Thanksgiving with The NewsHouse

The NewsHouse's future food bloggers dish up their favorite Thanksgiving recipes.

Sure, the holidays bring trips back home, time with our families, and thankfulness for the little things. But for the five future bloggers of Hill's Kitchen – The NewsHouse's all-new food blog, debuting in January 2011 – Thanksgiving is mostly an opportunity to cook in a normal-sized, well-stocked, parentally funded kitchen.

So to celebrate Turkey Day 2010, we've compiled five of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes and the family stories behind them. If you're not going home, never fear: Kathleen Hessman also shares the best Thanksgiving meals in Central New York, and Mary Cappabianca shares an easy, cheap Thanksgiving risotto that you can make in your off-campus kitchen.

Mary's Mom's Cranberry Relish

For me, Thanksgiving is all about the carbohydrates – stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn – so I spent my childhood avoiding my mom's cranberry relish. Why would I want to eat a dish that looks like gelatinous shavings of crimson fruit? Then I left for college and realized how much I missed my mom and her healthy cooking. That year, I couldn't get enough of the cranberry relish. It was like I finally embraced my semi-vegetarian upbringing. I can't wait to go home this year and slather the sweet spread all over my heaps of mashed potatoes.

1- 3oz. package cherry Jell-O
1 cup hot water
1- 16 oz. can crushed pineapple
1/2 lb. raw cranberries, ground
3 raw apples, ground
1 cup sugar
1 cup walnuts (optional)

Mix all ingredients together one day ahead of serving time. This makes a large bowl; cut in half for a smaller crowd.
-- Mary Cappabianca

Hessman Family Stuffing

One Thanksgiving tradition I have been a part of since I was little was making the stuffing for the turkey. Kneading the warm stuffing together has always been something my grandma, brother, and I would do. I remember this job most because we would always have a ton of stuffing left afterward and the stuffing was so delicious! I hope you enjoy my family’s recipe. 

2 large loaves of stuffing bread
1 large celery stalk
1 onion
2 sticks of butter
1 Tbsp. Bell stuffing seasoning 
1 large jar of applesauce

The day before you make the stuffing, rip the loaves of stuffing bread into small pieces. Let sit in a large, disposable metal pan overnight.

On the day you cook the stuffing, chop up celery and onion into small pieces. In a frying pan, sauté celery, onion and butter on medium heat until brown. In the large metal pan, knead together the bread, applesauce, seasoning and celery/onion mixture until all bread is moist. Stuff as much of the mixture as you can into the turkey when you bake it. Bake the rest along with your turkey in the metal pan.
-- Kathleen Hessman

Debbie's Sweet Potato Casserole with Praline Topping

My mom is a famously good cook, which makes my culinary incompetence even more pathetic by comparison. When I was 14, she tried to groom me as her eventual replacement by putting me in charge of the Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. I burned it. The next year, she gave me a second chance – and I forgot to add both the ginger and cinnamon. These days I've been relegated to official family dishwasher, and my mom generally tries to keep me far from the kitchen until after she serves the meal. That's okay with me – I'm here to eat, after all – but I wish I had learned to make her creamy, dessert-like sweet potato casserole. Maybe this is the year?

5 large sweet potatoes or yams, well-scrubbed
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup milk
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup chopped pecans

Bake sweet potatoes at 350° until tender – about 45 to 60 minutes. Peel and mash them. Mix ½ cup butter into mashed sweet potatoes, along with granulated sugar, eggs, vanilla and milk. Pour into baking band or casserole dish. Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Add brown sugar and stir until it dissolves. Cook cream/brown sugar mixture over medium-high heat until it reaches soft ball stage (240°) on a candy thermometer. If you don't have a candy thermometer, drop a bit of the mixture into a cold glass of water. It's at the soft ball stage if it hardens. Remove from heat; beat in butter and nuts. Pour candy mixture over sweet potatoes. Bake until very hot and beginning to brown.
-- Caitlin Dewey

Tiesch's Baked Ziti, Sauce and Rice Stuffing

The highlight of most Thanksgivings is the turkey. For me, it’s the pasta. Yep, that’s right. Even on the most American holiday, my Sicilian family insists on having an entire tray of baked ziti as the first course. It’s as if the pasta makes the turkey dinner sacred or something by adding some Sicilian flare—because God forbid any American meal is worthy to stand on its own without an Italian dish.  And of course, there has to be about five bread baskets to dip in the sauce after the pasta is consumed, because there aren’t enough carbs at a table filled with stuffing, sweet potatoes, cheese – oh, and pasta obviously. Still, as much as I find this pasta ritual ridiculous and entirely amusing, I wouldn’t have my Turkey Day any other way.

So while my Uncle Sal spends all morning baking the turkey, my aunt Michelle, who we all call Tiesch (mainly because my cousin Lisa could not say “Zia” in Italian when she was a child, so she crafted the word Tiesch) spends all morning making the sauce and 2 lbs. of baked ziti to start off our wonderful meal. Her recipe for the sauce is much simpler than its taste implies.

Tiesch's Sauce (serves 12)
2 cans tomato puree (Redpack Sauce preferred)
1 large white onion
1 clove of garlic
2 cans of water
¼ lb ground beef

Heat tomato puree and 2 cups of water in a large sauce pan. In a separate pan, sauté onions, garlic, and basil together in a large sauce pan. Add ground beef, but do not add oil. The juice from the beef and onions produces its own form of oil. Add beef, onions, garlic, basil, etc. to sauce.

Tiesch's Ziti
1 big lasagna tray, or two medium size baking pans
2 lbs. ziti pasta
16. oz bag shredded mozzarella
1 ½ lbs. ground beef
½ cup grated cheese (Pecorino Romano preferred)
4 cups water

Sautee ground beef the same way you sautéed it for the sauce. Boil water with a dash of salt in a large pot. Add ziti. Once pasta is soft, drain thoroughly. Place ¼ of ziti in large pan. Add two scoops of sauce to ziti and sprinkle mozzarella over. Add a layer of grated cheese. Add ¼ of cup of ground beef. Continue layering on beef, mozzarella, grated cheese,  and sauce, as you would layer a lasagna. Bake in the oven for 15-25 minutes, or until you see mozzarella starting to melt.

Tiesch's Rice Stuffing
4 cups water (may vary depending on serving size)
2 lbs. rice (White Caroline preferred)
1 white onion
½ cup cooked sauce
8 oz. peas (1 box frozen or 1 can)
1 lb. ground beef
3 Tbsp. mozzarella cheese

Bring rice, water, and salt to a boil. Make sure rice is not overcooked. Sautee onions and a scoop of sauce in a frying pan. Add in peas, grated cheese, and 1 tbsb. of mozzarella cheese. When cooked, add peas, onions, and sauce to rice. Add in 2 tbsb. mozzarella cheese. Mix together over low flame. Stuff turkey, or eat it as a side!
-- Joanna Weinstein

Kathleen's Crust-less Pumpkin Pie

For years, my family lived on dishes with minimal cooking – pre-cooked, stick-in-the-oven Market Day meals were a godsend growing up. The tradition held true even on Thanksgiving Day. When the extended family gathers at a designated host’s house on Thursday, we dine potluck style. So what does my immediate family bring? Green beans mixed with bacon bits (a green bean casserole if we're feeling fancy), canned cranberries, or cheesy potatoes.

With a semester of food science at SU and extensive cooking lessons to back me up, I convinced my mom that I could handle the challenge of feeding our group of 25. My contribution last year: a large edamame bean salad and two crust-less pumpkin pies—yes, sans flaky pastry. I’ve never had so much fun spilling flour and pumpkin on the kitchen counter! What started out as an attempt to lighten my favorite classic dessert has turned into a new tradition.

1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated fat-free milk
½ cup fat-free cholesterol-free egg product
½ cup sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
¾ tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt

¼ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup rolled oats
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine, softened
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional, but really delicious!

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a pie plate (10 × 1 ½ inches) with cooking spray to avoid trouble serving. Mix the brown sugar, oats and margarine in a small bowl and set aside to use as the topping. Blend the pie ingredients in a food processor in order listed at a medium speed until smooth. Pour into pie plate, and sprinkle with topping and chopped walnuts. Bake 50-55 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes and then refrigerate for about 4 hours.
-- Kathleen Corlett

Applesauce stuffing

Adding applesauce to the stuffing mix is pure genius.  It adds so much better flavor and texture than the typical cranberries or raisins.  Thanks for the recipe and great idea

Post new comment

* Field must be completed for your comment to appear on The NewsHouse
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.