Thanksgiving dinner is the big event in every cook’s year. The gathering of the clan over a meal that takes days to plan and hours to make is exciting – but also stressful. If the prospect of cooking yet another feast makes you feel less than thankful, perhaps it’s time to spice things up a bit. Here’s a few herbal ideas to get you thinking in new directions.
Stuffing the Bird – Packaged stuffing mixes are usually very lightly seasoned. Start by adding a tablespoon each of chopped fresh parsley and sage. To give it just a touch of sweetness, try apple juice instead of the liquid you usually add when mixing the stuffing. You can also add crunch by adding one cup of chopped walnuts or pecans for every package of dry stuffing.
Dressing up Mashed Potatoes – This filling side dish can be a little “ho hum.” Add zest to by mixing in a tablespoon of minced or roasted garlic and two teaspoons of parsley for every three pounds of potatoes.
Making Herbal Butter – No matter what’s on the menu, butter will be on the table. This too can be dressed up for the holiday. The day before the big meal, add one teaspoon of dried or one tablespoon freshly chopped herb seasoning to 8 ounces of softened butter. Some good combinations to try are parsley and oregano, basil and onion powder, or rosemary and thyme. Mix well, shape into a mound on a serving dish. For added flair, sprinkle a little parsley on top. Allow to chill for at least one hour before serving.
That Green Bean Dish – You know the one I mean…the French-cut green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and French-fried onion casserole that appears everywhere at this time of year. Instead of the one eighth teaspoon of pepper called for in the original recipe, be bold and use 1 ½ teaspoons. Then add in a teaspoon of dried oregano or marjoram. If you’re feeling adventurous, sprinkle 1/2 cup sliced almonds on top for extra crunch.
Brighten the Table – Even if you are a casual cook, you can easily enhance the dining table with some fresh sage and rosemary. Clip a few stems the morning of the feast and group 3-5 pieces together with a bit of ribbon at the base. Place these around a candle centerpiece or a favorite bit of holiday decoration. The aroma from the fresh herbs will scent the room and make things that much more festive.
I guarantee these quick tips will improve the flavor of your family feast. I’ll close with a wish that your day of thanks-giving will be food for your soul as you spend time with those you love.
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. – Psalm 136:1