Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Dinner

The dinner mantra is . . .
Good Food Simply Prepared, the Fewer Ingredients, the Better.

  • Don’t invite more guests than you can comfortably serve.
  • Plan your menu in advance.
  • Prepare side dishes in advance. Rather than last minute mashed potatoes, prepare polenta a day in advance, reheat and top with a convenient, high quality roasted red pepper tapanade.
  • Have Dad take the kids out for lunch and a movie the day of the dinner so you can prepare without distraction.
  • Eat healthily. Rather than cooking with butter, use a good quality herb-infused olive oil, or if you are a foodie, make your own.
  • Convenience products can provide the “wow” factor. Everyone loves a colorful sauce. Warm North Carolina herbed goat cheese in the microwave, and drizzle on beef tenderloin.
  • Serving pork? Make a sauce with fig jam and orange juice; roast on the meat and drizzle on top at the table.
  • Serving holiday carrots? Peel and wrap in foil with a little olive oil, maple syrup and dried apricots.
  • Lighten the calories. For a delicious horseradish sauce, use half sour cream, half plain yogurt, horseradish to taste and chopped chives for color.
  • Keep it simple. Toss steamed broccoli with a good quality extra virgin olive oil, blue-veined cheese crumbles and toasted slivered almonds.
  • Serve Narcona Almonds for a simple, but delicious appetizer. Warm them in a sauté pan with a little extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with ground chilies.
  • Try the Cranberry Relish recipe. It’s fresh, easy, can be prepared in advance and it’s delicious.

Download Cranberry Relish recipe at
is an instructor in the hospitality department at CPCC.