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Creative side dishes for your Holiday Celebrations

So, here we are in the holiday season once again. Depending on your culture or religious affiliation, you likely have your go to protein of choice, be it turkey, ham, cod or other such thing. But what about those side dishes to compliment the SHOW PEICE? Of course each particular type of main dish has it's typical side dishes, why not change it up a bit?

Roasted Winter Squash with Vanilla Butter

Fragrant vanilla-bean butter does double duty here — it both flavors the squash and softens the skin during roasting. The greater the variety of winter squash you use, the more interesting the dish will be. Top it all off with fried sage leaves for a simple and easy side dish.

Roasted Mushrooms with Red Wine Butter

Instead of cooking mushrooms in a skillet, chef Geoffrey Zakarian roasts them in the oven until tender before tossing them in a buttery red wine sauce with garlic and fresh herbs.

Sweet Potato Pavé

Super-thin slices of sweet potato are key to the finished texture and shape of these crispy bites. Use a mandoline for the best results, stabbing the last bit of potato with a fork to keep fingers safe.

Spinach Bread Pudding with Lemon and Feta

A spin on a sweet vs savory interpretation

Butternut Squash Basmati Rice

Rice is nice, this could even be taken a step further and used as a stuffing for squash

Raclette-Gruyère Mac and Cheese with Pickled Shallots

Inspired by älplermagronen, Alpine farmers' macaroni, this macaroni and cheese gets rich flavor from Gruyère and a lush creaminess from Raclette. Traditional versions of this dish are served with applesauce; as a nod to that flavor play, we've added some shallots that are quickly pickled in apple cider vinegar to balance the cheesy richness.

There is so much more to offer in this realm of festive food side dishes, we could easily write a book. As a parting thought, I will share with you my upcoming Christmas dinner plans. I'll post photos when the event actually takes In the meantime, here is the national dish of Ecuador, where I will be for the holidays this year.

With their big innocent eyes, cat-like whiskers and soft fluffy fur, guinea pigs make for great family pets. But here, in the Andean mountains of Ecuador, guinea pigs aren’t treated as cuddly companions; they’re bred, boiled and deep-fried for dinner.

Guinea pig or Cuy as it is called in South America is a local delicacy that’s unique to the highlands of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. Cuy is most often eaten for special occasions, an indigenous tradition that dates back hundreds of years to the Incan empire.

Cheers, and have a happy hump day!!

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