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I love spending my free time in the kitchen, and with the holidays coming up, I’ve found the perfect excuse to try my hand at a few new recipes. Thanksgiving is full of tradition, but I like to add a few new items every year. I found a great blog with some unique holiday ideas that will get me started.

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Your favorite jack-o-lantern gourds aren’t just for pies anymore! This recipe not only updates one of your favorite cheesy childhood dishes, but puts a delectable spin on a boxed macaroni for extra easy prep!

Start by cooking 1 box of your favorite boxed macaroni and cheese according to package instructions. Do not add in the cheese packet yet; drain pasta and set aside. Using the same pan, heat a tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat and saute half of a diced and peeled apple for 2-3 minutes. Next, add in 2-3 cups of chopped swiss chard leaves (about one bunch) and cook until softened. Remove the sauteed apples and chard and set aside. Returning to the same pan, add in the pasta, 1/2 cup of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling), the cheese packet, 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, and 2 tablespoons of milk. Mix together over medium-high heat until cheese has melted. Add in the apples and chard again, and allow to cook for another minute. Remove from heat. Garnish with crumbles of crispy bacon if desired.

Garlic Butter Smashed Sweet Potatoes

When you think of an adjective to describe Thanksgiving flavors, the word “savory” probably comes to mind. These garlic butter smashed sweet potatoes are that and more!

Pre-heat an oven to broil at high heat. Trim off the ends of 4 medium-sized sweet potatoes, and then slice potatoes into quarters. Bake sweet potatoes for 25-30 minutes, or until fork-tender. Allow to cool until you are able to handle them with your hands. Lightly grease a large baking sheet with olive oil. Arrange sweet potatoes on sheet and use a fork to lightly smash each one. In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of melted butter, 4 cloves of crushed garlic, 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle mixture of each sweet potatoes and lightly spray with olive oil spray. Broil for an additional 15 minutes, and then top with Parmesan; return to oven until cheese has melted.

Apple Pie Salsa With Cinnamon Sugar Chips
Kids will especially love this dip-ready finger food!

To make the apple pie “salsa”, combine 4 medium Granny Smith Apples (diced), 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 cup light brown sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg in a saucepan over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Add in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

To create the cinnamon sugar chips to accompany your salsa, start by preheating an oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine a 1/4 cup of sugar with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon. Brush both sides of 5 flour tortillas with melted butter, then generously sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Slice tortillas into triangular wedge shapes. Arrange on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 14-16 minutes until crispy and golden-brown. Serve with warm apple salsa.