12 Days of Holiday Cooking Hacks
for a STRESS-LESS HOLIDAY SEASON!
Love, Mama O’Neill
- Pre-Heat Your Pans for Roasting – You’d never put a steak on a cold grill, or cook a pizza on a cold pizza stone… so why would you roast veggies on a cold pan? Heat your pans first then toss in your veggies and other food for a delicious sear and golden brown crust, and to lock in juices and nutrients!
- Keep Cut Meat Warm and Juicy (Steak, Lamb Chops, Turkey, Ham, etc.) – In stealing Bobby Flay’s idea for Thanksgiving, I also like to make an au jus or a pot of warm veggie or meat stock which I keep on the stove at a Holiday Dinner. Then, before serving the meat dishes I spoon out a little of the juice on to the meat. It will warm it up and make it juicy!
- Re-Use Ingredients for Multiple Dishes – If you plan on making pancakes on Christmas morning, why not use the pancake mix to make a nice Christmas Eve quiche? Or if you make a roasted squash, quinoa and pumpkin seed salad, use the leftover quinoa to make a delicious stuffed mushroom appetizer. Get creative. Use what you’ve got!
- Take the Devil out of the Eggs! – Shelling eggs for deviled egg dishes can make a sane person go mad! So instead of boiling your eggs, try steaming them in a steam basket. The shells will peel right off! *Increase the cooking time to 13 – 15 minutes when steaming.
- Creamy Potatoes without Cream – Want to make a vegan mashed potato dish that is creamier than using real cream? Boil the potatoes in organic (unsweetened) coconut milk, do not drain fully and add 1/4 – 1/2 cup of Earth’s Balance “Butter” AND a pinch of baking soda when whipping. You’re welcome.
- Pre-Measure and Label – When you order from Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, etc. the food comes “ready to cook” making your job as the cook WAY easier. When you watch a cooking show, the chefs always have their spices and other ingredients pre-measured and laid out ready to cook. The day before you cook, measure everything out, label and store it in Tupperware or ziplock bags until you’re ready to get cookin’.
- Pie Crust From Scratch (or Not) – I do not make my own pie crust – BUT – if you are a purist and want to make a delectable dish from scratch, try adding a splash of vodka to the pie crust batter. It will make it a little bit flakier and more tender.
- Use Your Slow-Cooker to Keep Ham Warm – I love to make a glazed ham for the Holidays. The smell is amazing when it’s warm, but it gets cold SO FAST. Last Thanksgiving we were traveling to a friend’s house for the day, and I had to bring the ham. I threw it in my slow cooker for transport. When I got there, my friend’s oven was full. So I could not warm the ham! So I just plugged in the slow cooker and warmed the ham in it on low heat for about an hour. The smell was mouthwateringly aromatic! P.S. – You could do the same with turkey, or other Holiday dishes 🙂
- Cool It! – I always bring wine to a hosts house for the Holidays. But some times I don’t chill white wine or champagne first. If you get a bottle of wine that you want to open for that dinner, use this sneaky trick to cool it down fast. Submerge the entire bottle in an ice bath and it will cool down in 15 minutes. OR, wrap it in wet paper towels and pop it in the freezer for the same amount of time. Cheers!
- Make it and Freeze it – For Thanksgiving this year I made two trays of Spinach-Artichoke Sourdough Stuffing. One tray was eaten on Thanksgiving, the other is wrapped tightly and frozen in my freezer for Christmas. Why work twice as hard? *The same hack can be used for cranberry sauce, gravy, etc.
- Dip it in Chocolate – You can make multiple desserts in no time by using melted chocolate. Simply microwave chocolate chips for 45 seconds in a pyrex dish and dip in strawberries, pretzels, popcorn, cookies, etc. A quick and easy hack to delicious and festive desserts!
- MOST IMPORTANT – ASK FOR HELP – As hostesses we want to do it all with style, flair and grace. Which is impossible when you have a million other things to do… work, kids, family, friends, charity, etc. The Holidays can be crazy! That’s why we need to open our mouths and ask our guests (and loved ones) for “HELP”. Assign dishes for others to bring. Ask your local wine shop to deliver the wine instead of running to pick it up. Order from Fresh Direct. Make your life easier. No one wants to celebrate the Holidays with a stressed-out host. You will set the tone for the evening, so make it calm, cool and collected 🙂 xo
WISHING YOU HAPPY & HEALTHY HOLIDAYS!!
Love & yum,
Lindsay “Mama” O’Neill