Want to upgrade your Thanksgiving menu? Here are ways to spice up dinner without getting the family in an uproar.
Step One: Add a Dish. If you want to make big changes, talk it over with your family before shopping. How much change are they able to tolerate? If the response is "forget about it," then you may have to start thinking deviously. (See Step 3 below.)
Otherwise, you could merely add a dish to the menu. A squash soup or pumpkin bisque is simple and quick to make, and will make you feel that you've updated the menu. Even a boxed cake mix decorated for the holiday can brighten your spirits and make you feel better about the fact that you cook the same thing year after year.
Step 2: Don't Mess with the Original. Provide the traditional dish plus another one that's more up your alley. It's more work, but don't try to get away with changing a traditional recipe and leaving your family high and dry at the table without the dish they expected. Offer something else they may find they like better; you can jettison the old recipe the following year.
If you take this route, don't mess with the big stuff; start with side dishes. The weaning process may be long and tedious, but rewards wait at the end.
Stuffing may be another story. Some families consider it the Holy Grail of the Thanksgiving meal, while others barely touch the stuff. If yours is in the latter category, feel free to substitute corn bread for bread, add some sausage or chopped oysters, or toss in some dried cranberries or raisins.
Step 3: Become devious. Just plain sneak stuff into the food and let the chips-and jaws- fall where they may.
Be warned, though, that sometimes these attempts can come back to bite you. You could end up with a new dish that you might consider just as tired as the one it replaced-and the family may be crazy about it.