10 Top Tips For Stress-free Christmas Cooking

I love Christmas, and with Christmas comes the memory of the birth of Christ which is celebrated with food. Traditionally we cook a lot of food at Christmas, and it can be quite a stressful experience. I have some tips that can help you to alleviate the stress and have a much more enjoyable time this Christmas. So go ahead and pour yourself a nice drink, put your feet up and have a read through, and get your Christmas food planning in order.

  1. Organise in advance – This should be top of your list and is the most important tip. In the weeks and days leading up to Christmas, make sure you’ve got absolutely everything you need in advance — from the obvious, like roast potatoes and drinks, to checking you’ve got enough oil to cook with and plenty of fresh herbs for seasoning too. I recommend getting all your food and drink shopping done by 20th December. That way you can avoid a last-minute hectic trolley dash around your local supermarket.
  • Create a menu – Plan out all your Christmas cooking by starting with a menu. Go all out and plan breakfast, lunch and dinner for all the days you want to plan for in advance.
  • Start early – Plan out your schedule for shopping, cooking, etc. well in advance. Some people take a couple of days’ annual leave so they can get a head start with the shopping and cooking.
  • Ask for help – Cooking for Christmas can be quite a mammoth task, so ask for help. Perhaps you can divide the menu up and delegate a few dishes to each family member so that one person isn’t left with all the work.
  • Declutter your fridge – Before you do your Christmas shopping, it’s a wise idea to organise your fridge. Make sure you throw out anything that is out of date and check you’ve got rid of most bottle or tubes. This will ensure you have plenty of space in your fridge for all the Christmas food that needs to be refrigerated.
  • Shop early – Some people like to leave everything to the last minute. However, that can cause a lot of unnecessary stress (and purchases), so get all your ingredients at least a week or two before Christmas. You can order online and have it delivered or divide the shopping list and get the non-perishables the month before and the perishables a week before.
  • Set the table in advance – Setting the table in advance can save time and stress or, if that isn’t possible, put all the decorations and items in one place so it’s easy to access when you are ready to set the table.
  • Have enough equipment – Make sure you’ve got enough oven trays, oven dishes, pots and serving dishes. Some extra roll of foil and some baking paper will be super handy for helping to keep things warm before you serve dinner. Also, make sure to check that all your knives are nice and sharp, as this will make cooking faster and easier. My sister always has disposable plastic containers and bottles, so that excess food and drink can be divided up and taken home by guests.
  • Wash and go – Lots of people use every pot, pan, spoon and spatula in the kitchen when they are making a special celebratory dinner! Instead of leaving all the washing up until the end, you can wash up in stages. You can wash up after each course: after the starter and after the main course. Some family members hate to cook, but are happy to be on washing up duty, so see if one or two people would like to do that. If you have a dishwasher then even better — just keep loading and unloading as you go along.
  1. Prep your oven – Your oven will be used more at this time of year, so make sure it is ready and raring to go by giving it a deep clean and also checking it is in good working order. This will ensure that none of your food is under- or overcooked. 

For more info, check out my website – http://kirlysueskitchen.co.uk

Vegan Christmas Dinner | Vegan Jamaican 

Recipe video on YouTube 

Vegan Christmas Dinner I Vegan Jamaican I Plant-based Christmas Dinner

Vegan Meatballs
Ingredients

  • 1 can cannellini beans
  • ½ cup plain flour
  • ½ small onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • 1 teaspoon mixed herbs
  • ½ tablespoon Caribbean All-Purpose Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon low salt soy sauce

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180C/160C (fan)/350F/Gas Mark 4
  • Drain and wash the cannellini beans and then drain again
  • Mash the cannellini beans
  • Finely chop the onion, garlic and ginger
  • Add flour, chopped onion, garlic and ginger, soy sauce and Caribbean All-Purpose seasoning to the mashed beans 
  • Mix together until combined
  • Shape tablespoons of the mixture into balls and gently fry for 5-10 mins
  • Transfer to a baking tray and bake for 20 mins or until golden brown

Gravy

  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/4 red pepper
  • 1/4 green pepper
  • 1/4 yellow pepper
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 teaspoon mixed herbs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon Caribbean All-Purpose seasoning

Method

  • Finely chop thyme, onion, spring onion, red pepper, green pepper, yellow pepper, tomatoes, garlic
  • Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • Lightly fry all the chopped veg for 3-4 mins
  • Add 1 cup water
  • Add ketchup, sweet chilli sauce, black pepper, mixed herbs and salt
  • Stir well
  • Add 1 tablespoon all-purpose seasoning
  • Cover, reduce to a medium to low heat, and simmer for about 15-20 mins
  • Maple-glazed Brussels sprouts
  • Ingredients
  • 2 cups brussels sprouts
  • 3-5 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 180C/160C (fan)/350F/Gas Mark 4
  • Wash the Brussels sprouts and dry them off
  • Cut them in half and remove any loose outer leaves 
  • Place them right onto a baking sheet

  • Slice cloves of garlic and cut them into large pieces
  • Toss the Brussels sprouts and garlic with coconut oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper
  • Bake for 15 mins and then give a shake to turn the sprouts and garlic
  • Cook for another 15-20 mins (total cook time will depend on how large your Brussels sprouts are)

Maple-glazed carrots

Ingredients

  • 1kg Chantenay or other small carrots
  • 3tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2-4tbsp maple syrup

Method

  • Heat the oven to 190C/170C (fan)/374F/Gas Mark 5.
  • Peel and wash the carrots
  • Place the carrots into a roasting tin and toss with the sunflower oil and some salt and pepper
  • Roast for 30 mins

  • Drizzle the maple syrup over the carrots, toss well and return to the oven for a further 20 mins

Roast potatoes
Ingredients

  • 1kg Maris Piper potatoes
  • 100g coconut oil or 100ml olive oil
  • 2tsp flour
  • sea salt, to serve

Method

  • Put a roasting tin in the oven (one big enough to take the potatoes in a single layer) and heat oven to 200C/180C (fan)/392F/Gas Mark 6
  • Peel and chop 1kg potatoes
  • Drop the potatoes into a large pan and pour in enough water to barely cover them
  • Add salt, then wait for the water to boil. As soon as the water reaches a full rolling boil, lower the heat, put your timer on and simmer
  • Meanwhile, put 100g coconut oil or 100ml olive oil into the hot roasting tin and heat it in the oven for a few mins, so it’s really hot
  • Drain the potatoes in a colander then shake the colander back and forth a few times to fluff up the outsides
  • Sprinkle with 2tsp flour and give another shake or two, so they are evenly and thinly coated

  • Carefully put the potatoes into the hot fat – they will sizzle as they go in – then turn and roll them around so they are coated all over
  • Spread them in a single layer, making sure they have plenty of room
  • Roast the potatoes for 15 mins, then take them out of the oven and turn them over
  • Roast for another 15 mins and turn them over again. Put them back in the oven for another 10-20 mins, or however long it takes to get them really golden and crisp. The colouring will be uneven, which is what you want
  • Sprinkle with sea salt and serve straight away

Kirly-Sue (aka Susanne Kirlew) is an award-winning published author, vegan social media influencer and TV presenter. Kirly-Sue was named as one of the Top 100 in the Lift Effects Star Awards. She has a total of 40,000+ followers across her social media. Visit http://kirlysueskitchen.co.uk for more information.

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