PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- While we all look forward to a traditional Thanksgiving meal, sometimes you want to take dinner up a notch and try something new.
A local chef and cookbook author has some recipes that will give your Turkey Day Dinner an easy upgrade.
What's so great about these recipes is they stick with the traditional Thanksgiving theme but they each have a modern, gourmet twist.
But don't be intimidated, they were designed to keep family and friends asking for more without requiring you to invest a lot of time the kitchen.
"It's just something a little different but they still get that comfort of knowing it's something they know they've been eating every year," said chef and author, Hope Cohen.
We all know turkey dinner wouldn't be complete without the stuffing, but Cohen has some suggestions to upgrade your usual recipe.
"I think people get tired of preparing the same thing every year the same way," she said.
Cohen says you may not want to abandon Grandma's recipe all together, but her Cornbread sausage stuffing Ramekins give dinner an unexpected sweet and southern twist.
To make them, you'll need day old cornbread, sweet sausage butter herbs, salt and pepper and...
"Celery onion and carrot - the holy trinity for chefs," said Cohen.
You can prep Wednesday night and bake the next day.
"And then each person gets their own little gift," said Cohen.
And speaking of gifts, the French gave us Lady Liberty and Potato Gratin, so keep the mashed potatoes but add this dish - layers of sliced potatoes, Gruyere Cheese, heavy cream and nutmeg.
"A little bit of cheese, little bit of potato little bit of salt and pepper you get the idea," said Cohen.
Opt out of canned cranberry sauce - fresh is always better. And adding raspberries to your cranberry sauce offsets the bitterness with sweetness. You'll need just five ingredients.
"You're going to hear the cranberries start to pop and that's how you know they are cooking. This literally takes about 5 minutes," said Cohen.
For another upgrade, pick up some pre-cut butternut squash for roasting and pair it with glazed pecans that you can purchase or home make in a matter of minutes. Finish it off with a sprinkle of maldon or sea salt.
If you're hesitant to venture outside your comfort zone, Cohen says fear of a food fail is unfounded.
"If you have a back up or something you've purchased or something someone else has made, why not try it? You may surprise yourself," she said.
For a full list of Hope Cohen's recipes from Fast, Fresh and Simple, CLICK HERE.
Roasted Butternut Squash With Glazed Pecans And Maldon Salt
2 Butternut Squash, Peeled And Chopped (May Be Purchased In The Produce Section Of Most Markets)
1 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Fresh Black Pepper To Taste
For The Pecans:
2 Cups Pecans
3 Tbs Brown Sugar
3 Tbs Water
Pinch Of Sea Salt
1. Preheat Oven To 400F.
2. Place Squash On A Foil Lined Sheet Pan With Sides And Drizzle With Olive Oil. Using Your Hands, Toss Squash With Oil Until Well Coated On All Sides. Sprinkle With Liberal Amounts Of Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper.
3. Roast In For About 20 Minutes, Or Until Tender And Starting To Brown.
4. While Squash Roasts, Heat A Large Sauté Pan Over Medium High Heat. Toast The Pecans In The Dry Pan For A Few Minutes Until They Start To Smell Toasted, Being Careful Not To Burn!
5. Add Brown Sugar, Water And A Pinch Of Salt To The Pecans, Increase The Heat To Medium High And Cook For About 30 Seconds Until The Sugar Is Melted. Transfer Pecans To A Parchment Or Foil Lined Sheet Pan And Allow To Cool.
6. Combine Squash With The Pecans, Season With Maldon Salt To Taste And Serve.
Makes 8 servings.
Individual Cornbread Sausage Ramekins
4 Cups Of Crumbled Day Old Cornbread
1/2 Lb Loose Sweet Sausage
4 Tbs Unsalted Butter, Melted
2 Tbs Finely Chopped Celery
2 Tbs Finely Chopped Onion
2 Tbs Finely Chopped Carrot
1 Tbs Chopped Fresh Thyme, Rosemary And Sage
1/2 Cup Of Water
Sea Salt And Fresh Black Pepper To Taste
1. Heat A Skillet On Medium High Heat And Sauté The Sausage Until It Is Cooked Through, Losing Any Trace Of Pink. Drain The Fat From The Pan And Cool. When Cool, Chop Sausage Finely And Reserve.
2. In The Same Skillet, Add 1 Tablespoon Of The Melted Butter And Sauté The Vegetables With The Herbs, Seasoning With Salt And Pepper To Taste, On Medium Heat Until They Are Cooked Through And Soft (About 3-5 Minutes)
3. Combine The Reserved, Cooked Sausage With The Sautéed Vegetables, Remaining Butter, Water And Cornbread, Mixing Well.
4. Transfer Stuffing To 1 Cup Buttered Ramekins. (May Be Prepared The Day Before Serving Up To This Point)
5. Bake Stuffings On A Sheet Pan In A Preheated 350F Oven For 25 Minutes Or Until Starting To Brown On The Top. Serve Immediately.
Makes 8 servings.
4 Large Baking Potatoes
2 Cups Grated, Good Quality imported Gruyere Cheese
1 1/2 Pints Heavy Cream
1 Clove Of Garlic, Smashed And Peeled
1 Tbs Unsalted Butter
Fresh Nutmeg For Grating
Sea Salt and Fresh Black Pepper
1. Preheat Oven To 350 F.
2. Peel Potatoes, Reserving In A Bowl Of Cold Water To Avoid Oxidation. Drain And Dry Potatoes, Then Slice In 1/8 " Round Slices, Preferably With A Mandoline.
3. Rub A 10" Round Gratin Dish With The Smashed Garlic And One Tablespoon Of Butter.
4. Layer Potato Slices In A Circular Pattern Covering Bottom Of Dish, Sprinkling With Salt, Pepper And Nutmeg. Cover Potatoes With 1/4 Of Cheese And Repeat 4 Times, Ending With Cheese.
5. Pour Cream Over Potato/Cheese Mixture.
6. Bake Uncovered For One Hour, Or Until Bubbly And Brown.
7. Allow To Rest For 10 Minutes And Serve Immediately Or Allow To Cool, Refrigerate And Reheat At 300F For 25 Mintues, Covered Or Until Hot And Bubbly.
Makes 6 servings.
Raspberry Cranberry Conserve
2 Pints Fresh Raspberries
16 Oz Fresh Cranberries, Washed + Stems Removed
1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Granulated White Sugar
1 Cup Water
Tiny Pinch Of Sea Salt
2 Tbs Chambord Raspberry Liquor (Optional)
1. Combine First 6 Ingredients In A Medium Sized Pot And Cook On A Medium Heat Until Mixture Begins To Simmer.
2. Stir And Reduce Heat To Medium Low, Watching Carefully So That Mixture Does Not Overboil And Overflow. Don't Be Alarmed, Mixture Will Foam.
3. As Soon As Cranberries Pop And Averything Cooks Down To A Saucy Consistency (About 5 Minutes), Turn Off Heat. Conserves Will Gel From The Natural Pectin In The Berries As It Cools.
4. Allow To Cool And Serve Chilled Or At Room Temperature. May Be Made Several Days Ahead Of Time.
Makes approximately 4 cups.
Sautéed Sweet Peas With Mint And Butter
3-10oz Packages Frozen Sweet Peas
2 Tbs Unsalted Butter
6 Fresh Mint Leaves, Chopped Finely
Sea Sea Salt To Taste
1. Melt The Butter In A Large Sauté Pan.
2. Sauté Peas For 3-5 Minutes, Seasoning With Sea Salt To Taste, Until Heated Through.
3. Transfer To A Serving Dish And Sprinkle With Mint, Stirring To Combine.
4. Just Before Serving, Season With Sea Salt To Taste.
5. Serve Immediately.
Makes 8 servings.