Opinions Aside, Time for Baking!

It’s my favorite time of the year… the Holiday Season!

I’m going to be spending a ton of time getting creative in the kitchen and I highly recommend you do too (talking to you too, dads!). There’s nothing more therapeutic for me than to have the oven cooked up to 350 degrees and the smell of fresh cookies, cake pops, and brownies baking.

My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Being the opinionated person I am, I spend a lot of time making sure my baking turns out well because there’s nothing worse than having to eat rock hard cookies or dried out brownies at the holiday party or family get together. I don’t tolerate it from other people so there’s no way I’m going to allow myself to mess up the baked goods.

Truth be told, I’d rather throw out the end product and start over than give people bad baked goods.

This year I’m breaking out of my shell and going to attempt to bake some homemade pies. I didn’t get around to it for Thanksgiving so here are a few recipes I’m looking at trying for my first pie baking attempt.

1) Chocolate Cream Pie

This pie by tideandthyme.com made me want to run out to buy a pie for me to snack on while I attempt to make one from scratch. I’m a sucker for some Chocolate. And some cream. Ok, and Oreos. This one had me from hello!

2) Caramel Apple Pie

caramel apple pie

Photo credit: ericasweettooth.com/

This pie that Erica from Erica’s Sweet Tooth cooked when family members were coming in from out of town for a BBQ looks delicious. It might be more of a fall recipe but I’m thinking about giving it a shot. Apple pie and Christmas go together like spaghetti and meatballs.

3. No Bake Key Lime Pie

As much as I love baking, being able to put a great pie together without having to turn on the oven doesn’t sound too bad either. This key lime pie looks delicious and is sure to make my father-in-law happy since it’s his favorite.

Alright. I’m going to have my hands full with these recipes but it will be nice to have a few choices and have the kids and family try some new things. I may buy some pumpkin pies too since those seem to be pretty easy to whip together, as well.

Well, wish me luck and Merry Christmas (or happy holidays, if you prefer) to you all. We’ll chat next year.

Opinionated Cooking Tips

If your kids don’t run to the dinner table, maybe it’s time to take an honest look at your routine meals and make sure you’re offering variety and some new meals, occasionally. Get some additional dinnertime enthusiasm and more smiles on your family’s faces with some delicious new ideas. Here are some tips to spice things up a bit.

RESOURCE: Cookipedia

Change up your routine

Try to plan for a week’s worth of meals before the week begins and get in the habit of planning your weekly menus. Planning your meals in advance can be a huge time saver and help you avoid the “what am I going to cook for dinner?” debate. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll have dinner on the table rather than arguing about what you’re going to cook. This also helps you and your husband/wife stay on the same page reducing the “what do you have the taste for” debate every night.

Over the weekend – or whenever your free time occurs – think through the upcoming week and loosely plan four or five meals for the week. In addition to  saving time on grocery shopping, it will also reduce the stress of having to come up with meal ideas on a hectic evening, last minute. I try to keep a notepad on the refrigerator to jot down items I’m running low on or completely out of so I can keep my kitchen stocked and not be missing ingredients when I need them. This advance planning will keep you from running out of the ingredients you need on a regular basis.

Special occasions

Spicing things up isn’t a great idea on special occasions. If you’re cooking a meal for some important occasion, stick with a recipe you’re comfortable with and avoid the temptation to try a new dish. You ‘ll be more relaxed and less anxious while cooking. People will be able to taste the difference.

Weekend cooking

On weekends, try to make larger meals that leftovers can be eaten during the week. For instance, left over roasted beef can make great sandwiches during throughout the week. This will save time and money. A win-win situation for any family.

I recommend taking a good, honest look at your routine cooking and see if it could use some changes. If so, using some of the tips above can help reduce stress while still adding some new variety to the mix. It’s worth a shot. Worst case scenario, you have to microwave some chicken nuggets or whip up some pancakes for the kids if they don’t like your new dish. A little variety won’t hurt them but make sure you have a good stash of their favorites in the freezer in case they don’t care for the new recipes you’re testing.

If you took an honest look at your mealtime offerings and decided that they could use some help, start with the fresh ideas in the article above and you will have your family running to the table in no time. These practical tips will get you on your way to success.