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KATHY’S HOME & GARDEN TIPS – HOLIDAY DINNER TIPS FOR THE COOK

Many cooks get flustered with the thought of cooking Holiday dinner. Myself, I've been cooking Holiday dinners since I was 12 so it's not a problem for me. If family members volunteer to bring side dishes, let them!! Many people have a family favorite and it takes some of the stress off you.

Set the table the night before and cover with a clean sheet to keep the dust off. Set out all of your serving dishes and utensils the day before also. Make a list of the menu along with a shopping list. Make a schedule for all things going on two days before the holiday and day of to keep things running smoothly.

There are a few more tricks you can use to make things go a little smoother. Take the mashed potatoes. First off - real butter and cream only! It's Thanksgiving, not time to worry about fat and calories. I've got two pounds of butter and I think I might pick up another just in case. Heat the butter and cream before adding to the potatoes. This prevents them from getting gummy. For mild garlic flavor, toss several peeled cloves in the boiling potatoes. Take them out before mashing. For stronger garlic, add roasted cloves directly before mashing. Also using red new potatoes and leaving the skins on is beautiful, tasty and saves time. Cook the potatoes ahead of time, even the day before, and cool and store in the fridge. Warm when you're ready in the microwave or in a pot of boiling water. You can also mash the potatoes and keep them warm up to an hour by putting them over a pot of simmering water.

I also save time and effort by using a boneless all white meat turkey roast. No one in my family likes dark meat so it works out well. Sometimes I buy one turkey leg and thigh for my dark meat fix. These roasts are so easy, throw it in a roasting pan and it's done in less than two hours. Make sure you check the temperature with an instant read thermometer. It should read at least 170 degrees. Wrap the roasts in foil to rest. This helps with removing the net. Easy slice and serve too. If you do a whole turkey don't stuff it. It's just too dangerous for salmonella. In order to safely cook the stuffing the turkey gets over cooked.

Stuffing can be baked in a casserole dish just until hot. I sauté the celery and onion first so everything is cooked and only needs to warm up. Another great idea is baking the stuffing in muffin tins. Overfill jumbo tins with stuffing and drizzle with melted butter. Bake until tops are brown and crusty, about 20 minutes. 

Most everything else can be made ahead of time and warmed in the microwave or oven. Vegetables and rolls all reheat well. I also use frozen veggies a lot. The ones now in the steam bag are great. You know frozen are more nutritious even than fresh. They are frozen immediately after harvest.

 Hope these tips will help take a little stress out of the Holiday for you. Anyway most of your guests are family so if there are a few problems, so what!

KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN'S TEAM CHICAGO

Posted: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 9:29 AM by Dean's Team

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