By Barbara Seelig Brown
Some folks are excited
that the Holiday Season is approaching while others may be
apprehensive about the work associated with the season. Do you stand
in your kitchen just before the party and ask yourself what the heck
you were thinking when you planned this? To make things go smoothly,
here are some tips for Stress Free holidays:
Things you can
several days or several weeks ahead:
and entertaining menus over dinner tonight or on the next
occasion that you and your partner are relaxed and in a good
Free recipes for entertaining as well as quick meals for
busy times (see Tortellini Soup below).
and frozen groceries. Purchase a few items each time you do
your routine shopping.
Make a batch of
anything that you can freeze ahead (see Onion Herb Cheese
dinner on a nightly basis, make double and freeze some meals
ahead to relieve some cooking during hectic times.
Check to see if
you need to purchase any dishes, glassware, tablecloths,
candles, folding tables or chairs.
Estimate the number of
guests and allow 1-1½ pounds per person. Plan on cooking your turkey
approximately 15 minutes per pound. Use a meat thermometer to take
the guesswork out of cooking times. The thermometer should read 180°
in the leg and thigh joint. It generally gets there before you
guesstimate that it is, so avoid overcooking with a $10 instant read
meat thermometer. Give the turkey the food equivalent of your
aerobic cool down and let it rest 30-45 minutes for easier slicing
and juicier slices. This also gives you time to put finishing
touches on side dishes and frees up oven for other items as well.
Cooking two smaller
turkeys, rather than one large one, might be more appropriate
according to your oven size and other demands on the oven. Make sure
the turkey you plan on purchasing will fit in your oven and
refrigerator. If you have a large crowd and need to cook two, cook
one a day ahead, carve, cover and reheat gently on the day of the
gathering. The second turkey can be the bird everyone oohs and aahs
Remember to allow
adequate defrosting time for frozen turkeys. You should figure 24
hours of defrosting in the refrigerator for every 5 pounds of
turkey. This can take 3-5 days, not counting the day of cooking. If
you are planning a fresh turkey, decide where you will purchase it
and order it now.
You can also call the
following turkey hotlines with turkey questions: The USDA at
888-674-6854, Butterball at 800-288-8372, or Reynolds Turkey Hotline
Also, remember to store
leftovers within 2 hours to avoid any food safety risks.
A Few Extra
ahead of time. Set up the CD player early in the day.
Use lots of
candles for atmosphere. Group multiple candle holders as
Get all serving
pieces, ice buckets, trays, etc. out ahead of time and place
labels on them as to what menu item they will hold to avoid
last minute rummaging through cabinets.
garnishes for drinks and plates a day before, i.e. slice
lemons, wash herbs.
something fabulous to wear so that you feel good!
time before any party so that you can relax in a bubble bath
or at least walk around your home with a glass of wine and
admire what you have created!
Smile and enjoy
Participate in a
cookie exchange so that you only have to bake one kind of
in for a baking party. All the baking gets done and you feel
good after a day of fellowship.
of cookie dough ahead and freeze. Bake when you are in the
mood or have helpers.
fewer types of cookies can be very festive and less
stressful. Did you have leftovers last year that you had to
throw away after all that hard work?