Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Planning & Preparing food for the Holidays

If anything is for sure, it is that things get hectic working up to Christmas.  Everyone is trying to get the gifts bought, wrapped and under the tree.  At the same time they are making all kinds of Christmas treats (cookies, candy, etc.).  Then there is planning and making the special dinners for Christmas Eve and/or Christmas day.  With all this going on no wonder everybody gets half crazy.

One of the easiest ways to reduce the holiday stress is to make a plan and then execute it.  Don't try making all those cookies and other treats in one day.  The same goes for shopping; divide up your list and do what is manageable in part of a day.  You don't have to go from dawn to dusk trying to kill yourself trying to get it all done.

As for cookies and treats, figure out what you really need for the family and then add some for friends.  It makes sense to keep it to no more than 4 different items.  If you need more for some reason, it is okay to buy a few items.  Convenience is there for a reason.  Take advantage of it when you need.  On the homemade items, I'd pick the items you're known for and maybe one new one if you really must.  The last bit of advice is get others involved so you don't have to do it all yourself (unless you have the time).  I remember that half the fun of Christmas cookies was helping mom and making a mess.  But they sure tasted better because we were all involved.

Because families get together for special meals at Christmas time, let people bring items to the meal.  If you get to be the host/hostess of the meal and are making it all, make a plan.  Plan a menu that doesn't over use a particular piece of equipment, like the oven.  When I plan a meal, I try and pick a good mixture of hot and cold dishes.  I try to have ones that can be made ahead (a day or two), those that need an oven and/or roaster for long cooking times and stove top dishes that are last minute items.

If you are going to have others bring a dish or two, let them bring their specialties if it fits in the menu plan.  Holiday meals usually have traditions when it comes to food.  Our family always makes what we call "Beacom Special" which is a potato dish we brought from Ireland.  The recipe will be in tomorrow's blog.  I try to make traditional dishes and then add a new one for each year.  That new one may become a regular or not.  It all depends on how it is received by everyone.  That is part of the fun of holiday meals and cooking.  If you are not sure about a new dish, I suggest you try it out sometime before the eventful holiday dinner.

Depending on when you open your gifts (Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning), plan a meal that is easy and quick.  Children (of all ages) don't always have the patience to wait at these times.

I have two recipes tomorrow for that special Christmas Dinner that take a little work and one is a little pricey.  But both are delicious.  Friday's recipes (2) are treats.  Enjoy them if you try them.

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