Three Easy Side Dishes to Enhance the Holiday Table

As the holiday season approaches, fancy, and sometimes frantic, cooking often becomes the norm. Especially if you are entertaining family or friends, pleasing everyone around the appropriately decorated table is the De Rigueur goal.

Holiday meals are talked about for days, as in, “What a tender turkey,” or, “That ham was sliced just right,” and “The beef roast was so tender.” But, despite its honor at the table, the meat does not stand alone at a holiday meal.

The proper plate holds cuts of meat and mouth-watering vegetables worthy of the occasion. Here are three recipes for side dishes that will dress up any holiday entrée and that are special enough to add class to the meal and requests for seconds from happy diners.

GREEN BEANS AND BACON

Proof that bacon brings out the tasty in any dish

1 lb. fresh or frozen green beans (with ends trimmed)

6 slices of bacon (cut into small pieces)

1/4 C butter

1/4 C brown sugar

1/2 tsp. each: salt, pepper, garlic powder (optional)

Bring a pot of water to a boil and boil your green beans for 5-8 minutes. (use 5 min. if you like them very crisp.) Remove the beans from the boiling water and set aside to drain on a paper towel. (Drain well; too wet and the beans will splatter when added to the bacon mixture)

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon pieces until they are slightly underdone then drain off the bacon grease. Bring the skillet with the bacon back to the heat and add butter, brown sugar, and seasonings. Stir until everything is melted together, about 2 minutes. Add your green beans to the skillet and toss to coat with the bacon mixture. Serves 6.

GLAZED AND SPICY SWEET POTATOES OR YAMS

A new twist on an old holiday favorite

2 1/2 lbs. yams or sweet potatoes (about 6 medium)

3/4 stick butter or margarine

1/4 tsp. each ground allspice and cinnamon

1/8 tsp. each ground nutmeg and ground ginger

3/4 C each maple syrup and packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp. cider vinegar

Salt and white pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place yams or sweet potatoes in a baking pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a knife. Remove and cool. Reduce oven temperature to 350.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter or margarine and add the spices. Sauté, mixing now and then, for 1 minute to blend flavors. Add maple syrup and sugar and cook, stirring, until sugar is fully melted. Stir in vinegar. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper. Set aside.

Peel and then slice the cooled yams or sweet potatoes into a buttered baking dish. Pour the glaze over them and toss to coat all the slices. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until heated through. Serve warm. Makes 6 servings.

DILLED CUCUMBERS

Cukes have found a place at the holiday table

3 large cucumbers, thinly sliced

1 1/2 Tbls. chopped fresh dill or 2 tsp. dried dill weed

1/4 C half-and-half or light cream

1/3 C plain yogurt (can use light yogurt)

Salt and pepper to taste.

Place cucumbers in a large bowl and add all remaining ingredients. Toss to thoroughly coat. Chill, covered, in refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. Serve in a side dish garnished with dill or parsley. Makes 6 servings.

By Jean Redstone

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