(Family Features) - With a tree yet to trim, a mound of gifts to wrap and the annual holiday pageant looming, the added stress of holiday hosting can feel overwhelming. Bring back the joy of holiday entertaining with some time-saving shortcuts and tips courtesy of Joan Hanson, test kitchen director for Hormel Foods.
Time it Right. Whether this is your first year entertaining or you're known as a pro, everyone could use an extra few minutes around the holidays. One way to cut corners in the kitchen, while still delivering a rave-worthy meal, is to rely on products that eliminate your prep time. For example, Jenny-O Turkey Store Oven Ready turkey comes sealed in its own cooking bag with a pop-timer, making it easy to insure a tender and juicy turkey every time. You can place the turkey directly from the freezer into the oven without thawing, cleaning or seasoning, making this a holiday must-have for those pressed for time.
Easy Apps. No need to stuff, skewer, bake or broil elaborate or hard-to-make appetizers. Save time and energy by purchasing stand-alone finger foods like roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts and Greek olives. Pair with an assortment of cheeses, crackers and baguettes or focaccia bread. For an attractive presentation, create an appetizer buffet by arranging the items in a bowl or on a platter and decorating with cranberries or ivy.
Send-a-Side Dish. Host a pot-luck dinner and ask each guest to bring a side dish or dessert. Flex your entertaining skills by offering to prepare the main course. Impress your guests by preparing and serving a premium boneless ham. For an extra special touch, add a simple glaze, such as the simple Traditional Ham Feast recipe below.
Make-Ahead Menu. If you are planning a sit-down dinner, create a menu that can be prepared in advance. Lasagnas, casseroles, stuffings and many desserts can be cooked or baked ahead of time and frozen. The day before, chop, slice and dice any additional ingredients you'll need the day of the gathering. A few hours before the party, you'll be able to simply warm, assemble and serve.
For more party ideas, visit www.HormelFoodsRecipes.com or www.Jennieo.com.