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Thread: Tips for making Christmas less stressful

  1. #1
    Super Member QultingaddictUK's Avatar
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    Tips for making Christmas less stressful

    Peeling potatoes when you have arthritis
    After reading this topic I though I would start a topic for tips to make Christmas a bit less stressful for the Cook of the house.

    Vegetables: Nothing worse than over/under cooked vegetables and what a lot of work to do on the day, well prepare beforehand! Start about 2 weeks before Christmas and sit with a tray and a knife etc. in front of the TV, or at the kitchen table if you prefer start preparing your vegetables, not potatoes. Have on the stove a large pan of salted water brought up to the boil and have in your sink a clean washing up bowl full of iced cold water.

    When the sprouts are prepared pop them into the pan put on lid and cook until nearly cooked (il dente) immediately remove them with a sieve or slotted spoon and put them into the iced water until completely cold. Then what I do is to place a clean dry tea towel in my freezer basket and lay the sprouts out in it. This way the following morning you could put them in a freezer bag, free-flow.

    You can do the same with most other vegetables, on the big day take out the veg you need in the morning and pop into a serving dish with a tablespoon of water and a knob of butter, salt and pepper. Cover with baking foil then pop into the oven to heat up.

    I like my Parsnips for roasting this way, cutting them into nice large pieces and pop them onto a roasting tray with dripping straight from the freezer, along with your roast potatoes. Mashed potatoes, don't bother doing your own get those wonderful easy peasy frozen ones and put in serving dish cover and pop in the over, or microwave until hot and creamy.

    Don't stuff the turkey do it in a separate dish, prepare the day before it you want, the peel a couple of onions and pop them into the turkey cavity it sweetens the meat, and the men of the house will love them. If you like garlic, take out a bit of the centre of the onion and pop a clover, or tsp of crushed garlic.

    Have any of you ladies got some special tips?

  2. #2
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    My sanity while entertaining has always been in doing as much ahead as possible, long before company arrives ... so I can enjoy the time too. Add to that, I don't have a large kitchen for the guests to help and the roasters, pots, pans, dishes etc. that accumulate in preparing a meal. So the more that can be eliminated in advance, the better!

    * MENU and LISTS -- make the plan and then stick to the plan ... almost goof-proof! And less likely to finish the meal and then go OOPS! when you discover something that was not served.

    * STUFFING -- I still like mine done in the turkey ... and do extra in the crockpot, as there's just never enough.

    * POTATOES -- Night Before Potatoes can be made days ahead and kept in the frig til cooking time; or even weeks ahead and frozen til cooking time. I usually make a day of it and do a bag of potatoes and fill up casseroles. Then back in the freezer, and what I don't use during the holidays, I've got some easy cooking in January!

    * LAYERED SALADS -- these can be made a day before, complete with the dressing on top like "icing". Then refrigerated til serving.

    * CRANBERRY SAUCE -- make it now, and refrigerate.

    * SEMI-POT LUCK -- who says you have to do all the work? When my cousins and families gather, the host/hostess does all the hots. The rest of us bring dessert or salad. To help keep a balance, we sort that within family groups ... so parents and their kids (with separate homes) would decide who'd bring dessert, and who takes salad.

    * EXTRA FRIG SPACE -- I set things out in the back of my SUV in the garage. (of course, only if the weather is conducive!)

    * EXTRA OVEN SPACE -- A friend purchased one of the electric roaster ovens and for the minimal cost it is, it's been a wonder when we all descend for Christmas. Her DSIL uses the BBQ to cook the turkey and do roasted veggies when we're at her home.

    * EXTRA SERVING SPACE -- I made an extra wide ironing board with a rectangle piece of plywood on top. When entertaining, it makes for a great portable buffet server or bar/drinks centre. Just cover with a plastic tablecloth, and it's dressed for the occasion, and no one knows!

    * FOOD SAFETY -- PLEASE always keep this in mind!! You can never be too attentive to this issue. Hot foods need to stay hot. Colds, cold. In particular, keep those turkeys cold, til you prep and put them in the oven. And when the meal is over, put the foods properly away.

    ............... more later, as they come to mind!
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    Sew many ideas ... just sew little time!!
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  3. #3
    Super Member Sandygirl's Avatar
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    You make the main dish...everyone brings a dish.
    Sandy
    Sandygirl

    Janome 9900 / Janome 9700 / Janome Decor 3050 / Janome 1100D serger
    Singer Centennial model (inherited from my late, fav aunt!)

  4. #4
    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
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    QuiltE ... you reminded me. I made Beef Stew Friday and the left overs are in the pot inside the grill out on the deck. The weather has been perfect for using the great outdoors as a second fridge!! That is tonights dinner

    Mom always made her Christmas cookies well in advance and stored them in wax paper lined shirt boxes under her bed!!

    We make good use of the microwave as well ... Parsnips are par cooked in the microwave then finished off in the oven with butter to brown. Brussles Sprouts are steamed on the stove top. The biscuits were on the baking sheet and inside the grill on the deck until the turkey was out and there was room for them in the oven.
    May your stitches always be straight, your seams always lie flat, and your grain never be biased against you.

    Sue

  5. #5
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    ha! Glad to have helped your memory bank to kick in!!!

    Cookie storage ... What? no tupperware boxes? Your Mom was just storing them there for her midnight snack attacks!

    I know one lady who keeps her baking in the trunk of her car ... she says it's her way to keep from sneaking the goodies!! Figures that IF she goes to the work of getting them out of the car, then she really must need them!!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Sew many ideas ... just sew little time!!
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  6. #6
    Super Member Teacup's Avatar
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    My best tip is get all your sewing/quilting gifts completed in November and don't stay up all night Christmas eve trying to put on binding! You won't be so stressed by everything else!
    Remember the teakettle...it is always up to its neck in hot water, yet it still sings!

    A Proper Tea is much nicer than a Very Nearly Tea, which is one you forget about afterwards. ~ Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne)

  7. #7
    Super Member MaryAnnMc's Avatar
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    I learned this trick from a friend, and we all love it: roast the turkey, stuffing, and make the potatoes the day BEFORE. Clean the turkey, then layer in a large baking pan the potatoes, stuffing, then turkey on the top. I do 1/3 dark, 2/3 white meat. Make the gravy, pour over the top. Cover and refrigerate, clean up all those dishes, and go to bed.

    The next day, heat the casserole through, there's plenty of room in the oven for the sides, and your day is so much more relaxed. Cleanup is a breeze, and I enjoy my day SO much more.
    aka Chicken McLittle

    If it's true we learn from our mistakes, I'm going to be a genius!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by QultingaddictUK View Post
    Peeling potatoes when you have arthritis


    Have any of you ladies got some special tips?
    yup. Marry a man who can cook . I get to peel vegetables etc, but the 'proper' cooking is all down to him!

  9. #9
    Member SusieG's Avatar
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    Cool This is how I do Thanksgiving but Christmas can be done the same way...

    Thanksgiving is my favorite meal of the year to prepare. To make things easier, I do as much as possible ahead of time.
    Some things are pretty standard yearly but I do mix things up each year adding new dishes and or adjusting the menu depending on how many and who's coming for dinner and whether or not there are any dietary restrictions.. One year, one of my dinner guests was vegan but there was no lack of food for her.

    I always print out a menu which I like to display framed on the Thanksgiving table and I save the menus on my computer for reference. I have also gotten into the habit of keeping all of my Thanksgiving recipes as well as a "standard" shopping list together in a word doc.

    As Thanksgiving approaches I start by checking my cupboards for what I already have in the house and place aside in a box, whatever canned items and dry goods I have that I will need for dinner, crossing them off my list as I go. Then I take my list to the store and purchase my fresh produce and other items as needed.
    I have on occasion, depending on how busy I am around Thanksgiving, made some things a couple of weeks ahead, froze them to take out of the freezer the day before to defrost. These include, creamed spinach, squash, gizzards, greens, lentils etc.
    Thanksgiving morning all I have to be concerned with is getting the turkey in the oven, peeling, cooking and mashing potatoes, making gravy and stuffing. Everything I cook is made from scratch with the exception of the stuffing~I've resorted to using Stove Top the last few years. Everything that is done ahead of time is placed in the oven to heat about half hour before the turkey is ready.
    Last year's menu for 5 people was as follows...

    Succulent Oven Roast Turkey with Gravy (made on Thanksgiving)
    Tender Giblets/Gizzards (made on Tuesday)
    Stuffing (made on Thanksgiving)
    Creamy Garlic Smashed Potatoes (made on Thanksgiving)
    Southern Sweet Potatoes (made on Tuesday)
    Creamed Spinach (made the week before and froze)
    Kathy Kate’s Roasted Root Veggie Medley (made on Tuesday)
    Savory Butternut Squash (made the week before and froze )
    Baby Peas with Pearl Onions & Mushrooms (made on Thanksgiving)
    Deviled Eggs (made on Wednesday)
    Assorted Relish Tray (made on Wednesday)
    Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish-this is a frozen relish(made on Tuesday but have made up to a month ahead and froze)
    Rolls & Butter
    Almond Bars (made on Tuesday)
    Ambrosia (made on Wednesday)
    Happy Frank aka Brownies (made on Tuesday)
    Coconut Almond Pie (made on Wednesday)
    Homemade Pumpkin Pie (made on Wednesday)
    Coffee, Tea, Milk, Cider Etc….

    This year due to a divorce and my only daughter being in Hobart, Tasmania there was only myself and a friend here for dinner. Although there were just the two of us, not counting my 4 fur babies, I still did up a nice meal. We had….

    Succulent Oven Roast Turkey
    Tender Giblets and Gravy
    Stuffing
    Creamy Garlic Smashed Potatoes
    Southern Sweet Potatoes
    Root Veggie Medley
    Savory Butternut Squash
    Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish
    Homemade Cranberry Sauce
    Apple Brownies
    Impossible Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes
    Coffee, Tea, Milk, Etc….

  10. #10
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    SusieG ... You have me intrigued re your Frozen Cranberry Relish.
    Would you please share the recipe? and tell us more about what it's like?
    Please? and Thanks!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Sew many ideas ... just sew little time!!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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