PUBLISHED: 1:05 PM on Wednesday, December 7, 2005
Carefree Holiday Cooking
Making your holiday to-do list? Planning holiday meals your friends and family will love should be an enjoyable and stress-free task. A few time-saving tips will help you make the most out of your time in the kitchen and leave your guests satisfied.

• Updating a holiday menu can be easy to do with a few touches to family favorites. For a crowd-pleasing dish, put a new twist on mashed potatoes with cheddar and bacon. Keep mashed potato flakes on hand to thicken soups.

• Stock up on ingredients that can be used in several recipes. Pantry staples, such as peanut butter and jelly, have a variety of uses beyond sandwiches. Use grape jelly as a glaze for meats, or spice up a traditional holiday dessert, such as cannolis with orange marmalade.

• Choose one or two dishes that can be made a day ahead, such as appetizers or snacks and soups. The fresh roasted taste of peanut butter, added to a simple snack mix, is sure to please both kids and adults. Most soups and sauces can also be made the day before, giving ingredients time to blend flavors.