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Three Thanksgiving dishes you can start making now
Crevolyn Wiley columnist

I’m not sure how it is possible that next week is Thanksgiving but ready or not, here we go into the holiday season. You know what that means, time for some great go-to recipes for all of those special occasions. 

Today I have three that I think you’re going to love. This Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoes recipe is a great side dish that can be a fix-and-forget until serving time. I call that a win. The Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars; well, need I say more? Finally, the Chicken (or Turkey) Taco Chili is delicious and a great use of the leftover turkey we are bound to have on hand after that big Thanksgiving meal.

Thank you, dear readers, for your continued support. I love when I see someone pull a recipe from the newspaper out of their pocketbook or they tell me they made something I shared and loved it. You all are the best. Happy Thanksgiving! 

Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoes


  • 3-1/2 to 4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks

  • 1 (20-ounce) can apple pie filling

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

  • 2/3 cup brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces

  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted


Lightly spray a large slow cooker with cooking spray. Layer sweet potatoes, pie filling, raisins, brown sugar and butter. Cover and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or high heat 3-4 hours. Stir halfway through cooking. Sprinkle with pecans before serving. 

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

  • 1 cup butter, softened

  • Cheesecake filling:

  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Apple layer ingredients:

  • 3 Granny Smith apples; peeled, cored and finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

  • Streusel topping ingredients:

  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened

  • Drizzle ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup caramel topping


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender (or two forks) until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into a 9x13” baking pan lined with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with ¾ cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time; then vanilla. Pour over warm crust.

In a small bowl, combine apples, sugar and cinnamon. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture.

For the streusel: combine all ingredients and mix with a fork, breaking up the butter. Sprinkle over the apples.

Bake 40-45 minutes or until filling is set. Drizzle with caramel topping and let cool to room temperature. Put in the refrigerator for at least two hours to be sure it is set before cutting into bars. 

Chicken (or Turkey) Taco Chili


  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained

  • 1 (16 ounce) can kidney beans, drained

  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen corn kernels

  • 2 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes

  • 1 package taco seasoning

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or 3 cups chopped turkey)

  • Garnishes: sour cream, corn chips, avocado slices, chopped cilantro


Combine onion, beans, tomato sauce, corn, diced tomatoes and taco seasoning in a slow cooker. Stir well. Nestle the chicken breasts in and completely cover. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-6 hours. Before serving remove the chicken breasts and shred. Stir the shredded chicken into the ingredients in the slow cooker. Serve with desired garnishes. 

If using cooked turkey, stir together all ingredients and cook on low for 4-6 hours. 

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