Cooking for your few for the holidays-- make it special, but manageable.

Cooking for your few for the holidays-- make it special, but manageable.

From planning to clean-up, here are a few tips for cooking holiday meals! 

Anne Burrell’s braised short rib recipe and Melissa D’Arabian’s slow cooker polenta. I love serving family style on a big platter!

Plan the wine ahead of time

Visit your local wine shop, and ask if they can recommend just the thing for your main course.

Choose something that reheats well

I love stews and soups that just improve as they sit for a day or two. This short rib braise is something perfect for a special meal that I looked forward to eating for several days afterwards. 

Maple, bourbon, bacon brussel sprouts. Inspired by Hugos’s Frog Bar in Naperville!

Air Fryer? Toaster oven?

Making sides in the air fryer makes fast and easy work of veggies. For the brussels sprouts, I tossed halved sprouts in oil, salt and pepper. Into the preheated air fryer (or toaster oven or convection oven) for 15 min at 380 degrees. (Check on them—all air fryers vary.) Once they are golden brown and delicious, toss them with a splash of maple syrup, splash of bourbon, and some chopped bacon. I put them back into the fryer for another minute to take the edge off the bourbon.

Wolfgang Puck’s Roasted Root Veggies

Size it right

The roasted root veggies are something I don’t enjoy the next day, so I am careful to prep only what we will eat in one sitting. I have been making variations of Wolfgang Puck’s roasted root veggies for almost a decade. Using onions, whole cloves of garlic and a sprig of herbs are my must-have ingredients. Everything else is negotiable. You can even roast radishes. And they’re GOOD. 

Treat yourself

I knew that no one else at the table would go near the polenta. That’s FINE. Melissa D’Arabian has the best polenta recipe, and I made it. It’s such a small batch, I was delighted not to share any of it. 

Dress up the table

Choose a few things to make the dinner table special. Candles or textiles… I’m a big fan of pottery, personally. (Shocking, right?)

Clean Up

Air fryer basket to the dishwasher. All of the small handmade bowls? Dishwasher. Insert to slow cooker? Yep. Dishwasher. That leaves the dutch oven, large serving platter, and small cookie sheet from the veggies to wash by hand. Not bad, since there aren’t a dozen relatives on hand to pitch in.

Toast the meal with a cocktail

A refreshing cocktail with a little whiskey to warm you up— grapefruit, lime, sage, and rye whiskey! We love Whiskey Acre’s Rye. Local from DeKalb, IL!


Bon Appetit’s Brown Derby Sage cocktail


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