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  • Writer's pictureRhonda Morrison

A few of my favorite things, holiday sides

Year after year, the holidays seem to have new trending ways to enhance your holiday meals. In this very unique year of social distancing, I am seeing a trend towards more familiar dishes. You know, the ones that were handed down through the generations. The ones that make you feel particularly proud if you could make it as well or better than grandma. Those recipes that you learned from years of watching and there is no written recipe for it. I have a few of those from my family. And that is exactly what I am giving you just in time for the holidays.

Rice Dressing is a Cajun family tradition from as far back as I can remember. My great-grandfather was a rice farmer in Laccasine, Louisiana. My great-grandmother, aunts, grandmother, and mother all had rice dressing on the side of thier garlic-stuffed oven roasted turkeys. I also like Rice Dressing with smoked turkey gumbo. I highly reccommend this Rice Dressing recipe if you are entertaining with a Cajun flare. So it is perfect on the side of a fried turkey or a turducken. It is also wonderful on the side of a smoked beef or pork tenderloin. This dish is made very similar to a jambalaya. And it is oh so good.

My Sweet Potato Souffle is a real crowd pleaser. If you have sweet potato haters in your clan, this is one that they will try and most likely enjoy. I have even made pans of this recipe for other people to bake at thier house and serve. But it is so simple and easy that the kids could make this one. I would have to say that this has been my most requested holiday side recipe over the years.

I have also included my mother's Broccoli Casserole. She made this every year. As a girl, this was my favorite holiday side dish. This recipe also has rice in it but it is also cheesy. Aside from macaroni and cheese, there are not many cheesy holiday side dishes out there. This is a great way to have another vegetable at the table. I would call this dish a labor of love as it has multiple steps to complete the dish. If you want a veggie dish that is tried and true, this is it. However, if you are looking for a simple addition, then read on about my cranberries.

I have great news. Cranberry sauce is super easy to make. And homemade cranberry sauce wins in taste over canned cranberry sauce every time. All you need is three ingredients and ten minutes. One aspect I love about this recipe is a couple of add-ins can make this your unique dish with your flavor and flare. Some of my favorite add-ins are coconut flakes, toasted walnuts, pecans, slivered almonds, dried cherries, manderine orange segments, minced rosemary, or a little sour cream. It is completely up to you. Choose one, two, or three ingredients to add. Or keep it simple and serve it plain. It's all good either way.

Thank you for reading. Enjoy my holiday sides recipes below. Please subscribe to my blog if you would like weekly updates on new blog posts. And please reach out to me with any questions about these recipes or suggestions for future posts. Have the warmest of holidays.

Rice Dressing

  • Turkey neck, liver, and gizzards or ½ lb. chicken gizzards

  • 1 pound lean ground beef

  • 1 pound sage breakfast sausage

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • ½ tsp. black pepper

  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper

  • 1 yellow onion, diced

  • 1 bell pepper, diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • ½ bunch green onions, sliced thin

  • 2 cups rice, raw

  • 4 cups turkey or chicken stock

  • 1-2 tbsp. Cajun or Creole Seasoning

Boil turkey neck, gizzards, and liver in 3-4 cups salted water for 30 minutes. Drain reserving 2 tbsp. stock and allow meats to cool. Remove meat from the neck. Combine neck meat, liver, gizzards, and the 2 tbsp. stock in the food processor. Pulse until smooth. In a large dutch oven, brown ground beef and sausage over medium-high heat. Do NOT drain. Add salt, black pepper, and cayenne to season. Stir to combine. Stir in the sweet meat mixture from the food processor. Add yellow onion and bell pepper and continue sautéing until onions become clear. Add garlic, rice, and green onions. Continue stirring for 3-5 minutes until all liquids are absorbed. Stir in turkey stock and bring to a boil. Top with Creole Seasoning. Lower the heat to a simmer and place the lid on the pot. Simmer covered for 35 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let sit covered for 5-10 minutes. Remove lid and stir.

Sweet Potato Soufflé

  • 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup white sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup whole milk

  • 2/3 cup butter, melted

  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup chopped pecans

  • 1 cup shredded coconut

  • 1/3 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325. In a mixing bowl, beat together potatoes, eggs, salt, white sugar, vanilla, milk, and 2/3 cup melted butter. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Spread the potato mixture evenly in the prepped pan. To make the topping, combine brown sugar, flour, pecans, coconut, and 1/3 cup melted butter. Sprinkle topping over the potatoes. Bake for 30 minutes.

Broccoli Casserole

  • 2-3 broccoli crowns, trimmed and cut to bite-sized chunks

  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms

  • 2 tbsp. butter

  • ½ tbsp. olive oil

  • ½ tbsp. balsamic vinegar

  • 1 medium white onion diced

  • 1 stalk celery, diced

  • 2 tbsp. flour

  • 2 tbsp. butter

  • 1 ½ cups milk

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 16 oz. medium cheddar, shredded and separated

  • 8 oz. can sliced water chestnuts, drained

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tsp. kosher or sea salt

  • ½ tsp. black pepper

  • 1 cup white rice

Preheat oven to 350. Cook rice according to directions. Steam broccoli until bright green and set aside. Sauté onions, celery, and mushrooms for 5-8 minutes in 2 tbsp. butter, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter and flour over medium-high heat until it smells a little nutty. Gradually whisk in the milk and heavy cream. Cook about 3 minutes, stirring constantly until thickened. Add 12 oz. shredded cheddar, salt, pepper, and garlic to the thickened milk sauce. Stir until combined and remove from heat. Mix together broccoli, mushrooms and onions, cheese sauce, cooked rice, and water chestnuts. Pour into an oval baking dish. Top with remaining cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

Cranberry Sauce

  • 12 oz. cranberries

  • 1 cup white sugar

  • 1 cup orange juice

In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the orange juice. Stir in the cranberries and cook until the cranberries start to pop (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and place sauce in a bowl. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.


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