The sides, the trimmings, the dishes that pass around the table greedily eyed from every seat; call them what you will, they’re the humble parts of the festive feast that make everything else work. And they’re the subject of our latest selection of holiday recipes.
We asked marketing leaders, experts, and influencers for the all-conquering accompaniments that have a guaranteed space at the center of the table at this time of year. These treasured side recipes have history. They resonate with people because they’ve been passed down through generations. And though they’re a support act, in theory, side dishes steal the show for people in the know. Side dishes embody the fine details that make the whole meal experience taste better.
As with last week’s starter recipes, we’re pairing our marketing influencer sides with some special recipes from ActiveCampaign itself. These are automation recipes that take care of the often-overlooked details that have a big influence on how your customers feel about you. These automation recipes ensure your marketing continues to run smoothly this holiday season and beyond.
Scroll down for our full selection of side recipes – and if these tantalize your taste buds, you can download a full menu of festive food from our Home for the Holidays site. While you’re there you can register for our special Yule Log Fireside Chat with bestselling author and MarketingProfs Chief Content Officer, Ann Handley. It’s the perfect opportunity to grab a cocktail and put the marketing world to rights.
Side Number 1: Anita’s Awesome Cranberry Orange Relish
From Anita Campbell, CEO, Small Business Trends
“If you ask me, there’s a conspiracy out there to make cranberry sauce too sweet. I love this recipe because it reigns all that back. It’s super simple to make, feels more healthy and wholesome, and has so much more flavor. The sweetness comes from the orange juice – and the cinnamon and pinch of salt keep the flavor flowing.”
You will need:
- 1 12-oz bag of cranberries
- 1 cup of orange juice
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- Tiny pinch of salt
- Pick through the cranberries and discard stems and any berries that are soft or overly shriveled.
- Put all the ingredients in a pot, and gently simmer while stirring for about five minutes. Watch carefully: it can foam, burn, or boil over quickly. The key here is not to overcook. If too much liquid boils away, you’ll be left with something dark and gloopy. Your cranberries should be left half intact, with a nice bright color and a good amount of liquid which will get thicker as it cools.
- Once you’ve reached this stage, remove from the heat.
- Pour your relish into a bowl and refrigerate. I always make this the day before I plan to serve it, to minimize pressure.
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Side Number 2: 24-hour Salad
From Meagan Eisenberg, CMO, TripActions
“This recipe is simple, sweet, and for me, really special. It’s something that my mom always made for us at Thanksgiving and Christmas – and making it with my own girls sums up what the holidays are all about for me. It’s something to do the day before you plan to serve it when the pressure’s off and you can just enjoy your time together.”
You will need:
- 1 lb seedless grapes, cut in half
- 1 can pineapple chunks, drained (save the juice)
- 1/2 lb miniature marshmallows
- 1/2 pint (1 cup) whipped cream
juice of 1 large lemon
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice (from the can)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- Cook the lemon and pineapple juice together with the sugar and egg yolks, heating slowly and stirring until thick. It takes quite a while – so be patient. Rushing and turning up the heat will leave you with something lumpy.
- Cover the mix and leave it to cool, then stir in the whipped cream and mix your dressing with the fruits and marshmallows.
- Put it all in the refrigerator overnight to set, ready to serve the next day.
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Side Number 3: Uncle Walt’s Turkey Stuffing
From Tricia Miller, Senior Director EMEA Marketing at Twilio
“My Uncle Walt was a total renaissance man. He had a quiet humility that belied his many talents: woodworking, restoring vintage cars, and building houses with his three sons. With movie-star looks, you couldn’t help but notice him; but it was his gentle way that made him so special.
Walt’s mother was from Hamburg, Germany and I’m told that this was her recipe. It’s been THE stuffing in our household ever since I was a child and I think of my dear Uncle Walt every time we serve it!”
You will need:
- 1 lb ground beef pound mild sausage
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 1 cup celery, chopped
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 package Pepperidge Farm seasoned breadcrumbs (or make your own in a blender)
- 1 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 can or more of chicken stock
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
- 1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 1 green apple, chopped
- 1/2 cup dark raisins
- Sauté the onion and celery in butter in a pan.
- Brown the sausage and ground beef in another pan.
- Drain off all the fat and then use paper towels to soak up any that’s left.
- Place the contents of both pans in a large bowl with all of the other ingredients and mix them together. I mix the dried ingredients first, then pour in the chicken stock and wine. Use enough liquid to make the stuffing moist, but not soupy.
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Side Number 4: Sweet Potato Casserole
From Barry Moltz, Small Business Expert
“One of the signs that your kids are growing up too fast is when they start rejecting those family-favorite recipes you always thought had a permanent place in their hearts. That’s why I love this casserole. They asked for it every holiday season when they were young. They ask for it every holiday season now. It restores your faith!”
You will need:
- 5-6 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 3 tbsps orange juice
- 10.5oz mini marshmallows
- Boil the sweet potatoes in a large pot of water until they’re fork-tender (it takes about 15 minutes).
- While you’re doing so preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Once the potatoes are done, drain them and return them to the pot, away from the heat.
- Mash in the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and orange juice then spread the whole lot evenly in a greased pan (9×13 inches is ideal).
- Top the whole lot with marshmallows and bake for 25-30 min until the marshmallows are golden brown.
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Side Number 5: Braised Red Cabbage with Apples
From Leela Srinivasan, CMO, SurveyMonkey
“I make no apologies for borrowing this vibrant dish from British cooking legend Delia Smith. It instantly transports me back to Christmas dinners at my mum’s house in Scotland. I tend to make it early on Thanksgiving Day, which gives the sweet, tart, and spiced flavors time to integrate – and infuses the house with wonderful festive aromas all day long.”
You will need:
- 2 lb red cabbage
- 1 lb onions, diced
- 1 lb Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 3 tbsps brown sugar
- 3 tbsps wine vinegar
- ½ oz butter
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 300F (150C).
- Discard the tough outer leaves of the cabbage, cut it into quarters and remove the hard stalk, then shred it finely.
- In a large lidded casserole dish, arrange a layer of shredded cabbage seasoned with salt and pepper, then a layer of chopped onions and apples followed by a sprinkling of garlic, spices, and sugar. Continue alternating layers until all the ingredients are in.
- Pour in the wine vinegar and pop the butter on top.
- Put a lid on the casserole dish and let it cook very slowly in the oven for about two hours, stirring once or twice during the cooking.
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Side Number 6: Christmas Carrots
From John Watton, CMO, Yext
“This is my kind of holiday recipe – in that it’s barely a recipe at all. It’s a tried and tested combination of irresistible ingredients that’s super indulgent and super unhealthy. It’s from Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge so it’s allowed, right?”
You will need:
- 9 medium carrots, peeled, topped, and tailed
- 250g/9oz butter
- 150g/5½oz sugar
- 3 tsp salt
- 4 star anise
- Peel the carrots and, if you’re feeling fussy, use a clean scourer to smooth them and remove any peel marks.
- Mix the butter, sugar, salt, and star anise in a pan with 400ml of water.
- Boil then simmer, add the carrots and cook until they’re tender (approximately 45 minutes) and the volume of liquid has reduced by half.
- Serve and pour over the reduced cooking liquid for extra Michelin points.
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Side Number 7: Baked Macaroni and Cheese
From SmallBizLady (aka Melinda F. Emerson, President, Quintessence Group)
“This is about as indulgent as pasta and cheese can get. It’s an exercise in dairy derring-do that takes standard store cupboard ingredients and turns them into something properly celebratory.”
You will need:
- 1 box elbow macaroni
- 1 stick of butter (salted), cut into 5 blocks
- 1 pack kraft singles
- 1 medium block of sharp cheddar
- 1 pack Sargento Cheddar Jack Shredded Cheese
- 6 eggs
- 2 tablespoons of salt
- 2 tablespoons of ground pepper
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 cups of whole milk
- 6 ritz crackers
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Slice up around half a block of cheese and boil and drain a box of elbow macaroni.
- Whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt, pepper, and milk in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
- Take a rectangular glass pan or deep-dish metal pan, and cover the bottom with kraft singles or your cheese slices.
- Cover with a layer of macaroni and then place butter squares in each corner.
- Spread over a thick layer of cheddar jack shreds and then cover with the final layer of macaroni.
- Now pour the custard mixture from your bowl over the entire pan, covering all of the macaroni (add more milk if you need to)
- Use all remaining cheese (cheddar slices and kraft singles) to cover the top.
- Place the final butter square in the center of the pan, crumble the ritz crackers, and spread over the top,
- Bake the whole thing in the oven for about an hour. I’d advise putting the pan on a cookie sheet to catch any drips. You’ll know it’s done when you can’t pour any liquid out of the side of the pan.
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Side Number 8: Mimi’s Marvelous Latkes
From Rieva Lesonsky, CEO, President & Founder at GrowBiz Media
“No holiday season could be complete without my mom’s take on Latkes. They’re a traditional Hanukkah food that is most famously served with apple sauce and sour cream – only our family sometimes goes one better. Try topping the whole thing with sugar. It may sound weird to serve sugar on potatoes, but it is oh-so-good.”
You will need:
- 4 russet potatoes
- 1 onion
- 2 eggs
- 1/3-1/2 cup matzo meal
- kosher salt and pepper to taste
- Chop and grate the potatoes and onions. It’s a perfectly valid cheat to use a food processor if you don’t fancy doing this by hand.
- Squeeze the mixture with a paper towel or dishtowel to get the excess liquid out.
- Put it in a large bowl with the eggs, matzo meal, and salt and better, and mix everything together.
- Heat a healthy cooking oil (I use Canola) in a frying pan (cast iron if you have one) and when it’s good and hot, drop in one heaping tablespoon of mixture.
- Flatten it using a spatula or fork, fry until golden brown on the bottom, then flip and do the other side (it might take about five minutes but keep a close eye so you don’t overdo them).
- Work in batches (as many as you can safely fit in the pan), then transfer to a plate to stay warm in the oven.
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