Photo by cottonbro studio

Different holiday meals?  Banish the thought of having something different for thanksgiving than turkey with all the normal side dishes. 

Who would think of Easter without traditional ham? Banishing Christmas traditions from prime rib to Christmas Eve fish sounds like a travesty.  Who does that?  Well, this year I will be spending Thanksgiving far from my Colorado home in Florida.  Six of us will travel to a family vacation home for six days arriving late in the afternoon the day before Thanksgiving.  Lately discussions have been around what should we do for dinner…should we go out and can we get a reservation and how much money will it cost for six of us to eat?  Why not eat at home? Or experience a different holiday meals.

I voiced my suggestion a couple months ago and it went to the bottom of the barrel.  Somehow it has surfaced as being the most logical answer.  Where in the book does it say we need turkey? We will spend our days away from the house at the beach or sightseeing and most likely be having dinner out.  Traditional Thanksgiving leftovers will go to waste. With the price of food, we don’t need to be tossing it in the garbage. I suggested we marinate and grill steaks, bake some potatoes, and make a salad.  Buy a couple cans of dinner or crescent rolls to bake. Since three of us are bakers, we can come up with something for dessert. I will bring a copy of my cookbook, Generations of Good Food, to keep at the house.  It has lots of dessert ideas! The house has a Blackstone flattop grill, so grilling seemed like the perfect answer.

A different holiday meal might substitute Grandma Spano’s Baked Eggplant rather than potatoes.  The recipe for this delicious, rich side dish has been slimmed down from when I used to help make it as a child.  Back in the day, they sliced the eggplant into rings and fried them in lots of olive oil.  The eggplants were oil soaked, soggy, and full of fat. Today the eggplants are roasted in the oven on 400 for 30 minutes with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper.  While they roast, we make our simple tomato sauce with olive oil, garlic, crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar, basil, and a tablespoon of white vinegar at the very end.  In a bowl mix Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, chopped garlic, parsley, and Romano cheese. Assemble it in layers in a baking dish with sauce, eggplant, breadcrumbs, and a bit more cheese.  End with sauce and cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes at 375 until bubbly.  Let it stand for five minutes before cutting.  This might be more work than you want, so let’s try something easier and just as delicious….

Different holiday meals might substitute Italian potato salad for baked potatoes.  Peel and dice several potatoes and put them in a pan of cold, salted water.  Bring to a boil and cook for 15-20 minutes until tender.  Rinse them with cold water to stop the cooking process.  Place in a bowl, add finely chopped garlic, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, fresh parsley and dress with seasoned rice wine vinegar.  Let them rest at room temperature stirring occasionally without breaking the potatoes.

What’s for dessert on a different holiday meal?  While at the grocery store check out what is in season in the fruit section of the store.  Finishing a meal with assorted fresh fruits and berries topped with whipped cream is healthy and tasty.  Fresh fruits are great left-overs for breakfast on vacation.  There is always an option of buying a pie and baking it.  Marie Callendar or Sara Lee have done the heavy lifting and preparation work.  Just bake on a cookie sheet for an hour or so and once it is cool, cut and enjoy.

Being away for the holidays and cooking need not be a dilemma.  If you are staying in a house with a furnished kitchen dinner at home is an option to going out to eat a traditional dinner.  Being in the kitchen with loved ones makes memories and fills the house with wonderful aromas. 

There are lots of options in Generations of Good Food.  Pick up a copy at amazon or www.onecaregiversjourney.com.

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