My first Christmas as a young bride I didn't know anything about cooking a turkey dinner, but I was excited to try...and crushed when my bird was still mostly raw after hours in the oven. That was the night I discovered that the oven in our rental unit needed new elements. We had to drive our mostly raw turkey across town to my in-laws to finish the job!
If that defined my every holiday cooking story since then I probably wouldn't have chosen anything related to food as a business and I really wouldn't enjoy cooking large dinners. Thankfully, it was the only time my oven chose to break down during a major event.
It took me a few years after that to cook another big dinner again. It was sometime after the birth of our first son that we decided to start cooking our own Christmas Dinners. In honour of Thanksgiving in America tomorrow, here are a few tried and true suggestions to move your cooking mood from frazzled to fantastic so you can enjoy your holiday cooking (and eating!) a little bit more.
1. Enjoy People
If you know someone who will be alone on the holidays, invite them over. They may not want to participate, but it feels good to be wanted and you might be the only one who took the time to ask.
2. Plan Ahead
Make sure you know you have all the groceries and supplies you need! No surprises are good surprises when you are out of time and realize you are missing a big part of your meal.
3. Play it Safe
It's so much fun to try new foods! But unless you're willing to go hungry if it's not as edible as you imagine it will be, a big holiday dinner on the "larger than life" scale they tend to be is NOT the time to try an entirely new spread. Instead, limit new things to appetizers and desserts.
4. It Doesn't Have to be Perfect
Give yourself room to breathe. I know what it's like to feel the stress of cleaning up every little thing to make it perfect. But I'm beginning to realize that it just can't be perfect at this time in my life with young kids and a small house, and that's ok. Focus on your guests' enjoyment and your delicious meal and you will have more joy in your dinner.
...but also a little intimidating! There are so many changes coming up for The Meals Maven, all of them good ones, but all of them a little scary anyway. Thanks for sharing this journey with me! You're an important part of it.
You won't miss out on blog posts, survey opportunities, free offers, or any of my exciting news stories coming up in 2017 when you're subscribed to my new newsletter! I can't wait to share any of it with you! The best part is, you can customize what you want to hear from me. Over the course of the next few days I'll be learning the ropes and making my contact with you much more specific and manageable. I am so excited for everything that's going to be happening in 2017, and so thankful that you're with me along the way.
Enjoy your day! It's a short week for our American friends, and in honour of them I'm cooking a turkey dinner on Thursday. Today's question: What's your favourite side dish to serve with Turkey?
All the best, friends. More will follow soon!
It's always a little hard to say goodbye to our carved pumpkins. A couple of years ago we left them as "nightlights" in the boys' bedroom until they went off and then threw them away. This morning, however, our friendly pumpkins will be kissed goodbye and diced up for dinner, with good reason: pumpkins are a super source of nutrition. It's cold and flu season, and because pumpkins have their fair share of vitamin C, they help our bodies fight infection.
Sharing vegetables with kids is a marvelous way to support their nutritive needs, and the beta carotene in pumpkins will help their eyesight. They are a versatile vegetable and if hitting #halfyourplate is your goal, this is a wonderful vegetable to get you there. Preparing pumpkin ahead of time makes it a quick meal starter. Toss frozen pumpkin chunks into soup, casseroles, and stir fries. Slice fresh pumpkin thinly to make skillet chips. Add pureed pumpkin to mashed potatoes, turnip, or rutabaga. Make pumpkin themed muffins and loaves, or hide it in gingerbread cake if your people aren't a fan.
Don't forget canned pumpkin. It's just as good for you, though not quite as versatile. You can find it in the baking aisle because pumpkin pie is a seasonal favourite. Before you buy it, however, check the ingredients label. It should read "100% pure pumpkin", or something along those lines. They may tell you what kind of pumpkin is in the can, and that's fine. But many pie fillings come pre-sweetened or spiced, and you want to avoid those ones. Controlling your added ingredients is an important consideration for health when cooking, baking, and eating.
You can do a lot with a whole pumpkin. A very common way to deal with them is to place them in the oven and roast them, as I've detailed here. I also discussed dicing them and freezing them raw- that is the future of these pumpkins. In fact, I'd made dinner with pumpkin processed this way about a year ago, and that's what we're eating for dinner tonight, pictured here:
It's a good thing pumpkin is so flexible, because in addition to our carved baby pumpkins, we have a big one we didn't get to. My freezer will be full...and that means I have to start baking. I think I foresee a month of pumpkin-themed meals coming up! Perhaps a pumpkin-spice cookbook? Maybe a private Facebook group with new recipes and challenges each week. Do you have any ideas for me? Drop me a line!
In the meantime, my #testkitchen today will be a pumpkin-spice steamed milk. My lucky newsletter subscribers will be the first to receive this delicious gem. Want in on that? Just fill in your details and the rest will follow.
All the best, friends. Welcome to November!