Crazy for Cranberries

Don't get bogged down when it comes to cranberries because, Triangle chefs note, they're good for much more than an old-school side. Toss the small crimson fruit in a salad to add a burst of vivid color. Or offset heavy seasonal meals by adding a bright, acidic flavor. Try the berries in a tart vinaigrette, cranberry-ginger chutney or holiday cocktail.





Tricked Out Pumpkin Pie

You know about crème brûlée, the luxurious dessert served in Triangle restaurants. It consists of a rich custard base topped with a layer of hardened sugar. So, how about brûléed pumpkin pie? After your homemade pie cools, several layers of crystals melted with a blow torch yield the crispiest top. If you don't own a torch, generously sprinkle sugar on top of the finished dessert and broil it in the oven for a minute or two. Trick: Buy a prepared pumpkin pie in the grocery and brûlée it before serving for a just-baked look that's, well, easy as pie.




Let's Talk Turkey

Braising turkey legs ensures juicy tenderness. The combination-cooking method, which uses both wet and dry heat, makes them moist and fall-off-the-bone tender. Pack the gobbler with zesty taste by roasting the legs for several hours, then finishing them in the broiler, uncovered, before pouring the cooking liquid over top. Serve the turkey legs whole or mix the meat in turkey pot pie, casseroles, salad and other "leftover" dishes.







Green Bean Casserole Take 2

Yes, a holly jolly dish can beimproved - even good ol' green bean casserole. A high-quality bean such as haricot vert can maintain its crunchy texture when paired with the creamy sauce of the casserole. To elevate this rich staple, scatter toasted almonds on top. To lighten it, add parsley, lemon zest and green onions.




Top Taters

From pie to salad, sweet potatoes are fall darlings, especially in North Carolina, the No. 1 producer of the spud in the country. Sweet potato season is in full swing, and the root vegetable can be used in pies, bread puddings, soups, salads or tacos. After baking sweet potatoes, load the flesh into a pastry piping bag and swirl it onto a plate as an artsy accompaniment. Or, cook them in spices and brown sugar and use them in sweeter applications.