Cooks Corner

New side-dish ideas will jazz up your Thanksgiving table

With cheese: Creamy Havarti cheese punches up the flavor of this green bean casserole.
With cheese: Creamy Havarti cheese punches up the flavor of this green bean casserole. Arla Foods

A chat with Food Network celebrity chef Robert Irvine downright takes the stuffing out of Thanksgiving. He says most of us will be thankful to the tune of about 2,800 calories — which would take a marathon-length run to burn off.

To motivate us to keep moving, Irvine teamed up with Gold’s Gym for a program called Trim the Fat. You can find his healthier alternatives to traditional recipes at goldsgym.com, like the gluten-free stuffing here. And if you overindulge, gym locations nationwide are free the day after Thanksgiving.

If it’s carbs you’re looking to cut back on this holiday, consider this mashed-potato alternative from Atkins.com, using cauliflower. It contains only 4.5 net carbs and 86 calories per serving, yet it has much of the lush buttery flavor of mashed potatoes.

I made it in about 20 minutes and found it was just as good if not better the second day, so you could make it in advance and just reheat. You could probably cut some time by using frozen cauliflower florets. One change I’d suggest if you like your mashed with a little texture: Forget the mixer and use a hand masher. I also added a healthy dose of white pepper.

Tried and new

Green bean casserole is pretty traditional fare for Turkey day, but here’s a great spin from Arla cheeses (widely available in supermarkets and at Target), with a wild-mushroom sauce and a crispy cheese crust.

Arla Foods is a cooperative owned by more than 13,500 dairy farmers, with a 100-year history of crafting no-hormones-added cheeses in Kaukauna, Wisconsin. Creamy Havarti is suggested in this recipe, but I amped it up by substituting the new Jalapeño Havarti in the sauce.

Sleuth’s Corner

Every holiday, when the homemade desserts come out, my father-in-law says, “What, no plum pudding?”

I’ve looked online and have not found too much, and what I found were very different recipes. His German mom used to make it and I’d like to surprise him. Anyone know a German plum pudding recipe? Thanks. I will score big points for this one!

Jill Geiger, Medina Ohio

About 20 years ago, Wags on Kendall Drive served the most incredible spinach omelet. I’ve never seen an omelet as fluffy as that and would love to be able to re-create it. I have tried every tip I could find over the years (add water, or milk, beat the whites separately and fold them in, etc.) I’m beginning to think maybe it was magic. Can anyone advise me, please?

Arlene Goldberg

Turkey Time Help

The Butterball Hotline (1-800-BUTTERBALL) has been a go-to for flustered cooks with turkey questions every holiday season for more than 30 years. This year the tradition continues, with experts available even on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

But there’s extra help this year, with an app for Butterball Cookbook Plus with recipes, cooking methods plus nutritional information, how-to videos, conversion and substitution charts and a handy cooking calculator to plan portions, defrosting and cooking times. Free on the iTunes Store and Android Market.

Also, Jennie-O has creative menus, including a completely gluten-free feast and a Southwest Thanksgiving spread, plus helpful how-to videos and time-saving tips, at JennieO.com.

Send questions and responses to LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172.

Side dish

Not Your Gran’s Green Bean Casserole

Onion-cheese topping:

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley

1 cup grated cheese (creamy Havarti suggested)

Mushroom sauce:

4 tablespoons butter

2 12-ounce packages fresh wild mushrooms

4 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup cream

1 cup shredded cheese (creamy Havarti suggested)

Beans:

2 pounds green beans, trimmed

1 tablespoon salt (for blanching)

1 cup fried onions

Prepare topping: Mix together the panko breadcrumbs with butter and parsley. Add the cheese and toss just to combine. Set aside.

Prepare the cream sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add mushrooms and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in flour until it is absorbed, about 1 minute. Add the stock and pepper and gently stir until blended and it begins to thicken, about 3 minutes. Finish the sauce by stirring in the cream and Havarti cheese, gently mix until smooth, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

Beans: In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the beans and cook until crisp-tender. Drain off all the water and combine beans with the mushroom sauce. Transfer to a 2-quart casserole dish and cover with the panko-cheese topping. Add a few fried onions on top and bake until heated through, about 20 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 440 calories (63 percent from fat), 32 g fat (19 g saturated, 7.6 g monounsaturated), 91 mg cholesterol, 16 g protein, 25.9 g carbohydrate, 3.6 g fiber, 678 mg sodium.

Source: Arla Foods.

Side dish

Trim-the-Fat Gluten-Free Stuffing

1 large loaf gluten-free bread, diced

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

2 Vidalia onions, diced small

4 celery stalks, diced small

1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh thyme,

8 ounces lean gluten-free turkey sausage

1/2 cup dried cranberries, optional

Dash each of kosher salt and black pepper

2 cups gluten-free chicken stock

2 eggs

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the diced bread on a sheet pan and toast for 10 to 12 minutes, until light golden brown. Heat a small sauté pan and cook the turkey sausage until cooked through and set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the grapeseed oil. Add the onions and celery and sauté until tender and onions become translucent. Add the fresh sage, thyme and cooked turkey sausage in with the vegetables. Remove from heat and stir in the toasted bread, chicken stock and eggs. Mix well and pour into a casserole dish. Cover the dish with foil and bake 25 minutes. Uncover the stuffing and continue to cook to allow the top to brown for 8 to 10 minutes longer. Serve hot. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 371 calories (36 percent from fat), 14.3 g fat (2.2 g saturated, 5.9 g monounsaturated), 99 mg cholesterol, 16 g protein, 42 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 682 mg sodium.

Source: Robert Irvine.

Side dish

Cauliflower-Sour Cream Mash

8 cups cauliflower florets (1 large head cauliflower, trimmed)

2 tablespoons sour cream

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon salt

Add a cup of water to a large pot and insert a steamer basket. Place cauliflower florets in the basket and bring water to a boil over high heat. Cover tightly, cook until tender, 10–12 minutes, and drain. Purée cauliflower in a food processor, adding florets in batches.

Add sour cream, heavy cream, butter and salt; process until smooth and well combined. Reheat gently, if necessary, before serving. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 86 calories (58 percent from fat), 5.9 g fat (3.5 g saturated, 1.5 g monounsaturated), 16.6 mg cholesterol, 2.9 g protein, 6.9 g carbohydrate, 2.6 g fiber, 454 mg sodium.

Source: Atkins.com

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