Thursday, December 3, 2015

Stress-Busting Your Holy-days Tip #3

Crispy Chicken Salad
Alrighty then - are you ready for the the third of six terrific tips to help decom-stress your Christmas season? (Scroll back for the previous two.)

Stress-Buster #3: Come and Get it! (Food Prep)
Look Ahead. Investing ten minutes of preplanning saves barrels of time ... and craziness. Make a menu plan and shop early to have everything on hand so you can breathe easier. Stock ingredients for your favorite go-to dish just in case. Having a feasible Plan B is a tremendous decom-stresser (believe me, I've had to go to Plan B a few times when a new dish flopped and it's a day-saver).

Determine your meal and cookie ingredient needs then watch for deals. Be flexible; adjust your menu to accommodate sales. For example, if you find a BOGO on peaches, tweak your menu to peach cobbler instead of plum pudding. Little Jack Horner might be disappointed, but he'll get over it.

Gorgeous Grape Salad
Cook ahead. Free yourself up to sit back, relax, and enjoy the holy-day. Many dishes can be assembled and/or cooked ahead of time. Here's a great tip I learned from a professional chef: cook your turkey or ham two days ahead. After the meat has cooled, refrigerate it. Then, the morning of your feast, you'll find the chilled meat slices thinly and beautifully. Place the slices in a baking pan with the broth/juices you saved from baking day (or store-bought broth) and reheat. You'll get the scrumptious aroma of turkey or ham PLUS moist, delicious meat you don't have to tend to.

Another good example of dishes you can prepare ahead is the Gorgeous Grape Salad in my Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook - it's beautifully festive with red and green grapes coated with a lovely cream cheese sauce and nut topping and will happily hibernate in your fridge up to five days. (By the way, all the dishes on this post can be found in my Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook - over 100 recipes, each requiring less than 20 minutes prep time!) 

Spend your precious time with guests, not casseroles!

Chocolate Eclair Cake
Host potluck buffets. Don't get crazy and try to do everything yourself. Trust me, nobody minds bringing along a favorite dish - they figure if they hate everything else at least they'll like their own. Do yourself a HUGE favor and delegate food preparation, set-up and clean-up. Really, what else is Cousin Elmer good for?

Paper or Plastic? Yes, please. Both. Snub that dishwasher and buy some pretty but sturdy disposable plates, cups, and tableware. My motto: An ounce of unused dish detergent is worth a pound of Christmas cheer!

Give the gift of giving. Gift each of your immediate family members with favorite restaurant gift cards; take turns treating the fam to a frolicking dinner out during the weeks before and after Christmas. It'll help you and at the same time help your kids learn the joy of treating their loved ones to a meal they provided.

Stay tuned for Tip #4 for Stress-Busting your Holy-days. And in the meantime, register to win a marvelous gift package and FREE copies of the Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook. To enter, just click HERE

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