salmon, Thanksgiving Alternatives

Since at least the mid-19th century, Thanksgiving has been the turkey holiday. Turkey is a traditional staple at Thanksgiving feasts nationwide, with an average forty-six million turkeys eaten on Thanksgiving Day across the United States. Though turkey is in popular demand, it’s not everyone’s favorite meal. If you’re interested in turkey alternatives for your Thanksgiving meal this year, here are some suggestions:

1. ChickenIf you don’t care for turkey, try chicken this Thanksgiving. You can prepare chicken however you like: roasted, grilled, rotisserie, baked, the list goes on. Chicken is affordable, simple to prepare, and is typically a good fit for anyone’s palate.

2. TofurkeyVegetarians deserve their own little treat on Thanksgiving, too. Consider preparing some tofurkey this holiday. Tofurkey is a soy-based vegetable protein that can be eaten as a patty (like burgers) or link (think sausage-style). Some tofurkey recipes are stuffed with rice and served with gravy. This is a delicious alternative for the vegetarian or vegan at your dinner table.

3. LasagnaFor some, Italian-style is the way to go no matter what holiday or occasion. Try lasagna as an alternative to turkey this Thanksgiving. Soft noodles, warm sauce, and melted cheese are delectable for all pasta lovers. Surprise your holiday guests with this indulgent meal.

4. HamHam is always a classic option. It’s easy to prepare and can feed an entire dinner party with one roast. Ham is also typically cheaper per pound than most turkeys. Add a glaze of brown sugar on top and you’re good to go! The best part? Cranberry sauce pairs well with ham, too. This makes for a great alternative to turkey this Thanksgiving.

5. SeafoodFrom salmon to lobster, seafood is a great alternative to turkey for your Thanksgiving meal. For seafood fans, it’s an ideal feast! You can go all out with shrimp, crab, or even oysters. There are so many delicious options in the seafood family that you can add to your Thanksgiving menu. Try it out this year!

Holidays often follow personal traditions, but there’s no reason why you can’t change things up this Thanksgiving. There are many tasty alternatives that don’t involve turkey if you’re in need of something different. Chicken, tofurkey, lasagna, ham, and seafood are only some of the many menu items you can enjoy this holiday. If you want to cater your Thanksgiving dinner and create a completely fresh menu, feel free to contact us at 207-756-7599. At CVC Catering Group, we want your Thanksgiving to be as fabulous as possible. We are here to serve!

Gluten-Free Polenta Stuffing Croutons

I love Thanksgiving time. The weather starts to get colder and the leaves are mostly gone from the trees. The mornings are crisp and the chilly evenings are accompanied by a fire in the fireplace. Not to mention the delicious food that comes with the season: pumpkin pie, turkey, and stuffing! I could go on and on…

At our house, we do not hold back the abundance of food at the Thanksgiving table. I love the traditional feast. I’ve tried new ways to reduce fat, gluten, and sugar, but it just isn’t the same. The only thing I’ve been able to do successfully is remove the gluten from my father’s original stuffing—with my homemade Polenta Croutons!

This stuffing recipe was made by my father every year until he passed. “Boo” was his nickname because he and my nephew played peek-a-boo so much when he was little that the name stuck.

I daresay that my entire family has used this recipe every Thanksgiving and in my search for gluten-free products, I have not found a suitable alternative to the Pepperidge Farms croutons my dad always used. One day, using my love of polenta, I made polenta croutons. Initially, I used these as a crunchy topping for salads and eventually I tested them in Boo’s stuffing recipe and, to my surprise, it was delicious!

Nothing else will change though—we will still have green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, cranberry relish, turkey, and, of course, gravy, the way they were intended.


Polenta Croutons

olive oil, for greasing the pan
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup instant polenta
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup grated cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano
garlic powder, to taste
1 tablespoon each: fresh parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme, chopped

Coat a 9-x13-inch baking dish with a thin coat of olive oil. Combine 4 cups water and 2 teaspoons salt in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Slowly add the polenta, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low, bringing the polenta to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally until thick (about 5 to 8 minutes). Turn off the heat and stir in the butter, cheese, garlic, and herbs. Pour the polenta into the prepared dish and cool completely until firm. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick silicone liner. Remove the polenta from the baking dish and cut into 1-inch squares. Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake until crisp and golden, about 1 hour.


Boo’s Original Stuffing Recipe

1 onion, chopped
1 pint fresh mushrooms, sliced
polenta croutons (recipe above)
2 cans beef consommé soup
1 clove garlic (or more to taste), minced
2 sticks butter
salt and pepper, to taste
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 lbs. Jimmy Dean sausage (we prefer sage)

Sauté onion and mushrooms in butter. In a separate pan, brown the sausage and drain well. Add the sausage, polenta, and cans of soup to the sautéed onions and mushrooms. Season with garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook in a casserole dish at 375 degrees until crispy on top and moist on the inside (about 45 min to 1 hour).


fall recipes apple ginger tonic cvc catering

Along with pumpkins, the fall harvest brings a bounty of orchard fruit as well, like apples: nice crisp cold apples. Though common, apples are extremely nutritious – hence the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

Apples have TONS of antioxidants, helpful molecules that prevent our cells from becoming damaged. One in particular, called quercetin, has been shown to reduce the death of neurons, which could improve dementia and other neurological issues.

Current research is showing that eating apples regularly may help prevent breast cancer, stroke, diabetes, and obesity. Apples also have almost no fat, sodium, or cholesterol!

To kick the nutritional value of eating apples up a notch, I created this wonderful and delicious Apple Ginger Tonic drink for my collection of fall recipes. Enjoy!


Apple Ginger Tonic


1 large apple, cored (not peeled)

1 pear, stem removed

1 to 2 knobs of ginger, peeled

1 lemon, peeled

1 package of stevia

2 tbs of chia seed

1 tablet of vitamin C


Whir in blender and drink pulp and all. YUMMMMMM and SO good for you!

fall recipes

fall recipes pumpkin cavatelli mascarpone cvc catering

Ah fall…..

I really look forward to the change of seasons and fall is one of my favorites! It’s early September and pumpkin everything is starting to show up already: latte, ice cream, cheese cake, bread, muffins, scones, raviolis, and more.

Most pumpkin-laced products tend to be things we buy rather than make; many people have not ventured outside of the traditional pumpkin pie. But inventive fall recipes with pumpkin as an ingredient are worth a try not just for the delicious flavor, but also for nutritional value.

Pumpkin is full of vitamins and minerals and is low in calories. It is rich in vitamin A, contains a large amount of potassium, and is one of the best known sources of beta carotene. You can use pumpkin in desserts, soups, salads, preserves, and even as a substitute for butter or oil in baking recipes.

This fall, venture out of your comfort zone and try using pumpkin in new ways! Recently, I saw a recipe for chocolate pumpkin yogurt: mix Greek yogurt with pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin, honey, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. It was yummy!

My favorite, however, is my Pumpkin Cavatelli Pasta with Mascarpone Cream. Here is the recipe:


Pumpkin Cavatelli Pasta with Mascarpone Cream

Serves 3 to 4 people

  • 4 tbs butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 teaspoons fresh sage, minced
  • 15 oz of pumpkin puree, fresh or canned
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • ½ cup heavy cream

For the Garnish:

  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup snipped chives
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved
  • 1 pound of cavatelli pasta


In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving one cup of the cooking water. Put the pasta in a bowl and mix with just enough olive oil to keep it from sticking.

In the same pot, melt the butter and heat on medium until it starts to turn a golden brown. Immediately add the onion, garlic, and sage and cook over moderately-low heat until the onion is softened, about 7 minutes.

Put the onion mixture and pumpkin puree into a food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Return the puree to the pot and cook over medium-low heat until hot. Mix in the mascarpone and Parmesan cheese and heavy cream; cook on medium-low heat until cheeses are incorporated.

Add the reserved cooking water and mix in thoroughly. Add the pasta and toss to coat and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta to serving plates or bowls and top with chives, toasted walnuts, and additional Parmesan cheese.

Summer grilling is a must during Maine’s brief hot and humid season. The warm weather and summer treats don’t seem to last long enough here, which is why grilling is such a fun way to cook while the weather permits. What’s grilling without a tasty side of potato salad? I’m a huge fan of buying local Maine potatoes and whipping together my homemade grilled Maine potato salad recipe. All you need are potatoes, my Sherry Honey Vinaigrette dressing, and some fresh chives and parsley to enjoy this summer dish.

grilled Maine potato salad recipe


  • 1 lb. of Maine potatoes
  • Sherry Honey Vinaigrette (to taste)
  • Fresh chives (to taste)
  • Fresh parsley (to taste)



  • Parboil (partially boil) quartered Maine potatoes until a little underdone.
  • Remove potatoes from water.
  • While still hot, mix in Sherry Honey Vinaigrette*.
  • Let marinate on a sheet pan spread out for at least 1 hour (and up to 3 hours before serving).
  • Grill all flat sides on hot grill.
  • Mix with a little more vinaigrette and serve warm with a garnish of fresh chives and parsley.

Will serve up to 4 people.


*Nancy’s Sherry Honey Vinaigrette


  • 1/2 cup Sherry Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Honey
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt and Pepper
  • 1/2 cup Lemon Juice

Will keep refrigerated for 4 to 6 weeks and is great on regular salads as well.

grilled maine potato salad recipe