Cook ahead for Thanksgiving with salads

When I was a little girl growing up in Wisconsin, our family enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with our grandparents. Both my grandmas were excellent cooks. Now I am a grandma and look forward to making yummy things and introducing family traditions to our little grandson, Kase.

These carrot salads can be made in advance, don’t take up precious oven real estate and can be served cool. They provide a nice contrast to a meal that is heavy in richness and carbs by integrating vinegar, citrus, crunch and freshness.

Sunshine Salad

When Grandma B had our family over for holiday meals, she always made this light fresh salad and served it with a pretty little glass bowl of Miracle Whip. I’ve saved some sweet carrots grown in our summer garden I’ll be using in my salad.

Ingredients

1 3-ounce box lemon gelatin

1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup cold water

Reserved juice from the can of crushed pineapple

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon white vinegar

2 stalks celery diced fine

2 cups grated carrots

1 8- ounce can crushed pineapple, juice reserved

¼ cup chopped pecan or hickory nuts (optional)

Instructions

Spray a 3- cup gelatin mold with cooking spray or alternately use a bowl. No need to spray if using a bowl.

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water in a bowl.

Then stir in cold water, salt, vinegar and reserved pineapple juice.

Chill until partially thickened, about 45 minutes.

Mix carrots, celery, pecans, and pineapple together and add to gelatin.

Pour into prepared mold. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 more hours. Invert mold onto serving platter to release gelatin salad.

St. George Spiced Citrus Carrot Salad

Our son lives in Grenada, West Indies and shares stories with me about of the fresh spices he buys from the ‘fruit guy who lives in the jungle’. This colorful, flavorful salad is a tasty accompaniment with roasted poultry and great for a buffet.

Ingredients:

4 navel oranges – 1 orange zested and juiced, save the other 3 to supreme

1 lemon, zested and juiced

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Dash each nutmeg and allspice

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher Salt to taste, a few grinds of fresh black pepper

1-pound carrots, cut into 3-inch matchsticks

¼ cup pomegranate seeds

In a medium bowl, whisk the orange and lemon juice with the zests, sugar, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, allspice and cayenne. Gradually whisk in the olive oil and season the dressing with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss the carrots with all but 2 tablespoons of the dressing and let stand at room temperature for 40 minutes.

Using a very sharp knife, peel the remaining 3 oranges, carefully removing all of the bitter white pith. Cut in between the membranes, releasing the orange sections into the bowl with the remaining dressing.

Arrange the carrot salad on a platter, spoon the oranges and pomegranate seeds around it and serve.

Buttery Potato Dinner Rolls

Yes, you expect soft, white yeasty rolls on the table. They sop up the gravy on your dinner plate and are perfect for transferring combinations of leftovers into your mouth in a perfectly sized bite.

Ingredients

1 package active dry yeast

¼ cup warm water

½ cup hot mashed potatoes

¼ cup butter

¼ cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 cup milk, scalded

2 eggs, one goes into the dough batter, one is saved to brush on rolls prior to baking

4 – 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2-4 tablespoons unsalted melted butter

Flaky sea salt

Instructions

Soften yeast in warm water (110 degrees) in a small bowl.

Combine mashed potatoes, butter, sugar and salt, and hot milk. Cool to lukewarm.

Add softened yeast and egg. Stir in 2 cups of flour (or enough to make soft dough).

Knead on lightly floured surface till smooth elastic, 6 to 8 minutes.

Place in lightly greased bowl, turning once to coat dough surface. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a tea towel and let rise until double, about 1 hour.

Punch down with a floured hand. Shape into a ball. Cover with tea towel and let rest 10 minutes.

To form the rolls, divide dough into pieces of about 1 ½ ounces each. Working one at a time and keeping other pieces covered with plastic, put a ball of dough into palm of your hand, fold edges of dough underneath, pinching bottom to seal. Turn 90 degrees and fold and pinch again repeat process until you have created a smooth sphere with no seams except at bottom. Place ball on floured work surface and rest the bottom side of your hand next to it so your palm and fingers are cupped around it. Rotate the ball gently in a continuous circle while keeping it on a floured work surface causing friction until the dough has a smooth, taut dome. Repeat with remaining balls of dough. Place in greased baking pans in a 5 x 3 grid, spacing evenly apart.

Loosely cover pan with plastic wrap and let rolls rise in a warm draft-free place until doubled in size and touching each other, about 45 minutes depending on the temperature of your room.

Place oven rack in middle of oven. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Beat remaining egg in a small bowl until yolk and white are incorporated and no streaks remain.

Gentle brush tops of rolls with pastry brush, then sprinkle with a bit of flaky sea salt.

Bake rolls until they are golden brown 15-20 minutes.

Transfer pan to wire rack and brush warm rolls with remaining melted butter, let cool in pan 10 minutes.

Carefully slide an offset spatula around sides and underneath rolls to loosen, then invert onto rack and turn right side up. Let cool another 15 minutes.

However you celebrate the tradition of Thanksgiving, blessings, food, family, friends and football, I wish you all a wonderful day.

Teri Robl is a longtime Homer resident who loves to cook for friends and family.

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