Friday, November 16, 2012

Cooking The Holiday Meal

For my family and I the holidays are all about the food!  Sometimes I will start planning what I am making Christmas day during the summer.

Now, here in Canada we celebrated our Thanksgiving in early October.  I honestly have no idea how those of you who are American can manage two holidays back to back.  Do you wait to decorate for Christmas until after Thanksgiving?  Do you also wait to start your holiday shopping?  Here in Canada we have the entire month of November and December to get ready for Christmas.  Much easier!  In fact, this week I am busy decorating the house getting it ready for a Santa Claus Parade party.  The parade goes by the front of our house and every year we host an open house where we serve hot chocolate and Christmas cookies to anyone who drops by.  Last year we even put out a patio heater to keep our party goers warm!

Now back to the food!  I love hosting parties at the house and have had as many as 50 people over for dinner.  Having many things done in advance is the secret to not going crazy on the day of the party.  For instance, I have set the table as much as a week in advance.  I simply throw a sheet over the whole thing to keep the dust off so that on the day of the party all I have to do is lift the sheet and the table is ready!

I also do up as much food as I can in advance.  If I am hosting a party for more than 8 people I will even do up the turkey the day before.  I slice it up and pour a little gravy over it to keep it moist and then re-heat it the next day.  No one has ever been able to tell that I did it earlier.  Another secret is that I use a tinfoil pan to reheat it in so that there are fewer dishes on the day of the party.

There are other dishes that you can make the day before so that you can get out of the kitchen and enjoy your own party.

Here's a recipe for simple mashed potatoes that my cousin gave me.  Make them the day before and re-heat them the day of your party.

Susie's Mashed Potatoes

1 large pot of potatoes, peeled and cooked
1 - 8oz pkg. of cream cheese
2 cups of sour cream
1/4 cup of butter
salt and pepper to taste

Beat all ingredients until fluffy and pour into a greased casserole dish.  Re-heat in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

If you want fancier mashed potatoes then try this recipe from Six Sisters - Twice Baked Potato Casserole

Another one that I do up in advance is squash.  Baking a squash the day of the dinner takes up a lot of oven space.  Cut a large butternut squash in half and rub it with butter, cinnamon and a little brown sugar.  Bake at 350 until very tender.  When cooled slightly, scoop squash out of the shell and put it into a bowl.  Add salt, pepper, butter and brown sugar to taste.  Beat until smooth and pour into a greased casserole dish.  Re-heat the day of the dinner at 350 until warm.

What's nice about both these recipes is that I can cover both bowls with tinfoil and place them on a rack in the oven.  I can then set the large tinfoil pan that the turkey is in right on top of the bowls.  By simply re-heating I can stack dishes and not worry about things not cooking properly.

Be sure to utilize crock pots on the day of the party too.  I always cook my stuffing in the crock pot and the potato or squash recipe above could easily be heated in a crock pot to save room in your oven.

Come back on Monday when I will share with you my recipe for a delicious and moist turkey.  I'll also explain why I never stuff my turkey with traditional stuffing and I will share the easiest crumble recipe ever!

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