Make It Ahead- Start Planning for a Stress-Free Holiday

Happy Sunday!

We had a great weekend in Michigan celebrating a friend’s wedding and got home late this afternoon. Tonight was a great night to have used my new cookbook, Ina Garten’s Make It Ahead to have a hot healthy dinner quickly that I could have preparred up to 3 months in advance! I made the recipe I am about to share tonight, but the idea of being able to prepare meals ahead of time is especially useful around the holidays.

I know many people get overwhelmed during the holidays and when you have guests visiting I find lunch can often be the forgotten about meal when you are planning menus. I made Ina’s Cauliflower and Celery Root Soup tonight and this would be a great thing to have in your freezer for lunch or dinner while friends and family are visiting. Ina’s cookbook covers every meal from breakfast, to appetizers, to a full Thanksgiving menu! If you are interested in ordering her cookbook you can find it here.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of hearing Ina speak about her past and how she got to where she is today. I really enjoy her show and how down to earth and relaxed she seems. She just enjoys cooking for her family and friends and that is what I also enjoy.

Here is the picture I took after I picked up my signed copy of her book.

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Here is the Cauliflower and Celery Root Soup I made tonight, my husband said it was his new favorite soup, especially with the homemade croutons.

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Cauliflower & Celery Root Soup

By INA GARTEN
SERVES 5 to 6

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ cup good olive oil, plus extra for serving
  • 2 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
  • 2 cups (1-inch-diced) celery root
  • 2 cups (1-inch-diced) fennel, cored and stalks removed
  • 2 lb (1 medium) cauliflower, cored and cut into florets
  • 2 cups good chicken stock
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream
  • Homemade Croutons*
  • Chopped fresh chives, for serving

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset. Add onions and sauté over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned. Stir in celery root and fennel and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cauliflower, chicken stock, and salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until vegetables are very tender. Add 3 cups of water, bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Working in batches, puree soup in a blender, until very smooth. (Don’t fill blender more than half full or it will overflow!) Pour blended soup into a large saucepan, stir in cream, and add 1 or 2 teaspoons of salt, depending on saltiness of the chicken stock. Reheat soup over medium-low heat. Ladle into soup bowls, sprinkle with croutons and chives, and drizzle with olive oil. Serve hot.

COOK’S NOTE

Make it ahead: Prepare soup and refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months. Reheat before serving. Make the croutons up to 5 days ahead.

*Homemade Croutons

By INA GARTEN
MAKES about 2 cups

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Tbsp good olive oil
  • 2 cups (½-inch-diced) bread from a country loaf, crusts removed
  • Kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

  • Heat the olive oil in a large (10-inch) sauté pan until hot. Add the bread and cook over medium heat, tossing frequently, until the bread is evenly toasted and browned. Sprinkle with salt.

COOK’S NOTE

Make it ahead: Make these croutons up to 5 days ahead.

You can find many make ahead recipes online and planning and doing things ahead is the key for me to enjoy spending time with my guests while still serving delicious food. What is your favorite thing to make ahead? What is your tip for stress-free hosting?

Happy Planning!

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