ARTICLES BY NORENE GILLETZ  

Season's Eatings
by Norene Gilletz

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The holidays are coming - and so are your guests! So much work, so little time! Holiday preparations can be overwhelming. Here are some suggestions to simplify preparations and help you get organized.

Make your guest list - the people you want, and the people you have to invite! Plan your menu carefully if you have invited guests with special dietary needs (i.e. diabetics, vegetarians, people on restrictive diets). I always include some of my family's favorite dishes, plus a few new ones.

Next, delegate! Let your family share in the preparation (and cleanup)! Children can design place cards and set the table. They can also be involved in meal preparation - helping you plan, shop, cook and bake. In addition to teaching them cooking skills, you'll spend quality time together and create wonderful memories.

Do you have enough seating? Check your tablecloths, napkins, cutlery, china, glassware, wine decanters, serving pieces and platters. Borrow, buy or rent what's missing.

Are all your appliances working? Is there enough room in your refrigerator, freezer and oven? My friends once bought such a big turkey that they had to cook it in an industrial oven in their friend's restaurant!

Check your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Organize your shopping list according to how foods are located in the supermarket. Take advantage of bagged salad greens, bottled salad dressings, prepared dips, cut-up veggies from the salad bar.

Timely Tip!

Happy New Year! For your New Year's celebration, enjoy Nick Malgieri's scrumptious Easy Flourless Chocolate Cake, from his prize-winning cookbook 'Chocolate'. As a special touch to mark the New Year, why not decorate the top of the cake (or any round cake) like the face of a clock! Melt 1 square of semisweet chocolate over low heat. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a writing tip. Decorate the cake by marking the numbers 12, three, six and nine on the top.

Prepare and freeze as much as possible in advance. Last-minute dishes can be prepared up to two days in advance. Be sure to check out Turkey Talk for my tips on preparing the perfect holiday turkey.

Consider color when planning your menu. Make foods as colorful as possible. They'll look appealing and will contain extra vitamins and minerals if you add diced vegetables such as red and green peppers, celery, grated carrots, plus minced herbs such as parsley, basil and thyme.

Check out my recipes for lots of great ideas for delicious holiday delights. Some of my favorites are:

Best Vegetable Dip 

Tangy Sweet & Sour Meatballs

Super Coleslaw

Potato Salad

No-Fry Latkes

Sugar Cookies (cut into holiday shapes)

Cran-berry Apple Crisp

Molten Chocolate Cakes

In addition, here are two new holiday quickies that will have your guests believe that you've been slaving for hours. Happy holidays. Enjoy in good health!

CHEATER BEAN SALAD

Drain several cans of beans (red or white kidney beans, chickpeas). Drain and rinse well to remove the excess sodium.

Add your favorite bottled low-fat salad dressing and some herbs (basil oregano, thyme), some chopped sun-dried tomatoes or roasted red peppers, plus a handful of minced parsley.

Voila - quick and healthy Bean Salad.

CHEATER CHICKEN

Buy several prepared barbecued chickens at your supermarket - each chicken will serve 4 hungry guests.

Cut each chicken into serving pieces and arrange in a large casserole that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.

Combine 1/2 jar of bottled barbecue sauce and 1/2 jar of garlic sparerib sauce (or combine 2 or 3 varieties of your favorite bottled sauces). You will need about 1/2 cup sauce for each chicken. Mix well and pour over chicken pieces.

Bake uncovered at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes, basting occasionally. Yummy!!


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All images and recipes Norene Gilletz 2013 unless otherwise noted.

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