Friendsgiving Recipes and More

Check out these easy recipe twists from an appetizer to main dish and dessert, whether you’re celebrating with friends anytime or contributing to Thanksgiving dinner
Mascarpone-Pumpkin Pie Squares

Photo Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Have a dinner coming up with friends? Or looking for something a little different to contribute to Thanksgiving dinner? Check out these recipes for dip, a turkey breast that is easier than cooking a whole bird, an autumn-inspired pasta that could serve as a side or vegetarian main, and a twist on pumpkin bars that also mixes in caramel and pecans.

If you prefer to make ham, it’s super easy. It is usually precooked, so you are basically just heating it. If you have a half ham, place cut side down in a baking pan, add ½ cup water, and cover with foil. You’ll heat at 325°F 20 minutes per pound or until heated through. If you’re interested in adding a glaze, check out this recipe by meat expert Bruce Aidells I highlighted. Happy festivities!

Whipped Feta and Piquillo Pepper Dip

Photo Terry Brennan, Food Styling Lara Miklasevics

Whipped Feta and Piquillo Pepper Dip

Makes 6 to 8 Servings | Recipe by Molly Stevens from Real Food

The combination of briny feta and sweet piquillo peppers makes an ideal party appetizer because it comes together in minutes and can be made well ahead. For the best-tasting, fluffiest version, shop for good feta and jarred piquillo peppers (see Cook’s Notes for tips). Serve alongside fresh crudité and pita wedges.

8 ounces feta, broken into large chunks
1 cup (5 ounces) coarsely chopped piquillo peppers (see Cook’s Notes)
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey (see Cook’s Notes)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt, to taste (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish

  1. Combine the feta, peppers, and yogurt in a food processor and pulse several times to create a coarse puree. Add the olive oil, honey, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and several grinds of black pepper. Puree until smooth and spreadable. Taste for seasoning. Some feta will not need any additional salt, but it may need another shot of red or black pepper. Add the dill and pulse to combine.
  2. Spoon into a bowl and serve, or cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Cook’s Notes
• Shop for feta in a block, either in brine or a vacuum pack. French and Bulgarian feta have the softest texture, making them best for whipping into a dip. Whatever you buy, skip the pre-crumbled variety as it will give the dip a chalky feel.
• Piquillo peppers come in a jar or can; they are small, sweet red peppers that have been roasted over wood fires, peeled, and packed in brine. Drain before using. If you can’t find piquillo peppers, any good quality roasted red pepper will work. You can also roast and peel your own by charring a whole bell pepper, turning until blackened all over and tender, under the broiler or on a gas burner. Once cool, the skin slips right off.
• To avoid a mess when measuring honey, pour it into the same tablespoon you used to measure the olive oil. The sticky honey will slide right out.

Orange-Glazed Turkey Breast with Olives and Rosemary

Photo Terry Brennan, Food Styling Lara Miklasevics

Orange-Glazed Turkey Breast with Olives and Rosemary

Makes 8 to 12 Servings | Recipe by Kristin Donnelly from Real Food

A turkey breast (instead of a whole turkey) is a great way to feed a small crowd. Plus, since you’re not worrying about waiting for the legs to cook, you can ensure it stays juicy. A jammy glaze creates an impressive presentation. And instead of a flour-thickened gravy, this turkey is served with its buttery pan juices, brightened with a bit of fresh citrus and chopped olives.

1 (9-10 pound) whole bone-in turkey breast
4-5 teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves, divided
¼ cup apricot jam
1 orange, zested and juiced, divided
1 cup pitted castelvetrano olives, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  1. Dry the turkey breast very well with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
  2. In a small bowl, blend together the butter and 2 teaspoons of the rosemary. Rub the butter all over the turkey breast, including on the underside of the breast and under and on top of the skin.
  3. Heat the oven to 350°F. Set the turkey breast in a roasting pan or on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Pour 1 cup water into the pan with the turkey. Close the oven door and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the turkey (but not near the bone) reads 145°F, about 1 hour, 30 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through roasting and add more water if the pan looks dry.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the apricot jam with the finely grated zest of the orange and the juice from half of the orange. Mix in the remaining 2 teaspoons rosemary.
  5. Brush the turkey with the glaze and cook for 15 minutes, then brush with the glaze again. Cook until the skin is burnished and the thermometer reads 160°F, about 15 minutes longer.
  6. Transfer the turkey breast to a work surface, leaving behind all the juices. To the pan, add the olives, juice from the remaining half of the orange, and the lemon juice to the juices and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom and sides of the pan. Pour the turkey juices mixture into a bowl and allow to settle for 1 minute, then spoon off as much of the top layer of fat as you can. Carve the turkey breast and serve with the juice mixture.

Cook’s Note: If you prefer dark meat, swap in 4 turkey legs for the turkey breast and follow the recipe as written. (Or you can add 2 turkey legs to the pan with the turkey breast.) Cook the turkey legs until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.

Butternut Squash Parmesan Pasta

Photo Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Butternut Squash Parmesan Pasta

Makes 6 serving | Recipe courtesy Wisconsin Cheese

All the flavors of fall are packed into this easy pasta that kids and adults will enjoy.

4 cups (32 ounces) chicken stock
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 cups (12 ounces) uncooked penne pasta
3 cups cubed butternut squash (½-inch cubes)
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter, cubed
3 fresh sage leaves, minced
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
6 ounces Nordic Creamery Parmesan cheese, finely shredded (about 2 cups)
Fresh sage leaves, minced, for garnish

  1. Combine the chicken stock, cream, pasta, squash, shallot, garlic, butter, sage, salt, and pepper in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium; gently boil for 12 to 15 minutes or until pasta and squash are tender and sauce begins to thicken, stirring frequently.
  2. Remove from the heat. Gradually stir in Parmesan until melted. Garnish with sage. Serve immediately.

Cheesemonger Tip: Freshly grated cheese works best in sauces; some commercially grated cheeses contain anticaking ingredients that prevent them from incorporating completely when melted.

Mascarpone-Pumpkin Pie Squares

Photo Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Mascarpone-Pumpkin Pie Squares

Makes 12 Servings | Recipe courtesy Wisconsin Cheese

Combine the flavors of creamy pumpkin and pecans into this easy treat.

1 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup packed brown sugar, divided
¼ cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons butter, cubed and melted
1 (15-ounce) can solid-packed pumpkin
4 large eggs
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
4½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup Cello Mascarpone cheese (8 ounces)
Sweetened whipped cream, warm caramel sauce and candied pecans

  1. Heat oven to 375°F.
  2. Combine the gingersnap crumbs, graham cracker crumbs, ¼ cup brown sugar, flour, and butter in a bowl. Press into a greased 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
  3. Beat pumpkin and remaining brown sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Add the eggs, cream, and pumpkin pie spice; beat until blended. Beat in mascarpone. Pour mixture over crust.
  4. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until bars are set in the middle and a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  5. Cut into squares. Garnish with whipped cream, caramel sauce, and pecans.

Nutrition info (per serving)
Whipped Feta and Piquillo Pepper Dip: Calories: 170, Fat: 13g (Sat: 5g), Cholesterol: 30mg, Sodium: 420mg, Carb: 6g, Fiber: 0g, Sugar: 4g, Protein: 7g
Orange-Glazed Turkey Breast with Olives and Rosemary
• Whole recipe (per serving): Calories: 540, Fat: 28g (Sat: 12g), Cholesterol: 200mg, Sodium: 1480mg, Carb: 10g, Fiber: <1g, Sugar: 5g, Protein: 65g

• Just turkey and glaze (per serving): Calories: 510, Fat: 25g (Sat: 11g), Cholesterol: 200mg, Sodium: 1200mg, Carb: 9g, Fiber: 0g, Sugar: 4g, Protein: 65g
• Just sauce (per serving): Calories: 30, Fat: 3g (Sat: 0g), Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 280mg, Carb: 2g, Fiber: <1g, Sugar: <1g, Protein: 0g

Hungry for More?

Check out these recipes I have highlighted here that would be tasty additions to any get-together.

Game-Day Bites

Get in the game with twists on cheesy favorites from easy make-your-own pizza, wings, and artichoke dip to a pumpkin baked brie, and more.

Lemon-Thyme Turkey Breast Roasted with Apples and Onions

A bone-in turkey breast is perfect for a small group—or scale up to ensure leftovers.

Tasty Bites for Cozy Nights

Gathering to watch a game, cozying up for some binge-watching, or looking for an appetizer to bring to a get-together? Here are recipes for a cheese spread with hot pepper jelly and bacon, jazzed-up deviled eggs, easy Super Loaded Sheet-Pan Nachos, and more to make your night even better.

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.