Friday, November 9, 2018

18 Tips to Improve Your Holiday Prep and Cooking Times

The holidays are just about here and it's time to start planning for your big family and friend meals. It does not matter if you are a master chef or are new, cooking for the holidays is a big deal and can take a lot of time. Here are 18 tips that can improve your times. Some are super simple and easy, others are a little more advance and require certain features in appliances. By knowing these helpful tips, you can cut down your prep and cook times and spend more time mingling with family and friends.

Easy Cooking Tips
1. Plan ahead and read the directions before starting
It is always a good rule of thumb to be prepared before cooking. Make sure to have a plan of what you want to make and make sure you have all the ingredients before you even start to cook. Make your shopping list one week in advance and  add to it as you remember last minute things. Remember to also read the directions before starting so you know what's coming up next.
2. Prep food ahead of time
You can prep your fruits and veggies a few days in advance. Start by cutting them and storing them in air tight containers.
3. Cut food in smaller pieces
While you are cutting your produce during prep times think about size. The smaller the pieces, the less time it will take t
o cook all the way.
4. Use in-season ingredients
Buy in season produce and meats to save you money at the grocery store. The foods that are in season will have the best taste with less prepping or cooking effort.
5. Don't  peel your produce
Save time by not peeling your produce. Eating the skin in fruits and veggies can save you time, but will also keep more nutrients in the food making it more healthier to eat. Just make sure to wash your produce well. This can be done with carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, apples, oranges, pears, and more.
6. Make more for leftovers
While you're cooking for today's meal, you might as well cook for tomorrows meal too. Don't be ashamed, double your recopies so that you have plenty for leftovers. You can even use some of your scraps for soups and leftovers can be used to make sandwiches and other meals. You can even freeze some of the food and save it for a few weeks later.
7. Clean as you go
While you are waiting for your food to cook for the next step, take those extra minutes to clean dishes and cooking areas. Fill your sink with hot and soapy water. You can have some of your pots and pans soak saving you time after you eat your meal.
8. Pre-set the table
You can have your dining room table set a few days or even a couple of weeks in advance. This will get you in the holiday spirit ahead of time and make your room more festive. By doing this, you can have more time to chat with loved ones when they visit you.

Pro Cooking Tips
9. Shopping list
A pro tips is to have your shopping list by sections and then have it in order of where it is in the grocery store.
10. Memorize your favorite recipes
Pro cooks don't use recipes very often. You can save tons of time by memorizing your favorite ones.
11. Don't try new recipes for big gatherings
Be comfortable with what you are making and do not try something brand new for the big feast. You can try something new, but in advance. Practice making something new a few weeks or months in advance. This way you can tweak things so that you can perfect them for the big day.
12. Grow your own kitchen herbs
Fresh herbs can really give your food a more fresh taste and add flavor. Herbs like parsley, basil, rosemary, oregano, and savory are simple plants that can grow in your kitchen or garden. This will save you time at the grocery store.
13. Pre-mix your favorite spice combos
Make your own spice combos that you use all year round. Store them in spice jars and store them in a cool place. This can help you save time and money throughout the year.
14. Preheating for turkey and other big meats
Before you turn on your oven for big meats and roasts, have your oven pre-heat at a higher temperature like 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the oven is ready, put your meat in the oven and then turn your oven down to the right temperature such as 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Because your turkey is cold when putting in your oven, you can actually shock your oven with the coldness and loose the correct temperature making the cooking process longer. By doing this trick, you can start cooking at the correct temperature at the very beginning.
15. Skip carving at the table
It might be your family tradition to have the head of the house carve the turkey at the table before everyone eats. Skip this step and do it in the kitchen. You can be more strategic about your carving and you won't have to worry about knocking anything over at the table or making a big mess.
16. Cook with an Induction Cooktop or Range

Induction cooking heats a pan that is magnetic directly . The technology of heating the metal at a microscopic level can actually make your cooking times 50% faster. Induction also allows you to have more control with your temperatures reducing the risk of over or under cooking. The technology allows you to have cooking more consistent and have the same results every time. The smooth surface is also very easy to clean and you do not have to worry about cleaning cooked-on spills.
17. Cook with a Convection Oven
A convection oven has a fan and exhaust system inside. The fan helps blow the hot air and vent it back out throughout the oven. Because the hot air is getting pushed throughout, your food will cook more evenly and more quickly. You can cook food up to 25% faster than a traditional oven. Because there is new air coming into the oven, it caramelizes the sugars on top faster making the outside brown perfectly when roasting while still keeping the inside nice an moist.
18.  Make Cleaning up easy with your Dishwasher

Once you are done eating your feast, you and your guests will want to relax. One of the big things that you can do before starting to cook is making sure that your dishwasher is empty and ready for the dishes. Have a quiet dishwasher so that after the feast you can run it during your gathering. Your guests will be amazed that it's so quiet, but also it will save you time after the party. You can also do a quick cycle before dessert or use disposal plates for dessert so you don't have to run two different dishwasher cycles.


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  4. Hosting the holiday celebrations this year? Don't worry: You got this. Before the friends and family invade your small appliances at home, run through our home holiday checklist to make sure your place is as ready as it can be.

    Clean the Microwave
    All of your home appliances take a beating during this holiday, so make sure they start out on the right foot. Take out the microwave's rotating tray and scrub it or pop it into the dishwasher. Wipe down the microwave's interior with a soft cloth and a little soapy water. Make sure its air vents are clear of dust and grease.

    If the microwave is an over-the-range model and provides general kitchen appliances ventilation, be especially thorough cleaning its vent surfaces of greasy dust. If you don't have spray degreaser on hand, use a soft cloth moistened with ammoniated glass cleaner.

    But Don't Clean the Oven
    The self-clean cycle is hard on your oven—and the last thing you want is for it to fail right before the big day. Give a quick cleaning around the top burner elements and leave the rest be. Save the big cleanup until leftovers are safety nestled in the fridge. It'll need it by then.