I love Christmas time, the decoration, the music, I even love Christmas shopping and wrapping presents. I do try and make sure everything like Christmas presents are bought long before the madness so that probably helps keep my love for the season so strong. But one killer for most people is the stress of the Christmas meal. Even myself, a lover of cooking even for large groups and a lover of the season, finds myself more stressed then I need to be. So I have come up with 5 tips that are helping me with my sanity this year and I hope that they help you. One thing that I am doing is making these tasty bread rolls several weeks before hand so that they are ready to do on the day without too much hassle.
1. Write down your Christmas dinner in menu form. Seeing all the dishes you are planning on making on paper will help you better figure out if you are overdoing it. I often just have an idea in my head of all the things I want to do and just get the ingredients and start doing it, only to discover I am doing way too much and haven’t planned enough time to do it all. Write out all the dishes, how long they take to prep and cook and see if it is even possible for you to make all the dishes with the amount of oven space and hob space you have.
2. Cook ahead. In part with the writing down figure out what dishes can be made ahead of time to lighten the load on Christmas day. For example this year we have decided to start cooking the turkey the day before. We have so many people round the table that we never get to set the bird down on the table to display any way so this year to make life easier we are cooking the bird and slicing it so it can be reheated the next day. This is going to free up our oven for other things like our roast vegetables and stuffing. It will also ensure a prompt dinner start as the turkey is often the thing that takes even longer then you predicted.
3. Don’t be afraid to delegate. If you are like me you bite off more then you can chew every year. This year we have 20 adults and 3 kids to feed. Plus I have a 8 week old baby that also needs me so there is no way it would be sensible to do it all on my own. So instead this year we are dividing the load amongst us and doing as much as possible the days leading up to Christmas so the day can be spend fellowshipping together and not spent stressing over cooking. Because lets face it, even if you love cooking like myself it can be very stressful on the day.
4. Don’t experiment on the day. Have a new dish you have been wanting to try on Christmas day that you have never done before. TEST IT BEFORE HAND! Do not attempt something you have never done on the day. You are only opening the door to a stressful day and possibly a dinner failure on Christmas day when all the shops are closed. Either stick to what you are familiar or test the dish out a few weeks before hand.
5. Don’t go overboard with fancy table decor. I know you have been pouring over images in Pintrest all year feeling like a failure compared to the lavish table displays you see. But first of all most of the amazing things you find on pintrest are from photoshoots where the photographer had all the time in the world to setup their table, no hungry people wondering where the food is. Also remember your table is going to be full of food so unless you have a table that is big enough you are going to end up having to remove most of the decorations before the food is put on the table which kind of defeats the point. Instead stick to small simple ideas that can be prepared the day before and be delegated to someone else to setup on the day.
Remember Christmas should be a fun, wonderful day spent with family so don’t allow it to become a stressful environment and open up the possibility of stress related arguments on the day.
Make ahead bread rolls
400g strong bread brown flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp easy-blend dried yeast
1 tsp caster sugar
250mL warm water
As far blogging went November had to not be a priority for me. Sadly my tiny baby girl ended up dealing with two illnesses that landed her in the hospital both times ending us with seeing 11 days in November there with her. It was horrible and terrifying seeing such a small baby so sick. But thankfully December has been much more kind and I am excited for Christmas with my new little addition. I know there aren’t that many more days left before the big day but I just had to share with you a few special Christmas recipes to help make the holidays easier for you. Because probably like many of you with new additions means a bigger family get together, making the holiday cooking just a bit more hectic. So finding easier ways to do dishes that are staples I think is a must. And this first one I want to share is by far my favourite. This has single handedly changed the way we are making potatoes forever. My husband was never a fan of mashed potatoes, finding them dull and tasteless unless a lot of additions were made to them. So he has always wanted roast potatoes for the holidays. But once we discovered these and found that they are not only easier but so full of flavour he is now a convert. I never thought about it before but boiling potatoes really does take away precious flavour from the potatoes but cooking them in the slowcooker gives them a rich almost baked flavour. Season as you would normally but we found that doing it this way has us going back to simple salt and pepper seasoning as the potatoes already have so much flavour.
Crockpot Mashed Potatoes
1 kilo (2 lbs) potatoes, cut into 2 inch pieces
(1/4 c.) milk
42g (3 Tbsp) butter
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Recipe adapted from Creme De La Crumb
I have a confession to make, if it weren’t for my blog Valentines day would just come and go in our house without much thought. I have never been a Valentines person, I actually have never been out on a Valentines date, not even in the days before kids. I don’t even think I have ever received a Valentines card before, other then the ones you all fill out at school and send to your whole class. But when I became a blogger it was obvious that Valentines day was a much loved blogging holiday so ever since then I have been enjoying sharing some special recipes for people to be able to enjoy with their Valentine. Trust me with incredible meals like this hubby loves the new tradition. Although it isn’t celebrated on the day, because lets face it if you are in a blogger family you never get to enjoy these amazing holiday recipes on the day. Our families are taste testing our Christmas recipes in July.
Today Sunday Supper are going to bring you some special recipes for cooking just for two. Continue reading →
This Sunday Supper we are talking about what we are thankful for. For me this could be a very long post because there are so many things in my life that I am grateful for. But I decided to dedicate this post to my very special father-in-law and mother-in-law both for whom I owe so much to. They have blessed my life in so many ways, of course first of all by raising such an incredible man whom I fell in love with and am blessed to be spending my life with. I am also very thankful they have so welcomed me into their family. I know not everyone gets on with their in-laws and so I am thankful I have a family I married into that I get on so well with.
But while all those things are very special and I am grateful for I want to talk about something more specific. You see I always dreamed that one day I would be able to show case my cooking abilities in a way that I would also provide an income for my family. But fear has always prevented me from doing anything about it. When I moved to the UK I was in the middle of a career crisis. I was doing freelance video editing work but I wasn’t happy with it and the constant hunt for new clients was getting me down. I knew I wanted to do something different but not sure what. Chris mentioned to me that I should open a restaurant, and since Mexican food isn’t commonly found here he thought that would be a good thing to serve. Now I was 7 months pregnant when he suggested this and while it sounded so exciting I couldn’t see how it would work. But time went on and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I eventually came to the idea of starting off small in a market stall. I have an incredibly supportive husband and he has been so helpful in setting this up but I think he would agree with me when I say this would NOT be possible without my in-laws. They have and continue to do so much for me and my business. From watching my daughter when we are busy, to running to a store that is 30 minutes away to pick up something I forgot the night before an event. They are even allowing us to borrow their large vehicle until I can afford to buy one for my business. My business is slowly growing and I am really starting to see that there is a future in store for it even if the growth is slow. My dream is coming true and all I can say is thank you John and Sue for your unwavering support and love. I am beyond blessed to call you mum and dad.
Okay now to wipe the tears from my eyes and talk about food. I decided to feature this fun recipe because it is a perfect quick recipe for Thanksgiving. On my stall I serve tortilla chips with my meals as well as a way to sample my salsas. I am always left with crumbs at the bottom of the bag that I can’t use and sometimes portions will go stale before I can serve it. I hate waste and so I was trying to come up with an idea to use it. One thing that I do is crush up the chips until it is as small as breadcrumbs. I then use it as a substitute in any dish that calls for breadcrumbs, like breaded chicken or in meatballs. But one night while I was laying in bed I thought, “could it be used as a base for stuffing?” I did some research and found I was not alone with my idea. So I decided to give this recipe from Gluten Free Easily. I tweaked it a little to fit our taste and added mushrooms. Any of your favourite stuffing ingredients could be added. This recipe is so easy that it could easily be whipped up if you discovered a guest was gluten-intolerant and didn’t have much time to prepare. Even if you don’t need to eat gluten-free this is such a tasty stuffing I dare you to not eat seconds.
Gluten-Free Corn “Bread” Stuffing
400g (14 oz) Tortilla Chips
1 medium onion, finely chopped
960mL (4 c.) vegetable stock
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp sage
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
*Additional ingredients if desired, like sausage, mushrooms, chestnuts
recipe adapted from Gluten Free Easily
I can’t believe that 14 years ago a 17 year old me met a 19 your old British guy who became her instant best friend. Having a similar humour they quickly got up to trouble mischief together. I never would have guessed that 9 later we would reconnect after a few years apart and fall in love and that 5 years on we would have an amazing 2 year old girl who is our world. Chris is such an incredible father and I am so blessed to have a husband who has a similar parenting style to myself so the hardest job in the world, being a parent, is made easier with the fact that we tend to always agree what to do. I know that is a rarity and I do treasure it. So to honour my wonderful husband who is a fantastic daddy I wanted to finally make him the pie he has been begging me to make again for years now.
For some reason pecan pie gets put on the to do list of baking every year for Christmas but then somehow doesn’t get done. So for this Father’s Day my husband finally got his wish. This recipe doesn’t use corn syrup, one because corn syrup isn’t sold in this country and two I try to avoid using it because it really isn’t good for us. Personally we feel this is even better then the corn syrup version.