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Kelly: Tips to dress up your Thanksgiving table | TribLIVE.com
Food & Drink

Kelly: Tips to dress up your Thanksgiving table

Tribune-Review
| Wednesday, November 12, 2014 9:01 p.m

Before you know it, the happy holiday season will be upon us.

Alhough there is plenty of time for all the planning and preparation, the shopping part has started before the pumpkins and candies have been cleared from the shelves.

Here are a few ideas for the holiday table that will hopefully make life simpler for you and delicious for all the guests and family.

This first recipe is for a relish that doesn’t need to be cooked and you can make up to a week ahead of time as long as you cover it and keep it refrigerated. This will be a different twist on the usual chunky cranberry sauce.

Fresh Cranberry, Orange andGinger Relish

(makes about three cups)

2 teaspoons chopped, peeled fresh ginger root

1 large navel orange, including the rind, chopped

12-ounce package of fresh cranberries

3/4cup sugar

In a food processor, finely chop the ginger root and the orange, add the cranberries, and pulse the motor until the berries are chopped finely.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and stir in the sugar. Chill the relish, covered for at least 30 minutes. The relish keeps for up to a week when refrigerated. Chop the ingredients to a medium coarseness and stir before serving.

• • •

Cranberries can be all over the holiday menu, not just as a sauce or condiment. Here’s a way to place their flavor in the bread basket or even on the breakfast table. This also is a recipe that can be prepared a day ahead or even two and kept in a covered airtight container.

Cranberry Cheesecake Muffins

(makes 12 muffins)

1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened

4 tablespoons sugar, divided

1 cup reduced-fat (2 percent) milk

1/3cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 package (15 ounces) cranberry quick bread mix

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 12 muffin cup pan.

Beat the cream cheese and two tablespoons sugar in a small bowl until well blended.

Beat the milk, oil and egg in a large bowl until blended. Stir in quick bread mix just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Fill the muffin cups 14-full with batter. Drop one tablespoon of cream cheese mixture into the center of each cup. Spoon the remaining batter over the cream cheese mixture.

Sprinkle batter with the remaining two tablespoons of sugar. Bake 17 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for five minutes. Remove from the muffin cups to a wire rack and cool.

• • •

Tired of the same old stuffing? Here’s one that will be great for tickling those tastebuds. You can make this one day in advance, keeping covered and chilled. Use it to stuff the bird just before putting it in the oven.

An important reminder: To prevent bacterial growth, don’t stuff the turkey cavities in advance.

Country Ham Stuffing for Turkey

(enough to stuffa 12 to 14 pound turkey)

3 cups 1/2-inch cubes of day-old homemade-type white bread

3 cups 1/2-inch cubes of day-old whole-wheat bread

3/4pound Smithfield or other country ham, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 stick (1/2cup) unsalted butter

2 medium onions, peeled and chopped

4 ribs celery, chopped

2 1/2tablespoons minced fresh sage leaves or 2 1/2teaspoons dried, crumbled

1 1/2teaspoons dried thyme crumbled

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a shallow baking pan, arrange the bread cubes in one layer. Bake them in the preheated oven, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes or until they are golden. Remove from the oven, let cool and transfer the cubes to a large bowl.

In a large, heavy skillet, sauté the ham in the butter over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes or until a deep red in color and the edges are crisp. Remove the ham using a slotted spoon and transfer it to the bowl with the bread cubes.

To the butter left in the skillet, add the onions, celery, sage and thyme; cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring, until the onions are softened. Transfer this mixture to the bowl also. Toss the stuffing ingredients well, season with salt and pepper and let cool completely.

Store covered and refrigerated overnight. You can add a whisked egg or two to help bind together if you wish —not necessary, but if you are used to doing so, by all means, go for it.

As always, enjoy!

David Kelly is a freelance columnist for Trib Total Media. He has been sharing cooking tips and recipes in Culinary Corner for 22 years.

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