|Photo by The Pioneer Woman|
Preparation for holiday baking starts with what you have on hand in your pantry. The well-stocked holiday baking pantry has these basics:
- all-purpose flour
- white sugar
- brown sugar
- confectionery sugar
- chocolate chips
- walnuts or pecans or both
- baking soda
- baking powder
- baking chocolate
- vanilla and almond extracts
- shortening/vegetable oil
- sour cream
- cream cheese
- heavy cream
Now you'll need to add the additional ingredients for specific recipes.
I. Pantry Prep
Most of us make the same recipes year after year. We have an idea of what ingredients are needed, but usually don't take the time to make a shopping list. For me, the distance to the grocery store is a big factor, so I've learned that a little advance planning saves time, gas, and irritation. Here's my action plan:
A. Pull out the recipes you'll be making in the next two or three weeks.
B. Make a list of those ingredients not on the pantry shelves. It might be coconut, sweetened condensed milk, dates, sprinkles, etc.
C. Make your shopping trip and remember to take your list.
II. Party Prep
There will be spur-of-the-moment invites to gatherings along with parties we attend every year. We have to bring a dish to pass, a dessert, or an appetizer. We look into the refrigerator and find that the shelves don't have what we need for our special dip or casserole. A frantic trip to the deli or bakery on the way to the party gives us that holiday-frazzled-nerves look rather than enjoying-the-party look. Don't feel guilty if you don't have the time to whip up an original creation. It's about getting together with friends and family, not an episode of Chopped.
If you don't want to cook, make your trip to the deli the day before or plan to take time to pick up a veggie or cheese platter on the way. By allowing a little extra time for the stop, you can arrive with a smile. Make sure you've ordered it ahead of time if picking it up on the way to the party. There's nothing like finding out all the cheese trays are gone when you rush into the store. Been there and done that.
If you want to take something homemade, the same plan I use for baking will work. Shop a few days in advance to give yourself enough time. Plan for the impromptu invitation and have a dish in mind to take along. This is NOT the time for a new, complex dish. You're only burying yourself in more stress and probably more trips to the store. Unless you truly love running around like a chicken with its head cut off, stick to the simple plan:
A. Choose your recipes.
B. List the ingredients you don't have.
C. Make your shopping trip and take the list.
D. Make the dish.
E. Enjoy the gathering.
There are lots of great resources for finding new recipes and the old standby's for holiday cooking. Check them out now to get your shopping list together and make your plan.
Here's a handy link list:
For more tips on enjoying the holidays with less stress and more joy, sign up for the SimplyLife e-newsletter at www.laurindawallace.com.