Monday, January 9, 2012

4 ways to get a head start

I’m all about things you can make or do ahead of time, especially in the kitchen. Because, while I love to cook, I also really love to save time. You know, time I could spend catching up on the DVR or perusing Pinterest.
Tonight, I not only saved time in the kitchen but also had fewer dishes to wash, thanks to a trick I learned from The Pioneer Woman. I share it and 3 other time savers below.
Mashed potatoes
Did you know you can cook and mash potatoes up to 3 days in advance? I didn’t either, until I saw The Pioneer Woman herself do it. Here’s what you do: Prepare the potatoes as normal. Butter an 8x8 pan. (I used disposable because that’s how I roll. I dream of someday owning a fully-disposable kitchen.) Spread the potatoes into the pan and add a few thin slices of unsalted butter to the top. Cover in foil and refrigerate. About an hour before cooking, set the potatoes out. Preheat oven to 350 and then cook, covered, for about 30 minutes.
Twice-baked potatoes
I also learned this one from The Pioneer Woman. After baking and assembling your potatoes, put them on a baking sheet and pop them in the fridge up to 3 days. (If you’re going to cook them in an hour or 2, don’t bother covering them. If it’ll be a day or longer, go ahead and cover them in foil or plastic wrap. Remove and cook at 350 for about 15-20 minutes or until thoroughly warmed.
Salads and veggies
I almost always make my salads ahead of time — just don’t add any dressing or croutons until time to serve. Need veggies cut up for a stir fry, kabobs or queso? Cut them up and put them in Ziploc bags until you’re ready for them.
Lasagna
Want a main dish you can make a couple of days ahead of time (or longer if you freeze it)? Lasagna is perfect. If we have a crowd coming over, I always make it earlier in the day or the night before so I can get the clean up out of the way. Just add a few minutes to the cooking time and you’re all set.
What are some of your favorite items you can make or prep ahead of time?

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