Sunday, November 11, 2012

Holiday Tips and Menu Ideas

Good Morning y'all!! Today's post is not exactly a recipe, but every year I like to re post my Holiday Cooking tips and Menu Ideas for y'all. I know Halloween is just the start of the Holiday rush for most, and with Thanksgiving just a few short weeks away I know we're all starting to prepare. So here are a few helpful hints to make your holidays a little less stressful and some menu ideas!

Holiday Tips!

1. Get as much baking done as you can in the days before Thanksgiving and Christmas. Baking takes so much more work and time than cooking, it's good to have it out of the way.

2. When making Mashed Potatoes, if you are serving a large crowd and want them to stay warm once they're mashed put them in a crock pot on a warm setting with a small amount of butter on top to keep them warm and moist. (This is also great for keeping stuffing, sliced turkey, sweet potatoes, gravy all those things warm too.)

3. When using your crock pot for anything such as breakfast, potatoes, soups, make sure you spray it with non-stick cooking spray first. It will make your clean up that much easier

4. If it's cold outside and you want to keep your guests nice and warm, keep things like coffee, tea, hot chocolate or cider on hand. For things like Hot Chocolate and Cider you can also keep those warm in a crock-pot. In fact most things like that you can make in the crock-pot as well. Either with your own blend of Hot chocolate or with packets, just add the right amount of water, heat it up in the crock-pot and keep on warm.

5. When making a Turkey, be sure and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes before slicing to keep the juices in the Turkey.

6. Keep the leftovers and reuse. Things like Turkey Tetrizinni, soups, potato pancakes, etc. are all wonderful things on a cold winters day. And can be frozen and pulled out at a later time.

7. Take leftover place cards, or just some card stock and make labels of what different items are, or the ingredients in them so that if things look similar you know what you're having, or if your family has some allergies or diabetics they know what is safe to eat.

8. Wear an apron all day long! This one I can't stress enough, especially if you tend to be a bit of a klutz. I am constantly spilling on myself while cooking, and eating and if you're like me you wear something nice for the holidays you want to keep it clean. So wear an apron and once clean up is done take it off and show off your still fabulous outfit!

9. Be patient and try not to worry. Food reacts to our emotions, as weird as it sounds. If you are stressed and doing too many things at once, things will get burnt or just spoiled, which will only stress you out more. And plan your cooking schedule. If things cook at the same temperature take advantage of that and cook multiple things at once. And don't be afraid to cook things a day or so in advance, you can bake your Turkey and then while it is resting *very important to let your Turkey rest before carving! See tip #5* you can re-heat your sides. And crock pots are great for this too!

10. Clean while you cook! You will be surprised how easy this is and how much stress if will relieve at the end of your dinner! While things are cooking and before starting the next round, wash whatever you can then or get someone else to do that for you, so that once the food is served and you are done eating you can relax and only have the dinner dishes left to clean up.

For some Holiday Recipe Ideas:

Main Dish:

 Side Dishes:

Apple Pie (Sugar Free or regular)


For some recipes of things to make with leftovers check out these:

Happy Holiday Cooking!

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Bourbon Chicken

Adapted from Macaroni and Cheesecake.
I don't know about y'all but I have a serious weakness for Chinese food! I crave it all the time, could probably eat it almost everyday happily. However the chances of me actually having Chinese is incredibly rare. Generally I get it when my Mother In Law starts craving it and I convince her to take me to lunch. ;-) lol! Anyway, since I don't get this delicious take out very often I have started trying to make my own. I've successfully made Sweet and Sour Chicken, and Orange Chicken that we love and recently I decided to try my hand at another classic... Bourbon Chicken!

For those of you who don't drink alcohol, don't worry there isn't actually any bourbon in the recipe. This recipe is kind of a typical Chinese chicken, sour with a hint of sweet. It's incredibly easy to throw together, and when my hubby got home he said he could smell it cooking while still in his truck outside! And my boys both gobbled this up as fast as they could! I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

4-5 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
Olive Oil Cooking Spray (or 1 tbsp. olive oil)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried ground ginger
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 cup apple juice, or orange juice
2/3 cup light brown sugar
4 Tablespoons ketchup
2 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2/3 cup soy sauce
 Cornstarch Slurry:
1 Tablespooon cornstarch/1 Tablespoon water (optional)

Spray a large skillet with olive oil cooking spray (or use the 1 tbsp. olive oil).
Add chicken and cook over medium heat until lightly browned. Remove chicken from skillet, and set aside. While cooking chicken mix together remaining ingredients, minus the cornstarch slurry.
Add sauce, heating over medium heat until well mixed and dissolved. Add chicken and bring to a hard boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered, for 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. If you prefer a thicker sauce, combine 1 tbsp. water and 1 tbsp. cornstarch in a separate bowl and add a little at at time to reach desired consistency (I like a thick sauce so I use all of it). Serve over hot rice, if desired.

We LOVED this!! If you're a big Chinese food fan, you HAVE to make this soon! This was probably the best bourbon chicken I've ever had, I absolutely love this with a big bowl of  rice!! SOOO yummy! 4.5 Stars.

 Happy Cooking!
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