"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. " -Helen Keller

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Cooking Tips

We all know that holiday cooking is very different than our every day meal preparation. For holidays, we make dishes that aren't normally a part of our menu. We prepare quantities of food that normally never grace our tables. And, that is just the cooking. We haven't even gotten to the baking.

I've prepared a number of holiday(Thanksgiving and Christmas meals) entirely by myself and I've picked up a number of tips and tricks along the way that make it much much easier.
  1. Brining - always, always brine your Turkey. If you buy a frozen turkey, about 4 days before you plan on putting your turkey in the oven, put it in a cooler filled with ice and a brine solution. The most basic brine solution is just salt and water. You can add whatever spices you want (google brine recipes). All the salt does is affect the the meats ability to absorb the liquid. You will never have a turkey with dry white meat on it again. Be sure to add ice over the 4 day thawing period, this will ensure the turkey stays fresh until you cook it.
  2. Do all your prep work for the meal during the week before - peel and cut up the potatoes for the mashed potatoes, pre-cook anything that is going into the stuffing, prepare all the pie fillings, DO ANYTHING THAT CAN BE DONE EARLY AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE
  3. freeze the bread you will use to make the stuffing - Yes, really. As easy as it is to tear up bread to be used for stuffing, it is a hell of a lot easier (and much faster) to grab 4 slices of frozen bread at a time and cube it with a large butcher knife. I discovered how easy this was the year I forgot to thaw out the bread before I was ready to make the stuffing and I've been thankful for that mistake ever since.
  4. pie crusts and cookie dough can be made up to a month ahead and frozen
And, if you have the freezer space, hit the after holiday sales and buy an extra turkey or two. Last year, I picked up a turkey for 49 cents a pound in the week after Christmas.

Do you have any tips to make the holiday cooking easier? Please share them with us.


Tanyetta said...

I have to write down everything before I start cooking. This is a great list and thank you for the tips. Happy Holidays and guess what, I am cooking this Christmas. Let us PRAY!!! LOL

Barb said...

Don't forget to put your cubed potatoes in cold water in the frig to keep them from browning before you mash them!

Sheliza said...

I agree with you on the preparation. I do that every year and it sure makes a difference! This year I decided against tradition and I am making all Indian/ Guyanese dishes. I did pre-do anything I could so far. I might need some prayer too! haha Merry Christmas to you and your family!!

Lin said...

Love these tips! Thanks! I guess my biggest tips is to plan, plan, plan! Lots of lists...love crossing things off as the day goes on!

Eileen said...

Awesome tips. Thanks for sharing!


Quiet Dreams said...

I finally feel like maybe I could cook a turkey...thank you for these tips!

Lisa Marsh said...

I'm not having turkey on Christmas. My OH asked what I really wanted and it was a roast rib of beef with roasted potatos, so that's going to be it. No one else to please this year.

Re: breadcrumbs. Every week when we get to the bottom of the loaf, or find ourselves with excess hamburger or hot dog rolls, my husband crumbs them by rubbing the bread between his fingers. We freeze them in ziploc bags, already crumbed. I will never buy breadcrumbs again.

Have a wonderful Christmas,
Lisa (Your Great Life - ICLW #51)

MarjnHomer said...

great tips. I cook everything the day before but same the small stuff like salad and such until the day of. ICLW hugs

Shannon said...

Great tips! I would like to cook a holiday meal, but I haven't moved up to cooking nightly meals! LOL