(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
Toasting Thanksgiving with toast just may be an easy and inventive way to kick off a memorable holiday meal. Crostini, the popular Italian appetizer of small topped toasts, can be the foolproof inspiration for unique seasonal hors d’oeuvres.
Usually, Italian ingredients and seasonings crown the toast. However, as Thanksgiving celebrations begin, instead be innovative with both your breads and toppings and let traditional holiday flavors be your guide. Pumpkin, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, cranberries and even stuffing can turn this traditional crowd-pleaser into treats that are all your own.
Take a look at the ideas that follow. All ingredients are to taste. Each combination below should be lightly toasted in the oven at desired temperature until desired doneness, being careful not to burn.
Fun fare like this also proves food preparation – even for holidays – can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun – and fast. The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for creating homemade specialties and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it!
Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since these are virtually-can’t-go-wrong combinations. They can’t help but draw “wows” from family members and guests.
- PEPPY PUMPKIN
Top slices of pumpkin bread with a thin layer of pumpkin butter, freshly ground black pepper, curry powder and pumpkin seeds.
- CRAVING CRANBERRY
Top slices of baguette with a thin layer of cranberry sauce that’s been gently mixed with orange marmalade, allspice, orange zest and dried cranberries.
- STICK WITH CINNAMON
Quarter slices of whole-grain bread and top with a thin layer of cream cheese, freshly ground cinnamon sticks, drops of peppermint extract and golden raisins.
- CORNY BUT TRUE
Top slices of cornbread with a thin layer of olive oil and minced: garlic, shallots and sundried tomatoes (that have been drained).
- ANYTHING BUT STUFFY
Form cooked seasoned Thanksgiving stuffing into thin slices and top with cooked and minced: water chestnuts, carrots and parsnips. Drizzle with pure maple syrup.
QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK: Leo Pearlstein was on the team that created the pop-up turkey timer. As a top culinary public relations company founder for more than 50 years who represented turkey advisory boards, he often accompanied the annual turkey to be “pardoned” to the White House, including the one that John F. Kennedy posed with days before his assassination. As longtime friend and representative of food product pioneer Sophie Cubbison, creator of Mrs. Cubbison’s brand of toasted products, stuffing also became a Pearlstein (who is now 97 and still doing annual pre-Thanksgiving press interviews) specialty. I unearthed 50 years of Cubbison’s recipes in Pearlstein’s offices before he donated them to university libraries and was proud about 10 years ago to write with him Mrs. Cubbison’s Best Stuffing Cookbook. His tip: Don’t ever let stuffing in a casserole limit your culinary imagination. As chapters in the book show, stuffing also can be turned into visual showstoppers, like muffins, loaves, balls and even desserts, such as bread pudding.
Lisa Messinger at Creators Syndicate is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet (Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.