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
So with the holiday season coming up I decided to focus on brunch ideas this month. The holiday time is full of big family and friend gatherings and eating big meals. So we like to keep things simple and stick to only two meals a brunch and then the larger meal. Small snacks can be served during the rest of the time but by limiting the meals to only two it helps relieve a lot of stress if you are catering for a large group plus since so many calories are consumed during the large meals it seems wise to limit the amount of meals we consume.
Before I share this amazing recipe I think it should be noted that I am not a baker. It is not my area of strength and very rarely does anything I bake turn out beautiful, tasty but not beautiful. I could probably get a lot better if I practiced more but baking is not a healthy thing so I try and limit the amount I do it. I say this because it is a common issue with people. I know so many people that say they aren’t good at baking so they don’t even try any more. They instead stick to store bought pastries, cakes and cookies, or buy only box mixes. But I want to encourage people to give it a try. Yes your results might be like mine, not perfect looking but trust me when I say these were so tasty they didn’t last long enough for us to look at them for long. Not only do home made baked goods taste better and are cheaper buteven more importantly they are better for you then store bought since they have less preservatives and other additives. And since baking isn’t great for the waist line I say any small thing you can do to make it better for you is worth trying.
Trust me when I say if this non-baker can make these then you can. This recipe can easily be made the day before and stored in the fridge until the morning.
Banana Bread Cinnamon Rolls
150g (3/4 c.) soft brown sugar
50g (1/4 c.) granulated sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
(1/4 c.) finely chopped nuts (I prefer pecans but only had chopped mixed nuts on hand)
14g (1 Tbsp) butter, melted
438g (3 3/4 c.) plain flour
12g (2 Tbsp) sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 ripe bananas
100g (7 Tbsp) butter, melted and divided
175mL (3/4 c.) milk
2 cup icing sugar
2 Tbsp milk
Adapted from Inside Bru Crew Life
Today Sunday Supper is celebrating 4th of July with some fantastic picnic ideas. I hope everyone will forgive me for bringing a very traditional British picnic dish to a American 4th of July party but it is one of our favourite picnic foods and one I have been wanting to make at home forever.
These are so filling and tasty, they make a perfect picnic food item as they are good warm or cold. Traditionally these are fried but I wanted to lighten things up and bake them. Sadly this seems to have caused it to split it in the oven. I didn’t have time to make them again before this event but twist my arm it just means I have to make them again soon. But that is what happens sometimes when you try new dishes so I wanted to still share it with you. Hopefully I will be able to update this posting with a reason why it didn’t work out well for me.
What is your favourite picnic dish? Is it traditional or a little outside the box?
4 large eggs (as fresh as possible)
400g (14oz) sausage meat
1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/4 tsp dried parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
125g (1 c.) plain flour, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten
125g (1 c.) breadcrumbs
Toad in the hole is a very traditional English dish and one that until recently I just couldn’t perfect. I am not really sure why it didn’t turn out the last few times because once I put this together it was actually pretty easy. One key to the dish is making sure you don’t skip adding the oil to the pan while you are cooking the sausages. You need the oil nice and hot before you pour in the batter. To Brits this is a big comfort food dish and more often eaten in cold weather but I was so proud of my success with this one I just couldn’t wait to share.
Bacon-wrapped Toad in the Hole
100g (3/4 c.) plain flour
150ml (2/3 c.) milk
150mL (2/3 c.) water
8 rashers streaky bacon
8 good-quality pork sausages
Recipe from BBC Good Food
Today Sunday Supper is celebrating Mardi Gras and I thought what better way to do that then to share my favourite New Orleans staple, the Shrimp Po Boy. Sadly I have actually only visit New Orleans in passing when I went to go see my parents while they were working in Biloxi Mississippi after hurricane Katrina. I flew into New Orleans and for a treat my dad stopped off at the French Quarter, which had already been fixed up at this point, for lunch. The Po Boy a fried shrimp or oyster sandwich is such a simple concept and yet is incredible. While we enjoyed this meal I have to say it just didn’t taste as good as the one I had that day. But them then I am competing against the atmosphere of the French Quarter so that probably makes a big difference.
One confession I have is I have slightly cheated by continuing to call this a shrimp po boy when in fact I used prawns. This side of the Atlantic shrimp are not commonly found so I have to use their cousins, prawns. Taste wise they are interchangeable. It just seemed wrong calling this classic dish prawn po boys.
So have you ever celebrated Mardi Gras? It looks like a very fun holiday to enjoy. Maybe one of these days my family will take a holiday and experience it for ourselves. But in the meanwhile I know I can enjoy some of these amazing dishes that the Sunday Supper crew have shared.
Shrimp Po Boy
500g (1 lb) medium shrimp, shelled, deveined and with tails removed
(3/4 c.) fine cornmeal
(3/4 c.) flour
1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
Peanut oil for frying
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
2-3 tomatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
4 small French sandwich rolls
Recipe from Simply Recipes