My mother taught me how to cook… Well, what if she subscribed to the Southern Living magazines that inspired me to experiment in the kitchen? Does that still count? It is the truth. When I first became interested in cooking, I would skim my mother’s Southern Living magazines each month. I would see the pictures of gorgeous food, and I would replicate a dish to the best of my abilities. Sometimes the dishes came out just like the pictures. Other days… not so much.
During that time, I learned quite a bit with how ingredients worked together (and what didn’t work together). Trial and error. For me it was a fun way to learn how to cook! To this day I still love to play around in the kitchen and use my Southern Living (along with other food blogs and magazines) for recipe inspiration all the time.
During the holidays, my favorite recipes to cook are side dishes. They are easy. You can get creative with them. And side dishes are a fun way to introduce new ingredients to the family. Since Thanksgiving is a few days away, I’m sharing with y’all a few of my favorite holiday side dishes (and other recipes) to give you a little inspiration for this time of year!
Hands down I have cooked this dish over and over and over for quite some time now. It is not the healthiest, but it packs flavor. And the best part is this dish marries marshmallows with chopped pecans and crushed corn flakes to satisfy all the needs of a sweet potato casserole. Regardless if your family is a fan of marshmallows or crunch, you satisfy everyone with this recipe!
During the holidays our family gatherings can range from small to large depending on who is in town, and we like variety in our dishes. When you have different taste buds to satisfy, you have to get creative. Last year, I took a leap and introduced Brussel sprouts to the family. Some were excited for the new addition because they had eaten Brussel sprouts in the past and loved them. Others, on the other hand, were a little hesitant for trying a new dish. I knew that to win the family over I needed an ingredient that everyone loved. And that is when I threw bacon into the pan. I figured bacon was my best shot of turning those non-Brussel sprout lovers into individuals who craved them at first bite. And long story short… It worked!
I love a green bean casserole during the holidays. It is one of my favorite side dishes. It is also an easy side dish than you can change to give a little variety to your usual holiday meal. Growing up my family cooked the classic green bean casserole recipe. You know the one of I’m talking about. It has Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup and French’s French Fried Onions. As much as I love that version of a green bean casserole, I felt it was time to spice things up and try different ingredients. What I found was this recipe that used more fresh ingredients. It was tasty enough to satisfy the family’s taste buds. I call this recipe a success!
If you would have asked me a few years ago if I thought cranberry sauce was important to a holiday meal, I would have politely replied “no”. The canned version made a few appearances in the past, but it wasn’t a fan favorite. To me I could go either way on having it with my meal or not. I just didn’t love the flavor it added. Cranberry sauce always seemed to be a last minute thought. Then the day came when I made a homemade version. Everything. Changed. After. That. The brightness of the sauce. The flavor it added to the meal (I used a little juice from an orange and a few fresh blueberries in the recipe as well). All of it was so delicious! I was shocked with how long we had been missing out on this necessity. These days I couldn’t imagine a holiday meal without it!
In the south if you have any turkey leftover after a holiday (or rather any time of year) you can bet it is going into a gumbo. That’s just how it works down here. However, when it came to the holiday ham, I was stumped with what to do with it. How do I turn leftover ham into something delicious? I searched for just that and found this recipe for Hoppy John Soup. A soup recipe… My favorite. Soup can be eaten anywhere. Anytime. Anyplace. That is my motto. I served this soup for the first time about two years ago, and I plan on making a batch during the holidays this season as well!
And that is a peak into cooking with my family during the holidays. What are some of your favorite recipes this time of year? Feel free to leave a link and/or comment below because I would love to give them a try!
Happy cookin’! XOXO – Ashley
P.S. Check out my Foodie | Recipe Box on Pinterest to see recipes that I have tried and loved!