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26 Dec 2015

Seven tasty twists to spice up classic holiday foods

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December 26, 2015 Category: Food And Beverage Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO:  Baked Sweet Potatoes with Cranberry Gorgonzola Gremolata


Food is a central part to any holiday celebration, but after having the same recipe for the fifth or sixth time, even beloved dishes can feel bland and boring. This year, spice up traditional fare with a few unique twists guaranteed to have guests raving.

Mushrooms give earthy appeal to stuffing

The golden turkey or glazed ham is the star of the show at most holiday meals, leaving the meager stuffing beside it looking downright sad. It’s the stuffing’s time to shine when your give it a hearty upgrade with mushrooms. Simply chop your favorite mushroom variety like porcini, shiitake or cremini and add to your favorite recipe for a rich earthy flavor that is incredible satisfying.

Jalapenos infuse heat into sweet cranberry sauce

Cranberry sauce is a holiday essential, yet it’s the side dish that gets ignored the most. This year spice up your cranberry sauce with spicy jalapenos and watch it disappear fast. Simply seed and mince one to three jalapenos and add when boiling cranberries. The sweet heat is delectable on meats or as a relish to complement appetizers.

Cheese is the ideal topping for rolls

The lonely bread basket gets a holiday upgrade when you sprinkle tasty cheese to the top crust of baking bread. Hard cheeses like parmesan, asiago and fontina are good options. Grab your favorite shredded variety of Stella cheese when grocery shopping and you’ll be set for this incredibly simple, yet superbly savory addition to your rolls. Visit for more cooking inspiration using richly-flavored Italian-style cheeses.

Nuts add rich crunch to green bean casserole

Green bean casserole is a holiday staple that is often topped with fried onions. This year think bigger with rich, delectable flavors. Start by making your traditional recipe, but update the topping by using chopped walnuts with crumbled corn bread for a tasty crunch that will garner rave reviews from guests.

Tangy romano cheese enhances asparagus

Sautéed asparagus is a colorful addition to any holiday meal. Give the dish an elegant upgrade by sprinkling cooked asparagus with tangy Stella Romano cheese. The sharp, salty cheese mingles with the pungent flavors of the asparagus for a side dish that is as tasty as it is eye-catching. This dish is great with turkey, ham, duck or beef.

Turmeric brings out savory notes in vegetables

As one of today’s most talked about spices, a quick dash of turmeric is perfect for adding a little pizazz to classic side dishes. For example, the warm, peppery flavor of turmeric brings out the savory notes of roasted vegetables. It’s also a fantastic addition when sprinkled on braised greens like kale or collards.

Gorgonzola adds zip to creamy potatoes

Starches are a must for any holiday meal, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with basic mashed. Instantly upgrade your favorite spuds when you add flavorful Stella gorgonzola. The robust flavor of gorgonzola pairs perfectly with white or sweet potatoes. Mash directly into potatoes for a rich, creamy dish or sprinkle on top for a tasty topping like in this sweet potato recipe:

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Cranberry Gorgonzola Gremolata

Makes 6 servings


6 medium sweet potatoes

1/4 c. melted butter

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 c. pure maple syrup

1/4 c. minced fresh parsley

1 lemon zested

1 clove garlic, minced finely

3 tablespoons minced pecans

3 tablespoons finely chopped dried cranberries

1 scallion minced


2 ounces Stella gorgonzola, crumbled


  Preheat oven to 450 F. Place sweet potatoes on cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Flip over and return to oven to bake until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

  When cool enough to do so safely, peel sweet potatoes. Place in a medium skillet over low heat with butter, salt and maple syrup for 5 minutes, basting the potatoes with the butter mixture occasionally. Lightly smash the potatoes until there is an even consistency. Hold over low heat.

  In a small bowl, toss together parsley, lemon zest, garlic, pecans, cranberries and scallion. Gently fold in the gorgonzola.

  Move sweet potatoes to a serving dish and sprinkle with the cranberry blue cheese gremolata. Serve hot.

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