Tuesday, 3 December 2013

prep work

Are you a list maker at this time of year?  I know I am.  I have lists for the menu, lists for gifts, and lists for everything else as well....   If I don't do that, I end up forgetting something. So far it's worked for me.  So I'm giving you a few of my time saving tips for making the Christmas day meal a little easier:

Two weeks before the time:

Christmas meal:

Buy your meat and freeze if you have sufficient space.  I love a roast leg of lamb, but instead of just roasting one, I roast two, one for the freezer.  Any unexpected guests over Christmas I just pull out the cooked lamb on the bone.  I like to give myself a bit of spare time during the holidays instead of slaving in the kitchen.

Prepare your roast potatoes, what??? Yes!  A friend of mine has been doing this for several years now, it's fool proof and it makes the best roasties you'll taste!  I tried it last year, ever the skeptic but everyone commented on how delicious they were!  So here's how to do it:

Par boil your roast potatoes for about 5-6 minutes.  Drain and give them a bit of a shake so that they are slightly fluffy in appearance and then leave to cool completely.  Make a mixture of flour, salt and black pepper and maybe a hint of cayenne pepper or aromat, tip the cooled potatoes into the mix and shake around a bit, not too much, you don't want to break them up...just so they are all nicely coated.  Take a sheet of greaseproof and line a shelf in your freezer.  Place the potatoes on the shelf  slightly apart, and leave to harden.  Once frozen take them out and place in freezer bag. On Christmas day, take them out and roast them as usual!  I promise you they'll be the best you've ever tasted!

Prep your veggies the day before and keep in tupperware in the fridge.  By prepping I mean, peel and cut, dice or chop what you need in advance.  The dreaded sprout takes ages to prep if you buy fresh on the stalk.  By prepping and blanching them a few days before and then freezing them, you give yourself more time with the family instead of in the kitchen.  Preparing a Christmas meal from scratch on the day takes hours, so this way I get to spend more time with the family.

Last year I made Margarita cheesecakes in martini glasses and it was a huge hit with everyone as my daughters don't like any kind of fruit in desserts!  I prepared them on Christmas Eve and put them in the fridge  ready to serve on Christmas day.  The sparklers added the final touch!

photo mine

I make batches of Christmas shortbread and chocolate brownies and freeze them until they're needed.  It helps to have a few sweet things in the freezer.  Jamie Oliver's Christmas mince pies with the phyllo pastry are a winner.  I froze them in the muffin tins so that they wouldn't break (the phyllo is fragile!) As soon as they are frozen you can remove them from the tin and carefully place them in a freezer container.  Once defrosted, heat up in the oven slightly and dust with icing....and they look so pretty!

photo mine


Table ware:

Make sure your dinner ware is to ready to go and you've got all the pieces you need in one place. The same goes for cutlery and glassware.  It really does help when you're slightly organised.

Get out the table cloths and napkins to make sure they are freshly laundered and ironed and ready for the big day.

Wash all your hurricane lamps and glass tealight holders and clean off any hardened wax by soaking them in hot soapy water.

I also stock up on hundreds of tealight candles and pillar candles.  They add ambiance and atmosphere like nothing else does.  

The night before Christmas:

When it's all quiet and everyone is doing their own thing, I go down and lay my table.  This way I can take my time, decorate and get creative.  I know when I turn out the light, my table is fully prepped and just waiting for me to light those candles the next day and more importantly, I can just relax!
photo mine

Hope this has helped make your preparations a little easier!
Sharon
xxx




6 comments:

  1. I am already making lists ! There are some great ideas here. I will be trying the frozen roast potatoes, we usually prepare the vegetables the day before. Is the shortbread and brownies put in the freezer cooked or uncooked?
    Sarah x

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    1. Hi Sarah, oh I am glad you're trying the potatoes they are really good and turn out so well! I bake the brownies cool them and then freeze them. I wrap the baked shortbread in paper towel so that the towel absorbs any moisture also cooling down completely before freezing either in a tupperware or a freezer bag. x

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  2. If my December month would be a busy as yours, I would need to make a list as well Sharon! Wishing you lots of un on the preparations!

    Madelief x

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    1. Thanks Madelief, it's not at busy as last year, but somehow I am still doing last minute preparations! xx

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  3. Sharon, thank you for this, I was thinking today that I ought to figure out what I can do ahead while my husband is at work on Monday and Tuesday, so that on Christmas Eve and Day I could totally devote myself to family time. Well, I won't be totally devoted, but you have given me something to work with here. I don't see my grands or their parents very often, although they don't live far from us, but they and we are busy. So I want this to be a really special time for all of us.
    Thank you and Merry Christmas!!!

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    1. I'm glad I've given you a few time saving tips Cindy, every little helps! xx

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