Make your own bite-sized Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is one of the best days of the year. When else is it acceptable to stuff yourself and sleep it off, only to do it again with leftovers four hours later?

Some college students will not be going home this November, and others just want to celebrate this day of pilgrims and cornucopias with friends. What are they to do?

Have a bite-sized Thanksgiving. Picture stuffing, cranberry sauce and even turkey, all in one chomp of the mouth. Imagine deliciously fried potatoes and apple pie without the need for a fork. Festive finger food: this could be the start of a beautiful tradition.

Stuffing Cakes with Cranberry Chutney

The stuffing is my favorite part of Thanksgiving. I always make a double recipe separate from the turkey for vegetarians – and because it tastes better.

  • 1 bag herbed stuffing mix, or 1 crusty loaf of day-old white or wheat bread cut into 1 inch strips. (Sandwich bread will not work for this.)
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 quart vegetable broth or stock
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 apple, finely chopped
  • ½ cup flour
  • herbs, chopped (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 2 small shallots, minced
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • Cooked turkey or chicken breast, optional
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Method:

  1. In a large pot, boil celery, apple, orange juice and half the broth for 10 minutes. Add the dry bread and stir vigorously, then add flour. Stir again. Add remaining broth and additional water, if necessary, until each piece of bread is moist through. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  2. In a medium pot, heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a pan until simmering. Add shallots and cook for two minutes on medium heat.
  3. Add the cranberries and honey. Cook five minutes, stirring often. Lower heat if necessary. Berries will break open and cook down. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  4. Form stuffing into disks, about the size of an egg, flattened a bit. In a non-stick sauté pan, heat 1/8 cup olive oil. Place disks in oil, which should then sizzle a bit. Adjust heat, as each stove is different. Flip the disks when golden. Drain on paper towel.
  5. Top each cake with a small piece of chicken or turkey, if desired, then top with a small spoonful of the cranberry chutney.

Potato and Leek Fritters

Mashed potatoes are a Thanksgiving staple in almost every American household. This is an addictive twist on a classic dish.

  • 1 large leek, green tops removed, white parts rinsed well and sliced thinly
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large baking potatoes, peeled and grated
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground back pepper
  • Vegetable or canola oil for frying
  • 1 lemon

Method:

  1. Heat oil in medium sauté pan on medium heat until simmering. Add leeks and cook three minutes until tender. Remove from heat.
  2. In large bowl, combine grated potato, leek, egg, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Mix until evenly incorporated.
  3. Heat two inches of vegetable or canola oil in a high-sided pot to 375 degrees. If you don’t have a high-heat thermometer, dip the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil every two minutes. When it sizzles, it’s ready. (NOTE: Hot oil can be very dangerous. Please read basic safety tips if you have never fried in your home.)
  4. Drop small balls of the fritter mixture into the oil, about six at a time. Flip the fritters so each side gets golden brown and drain on paper towels. Adjust heat throughout the cooking process so the oil does not get too hot or too cool.
  5. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the fritters and serve immediately.

Apple Pie Bites

What carbo-load would be complete without dessert? This recipe uses puff pastry instead of traditional pie crust because it has a better crunch.

  • 1 box puff pastry, cut into 4 inch squares, each square poked vigorously with a fork
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbs. water
  • 4 apples, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Whipped cream (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a nonstick pan, place apples, apple juice, salt and spices over high heat. Cook until apples are tender. Add cornstarch and boil mixture until thickened, about two minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Brush the outer edges of each pastry square with egg and water mixture. Place large dollop of apple mixture in the center of each square. Fold up the sides in either a square or circular fashion, making sure the filling is sealed in. If you don’t, the mixture will ooze out and burn to your baking pan.
  4. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or butter. Lay about 8 pies on each tray. Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  5. Top with a spoon of whipped cream, if desired, and serve.

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