Holiday Timesavers

Use our time-wise ideas to help you streamline your holiday cooking so you'll have more time to spend with family and friends.


Enlarge Image Dress up a side dish with herbs.

No matter how busy you are, there's no need to sacrifice the pleasure of cooking and baking for the holidays. Follow our helpful hints while creating something special in the kitchen.

Convenient Ingredients to Have on Hand
  • Nonstick spray coating. Forget the mess of greasing pans.
  • Seasoning blends. One sprinkle adds a dose of good taste. Try Italian and pasta seasonings, Cajun seasoning, pepper blends, fajita seasoning, pumpkin pie spice, and five-spice powder.
  • Minced garlic. Buy it in a jar and give thanks; 1/2 teaspoon bullet equals 1 clove.
Simple Garnishes
Enlarge Image Herbs also add flair to dinner rolls.
  • Dress up a side dish, such as mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes with a long sprig or two of fresh rosemary or thyme.
  • Add flair to dinner rolls with fresh herbs. Before baking the rolls, brush them with a mixture of 1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water. While the egg white glass remains moist, place fresh Italian parsley or sage leaves on the rolls. Brush again with the egg white mixture. Bake as directed.
Jump-Start Baking

Keep these basics stashed in your freezer:

  • Whole bags of toasted nuts and coconut.
  • Grated gingerroot and finely shredded citrus peels, wrapped a teaspoon at a time in plastic wrap.
Enlarge Image A stemware glass shows off your food.

Help with Herbs

You can't beat the flavor of fresh herbs. But when fresh herbs aren't available or you're too busy to clean and snip them, dried herbs make convenient stand-ins. Substitute dried herbs for fresh (and vice versa) by using 1 teaspoon dried mild-flavor herb (basil, mint, oregano, and savory) for 1 tablespoon snipped fresh herb. For stronger-flavored herbs, such as dillweed, marjoram, rosemary, sage, tarragon, and thyme, use 1/2 teaspoon dried herb for each tablespoon of fresh. If you're adding a ground form of a dried herb, use even less.

Impromptu Appetizers

Enlarge Image Dress up a brie round.
  • Layer three ingredients -- olives, marinated feta cheese cubes, and marinated artichoke hearts - in a stemware glass dish.
  • Cut a Brie round into five wedges. Top each wedge with kumquat slices, champagne grapes, edible flowers, and sprigs of herbs.
  • Dish up dinner in the kitchen, from pot to plate; forget about serving dishes.
  • Line casseroles and roasting pans with foil. Then discard the foil after dinner.
  • Line salad bowls with plastic wrap. Check out some of the holiday colors of plastic wrap that are available.
  • Invest in nonstick cookware.
  • Use disposable foil cookware for those really messy recipes.
  • Marinate in plastic bags, placing the bag in a bowl in case it springs a leak.

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