How To Simplify & Save Time
Cooking Holiday Dinners
Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here soon. With them comes the pressure to present your family with the Norman Rockwell version of the holiday dinner. Most of us will find ourselves working tirelessly in the kitchen trying to measure up to this incredibly high standard. Let's just hope you have a cushioned floor runner rug underfoot for comfort. You really want to spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying your family during the holidays. Take a look at some of these helpful tips to save time and simplify your cooking process from start to finish.
Trim The Trimmings
It's important to figure out your menu at least a week ahead of time. Set the bar a little lower than you have in the past. Determine which dishes are absolutely essential to the holiday feast and which dishes you can do without. Everybody expects the turkey, gravy, stuffing and mashed potatoes. After that, it's up to you. The easiest way to trim down your cooking time is to make fewer side dishes. Not everything needs to be homemade. It's okay to serve pre-made items. In fact, some families prefer dishes like cranberry sauce and creamed corn from the can.
Write it all down. That way, you won't be juggling everything in your head. Even Martha Stewart has a checklist for Thanksgiving dinner. Put together a grocery list to eliminate repeat trips to the supermarket. Compile a list of the recipes you'll use, and whenever possible, paper clip the actual recipe to this list. Create a timeline for when to get started on each dish, and stick to your schedule as closely as possible to avoid having one dish ready long before the others.
Do as much as you can before the big day. Many foods can be prepared in advance, refrigerated or frozen. Cranberry sauce can be made in advance. Pies can be baked in advance. Since using day-old bread for the stuffing is the best method, bread cubes can also be prepared in advance. (Important: Do not stuff the turkey until it's time to cook it!) Even the gravy can be made in advance using turkey wings, canned chicken broth and this turkey gravy recipe.
Don't knock yourself out trying to get everything done on your own. If you let family and friends know what you need from them, they'll usually be happy to pitch in with the workload. Don't be shy! You can ask someone to bring desserts, someone else to bring the rolls, side dishes or some beverages. Another way others can help is on the big day itself. A brother or sister can mash the potatoes, a son-in-law can carve the turkey with the host while the hostess makes the gravy and readies the side dishes. Younger kids can set the table and pour the drinks. After the meal, each member of the family can carry their dishes to the kitchen to get a head start on cleaning up.
The holidays can be a crazy time for everyone. Thankfully, The Lakeside Collection is prepared to take some of the stress away, with Thanksgiving centerpieces for your table, Christmas planters for potted poinsettias and outdoor decorations to greet guests before they ring the doorbell.