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25 Holiday Cooking Tips Straight from Grandma

From the stuffing to the cranberry sauce, Grandma has all the top tips to cook the best holiday feast ever!

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Cubed French baguette bread and cornbread baked for Thanksgiving stuffing; Shutterstock ID 1228066081; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHLynne Ann Mitchell/Shutterstock

Up your stuffing game

“A one-pound loaf of bread will make up about eight cups of loosely packed crumbs for stuffing,” says Edna Hoffman of Hebron, Indiana. Read on for more holiday cooking tips that’ll make this season the most festive—and delicious—yet.

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Baked apples stuffed with cheesecake and caramel; Shutterstock ID 1192631479; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHElena Shashkina/Shutterstock

Serve amazing appetizers

“Use cranberry sauce to fill the holes in baked apples for a tasty appetizer,” says Dorothy Petersen of Columbus, Nebraska.

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Spaghetti squash top down view; Shutterstock ID 496811113; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHvm2002/Shutterstock

Steam your squash

“Steaming is a great way to cook winter squash—it preserves both the nutrients and the pretty colour,” says Brenda Thompson of Chicora, Pennsylvania.

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Holiday cooking hacks - Cranberry saucePhoto: Shutterstock

Splash vanilla into cranberry sauce

“For extra rich cranberry sauce, add a teaspoon of vanilla extract after cooking,” says Ruth Fenner of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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Sliced Apples on a Wooden Chopping Board; Shutterstock ID 1370470283; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHLisa Holmen Photography/Shutterstock

Cook apples for pie

To keep apple pie crust from getting too brown, give the apples a head start so they wont have to bake as long to get tender. Shirley Miller of Browns Valley, Minnesota, says, “Put sliced apples in a pie plate (not metal) the same size as the pie you’re making. Cook in the microwave for eight to 10 minutes. Place partially cooked apples in your prepared crust along with the other filling ingredients. Put the top crust on and bake.”

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Orange Sweet Potato cut into small cubic shapes and boiled in hot water to soften the texture; Shutterstock ID 1318952024; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHPornprapa Korprasert/Shutterstock

Take a sweet potato shortcut

Wanda Leaders of Neola, Iowa, says, “A sticky ring won’t form around the pot if you add a spoonful of vegetable shortening to the water when boiling sweet potatoes.”

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Homemade Bread Stuffing for Thanksgiving Dinner with Sage; Shutterstock ID 1207094089; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHBrent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Spruce up stuffing

For moist and colourful stuffing, Lisa Nyquist of Cokato, Minnesota, says you should add one diced unpeeled apple to your favourite dressing recipe.

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Baked acorn squash; Shutterstock ID 212693800; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHitay uri/Shutterstock

Scoop out squash

To remove cooked squash from its shell, use an ice cream scoop. “No mess, no fuss,” says Sharon Hallack of Hart, Michigan.

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Overhead shot of a pumpkin pie with a slice cut out on a cooling rack. Horizontal format on a rustic white kitchen table.; Shutterstock ID 268798316; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHSteve Cukrov/Shutterstock

Cut even pie slices

“To cut a pie into five pieces, slice a ‘Y’ into the pie and then divide the two large pieces in half,” says Mildred Sherrer of Bay City, Texas.

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Cranberries in a bowl and cranberry jam in a jar.; Shutterstock ID 623001326; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHKrzysztof Slusarczyk/Shutterstock

Freeze your cranberries

Carol Schultze of Fairmont, Minnesota, says, “Fresh cranberries are easier to grind in a food processor or grinder if you freeze them first. Allow ground berries to drain well before using.”

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Blending herbs in food processor; Shutterstock ID 1170676570; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHAlona Cherniakhova/Shutterstock

Save time chopping

To make stuffing prep easier, Susan Buch of Baldwin, Illinois, says, “Cook the giblets until done, cool and chop with celery and onion in a food processor.”

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close up of a pot with mashed potato; Shutterstock ID 583739809; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHElena Shashkina/Shutterstock

Make better mashed potatoes

For lighter, creamier mashed potatoes, Barbara Gracy of Spring City, Tennessee, adds a teaspoon of baking powder before mashing.

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Strawberries, Blueberries, Cranberries, Raspberries And Blackberries Compote; Shutterstock ID 1550590796; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHRadu Bercan/Shutterstock

Add raspberries to cranberry sauce

Doris LaVerne of Newport, Rhode Island, says, “After the cranberries have popped, I add fresh or frozen raspberries (without syrup). This homemade cranberry sauce is delicious with turkey.”

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Trim off the excess of pastry. Making Apple Pie Tart Series.; Shutterstock ID 255711346; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHffolas/Shutterstock

Master your lattice

Making a lattice pie crust? Shirley Roberts of Brea, California, says, “Use a pizza cutter to trim the crust into strips.”

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Assorted bread in a basket; Shutterstock ID 549008677; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHHussein Shaharuddin/Shutterstock

Keep bread warm

To keep rolls warm longer, Hannah Sagehorn of Long Beach, California, says, “Place a sheet of aluminum foil under a cloth napkin in the bread basket.”

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Organic Yellow Steamed Corn in a Bowl; Shutterstock ID 266295782; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHBrent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Serve sweeter corn

Joan Dirkman of Ahmeek, Michigan, recommends that you “give frozen or canned corn a fresh summertime flavour. Substitute milk for the cooking water and add a teaspoon of sugar. Cook on top of the stove as usual.”

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holiday cooking tips - Apricot juice bubbling in sauce pan as candy thermometer reading passes the boiling point.; Shutterstock ID 107252102; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHWarren Price Photography/Shutterstock

Grab a thermometer

It pays to be precise. Reader Betty Helm of El Paso, Texas, says, “I use a candy thermometer to get the correct water temperature for all recipes using yeast. No more failures!”

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holiday cooking tips - Sweet Homemade Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie Ready to Eat; Shutterstock ID 1185116455; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHBrent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Perk up pumpkin pie

Try this tasty twist on pumpkin pie. Mrs. Edwin Hill of Santa Barbara, California, says, “Put a layer of marshmallows in the bottom of the pumpkin pie, then add the filling. It will make a nice topping as the marshmallows come to the top as it bakes.”

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holiday cooking tips - Thanksgiving turkey; Shutterstock ID 724951966; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHSara Louise Singer/Shutterstock

Send leftovers to go

“I send Holiday guests home with meals of leftovers in disposable tins. They can pop them right into the oven from the fridge, and no one has to return containers,” says Kathleen Phelps of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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holiday cooking tips - Winter squash cut in half with spoon and seeds scooped out.; Shutterstock ID 175357406; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHCharlotte Lake/Shutterstock

Do double oven duty

Here’s a no-fuss way to cook winter squash. Carol Battle of Heathsville, Virginia, says, “Wash the outside, and without cutting, pop into a hot oven. Set the temperature for whatever you’re cooking for the rest of the meal. Cook until squash is fork tender. When you remove the squash, cut it open and scoop out the seeds. It’s never watery and retains all the nutritional value.”

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holiday cooking tips - Pie crust filling with pumpink filling; Shutterstock ID 1433758553; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHmariukus/Shutterstock

Skip soggy bottoms

Susan Elliot of Bancroft, Ontario, says, “To keep custard and pumpkin pie crusts from becoming soggy, pre-bake the crust for 5 minutes. Then add the filling.”

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holiday cooking tips - Cooking boiled potatoes in the mashed potatoes in a metal pan; Shutterstock ID 1061454149; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHbazilpp/Shutterstock

Heat the milk for mashed potatoes

When mashing potatoes, use hot milk. “If you have been using cold milk, you’ll be surprised at the difference in the lightness of the potatoes,” says Sarah Dickinson of Sagle, Idaho.

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holiday cooking tips - Pot of simmering pork stock on the stove with a skim of fat on the surface, and steam rising from it.; Shutterstock ID 758373580; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHDaniel Bruce Lacy/Shutterstock

Skim off fat

Linda Hoadley of Paradise, California, shares a neat trick for removing excess fat from soup or gravy. “Skim the surface with ice wrapped in a cheesecloth. The fat congeals and clings right to the cloth,” she says.

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holiday cooking tips - peeled pumpkin shell; Shutterstock ID 1128928226; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHneil langan/Shutterstock

Peel a pumpkin

Edna Sutherland of Clintonville, Wisconsin, says, “To easily remove pumpkin peels, cut a hole and remove seeds and pulp. Set the pumpkin in a pan of water and bake at 149 degrees Celsius (300 degrees fahrenheit) for about an hour. The rind will peel right off. It works for me!”

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holiday cooking tips - Making pie crust from scratch to bake pumpkin pie.; Shutterstock ID 769002988; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHArina P Habich/Shutterstock

Rolling pin trick

Here’s a helpful baking trick. Mrs. Dean Jones of Reading, Kansas, says, “I just roll the pie crust up onto the rolling pin, put it over the pan, and unroll it again.”

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Taste of Home
Originally Published on Taste of Home