It's a wonderful feeling to be cool, calm and collected when opening the door to guests for a dinner party or to family for a big celebration.
Wonderful - yes. Hard to achieve - also yes!
Doing last minute food prep, running the vacuum, tidying up, getting the kids fed, taking the dog out, and trying to get a shower and dry your hair are just a few of the zillion things that can sometimes turn the anticipation of a fun evening into a stress mess.
A great solution to that stress is to arm yourself with terrific make-ahead menus and recipes. It's an investment in your sanity.
Here are a few, both brand new ones and old goodies, that you might just enjoy!
This first one is my personal favorite. It is vintage Southern Living. While not currently in print, there are lots of used copies for sale for very little money. My copy is so dog-eared and filled with sticky notes that I'd be ashamed for you to see it. Not only does it have individual recipes, like my family's all-time favorite of piquant miniature meatloaves, but it has whole menus. If you could pop in for dinner, I'd take from the "Supper After the Theater" menu and make the Royal Seafood Casserole of shrimp and vermicelli in a sherry cream sauce. So good!
The Make-Ahead Cook
Published a few months ago by Cook's Illustrated, this cookbook could become your go-to guide for cooking ahead. The meals aren't just for entertaining but also for those busy nights when you don't have much time for cooking. The book offers eight strategies for cooking ahead, not just freezing the dish, so that you can put dinner on the table in a timely manner. Meals include tasty items such as Grilled Teriyaki Steak Tips and Quinoa, Black Bean and Mango Salad with Lime Vinaigrette.
Make It Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
Famous chef and TV personality Ina Garten answers her number one question from fans of "Can I make it ahead," with this book. A brand new book, it contains clear instructions for what portions of recipes and dishes can be made ahead and the steps involved. Delve into French Chicken Pot Pie or Lemon Poppy Seed Cake.
Not Your Mother's Make-Ahead & Freeze Cookbook
While cooking a bigger batch and freezing is not new, this cookbook updates the idea with modern recipes for diverse tastes including vegetarian main courses. Some of the recipes probably not seen in your mother's old cookbooks include green chicken chili taquitos, mahi-mahi with almond lime butter and tahini vegetable patties. Of course, you'll also find familiar items like pulled pork sandwiches and spicy Dijon chicken.
Here are a few websites you might also like that offer make-ahead sections.
Wether you make your meal ahead or bring in take-out, the main focus here is to plan your celebration and invite friends and family to dinner. Today is the perfect day to begin dinner party planning. Spring and Summer celebration opportunities abound, so pull out your cookbooks and plan ahead.
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