The pressure for a merry holiday season begins as soon as the pumpkins begin to sag on the front porch. Ads depict happy and relaxed families spending quality time together in front of the fire, or eating an elaborate meal in a large dining room. But in an age where the majority of families have two working parents, not everyone has the time or the energy to plan and execute an entire Thanksgiving menu on their own. Luckily, there are many options to ease the burden.More and more grocery stores are offering pre-made Thanksgiving meals that can be ordered in advance. Publix and Whole Foods markets are two that have earned an excellent reputation in this department. Boston Market is a national chain that also prepares holiday meals. In the San Francisco Bay area, Wally's Food takes orders online and delivers meals right to your door! And finally, many meal assembly stores, such as Let's Dish and Dream Dinners offer sessions where customers can prepare holiday side dishes to bring home and serve.
Don't forget other shortcuts, such as using pre-made pie crusts and hosting pot luck meals, where the host is responsible for the Turkey and guests bring everything else! Many websites offer menu suggestions, complete with recipes. The Food Network is ready for you to pay them a visit!
Even with the wide variety of time-savers and shortcuts available, it is nice to remember what the holidays stand for - spending quality time together with those you love. Please consider bringing your children into the kitchen with you during this holiday season. Even though they may make a mess or get the dog sticky, they will remember the cooking experience with you. This cranberry sauce is a favorite in our house and with my young cooking students. And don't forget to peek at the "call the kids" section of the recipe - it's a great tool for parents who need a little convincing that their kids can actually do something helpful in the kitchen.
Cranberry Sauce with Dried Cherries
3.5 cups cranberries (1 12 ounce bag)
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup shallots, finely chopped
2 Tbs red-wine vinegar
Zest and juice of one orange
2 Tsp grated ginger, peeled
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1. Combine cranberries, cherries, shallots, vinegar, orange zest and juice, ginger and brown sugar in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until cranberries pop.
2. Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally until cranberries release their juices, about 15 minutes.
3. If the sauce becomes too thick, add water until the desired consistency is reached.
4. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
Yield: 3 cups
Tip: You can substitute dried cranberries or raisins for the dried cherries in this recipe.
CALL THE KIDS:
* Measure cranberries and cherries
* Juice the orange
* Scoop the brown sugar and pack it into the measuring cup tightly.
* Add the ingredients to the sauce pan
Michelle Stern is the owner of What's Cooking, a Certified Green business that offers healthy and seasonal cooking classes and birthday parties to children of all ages in the San Francisco Bay Area. In her online shop you'll find unique sustainable gifts and party favors as well as What's Cooking Weekly, an online menu service offering recipes, grocery lists and tips on making cooking with your kids fun and simple.
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