If your Thanksgiving sweet potatoes come covered with melted marshmallows and your cranberry sauce is a gelatinous cylinder plopped out of a can, it's time to tone down the sugar and try some spicy new twists using hot chiles.
While sweet potatoes (the darker skinned versions erroneously called yams) are the foundation for a lot of holiday casseroles and make a nice alternative to mashed potatoes when they are puréed, they also are what provides the natural sweetness in a favorite from our files, Spiced Sweet Potato Soup With Cashews, from chef Ray Anderson. The twist: The addition of dried chiles de arbol, which gives the blended soup an undercurrent of heat.
You get a similar effect with Martha Stewart's dependable Cranberry-Orange Relish, which includes fresh jalape?o along with fresh ginger. When combined with the zing of fresh lime and blood orange juice, those flavors soften and don't overwhelm the tang of the cranberries. If you like heat, you can add more jalape?o.
Stewart's relish is designed to complement the richness of a traditional roasted turkey, but it's also an excellent substitute for salsa with tortilla chips for football fans watching games while waiting for Thanksgiving dinner to be ready.