Saturday, 17 December 2011

KISSing in the Christmas Kitchen: A Bonus Day!

NOTE: Christmas is a busy season: it's full of special events, visits with friends and family, and lots of entertaining. It's also a lot of work. It's easy to let things get out of hand, which is why I have a few strategies for KISSing (Keep it Simple, Silly) in the kitchen at Christmas time. This week I shared 5 of my quick-and-easy kitchen ideas for the holidays. I had so much fun with it, that I thought I'd put together one more post with some more ideas.

Some of these ideas involve pre-prepared foods. I'm all for taking a few shortcuts at Christmas time so that you can concentrate your time and effort on the things that you really love. For instance, in my family there's no point slaving away over gingerbread from scratch because I'm pretty much the only one that eats it and even then it's not my favourite. It makes sense for me to partner with Mr. Pillsbury.  On the other hand, I'll spend hours making our favourite almond lemon heart cookies from scratch. For me, it's about trying to balance the workload during a busy time of year, and having fun in the kitchen.

Pillsbury Ginger snap cookies
Buy a tube of Pillsbury's gingerbread cookie dough.  Instead of the time-consuming rolling out and using cookie cutters, just separate the dough into chunks and roll each piece into a ball. Roll the ball in white sugar, then place onto a cookie sheet, and press it lightly with the heel of your hand to flatten it slightly.  Bake according to directions on the package (may take slightly longer than the rolled cookies, as they're a little thicker). This is something quick and fun to do with the kids, or to whip together at the last moment when you're having company over.

Lynn's Peppermint Bark
Click here and scroll to the bottom of the post for the recipe from Lynn at Diary of a Turtlehead.
I tried this yesterday with Maya, and it was fun to make and delicious to eat.  If you want to save time (or don't have little hands to help you), you can buy crushed candy canes at Bulk Barn.

Bruschetta Chicken Bake
 I love this recipe from Kraft. It's easy to make, tastes good, the kids will eat it, and it reheats really well. Perfect for a night when you want a simple meal together, or for a day when the family members are busy and eating at different times.  Feel free to play around with the recipe.  We like it with a bit of extra cheese, and I add some oregano as well as basil to give it a bit more flavour.

Easy Potluck contribution:  Slow cooker meatballs
The holidays often mean potlucks, and it can be a lot of work to bring a main course.  This one is easy peasy.  You'll need a box of frozen, pre-cooked meatballs (I like the PC Blue Menu Italian meat balls, but M&M also makes some nice ones) and one or two jars of Diana Sauce depending on how many meatballs you're going to cook. I like the Original Diana Sauce but there's a honey maple one that works well too.   Dump the frozen meatballs into the slow cooker.  Pour the sauce on top, until the meat balls are coated.  Turn the slow cooker on and you're all set!  Since they're pre-cooked, they just need to get hot, so it doesn't actually take that long. About an hour on high is probably enough, or longer on a lower setting.  If you're in a rush, you can defrost the meatballs in the microwave (directions should be on the package, it should be about 5 minutes) and then just put them in the slow cooker on low or "keep warm".

Do you have any great, simple ideas of your own?  Please share!  I'd love to add some new things to my repertoire.

1 comment:

  1. I've really been enjoying your KISS series - awesome ideas and SO easy! We did the peppermint bark this year and I simplified it - I just took 1 cup chips (white for the girls, dark for my son who is milk-allergic) and melted it in the microwave with 1T oil (takes about 1 1/2 minutes on power level 5, stir halfway through). Then we took about 20 smashed candy canes and mixed it in - no fancy separating of the chunks, just stirred it all in there - then each kid got an 8x8 pan lined with parchment paper to spread it around in. 15 minutes in the freezer and all done! The kids liked this method as they did most of the work themselves and the results were just as delicious (if not quite as pretty).