together

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  • Whether your entrée is turkey, salmon or bratwurst, a great stuffing makes the meal.

  • 1

    Presentation is everything! Nutty acorn squash offers savory elegance.

  • Whether your entrée is turkey, salmon or bratwurst, a great stuffing makes the meal.

  • 1

    Presentation is everything! Nutty acorn squash offers savory elegance.

Today’s collection of delectables is not meant as a menu — for each recipe stands on its own and doesn’t necessarily jibe with the others. You can pick and choose as you wish and hopefully be blessed with a wonderful Thanksgiving experience with friends and/or family.

When is stuffing not stuffing — or filling not filling? When it’s dressing, of course! Not to be inserted in a turkey, chicken or salmon cavity, dressing stands on its own as a savory “go-with” for any entrée. Here’s my favorite. Double for a crowd.

Herbed Dressing

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1 large sweet onion, very finely chopped

2 cups finely chopped celery, including some of the leaves

6 cups herb-seasoned cubed bread stuffing*

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/3 cup chopped tarragon leaves

1/2 cup chopped fresh cranberries

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Salt, pepper to taste

Hot water

Set oven at 350F. Butter a baking dish or large bread loaf pan. Melt butter in large heavy pan or Dutch oven over med-high heat. Add chopped onions and celery and sauté until tender and just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.

Transfer to large bowl. Add stuffing cubes and all remaining ingredients, mixing and tossing well. Add hot water a half-cup at a time, tossing to mix; be careful to only barely moisten the dressing.

Add salt and pepper if needed and bake covered for about 45 minutes, testing carefully depending on the container; uncover and bake another 15 minutes until golden. Serve as is, or with cranberry sauce or gravy.

* Choose a mix that doesn’t include too much sage – it can overwhelm the delicacy of the tarragon.

If your menu doesn’t call for the usual mashed spuds and gravy, try one of the following delightful possibilities.

Mashed Potatoes

w/Green Onions

5 1/2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled, chopped

2 cups hot milk

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

2 bunches green onions, chopped with tops

Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling water until just tender. Drain, transfer to bowl. With electric mixer, beat until smooth. Gradually add hot milk, beat until blended. Melt butter in heavy skillet over med-high heat; add chopped green onions a d sauté until tender, only about 3-4 minutes. Mix into potatoes, stirring to incorporate completely. Serve.

Use small, thin-skinned potatoes for this old German classic. This is great with fish!

Sauteed New Potatoes

with Parsley Butter

16 red-skinned (if possible) baby potatoes (about 1 1/4 lbs.)*

2 Tbsps, (1/4 stick) butter

2 Tbsps. chopped Italian parsley

With a peeler, remove a strip of peel from around each small potato. Cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling water until just tender – about 15 minutes. Drain, allow to cool. (You may cover and refrigerate at this point if working in advance). Shortly before serving time, melt butter in large cast iron or other nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add potatoes and sauté, moving and turning until evenly crisp and golden – about 7 minutes. Gently toss with parsley, season with salt and pepper, transfer to a warm bowl, Serve.

* Choose the smallest potatoes you can find, cutting in wedges if necessary.

Our lovely illustration of baked squash looks lavish but is really very simple. Here’s how.

Baked Squash Surprise

1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley

2 2x1/2-inch strips orange peel, pith removed

2 garlic cloves

2 small acorn or butternut squash, seeded, cut into 1-inch thick slices

2 tsps. olive oil

Preheat oven to 400F. Finely chop parsley, orange peel and garlic together. Arrange squash in 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Drizzle oil over squash. Sprinkle with parsley mixture, salt and pepper; cover with foil. Bake until tender, about 45 minutes. If you wish, garnish with orange slices as shown in the picture.

Not up to baking pies this year? Go for this old favorite.

Apple-Cranberry Crisp


1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup old-fashioned oats

2/3 cup packed golden-brown sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick)unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces


5 large Jonathan apples, about 2 lbs., peeled sliced

4 Granny Smith apples, about 2 lbs., peeled sliced

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

3/4 cup sugar

6 Tbsps. flour

1 1/2 tsps. ground cinnamon

6 Tbsps. (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces


Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a glass 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Mix apples, cranberries, sugar, flour and cinnamon I large bowl.

Add 6 tablespoons of chilled butter and toss. Transfer into prepared dish.

For topping: Mix first 3 ingredients into bowl; add butter, rubbing with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Crumble over fruit in baking dish. Place in preheated oven and bake until apples are tender, about 1 1/4 hours. Cool slightly. Serve as is, with whipped cream, or with the following sauce.

Caramel Sauce: 1 cup sugar; 1/2 cup water; 1 cup whipping cream; 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces.

Stir sugar and water in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat, boil without stirring until syrup turns deep amber, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with brush dipped in water and swirling pan. Remove from heat.

Gradually add cream (mixture will bubble!). Place over low heat until caramel melts. Add butter and stir until melted.

Cool slightly, serve warm.

Thanksgiving blessings to all my wonderful readers!

Valle Novak writes the Country Chef and Weekend Gardener columns for the Daily Bee. She can be reached at or by phone at 208-265-4688 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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