Americanized Kwanzaa Recipes for the Rest of Us

Jill Baughman
Food & Party

KwanzaaKwanzaa, a week-long celebration lasting from December 26 to January 1 in honor of African American culture, means one important thing to many people: Really good food. Even the word "Kwanzaa" is derived from the Swahili phrase meaning first fruits of the harvest

Traditional Kwanzaa celebrations include lots of African foods, from fufu to jollof rice to Jamaican jerked pork to banku. But if you don't have the time to prepare seven days' worth of authentic African meals, try going the Southern route and serve up hearty soul food dishes. Some are particularly useful since you can try out these dishes both at Kwanzaa and Christmas -- many families celebrate both.

While not typical African dishes, the 7 delicious picks are the types of dishes that come up when you search for "Kwanzaa" in sites like Food Network and Epicurious, so don't murder the messenger!

Collard Greens: Who better understands soul food than Paula Deen? Check out her recipe, which features smoked meat, hot red pepper sauce, and of course butter. The greens come out super-flavorful, when sometimes this dish can be a bit bland. Of course Paula Deen found a way to spice them up a bit.

Sausage and Cornbread Dressing: It took a year living in the South to figure out that "dressing" means "stuffing." Check out this version from that incorporates spicy pork sausage, corn bread, and lots of delicious spices. It's also a nice alternative to the classic Thanksgiving version.

Shrimp & Grits: Nothing screams soul food quite like grits. Tyler Florence's version combines the flavors of chicken stock, spicy sausage, and shrimp, so you know you're getting a hearty dish. Build in a little longer prept time, but make extra to share with family and friends for the entire week.

Blackberry-Mustard Glazed Ham: Many families celebrate both Christmas and Kwanzaa, so here's a 4 ingredient Cooking Light recipe you can use for either. You can use any flavor of fruit preserves you like. This makes 20 servings so you'll have more than enough for a crowd (or plenty of leftovers to last all week!).

Turkey Jambalaya: Spicy, flavorful, and filling, this Kraft recipe only takes 35 minutes of prep time, with the majority of the ingredients on hand. This turkey version of the quintessential Louisiana dish will get everyone thinking about warmer weather and Mardi Gras.

Deviled Fried Chicken: If you've considered frying your own chicken, Kwanzaa is the perfect time to tackle it. You need a 10-inch pot as well as a deep-fry thermometer, and you have to let the chicken refrigerate for at least one day. Requires some effort, but the results will be amazing.

Bread Pudding With Blueberry-Lemon Sauce: Southern Living's bread pudding is a super-easy finale. Bread pudding is heavy, but the fruit flavors keep it light and tart. You'll have your guests expanding their waistlines and adjusting their belts after this one.

Are you celebrating Kwanzaa? What foods will you serve?

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