Jazz up your holiday menu this year

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I have a friend who saves holiday cooking magazines until the next fall, and then she plans her Thanksgiving and Christmas menus from them. Every year they have new and different menus.

At our house we are just the opposite. We have the same menu for Christmas every year, both at breakfast and at lunch. And we did this for Thanksgiving also until last year, when we gathered with two other families and had Thanksgiving with them.

This year we are gathering with those families again and in going through some of my holiday side dishes I found some favorites. And thought I would share them with you. These three items are great for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

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Brandied cranberry sauce

2 16-ounce bags of fresh cranberries

2 cups of sugar

1/3 cup of Brandy

Spray a baking pan with nonstick vegetable spray. Pour in the cranberries and sugar, stir well. Cover tightly with foil and bake on 350 degrees for one hour. Remove from oven and pour in the brandy. Stir and let cool. Store in the refrigerator. If using 12-ounce bags of cranberries only use 3/4 cups of sugar per bag. Sometimes I add a little grated orange peel and some toasted pecans.

Recipe from Missi Cranston

This next recipe is from my late mother-in-law, Joyce Hall. She prepared it every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Last year when my daughter Holly could not be home for the Thanksgiving this was the one recipe she called for to have for the holiday.

Broccoli casserole

1 large onion chopped

1/2 stick butter

3 boxes of frozen chopped broccoli, thawed

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 roll of Kraft garlic cheese, cut into cubes

1 can mushrooms

1/2 cup blanched almonds

1/2 cup bread crumbs

In a large saucepan melt butter and sauté chopped onion. Cook the broccoli according to the package directions and then add to the onions and butter. (this is the original recipe, I thaw my broccoli, and when the pan with butter and onions is hot and the onions are sautéing I add my broccoli to it and sauté until the onions and broccoli are tender) Add the soup, cheese and 1/3 cup of almonds, stir until cheese melts. Pour into a greased casserole dish and sprinkle with the remaining almonds and bread crumbs. Bake at 300 degrees until light golden an bubbly.

The roll of Kraft garlic cheese is hard to find at any time other than the holidays, so when you find it, buy several and place them in a freezer bag in the freezer. Last year my daughter could not find any anywhere so she substituted Velveeta cheese and added garlic powder.

I have been eating this casserole at Thanksgiving since I was in high school. My best friend’s mother used to make it at Thanksgiving and I would look for it whenever I hung out there.

Sweet potato casserole

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes

1 cup sugar

1 can of coconut

1/2 stick butter melted

2/3 cup evaporated milk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all of these ingredients together, stir well and place in a buttered casserole dish.


1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup flour

1/2 stick melted butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix the topping ingredients together and sprinkle over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Christina Hall writes a weekly column for The Democrat. She can be reached at christina.hall@natchezdemocrat.com.