It's not uncommon for the host of an event like Christmas dinner to be happy if guests bring some of the meal, whether it is a salad, side dishes or dessert.

Here are three suggestions for side dishes that guests can prepare in advance and take to a special holiday dinner.


Creamy Parsnip Mashed Potatoes


  • 2 kg (4 lbs) baking potatoes, chopped

  • 1 kg (2 lbs) parsnips, chopped

  • 250 g (8 oz.) block of light cream cheese

  • 250 ml (1 cup) sour cream

  • 125 ml ( 1/2 cup) grated Parmesan cheese

  • 75 ml (1/3 cup) chopped fresh chives

  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) butter

  • 2 ml ( 1/2 tsp) pepper


1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook potatoes and parsnips in boiling salted water until tender. Drain. Mash.

2. Add cream cheese, sour cream, Parmesan, chives, butter and pepper. Mash well.

3. Make Ahead: The mashed potato mixture may be prepared up to 2 hours ahead and put into a greased 3-l (12-cup) baking dish. Cover with a lid or with greased foil and let it stand at room temperature until ready to bake. Bake, covered, in a 190 C (375 F) oven for about 30 minutes or until heated through.

4. Wrap dish in towels and carry to dinner in a newspaper-lined cardboard box. Heat dish gently in oven or microwave.

Makes 12 servings.

Nutrients per serving: 253 calories, 10.5 g fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 34 g carbohydrates, 4 g fibre, 8 g protein, 269 mg sodium.

Sweet and Smoky Brussels Sprouts


  • 4 bacon slices, diced

  • 250 ml (1 cup) finely chopped onion

  • 3 L (12 cups) brussels sprouts (about 1.5 kg/3 lbs), trimmed and halved lengthwise

  • 300 ml (1 1/8 cups) prepared chicken broth

  • 500 ml (2 cups) frozen peas

  • 150 ml (2/3 cup) pine nuts, toasted (see tip)

  • 75 ml (1/3 cup) grated Parmesan cheese

  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) butter


1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Transfer with slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Set aside.

2. Heat 10 ml (2 tsp) drippings in same pot on medium-high. Add onion. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until softened.

3. Add brussels sprouts and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Boil gently, covered, for about 10 minutes until brussels sprouts are just tender-crisp.

4. Add bacon and peas. Stir. Cook, covered, for about 2 minutes until heated through and peas are tender.

5. Add pine nuts, Parmesan and butter. Heat and stir until butter is melted.

6. Cover Dutch oven and wrap in towels and carry to dinner in newspaper-lined cardboard box. Heat gently before placing in a serving dish.

Makes 12 servings.

Tip: To toast pine nuts, place them in an ungreased frying pan. Heat on medium for 3-5 minutes, stirring often, until they are golden.

Rutabaga and Carrot Puff


  • 1 rutabaga

  • 4 carrots

  • Half onion, chopped

  • 375 ml (1-1/2 cups) chicken stock

  • 50 ml ( 1/8 cup) butter

  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) brown sugar

  • Pinch nutmeg

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) flour

  • 5 ml (1 tsp) baking powder

  • Salt and pepper

  • 50 ml ( 1/8 cup) finely chopped pecans or hazelnuts


1. Trim and peel rutabaga and carrots; cut into 1-cm (1/2 -inch) chunks. In a large saucepan, combine rutabaga, carrots, onion, stock, 45 ml (3 tbsp) of the butter, sugar and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook, partially covered, for about 45 minutes or until vegetables are very tender, stirring occasionally.

2. With a slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to a food processor or blender. Set cooking pan over high heat and boil remaining liquid, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes or until reduced to about 15 ml (1 tbsp). Add liquid to processor and puree until very smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl and let cool to room temperature.

3. Stir in eggs, flour, baking powder and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a buttered 1.5-L (6-cup) casserole or souffle dish. Melt remaining butter and stir together with nuts. Sprinkle evenly around edge of dish to make a border. (Casserole can be covered and refrigerated for 1 day. Bring to room temperature for 30 minutes before reheating.)

4. Bake, uncovered, in a 180 C (350 F) oven for about 30 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.

5. Wrap dish in towels and place in newspaper-lined cardboard box and at destination warm gently before serving.

Makes 8 servings.

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