Hosting during the holidays can be a daunting task. You want to dazzle your guests with homemade recipes, keep the kids entertained and involved, and do it all on a tight budget.
Safeway's Executive Chef Jeff Anderson stopped by to chat with Washington Parent on how families can have it all this holiday season. Here are a few of his pointers:
- Combine store-bought with homemade to get more done. Anderson has lots of tips and tricks for making a store-bought product look and taste homemade. Take a store-bought pumpkin pie and add your own brown sugar glaze; or if you have to have that green bean salad this year, why not top it off with a store-bought dressing? "It's all about where you see the value" of your time, he says. "58 percent of women surveyed said they don't get to enjoy the meal, because they're so busy." Cut down on stress by keeping things simple this year.
- If you're traveling and need to bring something, plan ahead. Make sure you have the proper containers to carry those soups and stews, and volunteer to bring easily transported dishes.
- Create your menu with leftovers in mind. Look up recipes for turkey hash, stuffing & turkey sandwiches and more. You're bound to have days worth of leftovers after a big holiday meal; make sure you have the flexibility to switch things up.
- Look for "quick bites" and "assemble yourself" items at the store. Rather than spending time on appetizers, put out plates with combos like goat cheese, orange marmalade and flatbread crackers, he suggests. Let your guests do the assembling so you can spend time socializing and preparing the main course.
- Keep kids involved in cooking and decorating. Even with those extra helping hands, it may take a little longer, but you'll create holiday memories and teach kids the importance of cooking. "Kids cooking in the kitchen is really critical," Anderson says. "It gives them the confidence to feel comfortable in the kitchen later on." For younger kids, Anderson recommends buying ready-made cupcakes and letting kids take care of the icing, glazing and decorating. Another option is dessert parfaits. Let kids help you decide what the layers will be, and they can assemble the dishes ahead of time.
- Put a new spin on the traditional. "Ham is so traditional, so the question is how do you make this memorable? It's all about the quality of the ingredients and how you alter a classic," Anderson says. Try using jams and jellies for glazes, stuffing the ham with bacon and mozzarella, or using garlic and breadcrumbs in your recipe.
- Do as much as possible ahead of time. Determine which foods can be prepared the day before, such as blanching green beans, making cornbread to use in stuffing or roasting potatoes. Get those things out of the way so you can cross them off your to-do list before the extended family arrives.