Christmas side dishes can be the difference between a good meal and a great meal.
So what do you choose? The standard Christmas meal we all pretty much know.
Below are a few to try.
I like to do the regular expected side dishes and then each year try a couple different ones to mix it up a bit.
Sweet Potato and Caramelized Onion Gratin
When sweet potatoes are layered with caramelized onions and Parmesan cheese, then bathed in cream and baked to bubbly, golden perfection, the results are that good.
- Make sure to get the red-skinned, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes for this dish. They tend to be a bit sweeter and contrast nicely with the Yukon Golds.
- Resist the urge to use half-and-half or milk in place of the heavy whipping cream, as it tends to break and result in a sauce with a curdled appearance
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 medium onions cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh sage
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 1/2 lb sweet potatoes peeled, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes peeled, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
In 12-inch skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add onions and salt; cook 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are dark golden brown. Add balsamic vinegar; cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or until onions are dark brown.
In a 5-quart Dutch oven, add whipping cream, thyme, sage, garlic, and pepper. Heat to boiling over medium heat. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Remove thyme, sage, and garlic. Return heat to medium; add sweet potatoes and Yukon Gold potatoes. Cook and stir about 5 minutes or until potatoes are hot.
Spread one-third of the onions in baking dish. Layer half of the potato mixture, another one-third of the onions and 1/3 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Repeat with remaining potato mixture and onions. Drizzle any remaining cream over onions, and sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese over top. Cover with foil; bake 15 minutes. Remove foil; bake 25 to 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender and browned and bubbly. Remove from oven; let stand 15 minutes before serving.
Santa Hat Brownies
These brownie Santa hats are almost too cute to eat. Almost.
- 1 18.4-oz. box Pillsbury chocolate fudge brownie mix
- ⅔ c. canola oil
- ¼ c. water
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ c. frozen whipped topping frozen
- ½ c. sweetened coconut flakes
- 24 whole fresh strawberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick spray; set aside.
Add brownie mix to a medium bowl. Stir in canola oil, water, and eggs until combined. Divide brownie batter evenly between mini muffin tins. Bake 10 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
Add thawed whipped topping to a piping bag or large resealable plastic bag fitted with a large circular piping tip. Pipe on to cooled brownies. Roll sides in coconut flakes. Top with fresh strawberry and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
- 2 cups dry red wine such as cabernet or merlot
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 orange juiced (about 1/2 cup)
- One 1 by 3-inch strip orange zest
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- 4 firm ripe pears
In a 4-quart saucepan, combine wine, sugar, orange juice, zest, cinnamon stick, and cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. While liquid is simmering, peel pears, leaving stem intact and being careful not to blemish the flesh of the pears.
Slice 1/2-inch off the bottom of the pears to create a flat bottom. Gently place pears in poaching liquid, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes to ensure even color, until pears are cooked but still firm.
Remove saucepan from the flame, uncover and cool with pears upright in the pan. Once cool, cover and chill in refrigerator at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours, turning occasionally if desired. Gently remove pears from liquid and allow to come to room temperature.
Meanwhile, reduce liquid by about half over a medium-high flame for 15 minutes, until liquid is thicker and slightly syrupy. Remove from flame and let liquid come to room temperature.
Drizzle each pear with 2 tablespoons syrup and serve.