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November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving recipes for busy moms

When I'm on the treadmill at the gym, I love watching the Food Network.  These past 2 weeks, they have unleashed a slew of Thanksgiving specials -- every other show is about turkey.  I've gotten some yummy recipes and tips from Rachael Ray (fresh herbs in the cavity), Sandra Lee (butter under and over the skin) and Paula Deen (deep fry it, y'all!).  Seeing all those beautifully plated dishes makes me want to create some culinary masterpieces of my own.  Unfortunately, it's not my turn to do the turkey -- I'm in charge of appetizers this year.  And in any case, I'm severely limited by my lack of time and ability.  And my kids' picky palates.  So I turned my efforts to making some appetizers that look good on a plate and are easy to make.  Here are two dishes that I threw together this week.  So far, all the grownups and kids who have tasted them love them.  They can be made a day ahead and warmed in the oven on Thanksgiving Day.  Since it's the season of sharing, I thought I'd share these recipes with you (note:  I'm an "eyeball it" kind of cook, there are no measurements.  Besides, measuring cups and spoons are just more work to wash).  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Turkey Quesadillas
My daughter's kindergarten class had a Thanksgiving lunch yesterday.  I signed up for mini-quiche, which I had previously bought from Safeway.  But somehow she got it into her head that I was bringing a whole roasted turkey, and she began bragging to the whole class about it (kindergarten logic -- it can't be a Thanksgiving feast without turkey, right?).  When I gently told her that I was not prepared to roast a turkey and reminded her that she didn't like turkey anyway , her face fell.   So I decided to combine turkey slices with one of my kids' favorite lunches, cheese quesadillas.  I cut them up into small triangles so they became bite-sized appetizers.  That way, Natalie got her turkey and I got my easy-to-prepare dish.  Actually, I caved in and bought a roasted turkey breast from Safeway as well; I couldn't bear to see her sad little face.  Ahh, the things we do for our children.

Recipe:
Sprinkle grated cheese over a whole wheat tortilla.  Top with a slice of turkey or turkey ham.  Microwave for 40 seconds or until the cheese melts.  Fold the tortilla in half and smoosh hard.  When cool, cut into triangles.

Mini Beef Empanadas
My husband is having a multicultural Thanksgiving potluck at work today. Everyone is sharing a dish that reflects their cultural heritage, so I decided to make some beef empanadas for him.  I figured they represent both of our cultures since Filipinos eat these all the time, and they are quite similar to the English beef pasty.  I decided to make them smaller than usual, bite sized, so that everyone in the office gets to have a piece and still have enough room in their tummies to sample other goodies.

Filling Recipe: 
Sautee minced onions until soft, then add lean ground beef.  Add some soy sauce and some cream of tomato soup and seasoning to taste.  Add raisins and finely cubed boiled potatoes.  Simmer till all the liquid is gone.

Crust Recipe: 
Buy a box of refrigerated piecrusts(2 per box).  Roll out the dough until the diameter is approx. 4 inches wider than the original circle. Cut the dough into 12-16 rectangles.  Place 1 small teaspoon of filling into a dough square. Fold the dough over and pinch the edges together.  Crimp the edges with a fork and prick some holes onto the top.  When you have made all the mini pies, brush the tops with some beaten egg.  Place them on an oiled baking sheet and bake at 350 for approx. 15 minutes.

Of course, if all else fails, buy some Nancy's Petite Quiche and heat them up.  Place a tiny dollop of sour cream on each, and sprinkle with chopped chives.  Then pretend you made the whole thing.

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