3 Savory Vanilla-Laced Dishes to Switch Up Your Thanksgiving Recipe Routine

It’s that time again; the season of fervent, dare I say passionate eating and drinking merriment has begun, and first among the holidays devoted to it is Thanksgiving.

Because we have your best interest at heart when it comes to dining well with minimal kitchen hassle, here are three Thanksgiving recipes you can make with quickness and ease. While this trio of starter dishes, coming courtesy of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, might depart from your established Thanksgiving recipe traditions, their eclectic range of flavors seems destined to become a part of your future ones.

Parmesan Zucchini Crisps

Pair this crunchy snack with the zesty dip recipe to make an extra tasty lead-up to dinner for friends and family to enjoy while they mingle.


  • 1 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon organic garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Lemon Extract

Yield: Makes about 1 cup

In a medium bowl, combine dip ingredients; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Zucchini and Coating:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest (2 large lemons)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg (preferred)
  • 1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon organic garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons grape seed oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Add 1/4 cup flour to a resealable plastic bag. Slice zucchini into 1/8-inch rounds and place in bag with flour. Shake to coat and set aside.
  3. In a shallow bowl, add remaining 1/4 cup of flour and lemon zest; stir to combine. Add Parmesan, bread crumbs, nutmeg, vanilla powder, garlic powder and pepper; stir to combine. In a medium bowl, add eggs and oil; whisk to combine.
  4. Dip flour-dusted zucchini in egg mixture and lightly press each side in dry coating mix. Place zucchini on prepared sheet pan, sprinkle with salt and bake until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes per side.

Yield: About 4 dozen crisps

Breaded Veal Meatballs with Vodka Sauce

The perfect bite to spice up pre-dinner treats. The hearty meatballs have an excellent savory flavor with a hint of vanilla sweetness. Served with a tangy tomato vodka sauce, these are sure to quickly become a family favorite.


  • 1 pound ground veal, thawed (may substitute with grass-fed beef)
  • 1/4 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 1/4 cup finely grated carrot
  • 2 small green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste
  • Fresh Italian parsley, chopped (garnish)

Breading for Meatballs:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 cups plain panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

For Meatballs:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place a wire rack inside the foil lined baking sheet and coat the rack with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine meatball ingredients. Form mixture into meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter; set aside.
  3. To bread meatballs, three bowls will be needed. In a first medium bowl, add flour. In a second medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. In a third medium bowl, add bread crumbs, Romano cheese and melted butter; stir to combine. Dust each meatball with flour, dip in egg wash, and coat with bread crumbs. Place breaded meatballs on wire rack and cook until done, about 30 minutes.

Yield: Makes 1.5 dozen meatballs. Serves 6

Vodka Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon organic garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Romano
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream, warmed

For Vodka Sauce:

  1. Add olive oil to a large sauté pan, and heat over medium heat. Add onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add vodka, basil, salt, vanilla extract, oregano, garlic powder and pepper; cook until reduced by half.
  2. Place whole tomatoes in container of food processor or electric blender. Add reduced sauce mixture; cover and process or blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a large saucepan and place over medium heat.
  3. Add grated Romano cheese and cream; stir until thoroughly combined. Simmer for 3 minutes, or until heated through. Serve vodka sauce with meatballs.
    Serve Nielsen-Massey’s Vodka Sauce with other family favorites. Drain cooked pasta and toss with Vodka sauce and fresh basil.

Yields 4 cups of sauce. Serves 6

Note: You can use Pure Vanilla Bean Paste in place of Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste to achieve a different, but still delicious, flavor profile. Simply use the same amount of the Pure Vanilla Bean Paste.

Sausage Stuffed Cremini Mushrooms

With ingredients like garlic, Romano and mascarpone cheeses, and Italian sausage, these savory mushrooms will keep guests coming back for more.


  • Cremini mushrooms, about 1 pound, stemmed, quickly rinsed and patted dry
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 fl. oz. mild Italian sausage (may substitute with spicy Italian sausage)
  • 1 tablespoon Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
  • 1/3 cup plain panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 9×13 inches baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. In a medium bowl, add lemon juice and oil; whisk to combine. Add clean mushroom caps and toss to coat; set aside.
  2. In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, add sausage, vanilla bean paste, garlic and shallot. Cook and stir until crumbles are done, about 8-10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add Romano cheese, bread crumbs and mascarpone cheese; stir to combine. Remove from heat.
  3. Place mushroom caps in prepared baking dish and reserve remaining lemon-oil mixture in bowl. Fill each mushroom cavity with stuffing mixture and drizzle with reserved lemon-oil. Bake until done, about 10 minutes.

Yield: Makes about 24

All images courtesy of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas

About Nielsen-Massey Vanillas

Throughout its more than 100 year history, Nielsen-Massey Vanillas has earned its reputation as a manufacturer of the finest extracts in the world.

All Nielsen-Massey products are All-Natural, Allergen-Free, GMO-Free, and certified Kosher and Gluten-Free. Nielsen-Massey Fair trade products are certified by FLO-CERT. The company is headquartered in Waukegan, Illinois, with production facilities in Waukegan and Leeuwarden, The Netherlands.

%d bloggers like this: