25 Holiday Cooking Tips We Learned From Our Grandmothers
These traditional tricks and smart shortcuts have stood the test of time.
Holiday Cooking Tips That’ll Save You Time, Money and Effort
Spruce up stuffing
For moist and colourful stuffing, Lisa Nyquist of Cokato, Minnesota, says you should add one diced unpeeled apple to your favourite dressing recipe.
Read on for more holiday cooking tips that’ll make this season the most festive—and delicious—yet!
Serve an easy appetizer
“Use cranberry sauce to fill the holes in baked apples for a tasty appetizer,” says Dorothy Petersen of Columbus, Nebraska.
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Steam your squash
“Steaming is a great way to cook winter squash—it preserves both the nutrients and the pretty colour,” says Brenda Thompson of Chicora, Pennsylvania.
Splash vanilla into cranberry sauce
“For extra rich cranberry sauce, add a teaspoon of vanilla extract after cooking,” says Ruth Fenner of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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Cook apples for pie
To keep apple pie crust from getting too brown, give the apples a head start so they wont have to bake as long to get tender. Shirley Miller of Browns Valley, Minnesota, says, “Put sliced apples in a pie plate (not metal) the same size as the pie you’re making. Cook in the microwave for eight to 10 minutes. Place partially cooked apples in your prepared crust along with the other filling ingredients. Put the top crust on and bake.”
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Make clean-up a breeze
Holiday cooking inevitably leaves behind a lot of stubborn baked-on messes—but being proactive can save you some elbow grease later on. Wanda Leaders of Neola, Iowa, says, “A sticky ring won’t form around the pot if you add a spoonful of vegetable shortening to the water when boiling sweet potatoes.”
Scoop out squash
To remove cooked squash from its shell, use an ice cream scoop. “No mess, no fuss,” says Sharon Hallack of Hart, Michigan.
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Cut even pie slices
“To cut a pie into five pieces, slice a ‘Y’ into the pie and then divide the two large pieces in half,” says Mildred Sherrer of Bay City, Texas.
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Freeze your cranberries
Carol Schultze of Fairmont, Minnesota, says, “Fresh cranberries are easier to grind in a food processor or grinder if you freeze them first. Allow ground berries to drain well before using.”
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Save time chopping
To make stuffing prep easier, Susan Buch of Baldwin, Illinois, says, “Cook the giblets until done, cool and chop with celery and onion in a food processor.”
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Up your stuffing game
“A one-pound loaf of bread will make up about eight cups of loosely packed crumbs for stuffing,” says Edna Hoffman of Hebron, Indiana.
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Make better mashed potatoes
For lighter, creamier mashed potatoes, Barbara Gracy of Spring City, Tennessee, adds a teaspoon of baking powder before mashing.
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Add raspberries to cranberry sauce
Doris LaVerne of Newport, Rhode Island, says, “After the cranberries have popped, I add fresh or frozen raspberries (without syrup). This homemade cranberry sauce is delicious with turkey.”
Master your lattice
Making a lattice pie crust? Shirley Roberts of Brea, California, says, “Use a pizza cutter to trim the crust into strips.”
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Keep bread warm
To keep rolls warm longer, Hannah Sagehorn of Long Beach, California, says, “Place a sheet of aluminum foil under a cloth napkin in the bread basket.”
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Serve sweeter corn
Joan Dirkman of Ahmeek, Michigan, recommends that you “give frozen or canned corn a fresh summertime flavour. Substitute milk for the cooking water and add a teaspoon of sugar. Cook on top of the stove as usual.”
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Perk up pumpkin pie
Try this tasty twist on pumpkin pie. Mrs. Edwin Hill of Santa Barbara, California, says, “Put a layer of marshmallows in the bottom of the pumpkin pie, then add the filling. It will make a nice topping as the marshmallows come to the top as it bakes.”
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Send leftovers to go
One of the best parts of holiday cooking? Enjoying the leftovers! “I send Holiday guests home with meals of leftovers in disposable tins. They can pop them right into the oven from the fridge, and no one has to return containers,” says Kathleen Phelps of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Do double oven duty
Here’s a no-fuss way to cook winter squash. Carol Battle of Heathsville, Virginia, says, “Wash the outside, and without cutting, pop into a hot oven. Set the temperature for whatever you’re cooking for the rest of the meal. Cook until squash is fork tender. When you remove the squash, cut it open and scoop out the seeds. It’s never watery and retains all the nutritional value.”
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Skip soggy bottoms
Susan Elliot of Bancroft, Ontario, says, “To keep custard and pumpkin pie crusts from becoming soggy, pre-bake the crust for 5 minutes. Then add the filling.”
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Heat the milk for mashed potatoes
When mashing potatoes, use hot milk. “If you have been using cold milk, you’ll be surprised at the difference in the lightness of the potatoes,” says Sarah Dickinson of Sagle, Idaho.
Skim off fat
Linda Hoadley of Paradise, California, shares a neat trick for removing excess fat from soup or gravy. “Skim the surface with ice wrapped in a cheesecloth. The fat congeals and clings right to the cloth,” she says.
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Peel a pumpkin
Edna Sutherland of Clintonville, Wisconsin, says, “To easily remove pumpkin peels, cut a hole and remove seeds and pulp. Set the pumpkin in a pan of water and bake at 300°F for about an hour. The rind will peel right off. It works for me!”
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Rolling pin trick
Here’s a helpful baking trick. Mrs. Dean Jones of Reading, Kansas, says, “I just roll the pie crust up onto the rolling pin, put it over the pan, and unroll it again.”
Now that you’ve got these holiday cooking tips under your belt, check out 10 Christmas turkey dinner recipes from Canada’s top chefs.