Friday, September 17

Giving Thanks

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We have all experienced extra stress this year in one way or another. Give your body a break by adding some nutritious, immune-boosting ingredients to your holiday meals.

What a year it’s been — and now it’s almost Thanksgiving, the official beginning of our most social time of the year.

Truth is, for some, Thanksgiving Day may be the first of a whole holiday season that looks a little different, starting with smaller get-togethers and maybe smaller dinner gatherings to celebrate the holidays.

Yet there is still so much to be thankful for: our lives and our friends and family. We are still Americans, and our blessings remain great. You may even be a little bit thankful if you don’t have to cook for a big crowd this year. You might have more time to contact friends and family with cards and phone calls, and we certainly hope you’ll use this holiday season to take care of yourself. With that in mind, this month’s recipes focus on smaller options with healthful, immune-boosting ingredients that add flavor as well as great nutrition.

By the way … we are thankful for your loyal readership.

Stuffed Tenderloins
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 large sweet onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 12 cremini or button mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup cooked and chopped spinach or kale
  • 1 (2-pound) package pork or turkey tenderloins
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  1. Place the butter and 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and saute, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes or until golden brown and caramelized. Add the cremini or mushrooms, carrots, garlic and spinach or kale. Cook another 10 minutes and set aside to cool for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Place the tenderloins between two pieces of plastic wrap on a cutting board. With a meat mallet, pound the tenderloins to ¼-inch thickness. Remove and discard the top piece of plastic wrap. Sprinkle the tenderloins on one side with the salt and pepper.
  3. Evenly spread the cooled filling over each tenderloin. Roll up and secure with toothpicks. Transfer from plastic wrap to the prepared baking dish and brush the outsides with the remaining oil. Bake uncovered for 35 to 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Allow to rest at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving warm.
Cornbread Dressing
  • ⅔ cup chopped celery
  • ⅔ cup chopped sweet onions
  • ⅔ cup water
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 recipe prepared cornbread, cooked and crumbled
  • 4 slices brioche or white bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning (see tips)
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1½ teaspoons dried rubbed sage
  • 1½ cups chicken stock
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  1. Place the celery, onions, water, garlic and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, stir together the cornbread, brioche or white bread, poultry seasoning, salt and sage. Grease a 9-by-11-inch baking dish and set aside.
  2. Add the cooked vegetables to the mixing bowl and stir well. Add the stock, blending well. Beat the eggs into the milk and add to the bowl, stirring to blend. Transfer to the prepared baking dish, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Remove from the refrigerator and let stand 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Uncover the dressing and bake 20 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving warm.
Almond Cranberry Sauce
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup dried apricots, chopped
  • ⅓ cup plus
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup red wine or cranberry juice cocktail
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted (see tips)
  1. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine the cranberries, apricots, granulated sugar, wine or cranberry juice cocktail, orange juice and brown sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for 20 minutes, then stir in the almonds.
  2. Cover and refrigerate up to one week. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Super-Easy Glazed Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 large or 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1 orange, juiced, and 1 teaspoon of zest (see tips)
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
  1. Place the sweet potatoes, orange juice, zest, brown sugar, butter, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cover and cook 25 minutes or until the potatoes are tender but not mushy, stirring occasionally. Uncover and continue to cook 10 additional minutes. Serve warm.
Tangy Brussels Sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  1. Place the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the Brussels sprouts, salt and pepper. Saute around 7 minutes or until they start to brown. Add the water and cook about 4 minutes longer. Drizzle with the lime juice and serve warm.
  2. Alternative: Serve the Brussels sprouts in halved, roasted red bell peppers for extra color!
Baked Maple Custards
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup maple syrup plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 cups milk, heated just barely to the boiling point
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and reserve. Lightly grease 6 custard cups and set aside.
  2. With a whisk, gently blend eggs, the ½ cup of syrup, vanilla and salt. Slowly stir in the hot milk. Ladle in the custard cups, filling each to within ¼ inch of the rim. Place the cups in a large, shallow baking dish and carefully pour the hot water in the pan until it comes about halfway up the cups. Sprinkle a spoon of sugar evenly over the top of each custard. Bake for 50 minutes or until the edges seem set but the middle is a bit wiggly (they will finish cooking as they cool). Cool to room temperature, chill or serve slightly warm. Drizzle with extra maple syrup when serving.


  • If you are having a larger crowd, all recipes can easily be doubled. Simply increase the baking time of the dressing to 35 minutes and, of course, place in a larger 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
  • To toast the almonds in the cranberry sauce, place the nuts in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet. Place in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Before the oven completely preheats, the almonds will be toasted. Turn on the oven light and watch closely. Remove from the oven just as they start to darken, and set them aside to cool.
  • One medium orange will yield around 3 tablespoons of juice.
  • Poultry seasoning is a combination of ground, dried thyme, marjoram, sage, rosemary, black pepper and nutmeg. It enhances the flavor of chicken and turkey and is a common ingredient in baked dressings.

Tammy Algood develops recipes for The Tennessee Magazine that feature farm-fresh Tennessee food. Those fresh, local ingredients will always add cleaner, more flavorful foods to your table. We recommend visiting local farms and farmers markets to find the freshest seasonal produce.

Ask Chef Tammy

Email your cooking questions to Tammy Algood:

Roberta asks: “When I make salsa, I always have lots of leftover juice that I hate to discard. This is after canning and when I make it fresh. Can you tell me a good use for this? I just hate to waste it if there is something I can make with it. Thank you.”

Roberta, I hate waste, too, and the juice is quite flavorful and nicely seasoned. I end up freezing the leftover in either ice cube trays or in cup measures. It is terrific to add to fall and winter soups and stews, and I especially love it to kick up the flavor of turkey or chicken chili. Make sure you appropriately label the frozen juice so it isn’t mistaken later for plain tomato juice. After the ice cubes are frozen, transfer to a large freezer bag. An individual ice cube compartment typically holds 2 tablespoons of liquid, so make sure you write that on the freezer bag.

Charles writes: “I have just started learning to cook and need your help with the use of gelatin. Without naming the brand, I purchased it unsweetened in a box with multiple small envelopes. Do I just pour it into the hot liquid? That is what I have been doing but I am having varying results and not sure what I am doing wrong. Thank you for your assistance.”

Charles, those boxes contain a ¼-ounce envelopes and are quite handy to have. One of those individual envelopes will jell a couple of cups of liquid. I have seen many recipes that instruct you to pour the granules directly into the hot liquid as you have stated. But, instead, I soak those granules in just a bit of cold liquid for about 5 minutes before adding to the hot liquid. Just decrease the amount of liquid called for by a couple of tablespoons. This accomplishes two things: It softens the granules, plus it allows them to swell slightly. The result is that the granules will dissolve more uniformly when you then add them to the hot liquid. Give it a try, and I think you’ll see an improvement in your results!


About Author

Tammy Algood develops for The Tennessee Magazine recipes that feature farm-fresh Tennessee food. Those fresh, local ingredients will always add cleaner, more flavorful foods to your table. We recommend visiting local farms and farmers markets to find the freshest seasonal produce. For more information about our recipes, contact Algood at

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