(BPT) - Shared meals and get-togethers are among the holidays’ best moments, but they can also be the most stressful. In fact, 90 percent of Americans feel stress during the holidays, a Healthline survey found – and holiday cooking was cited as one of the stress-drivers.
“Cooking family recipes and feasting with your loved ones is what makes the holiday season so special,” says Chef Jason Vincent of Giant restaurant in Chicago. “And there are some simple steps that are meant to relieve meal-prep stress and improve the taste of dishes so families can make the most of their meals in the kitchen and focus on celebrating traditions around the dinner table.”
If you ever wondered how chefs effortlessly whip up a big meal, wonder no more. Chef Vincent offers six tried and true tips for acing holiday meal prep along with a delicious recipe for your leftover turkey:
* Always brine your turkey. Heating the turkey during the cooking process can force the moisture out of the meat. Brining is easy to do and helps the bird retain moisture during cooking, adding flavor too.
* Arm yourself with the right tools. Look for double-oven ranges with “ProBake Convection” technology, which help ensure precise, even heat (thanks to the heating element placed in the rear of the oven rather than below the racks). Double ovens allow you to prepare two dishes at the same time at different temperatures. “Any oven can cook food, but appliances with advanced technologies can really make your life in the kitchen easier,” Vincent says.
* Dress vegetables with olive oil and lemon to balance the richness of the rest of the meal.
* Add a splash of apple cider vinegar in the gravy right before serving to really open up the flavors.
* Get an extra pair of hands! Designate kids as chief assistants, and let them measure, pour and do other age-appropriate prep tasks. “Kids make really good potato mashing helpers,” Vincent shares. Things may get messy, but new fingerprint- and smudge-resistant finishes on LG’s new black stainless steel kitchen appliances make clean up easy.
* Make the most of leftovers. “Leftovers are a great part of holiday meals,” Vincent says, referring to a new survey commissioned by LG. “Eight in 10 Americans agree leftovers help them stay on budget, and just over three quarters say leftovers help them manage busy schedules. Fifty-seven percent eat leftovers because they don’t have time to make dinner every night.”
Try Chef Jason Vincent’s family-friendly recipe for your holiday leftovers this year:
Roasted Turkey and Zucchini quesadillas (Serves four for $8)
1 pack white corn tortillas
2 turkey thighs
1 large zucchini
2 ounces queso fresco
2 ounces queso chihuahua
1 large, juicy tomato
whole milk sour cream
Season leftover turkey slices with salt and pepper.
Slice the zucchini thin, and mix with the turkey. Mix the two cheeses together with a sprinkle of garlic salt and onion powder.
Press the two mixtures between two tortillas and cook in a dry pan on both sides until the cheese is melted.
Serve with a slice of tomato, black beans, corn and sour cream.