Spruce It Up!

When all you do is work, work, work from January to December each year, there is nothing like the comfort of a family dinner. A table full of steaming holiday favorites can be the happiest completion to your year. We all have our traditional dishes, such as a juicy spiral cut ham or a plate of crispy potato latkes. Why not try something different this year?

I’m asking you to step outside of your comfort zone! You could begin simply by jazzing up the original recipe you’ve been using for years. How about adding a zesty pineapple sauce to the ham, or some parsnips and ginger to those latkes? I personally was very nervous while planning this year’s holiday meal. My mother makes the absolute best kugel on the planet. It has a perfect creamy texture and just enough savory and sweet flavors to enjoy it for supper. This year, however, I wanted to make something different, something more savory. I found the perfect alternative: a potato kugel (After clearing it with my mother of course)! This is a more savory version of our family favorite.

Let’s say you’re making your favorite side dish, green bean casserole . You may believe this dish is impossible to enjoy without French’s fried onions and cream of mushroom soup. But what if you added some crispy chopped bacon, used sour cream instead of cream of mushroom soup, and breadcrumbs (or, ooh! Panko!) instead of the crunchy onions on top?

I’ve also been seeing a lot of alternative brussel sprout recipes on food blogs, all which suggest a tune-up. Old-school Brussel sprout recipes result in a mushy, overcooked, and bland vegetable. What if you added some pancetta, parmesan, and shallots? Or maybe you could pan-sear the brussels with fresh cranberries and chopped walnuts, tossing in some feta cheese.

There are so many amazing alternatives to our classic dishes. What are we so afraid of? I’m not saying you need to change every traditional dish you have for your yearly holiday meal, but what if you changed one dish at a time, each year? Now, there’s an idea! Step out of the box and try something different this year!