The holidays can feed the soul in more ways than one. Spending time with family, friends and loved ones over a delicious well orchestrated meal is always much to be celebrated. It is satisfyingly fulfilling to the soul and to the stomach. Whether a traditional feast or exploring some new twists on classic recipes, a little preparation can alleviate spending time away in the kitchen and more for collecting valuable memories.
First off, try unearthing a handed down family cookbook or recipe cards that have not been used for some time. You never know what treasures you may find! Some may even include a few added handwritten notes on the pages that was a favorite addition to grandmas go-to reliable recipes. With that said, even the most well coveted family recipes can be made ahead of time, yet still leave all and wonder of the extra time spared, to visit. Or even used elsewhere, such as my personal favorite, desserts!
One of the most favorite side dishes used are potatoes. Potatoes are a hearty starchy tuber vegetable that are very diverse and have many variations in side dishes or meals. Mashed potatoes are a highly regarded favorite traditional side dish to American holiday meals. Yukon Gold potatoes can be boiled, drained, then covered in an airtight container, to be refrigerated a few days ahead of time. Then one simply can just heat and use as per recipe directions. Try adding something exciting or unique to give the classic side dish some flair. Maple bacon mashed potatoes anyone? When drizzled with a small amount of pure maple syrup and smoked crispy bacon crumbles, you will be in for a pallet pleasing potato pizazz! Don’t want to commit the entire batch of your spectacular spuds? Try a mashed potato bar!
In a world of complete customization, food bars and stations are more popular than ever, not just at weddings or parties. Such as a mashed potato bar, guests can help themselves and choose from a unique variety of toppings and combinations, and in hand, creates something for everyone. Kids can take pride with assisting in the set up as well. Even if they suggest an item that may be out of the ordinary, allow them to add it to the station and it could quite possibly become a new family favorite! That’s encouraging the young chef to try new ideas and creating a desire to spend more time together in the kitchen. As my grandmother had always told me “good cooks start young”.
Side dishes and desserts are all great to make ahead of time, so you can focus on the main dish masterpiece, or just have a little time to get yourself ready before the party starts and guests arrive. Many pies can be concocted (such as pumpkin or fruit pies) and refrigerated. As well as a really good hand made pie crust, is also key to chilling in the refrigerator ahead of time. So all one has to do is simply assemble and bake the day of the dinner. There’s nothing like the divine aroma of baked goods in the air. Such an aroma as this can elicit smiles to faces, fill homes with cherish memories and in turn, feeding the soul. In more ways than one.
Alyssa Logan along with her mother Julie Blackburn are the owners of 83 Sweets in Lucasville. The duo appeared on the TV Show Cupcake Wars and won. For more information visit www.83sweets.com.