We are now full on into the holiday season, which means shopping, parties, shortbread, and, let’s face it, feeling a bit like you’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off. This is not a feeling exclusive to Christmas time, but it’s certainly amplified by this point in December. Unexpected guests, forgetting presents, hopping from event to event (I had three last Thursday!).
How to survive the most wonderful time of the year – and, really, anything that comes your way? Three key things to remember:
Deep breath before you have people over; deep breath when you drop something or the souffle doesn’t come out right or that annoying person just won’t shut up; deep breath after. Oxygen is your friend. So is wine.
- Make lists. All smartphones have a notes app. Use it. It is your friend.
- If you see something earlier in the year that would make a good present for whoever is on your list, buy it.
- Tagging on to the above, have a clear storage bin that you can place the things you buy throughout the year. Label the item with a post-it or wrap and tag it right away. (This saved me loads of time this year.)
- Online shopping is amazing. Get it all done in one go. There’s still time on most sites to get everything before Christmas!
- Have twelvety parties to go to? Buy a case (or two) of decent host/hostess gift wine and load up on the pretty wine bags from the Dollar Store. This also makes a good emergency gift for the accidentally forgotten or a Secret Santa gift exchange. If you buy by the case, there is usually a discount involved.
- Hosting Parties/Dinners
- Make as much of your dishes in advance as you can. Prep your appies/canapes, make cookies or your dough the night before.
- Jamie Oliver has a great Christmas dinner step-by-step with night before and day of tips.
- Keep it simple. Tying in with making ahead, below is a great no-bake chocolate cheesecake recipe.
- If you can, know the allergies and dietary restrictions of your guests. This is helpful for the grocery shopping trip(s).
- Bulk buy. Hello, Costco. (Which, really, could be your one-stop shop for party food and gifts.)
The art of improvisation and the ability to get creative in a crisis (or “crisis”) is, in my opinion, a bit underrated. Being resourceful is the key survival skill in any situation. Experience, breathing and prep help with this, but the most important thing is to not freak out when things go awry.
I was recently house and dog sitting (check out the handsome #YaletownCharlie on my Instagram) and was getting ready to make dessert for a little dinner party with another couple. The Brit was making Sheperd’s Pie (yum!) and my job was cheesecake. Easy, right?
The thing about housesitting is that no matter how nice the kitchen, you don’t have your things. While I checked if there was was a springform pan – nein (baked cheesecake no longer an option), I hadn’t checked for a pie plate that the no-bake recipe called for. Also, a big nein. At this point, we had already been to the grocery store; and I was not leaving the house again as it was monsooning with rain outside. And so, the no-bake cheesecake went into a greased stainless steel frying pan. I was ridiculously proud of myself and it looked kinda neat.
So, adding to the Chocolate Decadence posts, here is an easy-peasy no-bake chocolate cheesecake (as adapted from some of my favourite chocolate related recipes):
City Girl No-Bake Chocolate Cheesecake
*NOTE: Save time with a prepared 9-inch (6 oz.) chocolate crumb crust
- Mix crumbs and melted butter; press onto bottom and up the side of a 9-inch pie plate. (OR a stainless steel frying pan 😉 )
- Melt the chocolate in the microwave with the whipping cream for two minutes, taking out to stir halfway through. Use a fork to smooth out when done.
- Beat the cream cheese, brown sugar, milk and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl on high speed for 2 minutes.
- Add melted chocolate; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
- Add the mix in into crust. Refrigerate for 1 1/2 hours or until firm. Can be refrigerated overnight.
- Optional: Top with whipped cream, if desired.
Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway.
~ Mary Kay Ash