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Topic: Anyone have hints to make life easier in the kitchen during the holiday sea

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Subject: Anyone have hints to make life easier in the kitchen during the holiday sea
Date Posted: 12/3/2007 7:30 PM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2006
Posts: 1,069
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I usually make several different kinds of cookies for the holidays and it is easier for me to take one evening to mix several different kinds of cookie batters and put them in plastic containers, put a post it with the temperature and the length of time to bake on it and put them in the frig.

The next night, I take them out of the frig according to the temperature needed. (Bake all the ones that use 350 degrees first, then 375 degrees and so forth.)

It works for me because I only have to put the cookbooks and ingredients out once and wash the mixing bowls and measuring spoons that one night. The night I bake, I wash the containers the cookie batters were in while the cookies are baking and then only have the cookie sheets to clean when I am done.

For me, this is better than making each kind of cookie seperately.

Another thing I do....

Christmas Eve day, of course, is a busy one and to save some time so I can enjoy Christmas Eve, I always make a large pan of baked pasta ahead of time and freeze. Then all I have to do is bake it. It varies from year to year. Sometimes it is lasagna, baked ziti, stuffed shells, or macaroni and cheese etc. And there is always plenty leftover to eat on Christmas day as a side dish.

What do you do to make things easier in the kitchen during these busy days>

Date Posted: 12/4/2007 3:14 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 8,302
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What great ideas for baking cookies!! I'm going to "borrow" that idea this year! I always love baking but hate have 2 weeks of messes! Thanks for sharing your hint!

Hmmm... I don't know if I have a helpful idea to share. But I will share if I think of one!

Date Posted: 12/4/2007 9:27 PM ET
Member Since: 4/30/2007
Posts: 2,728
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Honestly, I don't really do anything differently during the holidays than I do the rest of the year.  As a general rule, I spend a few hours each weekend doing some prep work and cooking ahead for the coming week, and for me, that becomes especially important during the holidays when things tend to get busier.  One thing that is helpful for me is when I am cooking something that can be frozen, I just double the batch and freeze one batch, so that later on, when things are hectic, I can grab something from the freezer to heat up for dinner.  I also try to plan meals ahead so that I'm not caught unprepared- of course, if I am, there's always the freezer meals!  I do bake with my kids, but I take shortcuts...I buy sugar cookie mix from Costco, and canned frosting, and voila, Christmas cookies!  Martha Stewart I am not!  We manage to have fun anyway though!

Date Posted: 12/7/2007 7:55 AM ET
Member Since: 5/29/2007
Posts: 13,347
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I do the same thing.  Spend one day mixing up the cookie batters, then label and freeze (or fridge).  It makes a world of difference!

Date Posted: 12/7/2007 1:22 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
Posts: 20,024
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Well I also do this all the time not just this time of year. I chop onions a couple different ways so that throughout the week when I need em I can just toss a handfull in. We eat a lot of polish sausage or hotdogs and we all want onions so its nice to just grab a baggie out of the fridge and throw a bit on the bun. I also always pre cut all my stuff for big meals a day or two ahead of time. Chopping takes a good bit of time and if you do it right you can knock it out early. What I mean by right is for example you need apples for something so you chop them early and coat them with lemon juice to prevent browning. I also always do a veggie tray with the left over veggies that way they dont go to waste and theres a nice appetizer before the meal. My cousin usually brings some sort of dip. This year for TG it was spinach dip.

Oh and anything that is served cold is usually better if it sits for a while in the fridge so I always do salads ahead of time as well.

Date Posted: 12/11/2007 12:58 AM ET
Member Since: 2/3/2007
Posts: 20
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Prepare slips of paper with tasks that can be done any time written on them, and instead of family just standing around watching you work, let them help you with some tasks. If you have separate dishes to prepare, it would be better to have lists of cooking help like "chop onions", etc. than the borning chores below. I find I can't delegate real-time, so I have to pre-think what I could delegate.

Some ideas:

  • Load diswasher
  • Empty dishwasher
  • Walk dog
  • Wipe down counters
  • Wipe down tables
  • Set table
  • One gin and tonic with a lime please
  • Ask everyone what they'll be drinking with dinner
  • Tell me a joke
  • Sweep the floor
  • Wash the hand towels
  • Iron the napkins