Sunday, December 09, 2007

Holiday Anguish Cheer - Simple tips to keep your celebrations on track, Part III

Welcome to my third and final installment of helpful hints to assist you this holiday season! Today I'll be covering:

Recipes and Food Preparation

Write it down. On the big day, write out the baking/cooking times for each of your recipes, AND the oven temperatures. Figure out what dishes can be cooked together at the same temperature. Make sure you give yourself a little extra cooking time if you've got the oven stuffed full. Then convert the baking times to actual clock values: that way, you know the exact time you need to put each dish in. I introduced this idea a few years ago to my mother, and she was really impressed with how much more smoothly things went!

Having a menu written out is good. Not just to help you stay on track with what you're preparing, but because you can run over it quickly just before serving, and see if you forgot anything! I can't tell you the number of times we've forgotten the buns or the cranberry sauce. There they are, sitting in the fridge, or the nuker, and when dinner's all over and we're cleaning up, we find them! Augh!

The microwave is your friend. Anything that can be made ahead, should be! A quick reheat and you're off to the races. Stove Top brand stuffing (my favorite) can be made entirely in the microwave! That's a great help on the big day, believe me.

Need some ideas for freezable foods that would be handy to have on hand (not just on the big day, but throughout the busy holiday season)? The MommySavers forum has some great ideas!

Now is not the time to try a recipe for the first time. It's been said before, but I'll reiterate it here: If you want to do something new, practice it at least a couple of times before the big day. It is WAY too much pressure to try something new - too much disaster potential!

Instead of doing one big turkey, do two smaller ones. This was a great hint I read in a magazine a while back. They take less time to cook than a large bird, and you can carve one up for serving, and still have one complete one to bring for display on the table.

Don't be afraid to let others help. If a guest wants to bring a dessert or a salad, it's a win-win - they feel good about helping, and you get one less thing to worry about - except finding a spot in the fridge for it. But be sure that who is bringing what is sorted out in advance of the big day - and remind them the day before to ensure you don't end up salad-less.

Don't feel badly about buying some pre-made foods. For example, at our house, we're not huge fans of holiday fruit cake. But I do like to have a little bit of it during the holidays (with a nice cup of tea...mmmm). So I buy a small brick of it from the store - I get a taste of what I like, without having to do through the huge effort of making it myself. There's a lot of great premade products out there made by small local companies - give them a try and save yourself some time without sacrificing quality and taste.

Hope these hints will help you as much as they've helped me in the past! Have a great holiday season!

1 comment:

mister anchovy said...

hmmmm, I can't say I follow any of this advice. Maybe that's why I don't let anyone into the kitchen when I'm doing some serious holiday cooking.