While we are still checking for a little of that prolonged Indian Summer, the holidays are slowly creeping up on us. No matter which holidays you celebrate, or how you enjoy them, the one thing in common we all have is entertaining family and/or guests. I’m no Martha Stewart (yet), but suffice to say I know a few things about cooking up some magic for a party.
In honor of any super busy person’s need for effective entertaining, here are some tips and tricks to help you finesse your holiday cooking!
1. Whip up some good mashed potatoes. I’m listing this first, because I can’t stand flavorless mashed potatoes, or the gritty lumpiness they get when they cool. No, I’m not giving you a healthy option on this one, but I’m giving you the BEST option to keep your taters stiff and tasty.
So here goes: get up on Betty Crocker’s “Velvet Mashed Potatoes” recipe, which is 8-12 potatoes (depending on size), one softened stick of butter, one cup of milk, one softened 8-oz package of cream cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Keep in mind that the butter adds some salt, so be sure not to over-do the seasoning. Use a hand masher, don’t kill them with a blender. The great part about these mashed potatoes is that even when they cool off, they maintain the smooth texture. Yum!
2. Work for a juicy turkey. Woe is the person who can’t cook a turkey but tries anyway. Bless your heart. It’s really not rocket science, because every single turkey sold has a little insert to tell you exactly how long to cook it for. The quick tip here is to slip some thinly-sliced butter underneath the skin around all parts of the bird, a little thicker slices on top of the breast. Add some onion slices to the inside of the bird, cook the bird almost all the way through before you add any stuffing.
Baste your turkey every 45 minutes or so, but other than that, keep it covered and keep the oven door closed. Do not start cooking other things in the oven with it until it’s almost done (and we know we are all guilty of trying to sneak something in there!)
Now, if you can consider giving yourself an early holiday present, you might want to consider the Frigidaire FGIF3061NF range (available at Best Buy), which offers induction cooking. You can boil water in less than two minutes (crazy!) and anything you spill on it won’t stick and burn. Turkey time will be even more pleasant since it’s also got a convection oven, which will shorten your baking time. Nice! Just be sure to modify your cooking time and basting in accordance with the instructions.
And be sure to pack your bird up after a couple of hours, don’t just leave it sitting out all day and nibble on it. We don’t need any food poisoning around here.
3. Offer a variety of side dishes, or at least get a little creative with it. I don’t know about you, but I’m a little let down when someone gives me some old canned cranberry sauce and gloopy green bean casserole for sides. They are both classics that I’ll eat in a heartbeat, but I just know not much love went into making them, and that makes me sad for the turkey, ham, tofurkey, lasagna or whatever main dish has to share the plate with them.
This year, why not try adding some lovely green and yellow squash to the mix? You can saute’ with a little olive oil and some fresh tomatoes to create a lively side. Candied yams are always a favorite, but you can keep it a little healthier with baked sweet potatoes topped with a few toasty marshmallows and a smidge of butter.
But again, we go back to NOT adding too much to the oven while your bird is cooking, so Best Buy has another gem with the Whirlpool WGG555S0BS stove. This beauty has double ovens that operate separately, so you can pop in some pies or mac & cheese while your meat is cooking in the other oven, and both on different temperatures.
The best part about this is that it won’t take up more space than the stove you have right now. You know the old stove with the one broken burner that you keep making excuses for… you won’t even miss it!
I can’t give away all of my tips right now though, I’ll catch you up again in a month or so! For now, go to BestBuy.com/HolidayPrep for more information on how to make your cooking count this holiday season!
The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card.