I spent a lot of time in the kitchen during December! And you probably did the same. With the anticipation of 24 family members here for our Family Christmas on Dec. 23rd, I needed to prepare a lot of food. And I also needed to prepare it ahead of time.
It's important for me to do as much as I can ahead of time, because I want to be present when our whole family is home. In contrast to being in the kitchen the whole time they are here!
Pictured are some of the food items that I prepared ahead of time ...
(Clockwise from the top left photo)
Cranberry-Caramel Chex Mix
Orange-Cranberry Nut Tarts
The Cinnamon Rolls, Jam-Topped Mini-Cheesecakes, Chocolate Chip-Cranberry Scones, Dilly Rolls, Orange-Cranberry Nut Tarts, and Date Pinwheels were made ahead and frozen. The Cranberry-Caramel Chex Mix and Chocolate Peanut Clusters were made ahead and stored in airtight containers.
I also prepared main dishes ahead of time: Creamy Meatballs were made ahead of time, before our Christmas, frozen, thawed, and then heated up in the slow cooker before serving. The Baked Ham with Orange Glaze dish was prepared a day ahead, and also heated up in the slow cooker on our Christmas Day. And the Make-Ahead Mashed Potato dish was prepared two days ahead, kept in the refrigerator, and then baked in the oven on our Family Christmas Day.
And to make all the magic of our Christmas feast come together on our Family Christmas Day ... our four daughters, and other family members, helped! They are amazing! They helped me get everything together and on the table, and our daughters also each brought a side or salad dish to add to our feast. It was a beautiful time together, filled with memories ... In the Kitchen, and all through the house. Also, a beautiful time all through the day, and into the evening with our traditional snack spread (while we played games together until late in the evening). Food is such a big part of a family holiday; and planning ahead is important so that we can be present, focusing on each person!
Especially when cooking for a big group, do you like to keep records of what you did ... what worked, and what didn't work? I've been doing this for years. It's not only a record of what was served, but also notes on how much of each item was made. It is very helpful to refer back to when the holidays come around again. (Above you can see some screen shots of parts of the two pages that I typed up for my records.)
And now ... it is time to move on into a brand New Year of In the Kitchen. I have goodies in the freezer to last awhile, and I'm ready to switch to the warmth of winter menus: soups, breads, and slow cooker meals. Each season has it's highlights, and I'll look forward to sharing some of the things that will be happening In the Kitchen during 2018.