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3 Easy Side Dishes for Your Holiday Meal

Melissa Roja Lawlor
Nov. 1, 2012

Food blogger Courtney Champion shares her easy homemade sides as part of the Care.com Interview Series

Like most new moms, Courtney Champion, who catalogs her creative recipes at Cook Like a Champion, worried that she and her husband might slip out of their habit of cooking from scratch with a new infant in the house. Though their approach to home cooking has changed slightly to cooking quicker meals, making quality food a priority has not.

Champion's philosophy is simple: homemade meals don't have to be difficult, especially holiday homemade meals! Her recipes are super easy, great for all types of eaters, and can be prepped in advance, which makes holiday entertaining even easier. Check out Courtney's kid-friendly suggestions for your holiday feast (they're adult-friendly, too)!

COOK LIKE A CHAMPION'S ROSEMARY AND BLACK PEPPER DINNER ROLLS
These dinner rolls would be perfect stuffed with turkey or ham to make sandwiches for the little ones.

Makes 14 rolls (1 9-inch pan)

Ingredients

1 package (2 1/4 tsp) yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoon oil (vegetable, canola, or olive) plus more for greasing bowl and pan
1 large egg
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
3 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter

Directions

  1. Add the water to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until the yeast becomes frothy.
  2. Add the oil, egg, sugar, pepper and rosemary to the bowl. Add the flour and mix on medium-low speed for about 2 minutes, just until the dough comes together. If the dough doesn't clear the sides of the bowl, continue adding flour 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase speed to medium and knead the dough for 5 minutes.
  3. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the salt and mix on low speed for an additional minute. Transfer the dough to a large, lightly greased bowl. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch baking pan. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Equally divide each half into 7 pieces about the size of a golf ball (2 ounces each if you're weighing). Gently roll into rounds and place in the pan, leaving about half an inch of space between them. If freezing, wrap pan tightly in foil and place in freezer. Thaw and rise for 2 to 2 1/2 hours the day of baking and continue. Cover rolls and allow to rise for at least 20 minutes, or until they've expanded to fill the pan.
  6. Preheat oven to 350º. Brush with half of the melted butter and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with remaining butter. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

COOK LIKE A CHAMPION'S THREE-CHEESE MAC AND CHEESE
This macaroni and cheese is adult friendly with three types of cheese and fresh thyme, but children love it too because it's cheesy and easy to eat.

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients

3/4 pound penne
1 1/2 cups heavy cream or half-and-half
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped sweet onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
5-ounce log goat cheese
3 ounces sharp white cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup packed freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons sour cream
3/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
salt and white pepper (or freshly ground black pepper)
1 extra large egg yolk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400º. Butter a 10-inch cast-iron skillet.In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente. Drain and return to pot.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring heavy cream, onion and garlic to a simmer.
  3. Transfer 1/2 cup of the cream to a medium bowl and gradually whisk in flour; return mixture to saucepan. Set the bowl aside for later.Whisk over moderate heat until thickened, about 3 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and whisk in goat cheese, cheddar and half of the Parmigiano until melted.
  5. Stir or in the sour cream, zest and 1 teaspoon thyme and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Add egg yolk to medium bowl and gradually whisk in 1/2 cup cheese sauce. Whisk egg/sauce mixture back into saucepan. Pour cheese sauce over pasta and toss to coat evenly.
  7. Add pasta to cast-iron skillet and sprinkle with remaining Parmigiano. Bake for about 25 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown. Sprinkle with remaining thyme.Allow mac and cheese to rest for about 5 minutes (if you can stand it), then serve.

COOK LIKE A CHAMPION'S PUMPKIN ICE CREAM
Pumpkin pie may not be on every kid's dessert wish list, but turn it into an ice cream and they'll go crazy for it. Top this recipe with crumbled graham crackers and whipped cream for an extra special treat.

Makes 1 quart

Ingredients

5 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cinnamon stick
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup pumpkin puree

Directions

  1. Whisk the egg yolks together in a medium bowl and set aside. Combine the milk, cream, sugar, spices and salt in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Cook until the edges begin to bubble.
  2. Slowly pour the warm liquid over the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (between 160º and 170ºF on an instant read thermometer).
  3. Set a mesh strainer over a large bowl. Pour the mixture through the strainer and then whisk in brown sugar until dissolved. Place bowl in an ice bath and stir until cool, then chill completely in the refrigerator, preferably overnight. Once chilled, whisk in the vanilla and pumpkin. Press through the strainer once more and then freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Freeze for at least an hour before serving.

> All recipes have been republished with permission from CooklikeaChampion.com

Get more family-friendly recipe ideas in our Care.com Interview Series: 16 Easy Holiday Recipes That I Would Actually Eat »

Courtney Champion is the creator of the food blog Cook Like a Champion. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband (and kitchen-cleaner-proofreader) Eric and their daughter Clara. You can find Courtney on Twitter and Facebook.

Photos used with permission from Courtney Champion.

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