Dash of Class: Side dish shake-up

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Food column by Nora Sweat

By Nora Sweat

We are one week away from Christmas and most of you who are entertaining at home have your menu planned.
Most years, it includes the same types of entrees, but the sides are the one thing that might differ. I have to admit the Sweat household has favorites and most of the time the menu does not change. Today, I have for you some of our family’s favorite side dishes for holiday meals.

The Sweet Potato Casserole is one I tweaked years ago in the Hardin County Cookbook the Chamber of Commerce still has for sale. I am not sure where I found the Broccoli Casserole recipe, but it gets rave reviews everywhere I take it. The Banana Peanut Salad is a real favorite for the Sweat family and is a quick and easy way to simplify the Banana Croquettes that my mom and my husband Mike’s mom made for holidays. Cranberry Salad is my mom’s recipe and always has been a holiday staple for my family. Finally, the Grape Salad has become a favorite of mine. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw it being served at the December Chamber of Commerce Meeting by Hardin Memorial Hospital for the Community Restaurant Tasting.

I hope these might find their way to your table Christmas Day.

Nora Sweat, author of “Mama and Me,”is a native of Hardin County and a retired home economics/family and consumer science teacher. She can be reached at norasweat@thenewsenterprise.com or by mail at 408 W. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown, KY 42701.

Sweet Potato Casserole

2 large cans sweet potatoes, mashed or 3 c. cooked sweet potatoes, mashed

2 eggs, beaten with a fork

1 c. white sugar

½ c. margarine, melted

1 t. vanilla


1 c. brown sugar

1/3 c. flour

1 c. chopped pecans

1/3 c. margarine, melted

Mix first five ingredients together and put in a greased 3 quart casserole dish. Prepare topping and sprinkle over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. You may add ½ c. coconut to topping.

Broccoli Casserole

Frozen broccoli

1 stick plus ½ stick margarine

1 pound Velveeta cheese

1 ½ sleeves Ritz crackers, crushed

Salt, black pepper, red pepper and paprika

Cook desired amount of broccoli just until slightly crisp. I usually pre-cook mine in the microwave, you want it to be crisp and not overcooked. Melt ½ stick margarine and pour over crushed crackers. Stir well and set aside. Melt one stick of margarine and cut 1 pound Velveeta cheese into cubes. Melt cheese in the microwave, stop occasionally, and stir to prevent it from burning. Remove from microwave oven and stir until it is well blended without any butter on top. It should be well mixed. Season broccoli with salt, black pepper, red pepper and paprika. Pour cheese sauce and then cracker crumbs over top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until bubbly.

Banana Peanut Salad





Crushed peanuts

There are no measurements. Depending on the size of salad you want, mix mayonnaise — light works really well — with a small amount of milk until a smooth sauce and add a little sugar, or Splenda, to taste. Put a small amount of sauce in the bottom of bowl, slice and layer bananas, then crushed peanuts, then another layer of sauce, bananas, crushed peanuts, and repeat until the dish is the size needed. Chill.

Cranberry Salad

2 boxes red gelatin (there is a cranberry gelatin on the market now)

2 c. boiling water

1 can cranberry sauce (the berry, not the gel)

2 apples, unpeeled, chopped

1 c. miniature marshmallows

1 c. chopped pecans

1 c. Angel Flake coconut

1 lg. can crushed pineapple, undrained

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Chill until firm.

Grape Surprise

8 ounces whipped cream cheese

8 ounces sour cream

½ c. sugar

2-3 pounds assorted seedless grapes

1 c. brown sugar

1 ¼ c. chopped pecans, toasted

2 t. vanilla extract

Beat cream cheese, sour cream and white sugar until smooth and well mixed. Pour over grapes and mix well. Place in a glass serving bowl. In a mixing bowl, mix brown sugar, pecans and vanilla. Crumble over top of grape mixture.

Source: Ann Summers