Monday, December 10, 2012

8 Make-ahead Christmas Cooking Secrets

Here are some time-saving, get to your holiday indulging quicker cooking secrets.  Most with very little fuss, especially considering the time and headache they save later.

  • Make more merry with CRANBERRIES!  Fresh cranberries are hard to find out of season.  Buy several packages after thanksgiving when they're on sale and pop them into the freezer to enjoy all year long.  Sugared cranberries add extra sparkle to holiday desserts.  just roll moistened berries int granulated sugar until coated and you have an instant festive look and taste!
  • TOASTED NUTS always taste better! The hidden flavor-explosion of nuts really comes through when you toast them.  Toast a batch at a time and freeze until you want to add them to a bread, stuffing, dessert, or side dish.  Keep an eye out at fall farmer's markets or roadside stands to buy nuts, such as pecans and walnuts, in bulk.
  • No BUTTERMILK? No problem!When recipes call for buttermilk, you can always substitute sour milk—the easy, no-last-minute-rush way.  Simply add milk to a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to equal a cup a liquid.  Stir and let stand for 5 minutes. 
  • More PIE CRUSTS mean more comfort and joy!  Holiday time is time for pie and tart baking, so go ahead and freeze several crusts in foil pans.  Or stock up on refrigerated pie crust sheets, pie crust mix and frozen pie crusts.
  • Fluffy, flavorful WHIPPED CREAM every time!  Whipped cream turns the ordinary into the extraordinary.  For fluffiness, start with a chilled bowl and beaters.  For extra flavor, add a spoonful of sugar, lemon juice, liqueur, or vanilla before beating.  Once whipped, cream will last one hour in the fridge.  Freeze dollops of whipped cream on a baking sheet, then store in an airtight container for topping your coffee or favorite dessert.
  • Simple STUFFING solution!  Need to dry some bread cubes for a stuffing or bread pudding or holiday breakfast strata?  Just let some bread slices sit out a on a wire rack for at least four hours or overnight.
  • Best CAKE GLAZE with no fuss!  A light glaze or drizzle of icing gives a finished frosted look to cakes, cupcakes, cookies and breads.  Simply stir a spoonful of milk into a cup of sifted powdered sugar.  You can add a splash of liqueur, orange or lemon juice, coffee, vanilla extract or even food coloring for a little extra flavor and/or color.
  • FREEZE your best treats a month ahead!  Bake and make as much ahead of the busy holidays as you can.  Without worry, you can freeze cookies, cakes, muffins, and cheesecakes in airtight containers for up to a month.  At serving time, let the desserts thaw and add the icing or frosting before serving.
From Better Home and Gardens



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