Side dishes come in many varieties, as local cooks show in the recipes they share.
By JoANN JONES
With the focus at Christmas get-togethers primarily on food, tasty and unusual side dishes can highlight the ham, turkey, beef, or fish dishes that most people serve. From vegetables to pastas, delicious side dishes can spice up any holiday party.
Lynn Phillis of Salem, an excellent cook, according to her friends, makes two side dishes that her family expects to see at Christmas get-togethers every year. Phillis, who works as a CAT scan technician at St. Elizabeth Boardman Campus Emergency Department, said her cheesy potatoes and her sweet potato casserole are just two of the many side dishes served at their large gatherings.
Although Miriam Good of Goshen Township labels her own family "a meat-and-potato type," she nevertheless has the opportunity to try new dishes on the people with whom she works. Good, a life skills (formerly known as home economics) teacher at Sebring McKinley High School, prepares a staff Christmas dinner every year, complete with decorations, a copy of her recipes for each guest, and best of all, a seven-course meal.
"My family doesn't like anything fancy," Good said. "Our side dishes for Thanksgiving were mashed potatoes and corn -- not baked corn, not creamed corn, just corn. I've been doing the Christmas staff lunch for about 20 years, and it's fun to prepare the meals."
Fitting a theme
Good, who employs the help of students from her Life Skills II class to prepare the meal, said her favorite dish she prepares is chicken cordon bleu, but she has myriad side dishes from crunchy pea salad to artichoke salad. The students choose a theme for the dinner, and she searches her cookbooks for recipes to complement the theme.
"I wasn't too proud of last year's theme -- 'Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer'-- but we managed. This year's theme is 'Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree' so it's a little easier to work with."
Jan Fugate of Beloit, a registered nurse for the Alliance Visiting Nurses Association and Hospice, opts for a simple but tasty side dish she simply calls stuffed celery. Fugate said her family makes it for most gatherings, but Christmas just isn't complete without it. The celery has been a family holiday tradition for three generations.
10 cooked and peeled potatoes, cubed
1/2 pound Velveeta Cheese, cubed
3/4 stick butter cubed
1 chopped green pepper
1 chopped onion
2 pieces bread cubed
1 cup milk
11/2 cups corn flake crumbs
1/4 stick melted butter
Mix all ingredients except milk and topping together with potatoes. Then pour cup of milk on. Put topping on and cook at 350 degrees for one hour.
SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE
2 cans of sweet potatoes, mashed
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs beaten
3/4 stick of butter melted
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup crushed corn flakes
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 stick of margarine
Melt the margarine and then mix it with the other ingredients. Place the mixture in a 9-by-9-inch pan and bake it at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until it sets.
For topping, melt the margarine and mix it in with the other ingredients. Put topping on sweet potatoes and bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 more minutes.
2 cups boiling water
1 6-ounce package lemon-flavored gelatin
3/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon red pepper sauce
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and cut into halves
8 pitted ripe olives, cut into halves
1 2-ounce jar sliced pimientos, drained
2 tablespoons mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/2 cup sliced green onions (with tops)
1 medium stalk celery, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
Pour boiling water on gelatin; stir until gelatin is dissolved. Stir in cold water, lemon juice, salt, and pepper sauce. Remove 1/2 cup. Reserve remaining gelatin mixture. Arrange artichoke hearts, olives, and pimientos in 61/2 cup ring mold. (Chop and reserve any remaining sliced pimientos.) Pour half of the 1/2 cup gelatin mixture carefully around vegetables. Refrigerate until set but not firm, about 20 minutes. Pour remaining 1/4 cup gelatin mixture over vegetables. Refrigerate until set but not firm, about 20 minutes. Refrigerate reserved gelatin mixture until slightly thickened.
Beat gelatin mixture and mayonnaise until fluffy. Stir in reserved pimientos, onions and celery. Pour over vegetables in mold. Refrigerate until firm; unfold. Garnish with salad greens and additional pitted ripe olives if desired. (Note: In light of the recent FDA warning on green onions, some cooks might want to find a substitute for them.) Makes 8 servings.
Source: 1988 Betty Crocker cookbook
CRUNCHY PEA SALAD
1 16-ounce package frozen peas, thawed
1 cup chopped celery
1 can water chestnuts
6 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
1 cup peanuts
1/4 cup chopped red onion
11/2 cups Italian dressing
11/2 cups mayonnaise
Combine all ingredients, except peanuts, with Italian dressing and mayonnaise, mixing until blended. Line serving dish with lettuce leaves. Add peanuts to salad mixture and spoon into dishes. Makes 8 servings
1 bunch crisp celery
2 8-ounce packages Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1 4-ounce jar chopped pimientos (drained)
Soften packages of cream cheese in a mixing bowl. Drain pimientos and mix with cream cheese by using a fork. Clean celery and cut into two-inch pieces wide enough to be stuffed. When celery is dry, use table knife to stuff each piece with cheese and pimiento mixture.
CALIFORNIA BLACK BEAN SALAD W/ FRENCH DRESSING
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 12-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon Lawry's Garlic Powder with Parsley
1 cup white sugar
1 cup ketchup
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
In large bowl, combine beans, corn, tomato, onion, bell pepper, and Garlic Powder with parsley; blend well.
In a one-quart jar, combine sugar, ketchup, oil, garlic, vinegar, hot sauce, celery seed, liquid smoke and chives. Cover and shake well.
Toss bean salad with dressing. Makes 6 servings.