Holiday Side Dishes

25 Nov

I’m getting your questions and you’re quizzing me on side dishes. You want to know tips and tactics for holiday standards—cornbread dressing and macaroni and cheese.

Folks are in a panic about dressing—too dry.  It is always good to have a box or two of ready-to-use chicken broth on hand.  Adding a little broth allows you to adjust the moistness of the stuffing. If you’re putting the stuffing in your turkey, you won’t need to use too much broth, because the juices of the turkey will help create a moist and flavorful stuffing.  If you’re baking the dressing as a casserole, don’t use too high a temperature. If you like it more moist, cover the dish.  Bake the dressing at 350°F, 25 to 30 minutes or just until an instant read or roasting thermometer registers 165F.

Macaroni and cheese is one we all love—it can be really really good or well we don’t want to go there. The key to good macaroni and cheese is to use quality pasta and cook it just until it is cooked, still firm or al dente. Overcooked pasta will make the macaroni mushy.  And for me the dish has to have plenty of cheese flavor.  I’ve updated this macaroni and cheese to use corkscrew or cavetappi (spiral tube shape) pasta in place of elbow shape.  I hope you’ll like this new version.

Special Request Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni & Cheese

It can’t be a holiday without the mac ‘n cheese.

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

2 tablespoons finely  chopped fresh parsley or grated fresh Parmesan cheese

8 oz. (3 cups) uncooked spiral tube shape macaroni (cavatappi)

1 15 oz. jar Cheese Whiz cheese dip

1 12 oz. can low-fat (2%) evaporated milk

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup (4 oz.) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pinch of nutmeg

Combine bread crumbs and parsley or Parmesan cheese. Set aside. Prepare macaroni according to package directions. Set aside.

Heat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease 1-quart casserole. In 1-quart saucepan combine cheese dip and evaporated milk. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until cheese melts. Remove from heat; cool slightly.

In large mixing bowl, combine cavatappi, eggs, and seasonings, mix well.  Gradually stir cheese dip mixture and shredded cheddar cheese into macaroni mixture, mixing until blended. Pour into baking casserole. Sprinkle crumb mixture over top of macaroni mixture. Bake at 400°F, 20 to 25 minutes or until temperature register 160°F on thermometer inserted in center.


  • I always shred my own cheese for best melting.
  • Cavatappi may also be labeled cellentani

Note: Elbow shape macaroni may be substituted for cavatappi

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