Crevolyn Wiley: Try adding a few new dishes to your holiday menus

We are entering what I call the “cooking and eating season” and I could not be happier. I’ve already started planning my menus for Thanksgiving, Christmas get-togethers and Christmas dinner.

I enjoy the planning almost as much as the cooking. I read cookbooks like novels and have a zillion post-it notes poking out of their edges. Adding to all of the traditional holiday dishes, I try new ones each year. 

I’ll admit Thanksgiving is probably not the best time to try a new dish but for some reason, I seem to get inspired. I think adding something new to the traditional holiday menu is a good idea.

Last year, I served this Mushroom and Wild Rice Casserole and it was delicious. We liked it so much I put in our meal rotation throughout the year and regularly serve it alongside pork tenderloin, black-eyed peas, cream corn and slaw (a family favorite). This dish would be great addition to your Thanksgiving or Christmas menu. 

Mushroom and Wild Rice Casserole

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 (8-ounce) package sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1 (8-ounce) Uncle Ben’s long-grain and wild rice blend with seasoning
  • 1 (10-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup, low sodium
  • 1 (10.5-ounce) can beef consommé

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms and onion, cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in rice, cook stirring constantly for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add soup and consommé until well combined. Spread mixture into prepared pan and cover with foil. Bake until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed, 45 to 60 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. 

We can’t talk about holiday cooking without having a good dessert recipe. Everyone needs a great piece of pie and pecan is a perennial favorite. Being a traditionalist, I just wasn’t sure that adding caramel would be a good idea. Believe me, it was a great idea. And if you want to take a step farther, add a teaspoon of sea salt for a Salted Caramel Pecan Pie. You may never eat traditional pecan pie again. 

Caramel Pecan Pie

  • 1 refrigerated pie crust
  • 28 caramels
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted

Place pie crust into a 9-inch pie, fold edges and crimp. Prick bottom and sides with a fork. Bake pie crust at 400 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned; cool on a wire rack. Combine caramels, butter and cup water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, 5 to 7 minutes or until caramels and butter are melted. Remove from heat. In a medium bowl, combine sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt. Stir into caramel mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in pecans. Pour into prepared crust. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 20 more minutes, shielding edges of crust with foil to prevent excessive browning. Remove pie to a wire rack to cool. 

Crevolyn Wiley is a Gainesville resident with her first published cookbook “Cooking with Crevolyn” available at J&J Foods. She can be contacted at crevolyn.wiley@jandjfoods.com.

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