The transition from guest to host for family holiday gatherings can be an exciting (but sometimes hectic) one. While you'll want to continue some of the time-honored traditions your family enjoys -- whether a white elephant gift exchange or a pitch-in dinner -- you may also want to put your own creative touches on some of the foods you serve, helping begin new traditions. Read on to learn more about some twists on old favorites that will leave your family members full and happy.
Poussin chicken in place of turkey
While a roasted turkey is one of the most iconic foods served for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, prices for whole turkeys have skyrocketed during 2015 due to nationwide outbreaks of avian flu among the captive turkey population. Rather than turn to the faithful standby -- ham -- you may be able to make lemonade out of these lemons by investigating one of your alternative poultry options, like Cornish game hens or Poussin chicken.
Both Poussin chicken and Cornish hens are harvested at a young age, making them much more tender than older birds (including turkey). This small size allows you to provide each guest with an individual bird and decreases your cooking time to around an hour. You'll also be able to ensure each of your guests is quickly fed, rather than waiting for you or a co-host to carve and serve a large turkey.
Roasted butternut squash in place of yams
If you're looking to cut your dinner's calorie content or increase its nutritional value without compromising taste, you may want to investigate the many different uses for cubed butternut squash. This mildly sweet vegetable can be oven-roasted with oil, brown sugar, or even honey or maple syrup to achieve a crispy coating. If you're feeling adventurous, you can mix in some additional cubed fruits and vegetables -- apples, pumpkin, or even brussels sprouts.
Whipped turnips in place of mashed potatoes
Another way to sneak in some added nutrition is to replace some of the potatoes in your mashed potatoes recipe with turnips or rutabagas. These root vegetables come in a variety of types and flavors, from the spiciness of a radish to the milder, creamier flavor of a large rutabaga.
Even if you've never worked with turnips or rutabagas before, the learning curve is fairly flat -- you'll need only to boil them (or bake them) along with your potatoes, then mix in butter and milk with a stand mixer or hand beater. If your whipped turnips prove to be a hit, you may find yourself substituting these fiber-full vegetables for potatoes in even more recipes.