From the salad to the dessert, festive accompaniments for your holiday main dish

Whether your holiday main dish is turkey or ham, remember sides, salads and desserts that can please all ages and palates.
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From the hors d'oeuvres to the main course and all the way through the dessert, creating a full holiday menu doesn’t have to be hard.

The key to a successful feast is focusing on dishes that can please loved ones of all ages and palates, such as a festive salad before the turkey or ham main dish, which can be accompanied by complementary sides like au gratin potatoes. Finally, top off the celebration with a dessert featuring classic cranberry flavor.

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Start with a salad

Spinach Christmas tree salad
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With a bed of tender, leafy green spinach and pops of red cranberries, a salad lends itself to the colors and flavors of the holiday season. Plus, as a lighter bite ahead of the big meal, it makes for a delicious introduction to dinner parties, family gatherings and other get-togethers.

Spinach Christmas tree salad

Servings: 6


• 2 packages (5 ounces each) baby spinach

• 1/2 cup dried cranberries, divided

• 1/3 cup pistachios, divided

• 1/2 cup feta cheese, divided

• 1 red pepper, cored, cut into thin strips

• 1 large apple, thinly sliced, cut into star shapes


• 1 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce

• 3 tablespoons cranberry juice

• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

• 2 tablespoons honey

• 1/4 cup olive oil

• 1 tablespoon light brown sugar

• 1/4 teaspoon salt


• In large bowl, toss baby spinach with 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 1/6 cup pistachios and 1/4 cup feta cheese. Transfer to Christmas tree cake mold. Neatly arrange spinach leaves to create smooth surface.

• Arrange red pepper strips, trimming as needed, to create garland. Arrange remaining dried cranberries, remaining pistachios and remaining feta cheese as “ornaments” on top of spinach. Create tree topper with one apple star; place remaining apple stars around “tree.”

To make dressing:

In blender, process cranberry sauce, cranberry juice, balsamic vinegar, honey, olive oil, brown sugar and salt until smooth.

Hearty holiday side dish

Creamy au gratin potatoes with kale and gruyere
(Family Features)

From appetizers and snacks to the main course, the sides and sweets, almost everyone has a favorite holiday dish. However, the pairings and complementary dishes make festive get-togethers special.

Creamy au gratin potatoes with kale and gruyere


• 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

• 2 cloves garlic, smashed

• 3 sprigs fresh thyme

• 2 tablespoons butter

• 3 cloves shallots, diced

• 4 large kale leaves, finely chopped (discard stems)

• 2 pounds red potatoes, sliced 1/8 inch

• 2 ounces gruyere cheese, grated

• 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated


• Heat oven to 325 degrees.

• In small saucepan over medium heat, combine cream, salt, black pepper, garlic and thyme; stir constantly until cream starts to bubble, 4-6 minutes. When bubbling, remove from heat and stir until slightly cooled. Let cream sit.

• Heat large (12-inch) oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter. When butter melts, add shallots and kale leaves. Sauté until kale is tender and bright green, about 4 minutes. Turn off burner.

• Add sliced potatoes to skillet, fanning over top of kale.

• Use slotted spoon to remove garlic and thyme from heavy cream. Pour heavy cream over potatoes.

• Cover skillet tightly with foil and bake until potatoes are tender, 75-85 minutes.

• Remove skillet from oven and turn on broiler. Discard foil.

• Sprinkle gruyere and Parmesan cheeses over potatoes, tucking some cheese between potato slices.

• Return skillet to oven and broil until top is golden brown, 5-6 minutes.

— Recipe courtesy of Wisconsin Potatoes

Dish up dessert

Cranberry cheesecake
(Family Features)

Give your holiday gatherings a new twist this year with a creamy cranberry delight that’s a cause for celebration on its own.

Cranberry cheesecake

Prep time: 45 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes


Cranberry compote:

• 2 cups fresh cranberries

• 1 cup light brown sugar

• 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

• 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest


• 2 cups graham cracker crumbs

• 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

• 3 tablespoons light brown sugar

• 1/4 teaspoon salt


• 3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature

• 2 cups organic raw cane sugar

• 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 4 large eggs, at room temperature

• 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature

• 1/2 cup cranberry compote

• fresh cranberries

• sugared cranberries

• rosemary sprigs

• whipped cream


To make cranberry compote:

• In medium saucepan, bring cranberries, brown sugar, orange juice and orange zest to boil.

• Lower heat and simmer 10-15 minutes, or until most cranberries burst. Remove from heat.

• Cool completely at room temperature then transfer to bowl; refrigerate.

To make crust:

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 8-inch springform pan and line bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.

• In medium bowl, mix cracker crumbs, butter, brown sugar and salt. Press crumb mixture into bottom of prepared pan. Bake 15 minutes.

• Remove from oven and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

To make cheesecake:

• In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese at medium speed until smooth. Add cane sugar and beat 2-3 minutes. Scrape sides of bowl as needed. Add flour, vanilla and salt. Beat 1 minute until incorporated.

• Add one egg at a time, mixing until incorporated. Add sour cream and mix 1 minute. Scrape sides of bowl as needed. In medium bowl, mix half of cheesecake batter with 1/2 cup cranberry compote.

• Wrap springform pan with aluminum foil and place in large roasting pan. Pour cream cheese and cranberry mixture into prepared pan. Top with remaining cream cheese batter. Place roasting pan in oven and add hot water to 1-inch of springform pan. Bake 1 hour, 15 minutes, or until cake looks set in center. Remove from oven and rest 1 hour. Refrigerate in pan overnight.

• Decorate cake with fresh and sugared cranberries, rosemary sprigs and whipped cream. ◆