Reduce Your Holiday Stress!!!

Reduce Your Holiday Stress!

WebMD Health News

By Joanne Barker

Reviewed By Hansa D. Bhargava, MD

Talk about stressful. The average American spends 42 hours a year on holiday activities. That’s one standard work week spent shopping, wrapping, and returning presents, attending holiday parties, and traveling from place to place. Often these extra activities get squeezed into already busy schedules.

Holiday stress can take many forms. In a survey conducted by Mental Health America, money concerns and chaotic schedules are two of the top sources of holiday stress. Women reported feeling slightly more stressed than men — and parents in general feel more stressed than most groups.

This year, take the pressure off. Here are eight tips to help you relax this holiday season.

1. Put Stress in its Place: It’s Not About the Holidays

People who get stressed out easily are most likely to feel intense stress during the holidays. It’s really all about you, and not about the holidays. But there’s good news. You can learn to put stress in its place, and take the pressure off throughout the year.

“Stress and distress are often related to worrying about the future or fretting about the past,” says David Levingston, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Brattleboro, Vt. To find peace and joy in any season, he advises focusing on the present moment.

2. Create the Holiday You Want

“When the holidays come around, there may be pressures pulling you in all directions off your center,” Levingston says. He suggests you make clear decisions about how you want to spend your time and resources. Do it early, before the decorations go up around town. Consider what is most important to you. What memories will you look back on when the season winds down?

A little advance planning can help identify areas where you could cut back. Maybe nobody in your family enjoys certain functions. If so, be ready to RSVP with a polite no thank you.

3. Involve Your Kids

“It’s a part of all holidays that people get thrown off schedule,” says Hinda Dubin, MD, a University of Maryland professor of psychiatry. Dubin advises parents to stick with kids’ regular meal and bedtime schedules as much as possible.

Eating and going to sleep at roughly the same time each day is good for children, Dubin says. Kids feel more secure when their days follow a predictable order. It improves their moods, and helps to create a peaceful household. Of course, a regular schedule isn’t always possible during the holidays. You can offset holiday chaos by involving your children in holiday planning. Having a say in the planning can help your kids feel more in control during busy times.

4. Beware of Shopping Pitfalls

Shopping — especially if you’re worried about money or getting elbowed in the stores — can drain the fun out of the holiday season. People who focus on gifts generally feel less holiday cheer than those who spend more time with close friends and family.

Also, despite your best efforts, your gifts may not express your love as well as you hope. According to a survey by Consumer Reports, up to 49 million people get gifts they don’t want each year. Some people donate their holiday duds to charity, return them, or try to sell them on eBay. A few even post photos of “bad gifts” online. So, think about what your loved one truly enjoys. Perhaps lunch out together would be appreciated more than a scarf.

5. Get Creative in Your Gift Giving

Many families have had to cut back on holiday gifts. If this includes you, have a family meeting and get creative. “Some families draw names and each person buys for one person. Some families do handmade gifts or coupons,” Dubin says. A coupon might be good for a massage or night off from doing the dishes, for instance. You don’t have to go into debt to make the holidays special.

6. Play Games

Games can keep things fun and light at family gatherings. “Games are a good way to connect with each other and engage your mind, body, and imagination,” says Levingston. The game is up to you. You can play games indoors or out, and they can be anything from a walk, treasure hunt, cards, or charades. “The key thing is, you are in the moment.”

7. Postpone Family Feuds

There is a reason many people equate holidays with family strife. “When you have a group of people in a small area and everyone expecting to have a great time, it is almost a set up for arguments,” Dubin tells WebMD. With so much emotion and expectation, the holidays are not the best time to work things out. If old family baggage surfaces, plan to talk after the festivities wind down. “It’s better to address emotional issues in a more relaxed, private setting,” Dubin says.

8. Have Compassion for Yourself and Others

Even if you shop less and focus on family time, stressed-out friends, in-laws, and co-workers may still come calling. How can you be a good friend and keep your calm?

Try not to take things personally. Levingston says that’s one of the most important skills you can learn to reduce stress. During the holidays in particular, he says, most people are trying to get their needs met. Maybe it’s their need for love or simply for validation. “Even if someone is being a jerk or insensitive, it is their way of trying to get their needs met,” Levingston says.

So try not to think about how people “should be.” Accept them as they are, and release the tension from your body. “I think when we can see where people are coming from, there can be less frustration and more compassion,” Levingston says.

 

Have You Best Thanksgiving . . Ever!

8 Days until the big Thanksgiving Feast . . . are you ready?

Yes, Thanksgiving is right around the corner-but don’t panic! Your Resident Gourmet Newsletter will help you have the Best Thanksgiving Ever. A stress-free day filled with family, friends, and great food. How, you ask? With tips on planning for the big day as well as step-by-step guide on cooking the perfect turkey.
So exhale and let’s get down to business!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Chef Jennifer  

 

Enjoying your YRG Newsletter? Please share the Love and forward it to a friend . . or two!

Follow us on Facebook Chef Jennifer Booker
and Twitter

@Chefjennbooker

 Your Best
Thanksgiving Ever!

5 Tips for a Stress-free   

Thanksgiving!

 

 

1. Plan Your Thanksgiving Menu Early: Are you serving turkey, chicken, or goose? Will there be wine or your special holiday punch? Now is the time to plan your Thanksgiving menu; from soup to nuts. Once you’ve planned your menu you can pull out your recipes and check your cabinets to see what you have in stock and what you’ll need to buy. Write out your shopping list, listing everything you need, and you won’t have to worry about those last minute trips to the store spoiling Thanksgiving Day.

 

2. Shop Now: Now that you have your grocery list in hand it’s time to head to the grocery store. Buy your non-perishables now and save yourself time later, not to mention you will be able to take advantage of the pre-holiday sales, avoid the long lines and the lack of parking spots. When I shop I keep like items together in my shopping cart so that they are together during checkout and get bagged together as well. Once you get your groceries home, leave them bagged and simply set them aside until you’re ready for them. All you have left to buy are your perishable items and you can purchase them as much as a week out.

 

3. Cook Now, Relax Later: Decide on the dishes that can be cooked ahead of time and either stored in the refrigerator or frozen until right before Thanksgiving. For example, can you make the cornbread for your cornbread stuffing now and freeze it until you’re ready for it? What about the cranberry relish, collard greens, and sweet potato pies? Cook and store as many of the items from your menu as possible and defrost them the day before Thanksgiving. This tip will definitely save you time and make cooking your holiday meal more relaxed.

 

4. Get Organized: Now that you have your menu planned, your recipes pulled, have shopped for your non-perishables items, and even precooked some of your dishes; it’s time to decide on your table decor. Go ahead and pull your favorite holiday tablecloth, place mats, and napkins. Make sure that they don’t have any holes or stains and have them laundered and ironed. If you’re using your ‘special occasion’ dishes, flatware, and stemware go ahead and get them out of storage, counted, and wiped down. Doing this now will guarantee you the table of your dreams without the usual holiday stress.

 

5. Ask For Help: Thanksgiving Day is finally here and it’s time to enlist some help with the finishing touches. Ask someone to set the table. Since the linen is ironed and the dishes counted, this should be an easy task. Someone else can pour the drinks or plate the salads. If you’ve invited guests to share your meal, don’t be shy about asking them to bring a dish to share as well. It’s always nice to have an extra appetizer or dessert or a nice bottle of wine.

 

 

How to Cook the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey!

 

The temperature in your oven has to be accurate.

You might want to test your oven before the big day by simply preheating it to 250° and testing it with a cooking thermometer. Start your turkey out uncovered in a 425*F oven for 30 minutes. Cover the breast with aluminum foil and drop the temperature down to 325*F for the remainder of the cooking time. This is guarantees a turkey that is crisp outside and juicy inside.

Your turkey has been safely and totally thawed and cleaned.

The only safe way to thaw a frozen turkey is to place it in the refrigerator. Other methods such as running cold water over it or placing it in a microwave oven are not safe because of the chance of bacterial growth and food borne illness. So place your frozen bird in the refrigerator at least 2 days before the big day.

 

Be sure to remove the neck and giblets from the inside of the turkey!

Don’t laugh!  People do this all the time, so check both the top AND the bottom of your turkey for them. There is nothing quite as anti-climactic is carving the Thanksgiving turkey and having the bag of giblets pop out.

 

  Know the actual weight of the turkey.

Knowing this number guarantees that you cook your turkey the right amount of time and end up with a turkey that’s golden brown, juicy, and delicious. It also helps plan the timing of your side dishes as well. A good rule of thumb to figure out when to start cooking your Thanksgiving turkey is to back track from the time you want to have it on the table.

 

Add your dressing last.

Stuff your turkey with dressing once the turkey is totally done and has an internal cooking temperature of 165*F.

NEVER stuff a raw turkey-the dressing will absorb the turkey’s uncooked blood and juices and can lead to food borne illness.

 


You’ve Done It!

Planned the perfect menu, set a beautiful table, and cooked your Thanksgiving meal to perfection. Now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor-all without the usual stresses associated with the holidays.

 

 

 

 

 Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

 

 

5 Time Saving Tips for a Stress Free Thanksgiving

5 Time Saving Tips for a Stress Free Thanksgiving

 Thanksgiving Turkey

 

1.  Plan Your Thanksgiving Menu Early:  Are you serving turkey, chicken, or goose? Will there be wine or your special holiday punch? Now is the time to plan your Thanksgiving menu; from soup to nuts. Once you’ve planned your menu you can pull out your recipes and check your cabinets to see what you have in stock and what you’ll need to buy. Write out your shopping list, listing everything you need, and you won’t have to worry about those last minute trips to the store spoiling Thanksgiving Day.

 

2.  Shop Now:  Now that you have your grocery list in hand it’s time to head to the grocery store.  Buy your non-perishables now and save yourself time later, not to mention you will be able to take advantage of the pre-holiday sales, avoid the long lines and the lack of parking spots. When I shop I keep like items together in my shopping cart so that they are together during checkout and get bagged together as well. Once you get your groceries home, leave them bagged and simply set them aside until you’re ready for them. All you have left to buy are your perishable items and can purchase them as much as a week out.

 

3.  Cook Now, Relax Later:  Decide on the dishes that can be cooked ahead of time and either stored in the refrigerator or frozen until right before Thanksgiving. For example, can you make the cornbread for your cornbread stuffing now and freeze it until you’re ready for it?  What about the cranberry relish, collard greens, and sweet potato pies?  Cook and store as many of the items on your menu as possible and defrost them the day before Thanksgiving.  This tip will definitely save you time and make cooking your holiday meal more relaxed.

 

4.  Get Organized:  Now that you have your menu planned, your recipes pulled, have shopped for your non-perishables items, and even precooked some of your dishes; it’s time to decide on your table decor. Go ahead and pull your favorite holiday tablecloth, place mats, and napkins.  Make sure that they don’t have any holes or stains and have them laundered and ironed.  If you’re using your ‘special occasion’ dishes, flatware, and stemware go ahead and get them out of storage, counted, and wiped down.  Doing this now will guarantee you the table of your dreams without the usual holiday stress.

 

5.  Ask For Help:  Thanksgiving Day is finally here and it’s time to enlist some help with the finishing touches. Ask someone to set the table.  Since the linen is ironed and the dishes counted, this should be an easy task.  Someone else can pour the drinks or plate the salads.  If you’ve invited guests to share your meal, don’t be shy about asking them to bring a dish to share as well. It’s always nice to have an extra appetizer or dessert or a nice bottle of wine.

 

You’ve done it! Planned the perfect menu, set a beautiful table, and cooked your Thanksgiving meal to perfection.  Now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor-all without the usual stresses associated with the holidays.

What’s Old is New Again: 3 Delicious Recipes to Use Up That Day Old Bread!

Looking for some fresh ways to use that old bread sitting around your kitchen? 

You know what I’m talking about; the end pieces no one wants, the stale French bread that was so good two days ago, and even that leftover roll lost on top of your refrigerator. Your Resident Gourmet Newsletter is here to help with 3 great recipes using . . . . wait for it . . . stale bread! Take

your pick from Pumpkin Bread Pudding, Pecan Praline French Toast, and Spicy Sausage & Spinach Strata or try all 3!

 

Enjoy!

Chef Jennifer  

 

Enjoying your YRG Newsletter? Please share the Love and forward it to a friend . . or two!

Follow us on Facebook Chef Jennifer Booker
and Twitter

@Chefjennbooker

Bread!
The Staff of Life!

These three recipes are quick, inexpensive and great ways to use up any leftover bread !  

 

 

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

 

 

Yields 6 servings

 

Ingredients:

1 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup roasted and mashed pumpkin 1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs plus 1 yolk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

Pinch of ground cloves

5 cups cubed (1-inch) day-old baguette or crusty bread

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

 

Whisk together cream, pumpkin, milk, sugar, eggs, yolk, salt, and spices in a bowl.

Toss bread cubes with butter in another bowl, then add pumpkin mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish and bake until custard is set, 25 to 30 minutes.

 

 

Pecan Praline French Toast

 

Yields 6 servings

 

Ingredients:

6 eggs

1 1/2 cups half-and-half

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 (12 ounce) loaf day old French bread, sliced 1-inch thick

1 tablespoon butter

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup

3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F.

 

Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.

Whisk eggs, half-and-half, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in a bowl until mixture is smooth and brown sugar has dissolved.

Pour 1 cup egg mixture into prepared baking dish. Arrange slices of French bread into baking dish and pour remaining egg mixture evenly over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat; mix 3/4 cup brown sugar and maple syrup into butter, stirring until smooth. Bring syrup to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir pecans into syrup. Spoon pecan praline syrup evenly over French toast casserole.
Bake casserole in the preheated oven until set and golden brown, about 30 minutes.

 

 

Spicy Sausage  

& Spinach Strata

 

 

 

Yields 6 servings

 

Ingredients:
12 ounces baby spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 ounces bulk spicy Italian or spicy breakfast sausage
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt, to taste

Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups stale white or French bread, cubed
12 eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded

Directions:
Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Brown the sausage, and then remove the crumbles to a plate.

Return the skillet to the heat, reduce the heat and melt the butter. Add the onions and garlic and cook to soften, 5 to 6 minutes.

Add the spinach and season with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Turn off the heat and add the browned sausage to the spinach mixture.
Whisk the eggs, half-and -half, mustard and some salt and pepper until thick and creamy.
Arrange half of the bread in a buttered casserole dish.
Scatter half of the sausage-spinach mixture over the bread, top with half the cheese, pour over half the eggs, repeat.

Cover and store in the refrigerator at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Bring the strata to room temperature for about 30 minutes before you bake it.

Preheat the oven to 350* F with the rack in the center of the oven.
Bake uncovered 1 hour, until bubbling and the top is golden brown.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.