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Two Easy Do-Ahead Holiday Sides


You’ve got a turkey all planned, and stuffing and mashed potatoes, too. With much same-day cooking activity going on in the kitchen, might you be looking for ways to create a smorgasbord but take some pressure off the chef? If so, look no further. Here are two easy do-ahead side dishes that can be quickly readied and served with your holiday meal.

Kathy’s Creamy Corn & Chive Casserole

Serves 6-8*

  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can creamed corn
  • 1 (15.25 oz.) can whole kernel sweet corn, drained of liquid
  • 1 (8.5 oz.) box corn muffin mix (Jiffy or equivalent brand)
  • 1 (8 oz.) container sour cream
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives, divided in half (use half in recipe; reserve half in an airtight plastic zipper bag for garnish topping)


In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients plus half the chives. Reserve the cheddar cheese and chive garnish to use later. Pour mixture into a greased 9”x 13” casserole dish. Cover casserole with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight until ready to bake. Bring casserole to room temperature (about 30 minutes). Bake uncovered in a 350-degree F. preheated oven for approximately 45 minutes. Top with cheddar cheese and continue baking for another 10 to 15 minutes until cheese is nicely melted and top is lightly golden. Let stand 5 minutes and add chive garnish before serving.

*Recipe can be easily doubled to feed a large crowd. Two greased casserole dishes are recommended.

Mel’s Fall-Inspired Chilled Asparagus

Serves 6 to 8

  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Zest of half of a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon garlic granules
  • 2 lbs. fresh asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed off
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted  (or sub with your favorite roasted or sweetened nuts)
  • Fresh lemon slices for garnish


Combine the first seven ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to a simmer. Stir occasionally and simmer for five more minutes. Remove from heat and let mixture cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Next, in a large skillet, cover asparagus spears with 1/2” water. Simmer for 3 to five minutes, just until asparagus is tender-crisp. Do not overcook. Drain and rinse asparagus spears in cold water to stop the cooking process. Dry the spears on a paper towel. Put the spears into a large resealable zipper bag. Next, pour the cooled marinade over the asparagus spears and seal bag closed. Refrigerate asparagus overnight, turning bag occasionally. Before serving, drain the marinade and sprinkle asparagus spears with crushed pecans. Serve cold with fresh lemon slices on the side. Or, alternatively, for a lighter flavor, prepare the marinade ahead of time but wait until the morning of your celebration to marinate the spears. Before serving, drain the spears, garnish, and serve cold as described above.

Cooking for the holidays doesn’t have to be stressful or complicated. Take shortcuts wherever you can by incorporating easy recipes with do-ahead steps to take the pressure off. It’s all about having fun in the kitchen. Be sure to ask for and accept help in the kitchen and treasure the memories you will make. Enjoy!

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