Prep Away for the Holidays

by Becca Matheson, Tastemaker in Residence

The holiday season is full of joy and delicious food. It’s also full of a lot of hard work and hours slaving away in a hot kitchen.  I’ve found myself up at the crack of dawn to begin cooking, or working into the wee hours of the night. It takes a lot of the fun out of it to be in a rush, have a sore back and feet, and not enough time to re-make a dish that doesn’t turn out quite how you’d like.

This year, I figured out the trick to make it all come together much more simply and still have freshly baked pies and cooked food. The key, which many of you may already have figured out, is prep work.

If you want a fresh baked apple pie for an ugly sweater party, don’t kill yourself for hours that same day to get the filling and crusts just right.  It takes cooling, rolling, and a ton of other processes to bake a pie, so go ahead and make the filling in advance. It will keep for 2 or 3 days in the fridge. The day before make the piecrusts and even pre roll them, if that works best for you. Once flat they can be rolled up into the parchment/wax paper and be ready to lay into the pie pan on the morrow. Once everything is prepared you can preheat the oven, set it all up and just go through the baking process instead of the whole making process. It’s much faster, and still provides the opportunity to have a very freshly baked pie for a party that evening.

A good, happy host or party guest is one who’s gotten sleep. This technique also works, because if the filling doesn’t work out it provides time to make more. The example I’ve provided is for apple pie, but the prep work can be done for a variety of things.  Making mashed potatoes? Peel and cut them the night before to save time and effort.  Just make sure they’re covered in a pot of salty water and refrigerated.  

Hopefully this little tip (which is probably pretty well known) will make the holidays a little brighter so that they become a restful time for fun, food and family instead of just a season of late nights, early mornings, and cooking stress. Happy holidays, everyone, and happy baking!

 Better yet, give the kids a chance to hone their skills. It's way more fun too! This was make your own Pizza night...and so they did.

Better yet, give the kids a chance to hone their skills. It's way more fun too! This was make your own Pizza night...and so they did.