5 Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

5 Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

Thanksgiving gatherings are one of the great American traditions, a time to come together to celebrate family and show appreciation. Of course, the best way to do that is by eating too much! While Thanksgiving itself is a celebration of tradition, that doesn't mean you need to recycle that same menu of turkey, potatoes and pumpkin pie.

This year, we'll give you a few quick ideas on how to introduce a little non-traditional eating into your menu. Who knows? One of these might even become a new tradition around the table in the years to come.

Cranberry Nut Cream Cheese Balls

Cranberry cream cheese balls

Who doesn't love a good cheese ball? Break from tradition with these Thanksgiving-themed cream cheese balls. Just make sure to put a lot of them together, because they won't last long. This quick recipe takes under 10 minutes.

What you'll need:

  • 16 oz (450g) cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 1/2 cups nuts (walnut, pecan…) divided
  • 1 cup chopped dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh chive

How to make it:

1. Beat cream cheese, cinnamon and honey/maple syrup until fluffy. Add 1/2 cup pecan chips, and combine. Set aside.

2. On a parchment-lined cookie sheet, toss together remaining nuts, dried cranberries, and chopped chives.

3. Scoop out one ball of cheese filling and toss into the nut mixture. Continue until all cheese balls have been rolled in the coating.

4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 Shrimp & Chorizo Appetizers

Shrimp and Chorizo Appetizers

Inject a bit of latin flair into your Thanksgiving dinner with these spicy appetizers. Add a roasted pepper soup shooter to top it off.

What you'll need:

For appetizers

  • 1/2 pound medium shrimp (about 30 shrimp), raw, peeled and deveined
  • 1 package of Spanish chorizo, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

For bell pepper soup

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup crushed tomato
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes, adjust to your taste

How to make it:

1. Combine shrimp, garlic, Italian seasoning, lemon juice and olive oil; toss well and marinate, chilled, for 30 minutes.

2. While waiting, start on the roasted bell pepper soup: Cut bell pepper into fourths and remove seeds. Roast in a preheated cast iron skillet until charred all over. In a bowl, cover with plastic wrap until cool enough to handle. Peel and discard the skin. In a blender add crushed tomato, salt, sugar and chili pepper flakes. Pulse until smooth and divide into shooter glasses. Set aside. 

3. Skewer one shrimp and one round of chorizo onto wooden toothpicks or skewers. Repeat with the remaining shrimp and chorizo.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place a few skewers into the pan and sear on both sides until the shrimp are cooked through and the chorizo is lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and arrange each skewer into a shooter glass with the roasted bell pepper soup. Garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro and serve immediately.

 Roasted Pumpkin & Goat Cheese Crostini

roasted pumpkin and goat cheese crostini

 A little pumpkin on Thanksgiving is practically a requirement. Pair it with goat cheese for a delicious finger food that will fly off the table.

What you'll need:

  • 2 cups diced raw pumpkin

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage

  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced

  • 1 French baguette

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 1 (4 ounce) log goat cheese, at room temperature

  • 1 tablespoon balsamic glaze

How to make it:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  3. Pile diced pumpkin on baking sheet.

  4. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil.

  5. Toss with your hands to lightly coat.

  6. Spread evenly and sprinkle with sage, salt, and pepper.

  7. Bake in the preheated oven until tender, about 20 minutes.

  8. Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium frying pan over medium heat.

  9. Add leek and cook until softened, beginning to caramelize, 5 to 7 minutes.

  10. Remove roasted pumpkin from the oven, add to the pan, and stir to combine.

  11. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat and lightly oil the grate.

  12. Slice the baguette at an angle into 1/2-inch slices.

  13. Brush 1 side of each slice with remaining oil.

  14. Cook on the preheated grill until lightly browned, about 1 1/2 minutes per side.

  15. Remove from the grill and rub the garlic clove over the oiled side of each baguette slice 3 to 4 times.

  16. Spread goat cheese over each slice and top with a spoonful of the pumpkin-leek mixture. Drizzle lightly with balsamic glaze and serve immediately.

 Carrot Mushroom Turkey Hand Pies

carrot mushroom turkey hand pies

These tasty little pies are the perfect compliment to the large main course. If you've got a hungry group, waiting on the meal, these are a great portion to tide them over. Recipe serves six.

What you'll need:

  • 2 boneless, skinless turkey breasts – about 2/3 lb (300g), thinly diced
  • 3 sheets puff pastry
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrots, chopped
  • 2/3 cup (150g) of button mushrooms, diced
  • 2 cups of chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 beaten egg yolk
  • Salt & pepper

 How to make it:

1. Preheat your oven to 425°F.

2. Cook onion in a large skillet over medium heat with olive oil.

3. Cook for about 3 minutes.

4. Add carrots and cook for another 3-4 minutes before adding mushrooms.

5. Add diced turkey breasts and mix well. 

6. Add parsley, season with salt and allow to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.

7. Add fresh cracked pepper and set aside to cool.

8. Meanwhile, cut pie crust into 4 medium discs per sheet, making 12 discs total.

9. You can use a bowl to make a regular cut. Arrange 4 pie circles on a lined baking sheet and brush with egg yolk. Spoon the chicken filling onto discs, leaving plenty of room to seal the dough easily.

10. Top with the remaining three circles. Pinch sides together and press with a fork or the back of a knife blade around the perimeter to make a seam. Brush egg yolk over tops of pastries and bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.

Upside Down Pumpkin Cake

Upside Down Pumpkin Cake

Rather than the well-known and trusted pumpkin pie, add a little bit of cake to this year's event with the delicious pumpkin cake.

What you'll need:

  • 1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin puree

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves

  • salt to taste

  • 1 ¾ cups white sugar

  • 3 eggs

  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix with pudding

  • 1 cup chopped pecans

  • 1 cup butter, melted

How to make it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. In a mixing bowl, blend pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves, salt, sugar, eggs, and milk.

  3. Pour mixture into a 9x13-inch baking dish.

  4. Sprinkle dry cake mix and nuts over the batter.

  5. Pour melted butter over the cake.

  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, then let cool. The cake will be liquidy at first, but will solidify as it cools.

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