(StatePoint) One of the best parts about holiday entertaining is spending quality time with friends and family. If you’re rushing around trying to cook and prepare everything, your food may taste great, but you’re missing out on a key element of the season -- togetherness.
But the quality of your food doesn’t need to suffer for great conversation, say cooking experts.
“With a little advanced planning you can have it all at your holiday gathering -- both a delicious, hearty meal, and quality time with your friends and family,” says Christy Jordan, author of the new cookbook “Come Home to Supper,” a collection of budget-conscious, kid-friendly recipes designed for busy families
Jordan is offering this handy checklist for a more fulfilling holiday entertaining season:
Two to Three Days Ahead
Shop for groceries and make dessert.
“If I know I am going to have company, I like to make my dessert a few days ahead of time so when it’s time for dessert, I know all I have to do is cut and serve!” says Jordan.
Jordan points out that refrigerator cakes are wonderful for holiday entertaining, because they can be made in advance and actually get better as the days go by. They also taste great cold.
One to Two Days Ahead
Assemble the main course.
Many entrées can be made ahead of time, such as chilly weather soups and stews. Casseroles also do very well if assembled ahead of time and then placed covered in the fridge to be baked just before supper.
You may also consider doubling your recipe and freezing half for later use. Since the season is a busy time of year, having extra meals on hand can save you a mid-week headache.
The Big Day
Set the table, make the bread, pop the entree on the stove or in the oven. Enjoy!
“I like to have as many things done as possible before company arrives so I have more time to enjoy my guests,” says Jordan.
Making most of the meal beforehand can save you valuable minutes just before supper to bake fresh bread -- a true treat and easy to make.
More useful cooking and entertaining tips can be found at www.SouthernPlate.com.
Don’t be stressed by your entertaining schedule. Plan to be relaxed and ready when your company arrives.