3 recipes to take the stress out of vacation entertainment

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A million things can go wrong when preparing for a large meal or meeting. And with the added pressure of getting everything perfect for the holidays, party prep can sometimes turn into a recipe for disaster. Elena Besser joins TODAY to share her plan to avoid kitchen puzzles and prepare simple and festive recipes: flavored sugar cookies, a veggie Wellington sweet potato and a sparkling pomegranate prosecco cocktail.

Follow the CHEER method

C: Clean while you go!

I like to run the dishwasher before guests arrive and empty the dishes when they’re done to create a clean slate. An empty dishwasher makes it a lot easier to tidy up at the end of the night.

H: Mark an area of ​​the refrigerator and pantry for holiday food only.

Separating ingredients and prepared foods that are intended for the holidays helps avoid confusion and will let your family know which foods are banned (so no one snaps the wrong thing for a midnight snack).

E: Find out what you already have in the fridge and pantry.

Knowing what you already have on hand will ensure you’re not buying more ingredients than you need. That saves space, time and money!

E: Run a timeline to make the meal successful.

Incorporate a prep day into your timeline to find out which dishes can be cooked in advance and reheated on the day, which dishes take the most time, and which aspects of the dishes can be cooked at the same time. When I was working in restaurants, I made a timeline of all the preparations I needed to make to get my station operational. Assign a section of time to potatoes or apps and stick to the timeframe so you can stay at work and do the vacation hosting successfully.

R: Read all recipes before you cook them.

Once you are comfortable with what to do, you can come up with a plan of attack to get the meal through successfully and without the hiccups.

Courtesy of Elena Besser

Cookies are synonymous with the holidays, and this recipe is rich and buttery with the added flavor and flair of infused sugar. The sugar is enriched with fresh herbs, citrus peel and spices to give a classic Christmas sweet even more dimension.

Wellington sweet potato

Courtesy of Elena Besser

This recipe is a fabulous vegetarian alternative to a fancy holiday dish: Beef Wellington. Sweet potatoes are used in place of beef and Swiss chard is used in place of prosciutto for a recipe that can still add the wow factor to a traditional meat-oriented starter. All of your meat-eating family members will want to attend this Wellington too. Serve it pure or with a little crème fraîche for even more elegance.

Festive Prosecco

Courtesy of Elena Besser

This drink looks and feels super festive for the holidays with very little effort. Start with a bottle of Bubbles (preferably a dry Prosecco or Champagne), add the cranberry juice and pomegranate juice, stir and garnish with a sprig of rosemary and fresh cranberries. It’s both beautiful to look at and tasty to drink.


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