Unlocking the Magic of a Stress-Free Christmas Dinner

As the holiday season approaches, many people begin to feel overwhelmed and stressed with the thought of hosting a Christmas dinner. The idea of preparing a large meal for family and friends can be daunting, but fear not! 

With a bit of planning and some helpful tips, you can create a stress-free Christmas dinner that is sure to impress your guests.

Preparing Ahead of Time

 

One of the most important things you can do to ensure a stress-free Christmas dinner is to prepare ahead of time. 

The key is to start planning early, even if it’s just writing down some ideas for dishes you’d like to make. Menu planning is crucial for the success of your dinner. 

Think about how many people you will be serving and what their dietary restrictions or preferences may be. To save time and reduce stress, make sure to choose quick recipes that won’t require hours in the kitchen. 

Look for easy recipes that still provide delicious meals, such as roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, and homemade cranberry sauce. To add festive ideas to your meal plan, consider incorporating some new dishes into your traditional menu or adding festive decorations to your table. 

Another great stress-busting tip is to opt for make-ahead dishes that can be prepared a day or two before your dinner. This way, you don’t have to worry about last-minute changes or unexpected guests. 

Make-ahead dishes like casseroles or salads are perfect because they can simply be reheated on the day of the dinner. Once you have your menu planned out and any make-ahead dishes ready to go, create a planning timeline leading up to the big day. 

This should include tasks such as grocery shopping, preparing ingredients and cooking different items in advance so that everything comes together seamlessly on Christmas Day. By preparing ahead of time and following these simple tips for menu planning and time-saving techniques, you’ll be sure to create a relaxed atmosphere where everyone can enjoy a stress-free Christmas dinner together! 

Simplifying the Menu

 

When planning your next meal, why not stick to your family’s and guests’ favorite dishes? By using tried and true recipes, you’ll avoid unnecessary stress and guarantee that everyone will love what’s on the table.

 

And don’t be afraid to incorporate store-bought options into your menu. A can of green beans seasoned with your favorite season and herbs will go a long way. Whether it’s pre-made appetizers, ready-to-eat desserts, or even pre-packaged dinner rolls, finding the right balance between homemade and convenience can make your life a lot easier. So go ahead and take advantage of what’s available to you – your guests will thank you for it!

 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options out there, consider narrowing down your choices based on theme or cuisine. For example, you could focus on traditional Christmas fare like ham or turkey with classic sides like mashed potatoes and green beans. 

 

Alternatively, you could choose a specific cuisine like Italian or Mexican and center your menu around those flavors. 

 

Don’t be afraid to make last-minute changes if something isn’t working out as planned. Whether it’s swapping out a recipe that’s too complicated for something simpler or adjusting portion sizes based on how many guests are coming, being flexible with your plan will help keep things relaxed and stress-free. 

 

By simplifying your menu with these tips and strategies, you’ll be well on your way to hosting a stress-free Christmas dinner that everyone will love!

Time-Saving Cooking Techniques

 

To reduce the stress of preparing a Christmas dinner, incorporating time-saving cooking techniques can be a game-changer. Here are some strategies to help you save time in the kitchen:

 
Utilize Slow Cookers or Instant Pots

Slow cookers and Instant Pots are fantastic tools for hands-off cooking. You can prepare dishes like roasts, stews, or even side dishes in advance and let them cook slowly while you focus on other tasks. These appliances are excellent for tenderizing meats and infusing flavors, all while requiring minimal effort.

 

Opt for One-Pot or Sheet Pan Meals

One-pot or sheet pan meals are a fantastic way to streamline your cooking process and minimize cleanup. By combining ingredients and cooking them together, you can save time on both preparation and washing dishes. Consider dishes like roasted chicken with vegetables or a flavorful pasta dish that can be cooked in a single pot or on a single sheet pan.

 

Prepare Make-Ahead Casseroles or Freezer-Friendly Dishes

Make-ahead casseroles and freezer-friendly dishes can be a lifesaver during the busy holiday season. You can assemble casseroles, such as lasagna or baked pasta, a day or two in advance and refrigerate them until it’s time to bake. Additionally, dishes like meatballs, stuffed mushrooms, or appetizers can be prepared in advance and frozen. Simply thaw and cook them when needed.

 

Use Pre-Cut Vegetables or Pre-Marinated Meats

Take advantage of pre-cut vegetables and pre-marinated meats available at grocery stores. This can significantly cut down your prep time, allowing you to focus on other essential tasks. Pre-cut vegetables can be used in salads, stir-fries, or roasted dishes, while pre-marinated meats can be quickly cooked, saving you time on seasoning and marinating.

 

By implementing these time-saving cooking techniques, you can streamline your Christmas dinner preparation, reduce stress, and have more time to enjoy the festivities with your loved ones. Remember, efficiency in the kitchen doesn’t mean compromising on taste or qualityrather, it’s about finding smart ways to simplify the cooking process.

Setting the Perfect Table

 

The way you set your table can influence how your guests perceive the meal. A well-set table can make a good impression and create a relaxed atmosphere. 

Begin by considering your guest count, then choose an appropriate table size and shape. Next, select table linens that are easy to care for and match the theme of your dinner party. 

Festive patterns or colors can be a great addition to any holiday meal. A common mistake people make is overcrowding their table with too many accessories, such as centerpieces, floral arrangements, candles, or name tags. 

When it comes to tabletop decor, less is more. Space out the items on your table so that they don’t feel cluttered and overwhelming. 

Make sure that each guest has enough elbow room by leaving space between them. The placement of dinnerware is another important aspect of setting a perfect holiday table. 

Each place should include a charger or placemat, dinner plate, salad plate if applicable, silverware (forks on the left side and knives on the right), glassware (water glass to the right of the plate), and napkins (either folded under utensils or possibly placed in glasses). If you’re planning a formal dinner party with multiple courses, you may need to add additional plates or forks. 

Consider incorporating festive decorations into your tablescape without going overboard – perhaps small touches like pinecones or sprigs of holly tucked into napkin rings could work well. Remember that no matter how lovely your settings may look – ultimately, it’s about creating an enjoyable experience for everyone involved! 

Managing Guests and Dietary Restrictions

It’s not uncommon for guests to have dietary restrictions, especially during the holiday season. 

While it can be stressful to accommodate everyone’s needs, it’s important to make sure that all of your guests feel included and welcome at your Christmas dinner. One way to manage dietary restrictions is to ask your guests ahead of time if they have any allergies or food preferences. 

This will give you time to plan your menu accordingly. If you’re not sure what to serve, there are plenty of resources online with quick and easy recipes that cater to various dietary needs. 

Another great way to make sure everyone feels included is by offering a variety of dishes that everyone can enjoy. For example, if one guest is vegan, consider serving a vegetable lasagna or a hearty lentil stew alongside the traditional turkey or ham. 

If you’re worried about last-minute changes or unexpected dietary restrictions cropping up, try keeping some simple ingredients on hand so you can quickly whip up something delicious on the fly. Things like rice noodles, canned beans, and frozen veggies can be cooked in no time flat and added to soups, stews, or salads for an easy vegetarian or vegan option. 

Don’t forget about presentation! Even simple dishes can look festive with the right garnishes and decorations. 

Consider adding some colorful vegetables like roasted carrots or Brussels sprouts as a side dish, or create a beautiful fruit platter for dessert. Whatever you decide to serve at your Christmas dinner party this year, remember that managing guest’s dietary restrictions doesn’t have to be overwhelming – just focus on creating a relaxed atmosphere where everyone feels welcome! 

Stress-Busting Tips

Planning and hosting a Christmas dinner can be overwhelming, but with the right strategies, you can keep stress at bay and enjoy a more relaxed holiday celebration. Here are some stress-busting tips to help you through the process:

 

Take Breaks and Prioritize Self-Care

Amidst the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations, it’s crucial to take breaks and prioritize self-care. Allow yourself moments of relaxation, whether it’s enjoying a cup of tea, going for a walk, or taking a few deep breaths. Taking care of your own well-being will help you stay calm and focused.

 

Engage Guests in Activities or Games

Get your guests involved and create a joyful and interactive atmosphere. Plan fun activities or games that everyone can participate in. This not only lightens the mood but also takes some pressure off you as the host. Consider activities like Christmas trivia, charades, or even a DIY ornament-making station.

 

Prepare a Festive Playlist for Background Music

Create a playlist of your favorite holiday tunes to set a festive ambiance. Music has a way of reducing stress and uplifting spirits. Choose a mix of cheerful, relaxing, and nostalgic songs to create the perfect backdrop for your Christmas dinner.

 

Have a Backup Plan in Case of Unforeseen Circumstances

Despite meticulous planning, things may not always go as expected. It’s essential to have a backup plan in case of unforeseen circumstances, such as a burnt dish or unexpected changes in guest count. Stay adaptable and be prepared to make adjustments on the fly. Remember, the most important part of Christmas dinner is spending quality time with loved ones, so don’t let unexpected hiccups ruin the overall experience.

 

By implementing these stress-busting tips, you can create a more relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere during your Christmas dinner. Remember, the holiday season is meant to be cherished and celebrated, so embrace the joy and laughter that comes with gathering around the table with loved ones.

Cleaning and Organization

 

After a delicious Christmas dinner, it’s time to face the aftermath. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed after hosting a big holiday meal, but with some simple cleaning and organization tips, you can make this task much more manageable. First and foremost, start by clearing the table and packing away leftovers. 

Rather than leaving everything scattered around the kitchen counters overnight, try packing food into containers and storing them in the fridge. This will prevent any spoilage or contamination and make it easier to clean up in the morning. 

Next up is tackling the dishes. If you don’t have a dishwasher, this can be an extremely daunting task. 

But don’t fret  there are some painless ways to make washing up less of a chore. Get your family members or friends involved by assigning everyone their own role  someone can wash dishes while another dries them off and puts them away. 

You could even put on some of your favourite music or a festive movie to create a relaxed atmosphere as you work. Once all the dishes are done, focus on wiping down surfaces and cleaning up any spills. 

It’s important to do this as soon as possible so that nothing has time to stick or dry out  trust me! Use disinfectant wipes for quick clean-ups on counters and stovetops; they’re easy-to-use and effective in killing germs. 

Think about organization when putting away your dishes and utensils back into their respective drawers/cabinets since it will save you time later when you’re setting up for next Christmas dinner party. To prevent clutter from building up over time try decluttering your kitchen regularly throughout the year. 

Cleaning up after hosting Christmas dinner doesn’t have to be stressful if you approach it thoughtfully with organization in mind. With these tips on hand (and help from family members or friends), tidying up your home after hosting will be easier than ever before! 

Conclusion 

After all, the most important aspect of Christmas is spending time with loved ones. 

By following these tips and tricks, you can reduce your stress levels and enjoy your family’s company without worrying about the meal. Utilizing make-ahead dishes and simplifying the menu can save you a lot of time and effort on the day of your Christmas dinner. 

Planning ahead with a timeline can ensure that everything runs smoothly, even if there are last-minute changes or unexpected guests. Quick and easy recipes can also make cooking more manageable without sacrificing taste or presentation. 

Remember to create a relaxed atmosphere with festive decorations and music to set the mood for an enjoyable evening with family and friends. If you have guests with dietary restrictions, be sure to communicate with them beforehand to accommodate their needs. 

Above all, don’t forget to enjoy yourself! The holidays are meant to be fun and festive, so take some time for yourself too. 

With these stress-busting tips in mind, you’re well on your way to having a delicious Christmas dinner without feeling overwhelmed or frazzled. Happy holidays! 

The Best Lemon Butter Cod Recipe

Best Lemon Cod Recipe

Best Lemon Cod Recipe

I’ve never cooked with Cod before so why now? I shopped via Kroger online and opted for the substitute option just in case something I wanted wasn’t available. I purchased tilapia and somehow ended up with Cod. I wasn’t sure on what to do with the cod and the only thing I could think of was sandwiches. I wasn’t any in a sandwich type mood, so I snooped around the internet and come across some ideas. I looked in my fridge to see what I had and came up with the idea to make pan seared Lemon Butter Cod over Jasmin rice.

The recipe takes about 30 mins from preparation to plating, so this is a great recipe to make if you’re short on time a looking for a quick fix for the family.

About Cod

Cod is mild in flavor, flaky fish that it packed with protein and vitamin B.  High in protein but low in calories, fat, and carb makes Cod a healthy option. If you are expecting, Cod is also a good option because it’s low in mercury. However, it is in lower in omega-3s than other fatty fish like salmon.

Atlantic Cod vs. Pacific Cod

Generally, when you hear people speaking about Cod they are referring to the Atlantic cod, found throughout the northern Atlantic Ocean. Lighter in color and said to be sweeter than its counterpart. Then you have the Pacific Cod which is smaller and has a milder flavor than Atlantic cod and found in abundance in Alaska.

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What Cod pairs Good With

If you want to pair you Cod with some sides here are a few options

  • Rice
  • Mash potatoes
  • Vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, or French green beans
  • Baked potatoes

 

How To Prepare Cod

Cod can be prepared various ways. So there isn’t really a best way to cook it. It can be baked, fried, broiled, grilled, smoked, and seared. But be mindful that if overcooked, it may cause the Cod to dry out and become tough, which no one wants. Depending on how the Cod is cooked, cooking time may vary but when the flesh turns opaque and flakes easily upon being scraped gently with a fork, you can consider it done.

I have to admit that pan frying the Cod in the lemon butter sauce was oh sooo delicious. A recipe that I plan to make again and especially when entertaining guest. It’s simple, elegant, tasteful and did I mention delicious?

I am a fan of garlic and that’s generally the first season I put on my food. And the rich butter flavor mixed with the zesty and flavorful lemon sets its off. Not to mention the floral, tangy, and saltiness that capers bring. If you’re not a fan of capers then the dish is still great without them but I think the capers just add another dynamic flavor profile to this dish.

 

Why Combine Butter and Olive Oil

When cooking with butter and olive oil you want to make sure not to use to much olive oil because it will overpower the butter taste. Using olive oil and butter has its advantages.  One benefit is that you cut down on the amount of fat intake from the butter. Secondly, olive oil has a higher smoking point then butter does. Butter will burn faster than the olive oil and the olive oil will begin to smoke later than the butter.  So ultimately what does this mean for you? When you want to create a butter sauce that’s not too thick –this is when you want to use the mix.

Lemon Butter Cod Ingredients

  • Cod- 1-inch thick fillets (roughly 4 to 5 pieces)
  • Flour- enough to coat your fish
  • Seasonings (Salt, Pepper, Garlic, Onion powder, and whatever else you may like).
  • Fresh garlic
  • Fresh Lemon or Lemon Juice. Fresh lemon is preferred, but avoid the seeds.
  • Capers
  • Butter (unsalted preferably)
  • Olive Oil

 

How to Make Lemon Butter Cod

Prep Time: 15 mins.  Cook Time: 15 mins

  1. Mix flour and seasonings: In a mixing bowl mix together your flour and seasoning. You want to make sure that the seasoning is well mixed well with the flour.
  2. Decrease the water in Cod:  Cod has a high-water content so I recommend to lay out your cod and use a paper towel to soak up the access water. Doing so will help keep the Cod together when cooking and doesn’t cause the oil/fat to splash on you.
  3. Put the Cod in flour mixture: Put the Cod in the flour mixture and cover both sides. Make sure to get a nice coating, in order to get the golden flaky look.
  4. Heat oil and butter in skillet: Melt 2 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp of butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  5. Cook cod: Add cod to pan and cook on both sides roughly for about 5 mins and sear until golden brown. After cooking, place aside for flavoring.
  6. Melt remaining butter: Reduce temperature to medium-low and add roughly 8 Tbsp butter in same skillet. If the amount of butter is too much for you, you can substitute 4 tbsp of butter with chicken broth.
  7. Sauté the garlic: Add fresh garlic to the butter and sauté until it slightly changes color but you don’t want it burned. So, 15 seconds should do it.
  8. Add lemon juice and capers to butter: You can turn off the stove and add your lemon juice and capers. Be careful because there will be a lot of steam. I generally count to four as I squeeze.
  9. Pour sauce over cod, garnish and serve: Immediately pour sauce over cod fillets so it can soak up all the buttery goodness and ENJOY!

 

This simple cod recipe will surely be a hit at the table. Let me know how it turned out. Please feel free to follow me on Instagram @christandcreativetherapy.

For a wonderful dessert. Check out our sweet potato pie recipe by clicking here.


The Moxx Box (Mocktail) Review

Mocktail Recipe

Mocktail Recipe

For the video version of the review, please click here.

I was scrolling Facebook one day when I saw this young lady making this cute ice cream drink. I stopped scrolling on my feed to watch to see what she was making. OMG, it was the cutest mocktail that I’ve seen. The creativity and energy she was bringing was contagious, so I decided to try out one of her mocktail subscription boxes. I placed my order, and about a little over a week, my box arrived. I loved the box’s contents, and how she gave a personal touch with a thank you note addressed to me. Everything was visually appealing, easy to make, and not to mention the drink was DELICIOUS! If you want to check out the video I created of the unveiling of the Moxx Box, be sure to click here. Other than that, let’s get into this mocktail recipe.

Passion Fruit Colada

The Moxx Box I purchased was the Passion Fruit Colada which was A-MAZING. I didn’t even add all the ingredients before I tried it and was blown away. Here are the ingredients if you want to try it out yourself, but make sure you purchase one. Visit https://www.instagram.com/themoxxbox/ to get the latest drink as it changes every month.
  • Passion fruit juice
  • Passion fruit syrup
  • Pineapple juice
  • Mango syrup
  • Sparkling coconut water or soda
  • Fresh lime juice (you’ll need at least half a lime simple syrup)
  • Ice
Garnish:
  • Dried Hibiscus Flower
  • Lime Wheel

Benefits of Mocktails

The Moxx Box is a great monthly mocktail subscription box to purchase, especially if you enjoy specialty drinks or entertaining. The ingredients are provided, so you don’t have to worry about going to the store to shop. It comes directly to your door. You have the option to purchase the kit for two or four people, which is excellent for small gatherings or if you just want to chill solo and enjoy a good drink while you watch your favorite show. Not everyone drinks. Not to mention the effects that alcohol have on the body, so mocktails are the perfect healthy alternative. If you have a gathering in which alcohol is served, mocktails are a great option to offer guests who do not drink alcohol (for whatever reason) so that they won’t feel left out. If by chance, you are one of those amazing people who have the patience and discipline to count your calories, mocktails have fewer calories, and without the alcohol, you are more than likely not to overindulge and blow through your caloric intake. Mocktails are also budget-friendly as alcohol is generally the most expensive ingredient in a drink. So if you’re on a budget but still want to host in style, mocktails are a great choice. I hope you enjoy the drink as much as I did! Until Next Time, Enjoy Life, Praise God & Take It One Day at a Time!

Ashley’s Nilla Pudding.

OMGosh! I love pie for the holidays, but I love Banana Pudding all year round. Since I am living a healthier lifestyle, I don’t make this often. However, I had to share this recipe with you. With my recipe for banana pudding, I love to have more nilla wafer cookies than I do bananas.

Now, I am a southern gul, so my nana pudding is SWEET, y’all. Cut the sugar in half if you don’t want it as sweet.

Ingredients

Step 1

You want to combine the sugar, flour, and salt in a medium saucepan. Next, add the eggs and make sure you stir well. You want gradually stir in the milk and cook over low heat. You can use two cups of milk if you like or use 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of heavy whipping cream like I did. You don’t want to cook it too fast, and you want to make sure you are stirring consistently. When the mixture begins to thicken, remove it from the stove’s eye and continue to stir, allowing it to cool slightly. Next, you want to stir in the vanilla and butter until it is smooth.
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Step 2

Step two is my favorite steep, layering. You are going to take a serving dish (perhaps an 8 or 9-inch square dish). I put the bananas on the bottom, and then I layered two cookies on top of each banana. Once again, I love cookies. You don’t have to double up as I did. One layer of cookies is fine. After I did my layers, I poured the sauce mix on top and made sure the sauce reached the bottom. You can place the dish in the fridge for an hour to cool. I put my dish in the freezer for about 20 mins to chill and then let it rest in the refrigerator until I was ready to serve it.

Step 3

Enjoy and let me know how your recipe turned out.

Sweet Potatoe Pie

Sweet Potato Pie
Sweet Potato Pie
One of my favorite things I love to eat for the holidays is sweet potato pie. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember if I ever made one. Kinda sad. I know, but I wanted to “adulthood” this year by bringing a dish to a holiday function. I searched the internet to find a recipe that I thought would be good, and of course, I altered it a little. It said it was for 8 people, but the amount for six people yielded two pies. So, I would say that the recipe is enough for 12 people. I guess it depends on how big you make your slices.
I want to share the recipe I made that will surely make you think your grandma made it! As a word of caution. I am from the south, where when you ask for tea, it guan-ron-teed to have sugar in it, and it’s not uncommon to hear the request for an Arnold Palmer. So, if you don’t like it, southern sweet, then I recommend you cut the sugar in half.
Tea of the month made simple

Ingredients

Step 1

So, the first thing I did was peel the sweet potatoes. Some people recommend to boil the sweet potato with the skin on and then remove the skin during the cooling process. I am not a fan of burning my hands, so I went ahead and peeled the potatoes first before boiling them. You will boil them for about 40 to 50 mins, or until done.

Step 2

Turn your oven on to 350. Place the sweet potatoes in a bowl, and break them apart. You want to add your butter and mix well. It’s recommended that you combine them in a mixer. However, since the potatoes were still hot, I was able to use a masher, and it did well for me. After you mix well, then stir in your sugar, milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla. Mix all those ingredients on medium speed until the mixture is smooth. Once again, I used a masher and manually mixed the ingredients. After you have incorporated all the ingredients. Then pour the mixture into the unbaked pie crusts.

Step 3

Place the pie in the oven at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 55 to 60 mins. Since some ovens can vary, the sure way to determine that it’s done is to stick a knife in the center of the pie and ensure it comes out clean.

Step 4

Let it cool off and enjoy with some French Vanilla Ice Cream. Make sure you let me know how it turned out.