Tips for Holiday Cooking
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Tips for Holiday Cooking

•    Don’t stress out!  It’s okay to delegate, say no, and buy prepared food if necessary.  You don’t have to make everything homemade.

•    The key to easing your stress is organization. Start now.  If you are preparing a favorite meal now, make extra and freeze for later.

•    Use parchment sheets whenever possible.  It makes life so much easier.

•    Make several batches of cookies at once.  Scoop into balls using an ice cream scoop.  Lay out on a cookie sheet.  Freeze.  When frozen transfer balls to a ziplock bag.  When company arrives unexpectedly, pop in a cookie sheet with cookies and have fresh baked cookies in 15 minutes or so.

•    Sometimes special breakfasts can be hard to prepare when you stay up so late with family and company.  Just plan ahead:  overnight breakfast casseroles, quiche, scones made now and frozen for later, bacon cooked ahead, frozen and reheated can all make your holiday and Christmas mornings more enjoyable for you without all the last minute cooking in the kitchen while everyone else is sitting around talking and enjoying the morning.

•    Easy tips for cooking bacon. This bacon won’t curl and doesn’t make a mess. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (don’t be tempted to increase the temperature as the grease will splatter and the bacon will curl).  Line a cookie sheet with foil.  Place bacon strips on foil.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until done. Turn bacon halfway through cooking time. When done place on paper towels and cool. After bacon is cooled, place strips in a large ziplock bag. Lay flat and freeze.  When you need a quick breakfast, heat a few strips in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds.

•    Easy tips to make quick scones.  When you have extra time, place self-rising flour and sugar in a bowl.  Cut in butter.  Pour ingredients into a ziplock bag.  Place in freezer.  When you’re ready to make a batch, pour into bowl, add fruit and buttermilk and you’re done. Scones in a hurry!

•    Another scone tip:  when you have an extra few hours, make up several batches of scones, bake and flash freeze on a cookie sheet.  Later transfer the scones to ziplock bags.  When you have company and need a quick dessert or breakfast, place as many as you need on a cookie sheet, cover scones with foil and reheat until thoroughly heated (depending on your oven 10-20 minutes).

•    Make up batches of lemon curd.  Keep in the refrigerator and have on hand to serve with scones or place in canning jars and give away as gifts.  Lemon curd will last 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

•    Use lemon curd for a quick dessert. Bake prepackaged phyllo cups. Cool.  Place a dollop of lemon curd in each.  Top with a raspberry or blueberry and you have a bite-sized perfect dessert.

•    Keep packages of cream cheese on hand.  When you need a quick appetizer, soften cream cheese and pour salsa, red pepper jelly or chili sauce over the top.  Serve with crackers.

•    Another easy appetizer – spread softened cream cheese into a pie plate.  Add a jar of chili sauce, decorate like a pizza with chopped vegetables such as red peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes.  Top with cheese and serve with crackers.

•    Look for easy recipes and have ingredients on hand so you can make a quick dessert in a pinch.  I like to make my rum cake and pear pie when I need something quick.

•    Don’t be afraid to say no!  It’s the holidays! Enjoy them.  If you don’t have time, don’t stress.  Ask everyone to bring one dish and don’t feel bad about it. The idea is to enjoy each other’s company not to be stressed out. Remember, have fun above all else!