That favorite fudge recipe you always make, that delicious marinated carrot recipe your mom used to make, and Aunt Edna’s pumpkin pie recipe are yearly Christmas treats. The problem is every year you have to search to find them. Wouldn’t it be great to have them all together in one place.
Assignment: Gather your holiday recipes and organize them.
Now is the time to gather all of your favorite holiday recipes in one place! Print, copy, scan (whatever is easiest for you), all of the recipes you use and love each year. Get them into page protectors in your binder. You will be blown away by how helpful this will be to you!
This is also the time to discard any recipes you never use.
If you have a few free minutes, you can go through your recipes and jot down ingredients you will need when you go to the store.
Another great way to save time this holiday season is by making a couple extra copies of each recipe. Keep the extra copies in the same page protector as the original. This way, any time someone asks you for your recipe, you will have an extra copy ready to pull out and give them on the spot.
Excellent instructions for how to organize your recipes in the binder are located in the book.
Supplies: 1) Page Protectors 2) Your favorite recipes
Share Your Thoughts:
How many recipes did you include? Any tips on organizing your recipes? How does it feel to have them all your recipes in one place before you need them? Did you throw any recipes away and how did that make you feel?
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There is enough drama around Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner that it’s best to keep some things very simple. The funny thing is, four of the five super simple recipes listed below are the ones that we get requests to make (and for the recipes… I end up emailing at least a couple of my kids or their friends the recipes every holiday season.
So here are 5 Quick Dishes To Make (or Bring) for Thanksgiving or Christmas. whether you’re hosting at home, or bringing these on the road, you’ll be thankful for a few appetizers and deserts you can make (mostly) ahead.
Yikes! It’s almost time to cook the holiday turkey!
Do you have turkey-phobia?
It can seem like a daunting task to make the perfect turkey, but I promise you, it isn’t. Try my turkey recipe and follow my instructions, and you’ll have a table full of guests licking their fingers and begging for more. But beware, this turkey is so good, there may not be any leftovers for turkey sandwiches.
In a large garbage bag, combine the all the ingredients.
Wash and dry your turkey. Make sure you have removed the innards. Place the turkey, breast down, into the brine. Make sure that the cavity gets filled. Place the bag in a roasting pan and in the refrigerator overnight, turning once.
Remove the turkey carefully draining off the excess brine and pat dry. Discard excess brine.
Cook the turkey as desired reserving the drippings for gravy. Keep in mind that brined turkeys cook 20 to 30 minutes faster so watch the temperature gauge.
Now if you are not excited or motivated quite yet about growing a garden maybe these recipes will get your mouth watering.
Roger’s Salsa: Roger Lipp
12 tomatoes (or two large cans of crushed tomatoes)
1 (15 oz) can of tomato sauce
1 bunch cilantro, chopped coarse down to the stemmy part
2 stems green onion, chopped medium
1 red onion, chopped medium (I use two slices from the center portion)
2 jalapenos, chopped fine (leave seeds in) — if you want mild salsa substitute Anaheim peppers; if
you want hot salsa substitute 4 habaneras.
4-5 garlic cloves, chopped fine
Combine these ingredients in large glass bowl.
If tomatoes were room temp to start with, I add two ice cubes and mix in. The following seasonings are very approximate… I don’t measure.
Add the following seasonings to taste (measurements given are approximately what I use… ish)
2 T fresh oregano leaves, chopped
1 T cumin powder
1 T coarse ground black pepper
1 T fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp marjoram
I have to admit I was pretty jealous of Roger and his world-famous (OK maybe more friend and family famous) salsa, but now I have bragging rights of my own – Bruschetta.
I spent weeks working on a recipe – finding what other people were doing – tweeking and tweeking until I got something that I loved. Now when I’m asked to bring something to a party, I make the bruschetta several hours ahead and let it set in the fridge and let all the flavors meld.
Bruschetta: Kathi Lipp
1/3 c. olive oil
3Tp. balsamic vinegar
1/8 c. chopped fresh basil or 1/2 tsp. dried
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
4-5 medium, ripe tomatoes, (I prefer Roma, but any firm tomato will do) seeded and chopped. Drain in a strainer for 15 minutes. (You can use a paper or cloth towel to very gently press out the extra moisture)
2 baguettes, cut into 1/2-inch slices
4 cloves garlic, sliced in half
½ c. grated Parmesan cheese
Combine oil, vinegar, basil and pepper in a large bowl and whisk together. Add drained tomatoes to oil and vinegar and toss to coat. Allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes, and up to 4 hours.
Toast bread slices on one side, flip and then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese on the other. Once toasted, rub the cut side of the garlic on the top of each slice.
Top each slice with the tomato mixture.
Serves 8 as an appetizer
Nothing makes me feel more “gardeny” than to go out to our back patio and harvest dinner. This is a pretty simple dish, but nothing will highlight your gardening prowess better than the recipe below.
8 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ c. butter, melted
¼ c. chopped fresh basil, or 1 T, dried
8 ounce dried angel hair pasta, cooked
Parmesan Cheese, grated
Combine tomatoes and garlic in a saucepan. Simmer for 15 minutes then set aside.
Toss pasta with butter and basil.
Stir in tomatoes and serve with Parmesan cheese grated on top.
If I could only have one item growing in my garden, it would be tomatoes. If I could only have two, the next item would be bushels and bushels of basil. Make this pesto one time and you will want to install an indoor hot house to grow basil year-round.
2 c. fresh basil leaves
4 tsp minced garlic
2 T pine nuts, roasted
1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 T fresh-grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chop the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil. Blend in the cheese, salt and pepper.
Do you have a favorite garden recipe? Mind sharing with us?
When Roger and I got married, we made the decision that I would pursue writing and speaking while being based out of our house so that our kids would have someone to come home to. This decision did not come without a price.
No one goes into writing for the money (OK it has worked out well for J.K. Rowling, but she is the exception, not the rule.) Before, Roger had been the sole support of three people – now that number was jumping to six.
At first, while still in the honeymoon phase, we did a lot of eating out. It is easy to fall into bad habits when you are busy, but there is a price for all that convenience. Not only did our food budget expand– so did our waistlines.
About a year ago Roger and I put ourselves on an eat-at-home challenge where – except for business meetings and my weekly Starbucks date with my son, Justen – we only ate at home or packed food to eat out for a month. Suddenly, we realized how much money we had been wasting on fast food and restaurant food. We have learned to eat at home on a more regular basis, but we are still fans of flavor and need to keep it interesting for ourselves and our kids.
So here is a short list of ways that we are working to keep our menus fun, but on budget as well:
Clean Out the Cupboards Cooking – This is when I take an inventory of what is lurking in our freezer, fridge and pantry and see what magic I can concoct out of it. There is a great site called SuperCook where you can punch in the ingredients you have on hand and it will give you suggested recipes for you to try at home. Make sure you take their tour so that you can use the website to its full capacity.
Cooking our own Chicken – It may seem obvious, but we were spending way too much on pre-cooked and shredded chicken for our salads, burritos, curries, etc. Now I just throw four frozen, boneless chicken breast halves into a glass baking dish, cover it with foil and bake for 45 minutes on 350. Once the breasts have cooled, I use my Pampered Chef Food Chopper to chop up the meat and we throw that chopped up chicken into everything.
This also applies to other large chunks of meat. As much as I love turkey on Thanksgiving, what I really love are the leftovers. After we have our requisite turkey and stuffing sandwiches for lunch on Friday, I lovingly package up the rest of the turkey for future use in stir-frys, casseroles, curries, etc. We actually prepare two turkeys at Thanksgiving – one smoked and one brined – to have a little variety and a lot of leftovers for us and our extended family.
Ham is another meat that I plan on using after we get it. We will have our “big meal” with that spiral cut ham, and then package up the leftovers for sandwiches, breakfast casseroles, etc.
LeftOversOn Purpose – Whether it is making a double batch of turkey meatballs for spaghetti on Monday and Italian Wedding Soup on Wednesday, or making a huge batch of Roger’s spaghetti sauce for dinner two nights in a row, planning for leftovers makes sense both time and money wise. (More on creating LeftOvers On Purpose later.)
Shop Once a Week – Oh, it is so hard to force myself to plan the meals, see what ingredients we already have and then shop for them, but when I do, oh the money and time that I save! If I don’t think ahead, I end up “stopping by” the store every other day and buying frozen food that is more expensive and a waste of time, energy and calories. (And we end up eating at 7:45 at night…) Even if I am determined on shopping once a week, I usually have to make at least one extra trip for something I forgot, but it does prove that we can live without oranges for an extra two days if push comes to shove.
Bulk Purchases – Yep – at first it is going to cost more. But in the not-so-long-run you are going to save time, money and gas by having your everyday items there and ready to use. Here is just a partial list of things that we have bought in bulk over the past year:
Apricots (we buy them from a local farmer and freeze them)
Canned goods (tomato paste, tomato sauce, etc.)
Hard Cheese (Parmesan, Romano)
We store the bulk purchase in air tight containers so they don’t go bad. When our freezer gets low we store some of the grains in the deep-freeze so that they take up space. (It is more expensive to run an empty freezer than one that is packed with food.)
Eat with the Seasons – If you are buying strawberries in December you are paying way more than your should. There really is a time for everything, and food is at the top of that seasonal list. Check out the farmer’s market section to see what is the best time of year to buy in your region, but here is a general guideline of some popular fruits and vegetables:
WINTER: Bell Peppers, Cabbage, Celery, Oranges, Radishes, Honeydew
Eat less Meat – I have been gradually reducing the amount of meat that go into our dishes, while trying to bulk up the veggies and alternate sources of protein (beans, meat-substitutes.) Our goal for each meal is that ¾ of the plate be plants. We are not always successful (we won’t even talk about the taquitos I had last night,) but we are learning new cooking skills as we scale back on all things carnivore.
One of the ways we are tiptoeing into less meat eating is by gathering tried and true recipes from our favorite vegetarians. Here are a couple from my friend and fellow author Cheri Gregory that you can try:
Walnut “Meat” Balls; Cheri Gregory
1 c. finely chopped walnuts 1 c. Ritz crackers, crushed fine 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese 3 eggs beaten 4-5 c. of brown gravy
Mix all ingredients (except gravy) together and form into small balls, (about the size of a large gumball.) Roll the balls in seasoned bread crumbs. Fry in a small amount of oil, turning 3 or 4 times until each side is golden brown Place meatballs in a casserole dish and pour the gravy over the meatballs. Bake at 350 degrees 45 – 60 minutes
Lentil Loaf ; Cheri Gregory
1 c. mashed cooked lentils. 1.5 c. Pepperidge Farms seasoned stuffing 2 beaten eggs 1 large can evaporated milk 1/2 c. finely chopped walnuts 2 packages G. Washington broth, golden 1/2 c. oil 1 large onion, minced
Combine all ingredients and pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees until browned and set, 45-60 minutes
Note: This is fabulous on sandwiches…just slice and slather on some catsup, cheese, avocado, lettuce, etc.
You are probably already eating meatless meals several times a week: cheese quesadillas, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, veggie salads, vegetable soup, cheese and broccoli baked potatoes, oatmeal or other cereals for breakfast, bean burritos.
Waste not: Co-op with other friends – When my kids were younger, I had an informal network of friends where we would inform each other of sales at different supermarkets, and, in some cases, would pick up food that was on sale for each other. I’ll never forget when whole chickens were reduced to .29 a pound at our grocery store, but I was having a hard time getting there since I was babysitting a friend’s kids as a favor. Her thank you? Mary brought me six whole chickens from the store. Best babysitting tip I’ve ever received.
This is also a good strategy for bulk purchases – maybe you don’t want a 25 pound bag of flour sitting in your pantry, but dividing that flour with two friends suddenly makes the flour – and the price – that much more attractive.
If you are tight on space, co-oping with friends suddenly makes bulk purchases both affordable and manageable.
Learn to cook from scratch. OK – I want to be careful with this recommendation – I think cheating with prepared foods every once in a while is a fine idea – I don’t want to give the impression that eating on the cheap is so difficult that the Value Meal at your favorite fast food place starts to look like an easier solution. However, some things that are SO expensive at the grocery store are surprisingly easy to prepare at home. Just some examples:
Mini Pizzas (made at home with pita bread – so much better for you as well.)
Bread (especially if you have that bread maker from your wedding sitting around gathering dust)
And be wary of that deli counter at your supermarket – occasionally picking up a roasted chicken can be a life saver – but if you pick up four meals in a row and do your regular grocery shopping on top of that, you are wasting a lot of money.
Cut your own veggies – Those packages of cut veggies are great if you are in a rush, but it is so much less expensive to cut your own. Don’t get me wrong – I love a quick easy bagged salad once in a while, but those tiny little containers of chopped onions? You could buy a whole bag of onions for the same price.
Save Your Sanity
Ecclesiastes 7:30 JB “God made man simple; man’s complex problems are of his own devising.”
Bulk Cooking: Some people are overwhelmed by the thought of bulk cooking, but to me, it is the simplest way to cook. We will be talking more about bulk cooking in the freezer cooking chapter.
Having a Pantry: Yes, having a pantry does save you time, money and your sanity. There is nothing that makes me crazier than having all the ingredients for a recipe except for that one, essential item. Having a pantry means I am more likely to have what I need on hand – or at least some way to substitute for it.
Create Your Own Cookbook: Having all your recipes in a centralized place keeps you from hunting down that recipe for Chicken Cacciatore you downloaded off your friend’s blog last week. I keep all the recipes I use on a regular basis in a binder with clear sheet protectors. The recipes are organized by types of recipes, (marinades, casseroles, BBQs, etc.) for easy retrieval and planning.
Grocery Unpack: One of the biggest ways to keep my head above water in the kitchen is to put away my groceries “well”. My usual temptation is to just to shove everything into place as soon as I walk through the door.
However, if I take the time to prep the food that I can before it goes into the fridge, I am going to have a whole lot less hassle when it comes to prepping dinner later on.
This has become even more critical now that our family is part of a farmer’s co-op. Every Thursday I drive to my pick-up spot and tote back a bushel full of veggies and fruits for us to eat over the next week. If I don’t prep those veggies right away, I will probably have that same giant bag of greens staring me in the face the next Thursday as well.
Here are some of the things I do to prep the food from the store and the farmer’s co-op as soon as I get home:
Pull out my salad spinner and start washing up all those greens.
Wash all fruits and veggies that can be washed (have to leave those strawberries alone until they are ready to be eaten, and then wash.)
Put all fresh clean fruits and fresh veggies in Debbie Meyer’s Green Bags (bags that make you produce last longer.)
Shred cheese in the food processor.
Divide up meat to be frozen. Bag and marinade.
If you have food on hand and have no idea what to do with it use Supercook. It is a new recipe search engine that finds recipes you can make with only the ingredients you have at home. The more ingredients you add, the better the results will be.
What do you need to change, start or stop doing so you have more time, money and sanity?