Illustration by Clarissa Faith Connolly

5 alternative Thanksgiving recipes

A break from school and the scent of good food can only mean one thing: Thanksgiving is on the horizon. Have you been looking for a way to spice up this year’s food spread? Talisman writer Bobbi Coffee has rounded up five recipes of non-traditional dishes, including a cocktail, that you can bring to your upcoming holiday celebration. 


Cocktail: cranberry apple hot toddy 


Illustration by Clarissa Faith Connolly


Skip the apple pie and the cranberry sauce with this hot and sweet cocktail adapted from Vine Pair.

Servings: 1

2 ounces apple cider (equal to 1/4)

3 ounces cranberry juice (equal to 6 tablespoons)

1/2  lemon, juiced

1 teaspoon of honey

1 1/2 1.5 ounces of bourbon (equal to 3 tablespoons)

1 cinnamon stick, for garnish

apple slices, for garnish


Using a small saucepan, heat the apple cider, cranberry and lemon juices. 

Once heated, add the honey and mix until the honey is dissolved. Remove from heat, and pour the mixture into the serving glass. Add the bourbon and stir. 

Garnish with the apple slices and star anise pod and enjoy! 

To make this recipe a mocktail, you can substitute the bourbon for 1/4 ounces (1 1/2 teaspoons) of vanilla extract.



Appetizer: baked brie with spicy Italian sausage and sun-dried tomatoes 

Baked brie season will be over faster than you think, so get your fill with this savory recipe adapted from Taste and Tell!

Servings: 12

4 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped

1/2 pound ground spicy Italian sausage 

3–4 cloves garlic, minced

1 13.2 ounce wheel brie cheese

1–2 tablespoons chopped basil

Bagel chips or crackers, for serving


Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a small pan, brown the sausage on medium heat. 

After the sausage is fully cooked, remove from heat and place in a bowl. Set this aside. 

In a bowl, combine the sun-dried tomatoes and garlic, mixing with the oil from the tomatoes. 

Place the wheel of cheese on a baking sheet. You can also put parchment paper on the baking sheet to make it easier to move the brie. 


Pour the tomato mixture directly on top of the brie. 

Bake until the brie is soft and oozing out of the sides, roughly 10 minutes. At the last minute, place the sausage on top of the brie in the oven to allow the sausage to heat back up. 

Take the cheese out of the oven, sprinkle on the basil, and enjoy! 


Main course: spatchcocked chicken 

Illustration by Clarissa Faith Connolly

This chicken recipe adapted from Will Cook for Smiles is juicy, full of spices and will hopefully replace your usual holiday bird. 

Servings: 4 to 6

Wet Rub:

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika 

1 1/2 teaspoons ground mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 1/2  teaspoons dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon blackening seasoning

Butter rub:

2 tablespoons butter, softened

2 teaspoons seasoning mix listed above

1/4¼ cup of olive oil, avocado oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil

4 pound whole chicken



Before preparing the chicken:

Leave the butter out for 30 minutes to soften before cooking. In a small mixing bowl, combine all the seasonings, except the oil, and mix well. 

In a small bowl, add two teaspoons of the seasoning mix to butter. With a fork, thoroughly combine softened butter and seasonings. 

Mix the rest of the seasonings with the oil for the wet rub. Set both aside.

To spatchcock the chicken:

Spatchcocking is the process of removing the backbone of poultry. 

Remove the whole chicken from the packaging and remove any giblets. Cut off excess fat often found at the bottom of the chicken, near the tail. 

Place the chicken breast down on a large cutting board. Using kitchen shears or a large knife, cut along the spine on one side from top to bottom and then on the other side of the backbone.

Flip the chicken breast side up. Using the bottom part of the palm of your hand, put a lot of pressure in the center, right between the two breasts. Push down to flatten the breastplate until it cracks under pressure 

Cooking the chicken:

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Carefully, separate the skin from the breast meat. Flatten pieces of seasoned butter and slide it on the breast under the skin. Try to even it out as much as you can.

Rub the outside of the entire chicken with the wet rub. 

Try to spread about 2/3 of the wet rub on the skin side and about 1/3 of the wet rub.

Cover a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease the foil. Onto the aluminum foil, place chicken breast-side-up.

Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken. 

Stick a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken breast. Make sure the chicken is cooked to 165 F. 

Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!



Side dish: maple pecan roasted sweet potatoes 

Since it wouldn’t be a true Thanksgiving without sweet potatoes, try this roasted take on a classic adapted from Dishing Out Health

Servings: 8

1 cup of walnuts, roughly chopped 

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup, divided 

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 pounds sweet potatoes

2 medium shallots 

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Orange or lemon zest for garnish (optional)


Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small saucepan, combine pecans, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne pepper. Cook mixture over medium-high heat until bubbly and thickened for about 4 to 5 minutes. Pour onto parchment paper and spread in an even layer. 

Allow the mixture to cool completely while preparing the remainder of the recipe. 

Peel and slice the sweet potatoes crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds. Peel and quarter the shallots. 

Toss the sweet potatoes and shallots with olive oil and the remaining salt. On a large-rimmed large rimmed baking sheet, spread the mixture evenly. Try to avoid too much overlap, if possible. Bake until the sweet potatoes are almost tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, microwave the butter until it’s melted. Stir the remaining maple syrup and cinnamon into the butter. 

Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and brush them with the maple butter. Flip the sweet potato slices over, then brush the other side with the remaining maple butter. Place the potatoes back in the oven for 10 more minutes or until browned and caramelized.


Transfer the roasted sweet potatoes and shallots to a serving platter and scatter the pecan mixture on top. Garnish with orange or lime zest, if desired.


Dessert: apple butter no-bake cheesecake 

Illustration by Clarissa Faith Connolly

It’s creamy; it’s no-bake, and it’s not pumpkin pie; this recipe adapted from I Am Baker will leave you wishing you didn’t have to share. 

Servings: 12 


16 full graham crackers, crushed (about 3 cups)

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter


2 eight-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 cups heavy cream

3/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup apple butter


Spray an 8-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set this aside. 

If a springform pan is not available, substitute it for An 8-inch round baking pan lined with parchment paper. 


In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon. Melt the butter and add it to the crumbs. Using a fork, mix it well. 

Pour the graham cracker crumbs into the sprayed springform pan. Pat them flat with your hand and then use a kitchen glass (or any cup) to press it flatter. 

Start at the center and work it out to and up the sides. Set aside.


In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed with a handheld mixer until creamy and smooth.

Add the heavy cream and lemon juice to the mixture and beat for 1-2 minutes, or until the mixture becomes fluffier.

Pour the cheesecake mixture into the prepared crust.

Top with dollops of apple butter. Using a knife or offset spatula, swirl the apple butter into the filling. Be careful not to scrape the crust.

Refrigerate until the filling is firm and cold. This will take about six hours to do, or leave it overnight. Afterwards, serve and enjoy!