Give them lost of side dishes this year

For a unique side dish, serve these scrumptious fried mashed potatoes wrapped in bacon. 

If you are hosting a large holiday feast and a table laden with turkey, chicken, and ham, you may begin to have visions of the Ghost of Christmas Present, the cheerful ghost who sits on a massive tower or throne of holiday food items. When the ghost takes Scrooge to view the poor Cratchit family, however, we see a slim offering of food on the family’s table, a small roasted goose, some potatoes, and applesauce. But the happy family exemplifies the true meaning of the holiday—they are grateful for what they have and even offer toasts of blessings to one another and to miserly Scrooge, too. With the rising costs of meat, including beef and poultry, and with no end in sight, this 2021 season may mean less meat on your holiday table, so don’t skimp on the sides and desserts. Focus on fresh side dishes, homemade breads or pastries, hearty casseroles, and decadent desserts this holiday season, and remember to count your blessings: past, present, and future.

Cherry Salad

• 1 (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened

• 1 cup sugar

• 1 (15 oz.) can dark sweet cherries

• 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

• 1 (12 oz.) container whipped topping

Drain the can of cherries but reserve 2 tablespoons of the juice. Use a hand mixer and cream together the cream cheese and sugar. Add the drained cherries and mix well; stir in the cherry juice and pecans. Mix well. Fold in the whipped topping. Refrigerate until ready to serve. (My mother’s pretty salad also tastes great.)

Crock Pot Mac and Cheese

• 3 cups uncooked macaroni noodles

• 1 1/2 tsp. onion powder

• 3/4 tsp. dry mustard powder

• 3/4 tsp. black pepper

• 4 1/2 (or 5) cups shredded mild cheddar cheese

• 2 heaping cups shredded Gruyere cheese

• 1 can cream of chicken soup

• 3/4 cup mayonnaise

• 3/4 cup sour cream

Boil the macaroni noodles to make al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water and set aside. In a large bowl, stir together all of the other ingredients, then stir in the macaroni noodles. Pour into a lightly greased (or buttered) crock pot. Cook on low for 2 ½ to 3 hours or until done, stirring twice during the cooking process. I sprinkle an additional ½ cup cheddar cheese to the top in the last 20 minutes of cooking. Notes: Fat-free soup, light sour cream, and light mayonnaise, or a combination of light and regular ingredients, can be substituted without losing any of the creamy taste and consistency. Freshly grated Gruyere cheese, however, is a must in this recipe. (This is the number one requested holiday dish I make.)

Apple-Cheese Casserole

• 8-9 apples, peeled and thinly sliced

• 1 TBSP. fresh lemon juice

• 1 cup all-purpose flour

• 1 cup sugar

• 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, mild or sharp

• ½ cup butter, melted

• 35 Ritz crackers, crushed

• Butter for the pan

• Toss the apple slices with the lemon juice and spread into a buttered 9x13 pan. In bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and cheese. Spoon evenly over the top of the apples. Stir together the melted butter and crushed crackers; sprinkle the mixture on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. (I prefer Honey Crisp apples for this recipe.)

Bacon Wrapped Mashed Potatoes

• 3 cups leftover and well chilled mashed potatoes (seasoned with garlic powder and chives, to taste)

• 1 egg, beaten

• 1 cup dry, plain bread crumbs

• Small block cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes

• Bacon, one slice per ball

• Kosher salt and pepper to taste

• Toothpicks

• Canola or vegetable oil

Stir together the cold mashed potatoes, egg, and salt and pepper to taste. Scoop some of the mashed potatoes into your hand, flatten out, then press a piece of cheese into the center; form a ball. (If they get mushy, you can place the balls in the freezer for about 30 minutes.) Place the bread crumbs in a shallow bowl, and roll the mashed potato balls in the crumbs to coat. Wrap a slice of bacon around each ball and secure with a toothpick. Heat 2 or 3 inches of oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven, and fry the balls quickly in the oil until golden. Drain on paper towels. Note: You can stir in ¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese to the mashed potato mixture instead of using the cheese cubes.

— Amy Fischer lives in Fort Payne, Alabama, and is a Southern food enthusiast who loves to spend time in the kitchen creating tasty recipes. You can contact her at facebook.com/MySouthernTable.

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