3 Easy Side Dishes to Make You a Hostessing Hero – These easy, delicious side dishes are perfect for the holidays and dinner parties. Save oven space and banish stress with these simple sides!
It’s go time.
We are officially entering the holiday season and, with so many parties, gatherings, and dinners on the horizon, I wanted to share one of my secrets for simplifying. We hosted Thanksgiving this year and will be doing Christmas at home as well. I love getting to play hostess and love getting together with people I love. As the cook or hostess, one of my big goals is not to feel overwhelmed or to miss out because I’m spending all my time in the kitchen instead of with people I love. Here are my best tips (and some great recipes!) for simplifying the holiday craziness and getting to ENJOY hosting dinner!
1. Choose 2-3 things to focus on and simplify the rest.
Pick a few places to really focus your energy. If you’re trying to make every single dish or element the star of the show, then nothing really shines. That doesn’t mean any of your dishes or decorations needs to be boring, it simply means you choose a few places to focus most of your energy. Is your skill set making a beautiful table setting with personal details? Awesome! Focus your energy there and pick up some store-bought pie or dessert. Maybe you’re going all out with the turkey or main dish. Great! Choose some simple side dishes, drawing from recipes you’re very familiar with, don’t require a lot of fuss or attention, or things that can be semi-homemade (maybe you dress up a bagged salad mix with some candied nuts and a homemade dressing).
2. Make ahead.
For me, the day before the holiday is actually the busier kitchen day for me than Thanksgiving day or Christmas Day. I’m dicing up veggies, brining my turkey or chicken, mixing up pie crust, prepping my sweet potato casserole, whisking up salad dressing, crisping bacon, etc. Choose as many make-ahead dishes as possible. It makes it so much easier on you (or your kitchen helpers) if you’ve done a little (or a lot) of prep work ahead of time. You can even make and freeze an unbaked pie! Just pop it in the oven while you’re enjoying your Thanksgiving feast, and it’ll be ready and waiting when you finish, or mix up your waffle batter the night before so that your Christmas morning breakfast is a cinch to pull together.
3. Free up your oven space.
Thanksgiving especially is notorious for clogging up the oven. Between the turkey, stuffing, rolls, sweet potato casseroles and more, oven space is a precious commodity. Use it wisely! Could you make your rolls ahead of time and reheat them while the turkey is resting?
The big star of my kitchen this holiday season is my BLACK+DECKER® rice cooker. Despite the name, you can use it for SO much more than just rice–you can cook quinoa or pasta, steam veggies, slow cook a main dish (seriously!), keep soup warm, cook fish (seriously!) and more! I love that it’s a countertop appliance (which means more free oven and stovetop space!) and basically doesn’t need to be supervised at all. It’s amazing what you can do with a rice cooker taking care of your side dishes! I can spend the afternoon helping with class parties at school or running last minute errands and still pull together a dinner I’d feel proud to share with my family. Here are a few simple side dishes that taste delicious and don’t feel rushed or hurried at all. (Plus, they can all be made in the rice cooker!)
Pomegranate and Cilantro Quinoa.
Cook quinoa using the RICE button (the same ratios of liquid to grain, same cook time, etc.), then fold in the goodies! In my opinion, pomegranates instantly elevate any dish. They look like little jewels and brighten up the color and flavor palate. (Plus, they’re so juicy and delicious this time of year!) Pair them with a little fresh cilantro or mint and a squeeze of lime juice for a gorgeous side that can be served with anything from your Thanksgiving dinner to a cozy curry or tikka masala on a weeknight!
Rice and Veggie Pilaf.
This is a total cheater recipe, and I LOVE it. Pop 2 measures of rice with 1/2 cup each of onion and celery in your rice cooker, use a little veggie or chicken broth instead of water, set and forget it using the RICE button! As soon as the rice is done and the veggies are tender, sprinkle over some toasted almonds for a gorgeous, classic pilaf everyone will love. It plays nicely with chicken, fish, beef, pork, or veggie main dishes!
Lemon and Herb Baby Potatoes.
This is such a great one. Cook 1 lb. of baby potatoes with 1 1/2 cups water on the steam setting for 24-26 minutes, then toss the cooked potatoes in a mixture of butter or olive oil, lemon zest, some fresh herbs (cilantro, basil, or parsley are nice), and a little salt and pepper. Simple, delicious, and it doesn’t use the oven or stovetop! A BLACK+DECKER® rice cooker was the best gift to myself I could have asked for this season and it would make a FABULOUS Christmas gift for the cook, college student, or newlywed in your life, too! There are so many options for using this rice cooker to simplify my holiday season. I hope it can simplify yours! You can find it at Amazon for a great price. Put it to use slow cooking, preparing easy side dishes, steaming fish, making oatmeal, and more! Check out more of the amazing BLACK+DECKER® kitchen line at Amazon.
Happy Holidays, friends!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of BLACK+DECKER®. The opinions and text are all mine.