The MyRecipes.com editors have their own holiday cooking issues to face! Get a little insight into the holiday celebrations of one of our staff members with this collection of her favorite "holiday how-tos."
Editor's Favorite How-To'sWhen I got married, cooking a meal seemed overwhelming on its own—and you could forget the holidays. I'd spent years studying books and writing papers, but never learned how to light a grill, fry anything (ask my husband about my first okra-frying DISASTER), or put together a balanced, healthy meal. Thankfully, many mistakes and learning moments later, I'm able to manage the basics, and holiday cooking no longer intimidates me. Here are my favorite "how-tos" from our MyRecipes.com experts. Hope they can make your holidays run a little smoother too!
Holiday How-To #1: Making GravyDid you know that gravy is actually pretty simple to prepare? It's true. My husband taught me how, and usually we make it along with fried venison, collard greens, and rice for a truly down-home meal. It's a great skill to have in your back pocket for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and once you've got the hang of it, you can alter the recipe however you like for thin gravy, thick gravy, saltier gravy, etc. These days, I think I could eat gravy by itself with just a spoon...but I don't. Much.
Holiday How-To #2: Cookie Icings and GlazesWith a preschool daughter that's just now really getting into Christmas, cookie decorating is a blast! Storebought icings and glazes are fine, but making your own is another great way to get kids involved in the kitchen. Any child can stir with the best of 'em! (Just be prepared to clean up a few splatters afterwards.)
Holiday How-To #3: Carving a TurkeyEveryone really should know how to carve a turkey properly, since after spending all that time buying, thawing (if needed), and cooking your bird, you definitely want to make sure you've gotten as much meat as possible off the bone. Learn an easy, no-fail way to carve your turkey on the big day.
Holiday How-To #4: Southern Corn Bread DressingI cut my Thanksgiving teeth on traditional corn bread dressing, but I love that this recipe calls for biscuit dough too. Using both biscuit dough and cooked cornbread gives this dressing fantastic texture and will have your guests asking for the recipe!
Holiday How-To #5: How to Make a Pie CrustI'll admit it. There's really no substitute for a homemade pie crust! We don't make pies much, but when we do, I love to make my own crust. Advice from my kitchen to yours: Go ahead and buy the $10 pastry blender. Have you ever really tried to cut that butter into the flour with just TWO KNIVES? It ain't pretty.
Holiday How-To #6: Basic Cranberry SauceIn the past we've always bought the canned, jellied sauce, but I may try my hand at a homemade whole-berry sauce this year. I love how easy this recipe is, and it can even be made up to two days ahead of time and stored in the fridge.
Holiday How-To #6: Decorating Gingerbread HousesIt was a happy day when we discovered that our MyRecipes.com intern, Charlene Dy, had quite the knack for all things holiday baking. She was so good, in fact, that we asked her to star in a couple of how-to videos about making and decorating graham cracker gingerbread houses! I'm hoping to use some of her tips this year to decorate one with our daughter.
Holiday How-To #7: Streuseled Sweet Potato CasseroleThis is another dish that I never knew how to make, but love serving for Thanksgiving now. It's easier than I ever could have imagined, and I love that you can change up the toppings to suit what your guests prefer. Don't like the streusel in this recipe? Try substituting marshmallows instead.