Tonawanda News

November 4, 2013

VUKCEVICH: Celebrate Americana with Thanksgiving recipes

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Daylight saving time ends today so “fall back” is the theme on my November calendar.

And what a month awaits us. Tuesday is Election Day, and “don’t forget to vote” is the reminder while we plan remembrances of Veterans’ Day on Nov. 11.

I am a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary Post in Hazleton, Pa., and recently the annual European tour honoring American soldiers, past and present, took place thanking Europeans who honor our soldiers. 

The fact that our fallen troops are honored and held in such high esteem abroad, brings us to the present happenings in Washington and the shutdown that disrupted funerals for military personnel killed overseas.

Someone asked, “Can you remember a greater political disaster in your lifetime” than the recent near-default on government obligations, and a debt averted for now, which was amplified by the economic costs wrought by the 16-day shutdown? With the Dec. 13 deadline in time for Congress to act by Jan. 15 is the hope that the two parties will work to avoid a repeat crisis.

Seems there is a little bit of Hollywood in Washington presently, and with the grim events dominating our lives recently, I recall my parents admiration of the patrician president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in the 1930s. FDR took to the radio waves with a series of “fireside chats” that riveted the nation and helped hold it together during difficult times.

As the architect of the New Deal — a series of wide-ranging government programs designed to combat the Great Depression — Roosevelt was a giant of this period.

Despite the odds, America will forge ahead despite this time of uncertainty.

Remembering those days as we again wriggle out of the worries ahead, I share with you three recipes that showcase the best America has to offer, as we continue our consumer confidence for the coming holidays.

Green beans with mushroom-madeira sauce for Thanksgiving

The green bean casserole was made in our household with nothing but convenience ingredients: frozen or canned green beans, canned cream of mushroom soup, and for the topping, canned fried onions. Here it is again, only fresher and better.

3 tablespoons butter

6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

6 ounces oyster mushrooms, sliced

3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

3 tablespoons chopped shallots

1/2 cup Madeira wine

1 cup whipping cream

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed

vegetable oil (for deep-frying)

2 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced crosswise

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add mushrooms and thyme; saute five minutes.

Add 2 tablespoons shallots; saute until mushrooms are tender, about three minutes.

Add Madeira and simmer until almost all liquid evaporates, about two minutes.

Add cream and simmer until slightly thickened, about two minutes. Set sauce aside.

Cook beans in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, five minutes; drain.

Sauce and beans can be made six hours ahead. Cover separately, chill.

Pour enough oil into large deep saucepan to reach depth of 4 inches.

Heat oil to 350 degrees.

Place 1/4 of leeks in small metal strainer.

Lower strainer into oil; fry until golden, 40 seconds. 

Lift strainer from oil.

Drain leeks on paper towels. Repeat with remaining leeks in three more batches. Season leeks with salt.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat.

Add beans and remaining 1 tablespoon shallots; toss to heat through.

Season with salt and pepper.

Place beans on platter.

Bring sauce to simmer.

Spoon sauce over beans.

Sprinkle with fried leeks.

Serves six.

Spicy turkey sloppy Joes

We trace the origin of sloppy Joes to the depression-era 193’s, and the popularity of this messy ground-beef sandwich increased markedly in the 50s and 60s.

Update it with ground turkey, canned diced chilies and ale. Fabulous for the buffet table and for football feasting.

Here is a contributed recipe for the day after Thanksgiving feasting.

3 tablespoons olive oil.

11/2 pounds ground turkey (or cooked, diced from the holiday)

1 large green bell pepper, chopped

4 large garlic cloves, chopped

3 tablespoons chili powder

11/4 cups ale or beer

3/4 cup bottled chili sauce or ketchup

1 4-ounce can diced green chilies

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 cup finely chopped green onions

6 sourdough rolls, split, toasted

2 cups shredded romaine lettuce or packaged garden salad mix 

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.

Add turkey, green pepper and garlic and saute until turkey is no longer pink, breaking up meat with back of fork, about 10 minutes.

Mix in chili powder; stir one minute.

Add next four ingredients.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until mixture thickens, stirring often, about 15 minutes.

Mix in green onions; season with salt and pepper.

Arrange roll bottoms on plates.

Spoon sloppy joe mixture over top; top with lettuce and roll tops.

Serves six.

Double corn and cheese muffins, 2013 edition

Finally, nostalgia reigns, with the ever-popular new bride’s recipe for double corn and cheese muffins.

Jiffy muffin mixes were part of the boxed baking craze that took hold in the previous generation, and they remain a supermarket staple.

Here, frozen corn kernels, shredded cheese and fresh basil are a great Thanksgiving Day surprise, and a convenient addition.

1/3 cup whole milk

1 large egg

1 8.5-ounce box corn muffin mix

1/3 cup (packed) shredded “pizza cheese” or mozzarella cheese

1/3 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line eight 1/3-cup muffin cups with paper liners.

Blend milk and egg in small bowl.

Place remaining ingredients in large bowl; add milk mixture.

Stir until ingredients are just moistened; do not overmix.

Divide batter among prepared muffin cups.

Bake muffins until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes

Serve muffins warm.

Our December 1 column features favorite contributed recipes. Do send yours along to

Marija Vukcevich is a freelance writer from Lewiston. Contact her at