A traditional Thanksgiving dinner has as its centerpiece a beautiful golden-brown stuffed turkey. There's nothing more typically American than that! But the side dishes can be prepared with as much creativity and flair as you like. Here are four recipes you might want to serve this Thanksgiving to add a distinctly Polish flavor to your family's turkey feast! Following the Polish-touch recipes, you will find a selection of traditional American recipes too.

Pumpkin Soup with Polish Potato Drop Dumplings
Zupa z dyni z lanymi kartoflanymi kluskami

For the Soup:
2 cans (14 oz each) of pureed pumpkin
4 cups chicken stock
4 cups water
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 cup applesauce
1 cup heavy cream (or half and half),
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tsp white pepper, ground (optional)

Combine the pumpkin, water, stock, and carrot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Just before serving, add applesauce, cream, sugar, and pepper and bring slowly, while stirring, to the boiling point. Remove from heat and serve immediately over potato dumplings placed in soup bowls. Garnish with chopped parsley or fresh thyme. Serves 8.

For the Dumplings:
1 large potato, peeled and grated, 1 cup flour, sifted, 1 cup whole milk, salt and pepper to taste, 1 cup very hot water
in a cup

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and then lower the heat to medium-high so the water is gently bubbling. While the water is heating, blend together the grated potato, flour, and milk until they form a pasty dough. Dip a tablespoon in the cup with hot water, and then take about half of a tablespoon of the dough and place it gently in the pot of boiling water, until it slips off. Cook dumplings gently for a few minutes after they float to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a warm, buttered casserole until ready to serve. You might want to cook the dumplings in two batches. Serve with soup or as a side dish with a fried onion garnish.

Cauliflower and Green Beans with Bread Crumb Topping
Kalafior i fasolka po polsku

1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 1/2 sticks of butter
1 1/2 cups of breadcrumbs

Place green beans in a large pot of boiling, salted water and cook uncovered for 7-8 minutes, until soft but not overcooked. In a second pot of boiling, salted water, cook the cauliflower florets for 7-8 minutes. Drain both vegetables when ready and place on a heated serving platter next to each other.

While the vegetables are cooking, melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat until it starts to foam. Add breadcrumbs and cook for 5-7 minutes, until golden brown. Add more butter if needed. Pour crumb mixture over beans and cauliflower and serve immediately.

Creamed Beets
Buraczki ze Smietana

2 lbs beets
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt

Scrub beets with brush, cut off tops, and place in a large pot of boiling, salted water. Cook until fork-tender. Drain and cool under running water. Peel and grate into julienne strips. Melt butter in large saucepan and add beets, cooking for a few minutes to warm. Slowly add the flour to the sour cream, and when the mixture is well-blended, add to the beats. Stir in water and vinegar and cook for 15 minutes. Add salt, sugar, or more vinegar and sour cream to taste. Serve immediately.

Polish Potato-Egg Dumplings
Kopytka or Paluszki

These small potato dumplings are called "paluszki" in Polish which means little fingers, or "kopytka" which means little hooves. They are a little larger than gnocchi, which is the Italian version of the potato-egg dumpling. This recipe is great for using up leftover mashed potatoes and it is sure to be a big hit with your family.

5-6 potatoes, peeled, boiled, and mashed
2 lightly beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups flour, sifted, more for kneading
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup butter

Allow the mashed potatoes to cool completely. Place them in a large bowl and sift in 1 and a 1/2 cups flour, eggs, and salt. Mix well with a wooden spoon, adding add more flour, as needed, to make the dough soft but not too sticky. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for about 5-7 minutes, until it no longer sticks to your hands and bounces back after a finger is pressed into it.

Take a palm-sized ball of the dough and with two lightly floured hands, form it in into a cigar-like roll, about one inch thick. With a knife, cut the roll diagonally into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Place dumplings on a floured board and cover with a clean dishcloth until ready to cook. Be sure the dumplings are not touching so they won't stick. Cook as soon as all dumplings are ready.

Drop the dumplings into a large pot of boiling, salted water in batches and let cook for 3-5 minutes after they float to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon and toss with butter in a covered casserole and keep warm until ready to serve. The dumplings can be served with a fried onion garnish or with turkey gravy.

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Happy Thanksgiving!