We are all guilty of biting off more than we can chew during the holidays. We think we can handle planning the perfect meal, eating healthy and not giving into holiday desserts, and entertaining out of town guests, but more often than not, we end up overwhelmed, stressed out and fatigued. Cooking expert, Aida Mollenkamp knows how stressful the holidays can get and she joined me for an interview yesterday to share three quick and easy delicious meals that you can whip up this holiday season, and she also offered a few tips to help make the holidays as stress-free as possible!
Candace Rose: What are your must haves to whip up a quick and delicious dish for a holiday party?
Aida Mollenkamp: “Candace, I think the thing about the holidays is they can get so stressful so easily, and so I just do a few things to alleviate that. I’m working with the National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association this holiday season and we’ve got a couple absolute prime tips.
Number one is plan that menu as far ahead of time as you can, and then number two is try to make it as low stress as possible. The way I do that is two things – I use frozen foods that are already prepped for me, there are so many vegetables and fruits that are already picked at their absolute prime with great flavor to them, even stuff you can’t get in season right now, say corn, you can cook with. You have a lot of great options there.
I turn to a lot of the grocery staples that you probably already have in your refrigerator and try to incorporate those in recipes. If I don’t use all of the cream cheese in the recipe, I can also use it for tomorrow’s bagel. I have three recipes for you for this holiday season!
The first one is this appetizer right here (please see video above for details), these are pesto prosciutto parmesan pinwheels, and what I’ve used to make them is a store bought pizza crust. You can also use store bought pie crust, though. You keep those in the refrigerator and then anytime you want to cook, you’re ready to go. What I do is just lay out the dough and then paint on the pesto, or you can even use a hummus or any of your favorite kind of flavors and then layer down the cheese. If you like the prosciutto, put that on. The reason I love this is you can roll them up into a little cylinder, cut them up and freeze them like that and then bake them, so you can be there when your guests arrive instead of being stressed about if the appetizer is ready.
I don’t know about you, but for me, the main thing we always forget about during the holidays is having a good square breakfast, so I’m resolving that this year with this recipe right here (please see video above for details), it’s a cheesy breakfast potato taco and it’s really simple to make. I love it because it’s so customizable. The real simple version is to just take scrambled eggs and add in some hot sauce or salsa, and then I like to use the pre-diced potatoes from the refrigerated section because they’re cutting down on work for you. If you want to make it more of a meal you can amp up the flavor by adding in frozen vegetables or some shredded cheese or my absolute requirement for all tacos, sour cream – that way you’re making sure you’re getting one really good meal and then you can dive in on the cookies and everything.
Speaking of sweets, I have this signature dessert I’m making this year which is an orange cream cheese bar. They’re simply things you already have on hand – marmalade, orange juice, cream cheese and then a store bought pie crust. You assemble it, you can make it well ahead of time so it’s perfect for a potluck or what have you. It’s really great because if you have that leftover cream cheese, one of the things I like to do as the months get colder, whisk some of that cream cheese into my favorite tomato sauce and then I have an instant creamy tomato sauce that is absolutely fabulous.
The thing that you want to remember during holiday meal planning is to not bite off more than you can chew. If you are really good at the main or the appetizer, don’t hesitate to use a store bought frozen dessert. In fact, one and four Americans do exactly that and pass it off as their own. You can take a frozen dessert and maybe add some personal flourishes that really feels like it’s your personal contribution, and some things that I like to do that are very simple are to take frozen fruit, puree that down and use it as a sauce, or take your favorite whipped topping and add some pumpkin spice. These are just really simple things that make it a little bit more special and homespun, even though it is actually store bought.
If you do the right purchasing in the store, then it’s going to be that much easier for you when you get home. If you want more tips or tricks or any of these recipes, you can visit EasyHomeMeals.com.”