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Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Recipes & Festive Drink Idea to Put on the Menu This Year

Thanksgiving Day is going to look incredibly different for many families this year. Large family gatherings around the table are not advised by the CDC due to social distancing guidelines. As more than one million cases were reported in the US in a week, restrictions are vital in keeping everyone safe, such as limiting guests, maintaining a six-foot distance from one another, and sanitizing all high-traffic areas and surfaces. The CDC has also suggested a virtual dinner with extended family to enjoy the holiday meal together with one another, safely.

Why not embrace the non-traditional aspect of the holidays this year with recipes that veer away from traditional turkey and stuffing? Not to mention, there is also a festive drink idea at the end that can be made with or without alcohol for everyone to enjoy!

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

Cornbread is one of those side dishes that stick to your ribs and makes you feel joyously sleepy after a good meal. If you’re looking for a different flavor, why not try adding cheddar and jalapenos to it? We make this at home every year and it never disappoints. Having that little bit of heat from the jalapenos just makes a great staple to a holiday meal even better! We like to glaze the top with butter or hot honey after taking it out to keep it moist and look extra appetizing.

SimpleFoodByTy has a mouth-watering recipe for homemade cornbread baked in a cast-iron skillet. However, it would be sacrilegious not to put everyone on to his southern baked mac n’ cheese recipe!

Swap Turkey For A Delicious Beer Can Chicken

Yes, turkey is the iconic symbol of traditional Thanksgiving, but let’s be honest—it’s not that good, especially as it tends to be dryer among other meats.

If you’ve never heard of beer can cooked chicken, I have some news for you: it’s an amazing technique for juicy chicken. I can see how it’s a little weird to stick a whole can of beer inside of a chicken carcass, but when the oven/grill reaches a certain temperature, steam and flavor from the beer release and cooks into the chicken from the inside out, preventing it from drying.

Chef and YouTube personality Sam the Cooking Guy has a Mexican fusion recipe for his chicken that you can make at home with your beer of choice. Drink (and eat) responsibly!

Vegan/Gluten-free Stuffing Mix

As someone with Celiac Disease, it’s important to find vegan and gluten-free holiday recipes that are easily available to people without feeling like a burden for needing accommodations to their meals.

In all honestly, I was very laid-back about my illness (hence, me still eating the cornbread mentioned above almost every holiday) but this year, it’s vital that I make better choices in order to keep my immune system as healthy as it can be and prevent further health complications down the line.

Here’s a simple stuffing recipe that will easily be enjoyed by all and you can add as many seasonings as you like.

Apple Empanadas/Turnovers

Alongside the big turkey on a plate, a signature steaming apple pie is a classic symbol of the American holiday. However, it’s sure to get boring year after year, so switch it up with apple empanadas (or, turnovers) that are flaky, sweet, and still reminds us of classic fall flavors.

Festive Cranberry Spritzer

So, you made it to the end for the festive drink—you’re in for a treat! This sweet, tart and bubbly cocktail can be made with or without alcohol and only needs a few ingredients: cranberry juice, vodka/gin (optional), seltzer water, and a garnish like whole cranberries, rosemary, or mint! Simple, yet delicious.

Stay safe and healthy this Thanksgiving!

Nikki Haslett

West Chester '21

Nikki Haslett is a senior college student and Vice President for Her Campus at West Chester University. She is currently working to obtain her Bachelor's degree in English Writing with a minor in Journalism. Naturally, she's drawn towards creative outlets, whether it be makeup & fashion, writing, drawing, or working with multimedia tools for journalistic projects, such as podcasting. As an aspiring journalist/news reporter, she is determined to use her natural interpersonal skills and make meaningful connections with individuals in order to bring important stories to life, while also sharing her own trials and tribulations with her audience. Fun Fact: One of my bucket list goals is to write a complete, feature-length movie script and attend a Hollywood awards show.
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