The holidays are a great time to get together with family, but the prospect of preparing meal after meal for all those gathered can seem daunting—especially if you have to take care of parents or relatives.
There are ways, however, to get around this—mainly by using leftover portions to create future meals, pre-cooking meals and even incorporating vegetarian substitutes that require less time to cook than meat.
The first nut to crack is cooking a baste-free turkey (who has the time to keep opening the oven?) that's still mom-approved. This is as easy to use as it is to read. The key is to make sure your turkey is already thawed or was never frozen – that's a big time saver. Another key: Make sure you don't buy too big a turkey, since every additional pound means another 15 minutes in the oven.
Then make those leftovers work for you! Chili is one great and easy leftover turkey idea that's also a crowd pleaser. This turkey chili recipe shows you how to prepare the dish, or alternatively, you can even just shred the leftover turkey and combine it with your favorite canned chili.
You will probably want some potatoes to go along with whatever style of turkey you're making, and you can make these great scalloped potatoes while waiting for your turkey to cook. Tip: You can assemble this dish up to six hours before cooking to make the most of the time when relatives are taking a nap or watching television.
Stuffing is a must at Thanksgiving and this vegetarian stuffing is a quick, buttery alternative to traditional stuffing that can be dicey to make if you're putting it in the turkey. In under an hour you can use this recipe to create a stuffing that will feed six people and incorporate tasty ingredients like apples, cayenne pepper, and sage. Feel free to cut down on the butter called for in the recipe if you're looking to make the dish less caloric.
This year, Hannukah starts on the evening of Dec. 6, right between Thanksgiving and Christmas. You can make quick and healthy latkes simply by using an oven instead of a deep fryer. The great thing about this recipe is that the oven does all the work for you: once you grate the potatoes and mix them with the egg whites and other ingredients all you have to do is scoop the completed mixture onto a baking sheet. The total preparation and cooking time for this recipe is 40 minutes, not bad for an entire meal that can feed lots of people. Don't forget the applesauce!
This honey glazed ham is perfect for Christmas and takes just 1.5 hours to make, including preparation. Another great thing about this recipe is that it calls for ingredients you likely already have in your house: honey, butter and cloves. The most difficult part is that you will have to baste the ham every 10-15 minutes while it is cooking, but given the cooking time that won't be more than four or five times. And you can cook the glaze while waiting for the ham to cook, which is a great time saver.
No Christmas celebration would be complete without a simple eggnog recipe. Here, the only time to track is the hour or so for cooling because it has to solidify before serving. You can add bourbon or cream before putting the completed mixture into the refrigerator to cool.
Having trouble keeping track of your recipes? Start a board on Pinterest, and save some of the mouthwatering images, to help you get excited for mealtime.
And whether you're hosting one person or 10, be sure to do the one thing that takes no time at all: enjoy the company of those around you!