Get some more time to relax with these make-ahead holiday foods

·5 min read
Andie Bulman says making some holiday party snacks ahead of time can make the season a bit less crowded. (Paul Daly/CBC - image credit)
Andie Bulman says making some holiday party snacks ahead of time can make the season a bit less crowded. (Paul Daly/CBC - image credit)

A few years ago, I wrote about Stir-up Sunday, an old holiday tradition celebrated in certain rural towns in Newfoundland and Labrador which seems to have originated in England and Wales.

The final Sunday before Advent (usually the last of November) was set aside for home cooks, who would "stir up" their Christmas cakes and puddings.

Back then, I advocated bringing back Stir-up Sunday because making something from scratch is grounding and comforting, and gives us time to reflect. Today, I'm advocating you set aside a day to prepare some dishes in advance so you can enjoy the holidays more.

This time of year is wild, so making something in advance can save you.

The holidays are already fraught enough without last-minute baking or scrambling to get the right ingredients.

Here are some of my favourite recipes that you can freeze and finish cooking later.

Submitted by Rodrigo Iniguez and Andie Bulman
Submitted by Rodrigo Iniguez and Andie Bulman

Flourless cocoa hazelnut cookies

I usually get invited to at least one cookie swap, and without fail, I spend a panicky hour or two trying to push out a batch of cookies at the last minute. Make a few batches of these in November or early December, freeze them, and bake them just before you go.

3 cups powdered sugar
⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
3 large egg whites,
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup toasted hazelnuts

Start by toasting your hazelnuts. I do this in the frying pan over low, medium heat for about seven minutes. Once cooled, I give the nuts a quick chop. Next, sift together your powdered sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl.
In a separate bowl or your mixer, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add vanilla. Now, stir the egg white mixture into the sugar mixture. The batter is going to be thick and wet. Finally, mix in your chocolate chips and toasted hazelnuts. I'll roll these into evenly shaped balls, each ball usually 2 tablespoons of batter, and place them in a parchment-lined container. Then, when I get invited to my cookie swap, I'll bake them from frozen. They only need 10 minutes in an oven at 350 F.

Pro Tip:
I love to top these with Maldon sea salt or some Newfoundland juniper smoked salt for a fun twist.

Submitted by Rodrigo Iniguez and Andie Bulman
Submitted by Rodrigo Iniguez and Andie Bulman

Parmesan rosemary cracker/cookies

These cheesy, peppery cracker cookies are a great do-ahead recipe for small holiday potlucks or any event where you're pretty positive there will be a cheeseboard. The same idea as the cookie recipe above: make the dough on a lazy weekend, freeze it, slice, and use as needed.

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
⅓ cup of butter, at room temperature
¼ cup cream, if needed
*Maldon salt and more rosemary leaves for sprinkling

Combine flour, salt, black pepper, Parmesan cheese, rosemary, and cubed butter in a blender. Stop when this mixture has the texture of sand. Now add in your cream. This is your dough! I tend to roll this into a log shape, cover, and freeze it.
When it's time to head to a party, I pull it out, let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, slice the log into small rounds, top with flaky sea salt and rosemary, and bake at 375 F for 10 minutes. These are perfect for a cheese board or dipped into garlicky hummus.

Pro Tip:
This recipe is amazing with dill instead of rosemary, and you can replace the Parmesan with any hard cheese.

Submitted by Rodrigo Iniguez and Andie Bulman
Submitted by Rodrigo Iniguez and Andie Bulman

Mashed potato casserole with chives and bacon

Christmas dinner is always an interesting game of Tetris and timing. There are so many things that can't be made in advance, and there's no spare stovetop real estate. Mashed potatoes are one thing that can be made the night before and simply heated up on the big day, saving you time.

3 pounds potatoes (about 9 medium), peeled and cubed
6 bacon strips, chopped
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup 2% milk
1-1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 small head of roasted garlic.
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (splurging on some good smoked cheese will make a difference)
3 tbsp of fresh chives

Place your potatoes in a big pot, cover with water and season liberally. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce your heat to medium, and cook until you can easily pierce your potatoes with a fork. This should take about 20 minutes.
Next, you need to crisp your bacon over medium heat, drain off the grease, let cool, and crumble.
Drain your potatoes, return to the pot, and add your cream cheese, sour cream, and butter. Stir in your milk, roasted garlic, salt, and pepper. Mash it all together. Now transfer everything to a baking dish, sprinkle with the cheese, chives, and bacon. Refrigerate for a day or two. Once you're ready, preheat the oven to 350 F, and bake for about 40 minutes, or until heated through. If your dish starts to brown too much, cover with tinfoil.

Pro Tip:
Christmas Day timing is tricky, so I tend to take out the turkey and while its delicious juices are settling and resting, I bake off my potatoes. By the time the turkey is ready to be carved, your potatoes are done!

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