Fun Recipes and New Thanksgiving Traditions

I grew up just like so many American’s, eating the same ol’ same ol’ for Thanksgiving.  
It was always wonderful but never anything that made your taste buds sit up and take notice!  Thanksgiving is all about tradition and to many people that means eating the same exact meal year after year.  That’s fine! But, why not take your Grandma’s Green Bean Casserole and spice it up a bit?  Why not add some fun to everyone’s favorites with Sweet Potato Balls? And how about stopping that fight over the crispy layer on the stuffing, make Southern Stuffin Muffins, so everyone has a crispy bite or two.  Make your family appreciate what is going in their mouths and really give thanks this year! Try a mixture of traditional dishes and new twists on family classics. So why not serve that traditional turkey, giblet gravy, mashed potatoes  with a few new twists for the holiday. Shake it up a bit and create some new family classics and traditions!

Fungi Green Bean Casserole
1 pound fresh green beans
4 quarts water
4 Tablespoons salt
2 oz by weight of dried mushrooms ( Porcinis and Morels)
½ cup hot water
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 pound sliced mushrooms                                                                                                               (mix of wild mushrooms suggested- but plain button mushrooms will do)
3/4 cup marsala wine
2/3 cup vegetable stock
1/3 cup chicken stock

1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
salt and pepper to taste
   
1 can fried onions 
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Bring salted water to a boil and blanch green beans for 3 – 5 minutes, then refresh in iced water and set aside.
Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water for 20 minutes.
Melt butter and saute the sliced mushrooms. Deglaze with marsala wine, scraping off the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the softened dried mushrooms and the soaking liquid. Reduce until most of the liquid has evaporated. Make a slurry with the cornstarch and veggie/chicken stock. Add to the mushrooms and heat until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Toss the mushroom “gravy” with the green beans and place in a casserole dish. Top with the fried onions and bake until browned on top and green beans are heated through.

SWEET POTATO BALLS 
Ingredients:
4   large sweet potatoes 
2/3 cup packed brown sugar 
2 tablespoon orange juice 
1 teaspoon orange zest 
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 
2 cups shredded coconut, sweetened                                                                                             
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1   large marshmallow per potato ball 
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  
Bake the potatoes until tender, then peel and mash them. Stir in the brown sugar, orange juice, zest and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, toss the coconut with the sugar and cinnamon. Press mashed potatoes around each marshmallow, creating a 2 to 3-inch diameter ball. Roll the balls in the coconut mixture. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Watch carefully for the last few minutes of cooking; the expanding marshmallows can cause the potato balls to burst open.  

SOUTHERN STUFFING MUFFINS
Ingredients 
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan 
1 stick butter, softened  
2 ribs celery and greens, from the heart, chopped 
1 rib of rhubarb, chopped
1 medium to large sweet vidalia onion, chopped 
1 McIntosh apple and 1 Granny Smith Apple cored, quartered and chopped 
Salt and pepper 
2 tablespoons poultry seasoning 
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves 
8 cups cubed stuffing mix  
2 to 3 cups chicken stock
Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil to skillet and 4 tablespoons butter. When butter melts,  add the vegetables as you chop them, celery, rhubarb, onions then apples. Sprinkle the vegetables and apples with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Cook 5 to 6 minutes to begin to soften vegetables and apples then add parsley and stuffing cubes to the pan and combine. Moisten the stuffing with chicken broth until all of the bread is soft but not wet. 
Butter 12 muffin cups, 2 tins, liberally with remaining butter. Use an ice cream scoop to fill and mound up the stuffing in muffin tins. Bake until set and crisp on top, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove stuffin’ muffins to a platter and serve hot or room temperature.

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