There’s always that poor so-and-so who’s stuck in the kitchen every holiday, cooking away while everyone else gets to mingle and snack, imbibe and watch football. If you’re playing the host(ess) this year, why not make things a bit easier on yourself? Spend less time in front of the oven and more time with your guests by doing things just a bit different in the kitchen. No need to thank us, just have an extra piece of pie. You deserve it.
1. Do your chopping and prep-work a couple of days before
Be sure to label your fixin’s for each dish they are being added to, then store in tupperware and refrigerate when you’re done. Keep a paper towel in the container to absorb excess moisture that will build up inside.
2. Peel garlic faster
Ugh, that sticky, stinky mess is no fun for anyone. You can breeze through it by using your knife to flatten garlic and separate it from the shell. Just lay a clove on your cutting board, then take a butcher knife and place the widest part (near the handle) over the garlic, with the blade facing away from you. Carefully hit the widest part of the blade with your fist to crush the garlic, keeping your skin away from the sharp blade. The shell is super easy to pull away now!
3. Soften butter without melting it
If you’re like me, you totally forgot to pull the butter out of the fridge to soften it before you started baking. And you can’t microwave butter because then basically liquifies. Instead, pour boiling water into a glass to heat it up, carefully pour the water out, and cover the butter with the glass for a few minutes. Voila!
4. Read all of your recipes in advance
If I had a nickel for every time I had to make a rush trip to the store … Avoid scrambling at the last minute by reading your recipes a few days before and taking notes. That way you have time to get everything you need so you can get started.
5. Set aside your serving plates and utensils for each dish
There’s nothing more rage-inducing that having pots boiling over and food burning, all because you’re on your hands and knees looking for a bowl. Get it all out of the cabinets ahead of time, and label each for it’s intended use. Then just grab and go as you’re cooking.
6. Avoid the hassle of peeling potatoes
Instead, boil your potatoes with the skins on until fully cooked (typically about 15-20 minutes). Then drain and carefully submerge each tater in an ice water bath for 5-10 seconds each, until they are cool enough to handle. The skins will slide ride off under your fingers. It’s like Thanksgiving magic.
7. Cook 2 smaller turkeys instead of one big bird
This tip is handy if you have an especially large crowd to feed. Bigger turkeys take more time to prepare, and are more likely to dry out the longer they have to stay in the oven. Plus, smaller (around 12 lbs or less), younger turkeys have more tender meat on them, making for an extra juicy meal.
8. Prepare a festive punch instead of stocking the bar
Lose the mega pricey trip to the liquor store by making a large batch of a signature cocktail. Your guests won’t miss their drinks of choice when they have something fun and festive to sip on. Just be sure to keep the essentials (beer/wine/non-alcohol) on hand too.
9. Split your grocery shopping into 2 different trips
No, not in the same day! Stress less about getting your hands on everything you need by doing one trip earlier in the week for non-perishables (canned goods, condiments, etc). Then plan a second trip later for the ingredients that have to stay fresh.
1o. Simply avoid the extra cooking by making it a Potluck
Most people are more than happy to contribute a dish of their own if you’re doing the hosting part (i.e. cleaning up the mess afterwards). Give everyone a role by assigning your guests a specific side dish or dessert to bring, or let them make their specialty for everyone. Then all you have to do is cook the bird and anything else you want at your shindig. Dinner is served!