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Teresa Hatchell 2005

For several weeks, I have been sharing recipes for preparing delicious holiday fare. Now that Thanksgiving is over, don't get too busy shopping for gifts to plan your Christmas menu ahead of time. Maybe you are thinking of serving turkey and dressing again, or maybe you’ll cook a nice juicy ham or a succulent roast beef with baked sweet potatoes and/or macaroni and cheese casserole? I guess your choice of entrée will be in tune with your family’s tradition. But what about your side dishes? Why not try something new or a variation of one of your regular recipes?

Make preparations by making a few "treats" ahead of time and storing them in airtight containers to keep them fresh. Stir up some fudge, which keeps well in the fridge. Bake your bread, wrap it and freeze it. The morning of Christmas Eve, chill your cranberry sauce and fill and tightly cover your pickle/relish dish and deviled egg dish. Tuck them safely in the fridge. There’s always so much for a host/hostess to do. But advance preparation is essential.

To give you a few ideas for various outings you may be attending or for dinners you may be hosting, consider making the various side dishes below in glass dishes, cover them well and refrigerate them. An hour before mealtime, remove them from the fridge, uncover them, and zap them for about three minutes in the microwave to heat up the glassware. Then, pop them in the oven and warm them, but don’t dry them out. As for the festive salad and soup, they only take a few minutes to prepare before mealtime.

Throughout this special season, I hope you all will have wonderful and blessed times with family and friends. Amid the fellowship and the tables laden with food, please remember above all that, it is Christ’s birthday that we are celebrating.

Festive Greek pasta salad

(This recipe was contributed to the Old St. George Baptist Church cookbook by Frances Patrick.)

1-1/2 cups uncooked penne pasta

1/2 cup cubed cooked turkey or chicken

3.8-ounce can sliced ripe olives, drained

1/4 cup chopped green pepper

1/4 cup chopped sweet red pepper

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (I use one cup or more.)

1/3 cup Caesar salad dressing

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water. In a serving bowl, combine the pasta, turkey, olives, peppers and feta cheese. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. This recipe yields 4 servings.

Potato-bacon holiday chowder

(This recipe was contributed to the Old St. George Baptist Church cookbook by Betty Rickborn.)

8 slices bacon, cut up

1 cup onions, chopped

2 cups cubed potatoes

1 cup water

1 can (10-1/2 ounce) cream of chicken soup

1 cup sour cream

1-3/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

Dash of pepper

2 tablespoons dried parsley

Fry the cut bacon until crisp. Add the chopped onions. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes, and pour off the fat. Add potatoes and water. Boil. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the soup, sour cream and milk. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parsley just before serving.

Artichoke-broccoli casserole supreme

(This is a variation of one of my old recipes.)

10-3/4-ounce can cream of mushroom soup (no water added)

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8-ounce package finely shredded mild Cheddar cheese

5-ounce can evaporated milk

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

16-ounce can whole green beans, drained

2 (14-ounce) cans artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained

2 (4-ounce) cans sliced mushrooms, drained

16-ounce package frozen broccoli cuts

3/4 cup sliced green onions

1/2 cup soft breadcrumbs

1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, combine soup, cheese, milk, onion powder, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is smooth. Remove the pan from the heat.

In a large bowl, combine green beans, artichoke hearts, water chestnuts, mushrooms, broccoli cuts and green onions. Spoon half of the vegetable mixture into a lightly greased 12x8x2-inch casserole dish. Pour half of the sauce over the vegetables. Repeat the procedure with the remaining vegetables and sauce.

In a small bowl, toss the breadcrumbs and butter. Sprinkle this over the casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned.

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