A million things can go wrong when prepping for a big meal or get-together. And with the added pressure of making everything perfect for the holidays, sometimes party prep can become a recipe for disaster. Elena Besser is joining TODAY to share her plan to help avoid kitchen conundrums and whip up easy and festive recipes: flavor-infused sugar cookies, a vegetarian sweet potato Wellington and a sparkling pomegranate and prosecco cocktail.
Follow the CHEER method
C: Clean as you go!
I like to run the dishwasher before guests arrive and unload the dishes once they are done to create a clean slate. Having an empty dishwasher makes it so much easier to clean up at the end of the night.
H: Highlight a section of the fridge and pantry exclusively to holiday food.
Keeping ingredients and prepared foods that are for the holidays separate helps avoid confusion and your family will know what food is off-limits (so nobody grabs the wrong thing for a midnight snack).
E: Educate yourself on what you already have in the fridge and pantry.
Knowing what you already have on hand ensures you don't buy more ingredients than you need. This is a space, time and money saver!
E: Execute a timeline to execute the meal successfully.
Incorporate a prep day into your timeline to figure out which dishes can be made in advance and reheated day-of, which dishes will take the most time, and which aspects of dishes can be done in tandem. When I worked at restaurants, in order to get my station ready for service, I would make a timeline of all the prep I needed to do. Allot a section of time to potatoes or apps, and stick to the timeframe so you can stay on task and successfully execute holiday hosting.
R: Read all recipes in advance of cooking them.
When you're well versed in what you need to do, you can make a plan of attack to successfully execute the meal with no hiccups along the way.
Cookies are synonymous with the holidays, and this recipe is rich and buttery with the added flavor and flair of infused sugar. The sugars are infused with fresh herbs, citrus zest and spices to add even more dimension to a classic holiday sweet.
This recipe is a fabulous vegetarian alternative to a fancy holiday entrée: the beef Wellington. Sweet potatoes are used instead of beef and Swiss chard is used instead of prosciutto for a recipe that can still give the wow-factor a traditional meat-focused entrée would. All your meat-eating family members will want to get in on this Wellington, too. Serve it on its own or with a little creme fraîche for even more elegance.
This drink looks and feels super festive for the holidays with very little effort. Start with a bottle of bubbles (preferably a dry prosecco or Champagne), add cranberry juice and pomegranate juice, give it a stir and top with a sprig of rosemary and fresh cranberries. It's both beautiful to look at and delicious to drink.