Holiday entertaining a breeze with oven prepared menu

Most of us look forward to socializing, good conversation and sharing decadent food with family and friends this time of year.

But too often in the past I have found myself covered in flour as guests were arriving or revving up the mixer as people tried to visit over the noise of my food preparations.

Food offerings should be simple, nutritious and taste sensational, and sharing that food should be fun and satisfying without a lot of fuss and mess.

One way to help solve this entertaining problem is to become more efficient in the kitchen.

Many readers will remember the Penny Powers character (who was a home economist named Lillian McConnell) created in 1956 by the Saskatchewan Power Corp. to help families adapt to electricity in their kitchens.

The publication is all about being efficient, which has once again become trendy in today’s hectic society.

The publication, called Penny Powers Oven Meals, encompasses an idea that has come full circle from the 1950s. Imagine, a complete meal out of the oven. How economical, efficient and appropriate for the holidays.

Baked Apricot Chicken

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The aroma of this dish is enticing. Serve with cranberry sauce on the side.

  • 4 tbsp. soy sauce 60 mL
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar 15 mL
  • 1 c. apricot jam 250 mL
  • 3 tbsp. vinegar 50 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika 1 mL
  • 6 chicken breasts, thawed (if chicken pieces are large, slice into smaller pieces)

Combine first five ingredients in a large bowl. Arrange chicken in a baking dish that has a lid. Pour the prepared apricot sauce over the chicken. Cover and bake at 350 F (180 C) for one hour or until chicken is cooked through. Turn chicken once during roasting, after about 30 minutes. Serves six. Adapted from Company’s Coming.

Oven Roasted Rice

  • 2 c. converted rice 500 mL
  • 4 c. boiling water 1 L
  • 2 tbsp. butter 30 mL
  • 1 tsp. salt 5 mL

Combine the rice, water, butter and salt and place in a greased casserole. Remember to use quite a large dish as the rice will expand as it cooks. Stir well and bake covered at 350 F (180 C) for 60 minutes or until rice is fluffy and all the liquid is absorbed. Serves six.

Buttered Pan Roasted Roots

  • 4 parsnips, sliced horizontally into quarters
  • 4 carrots, sliced horizontally into quarters
  • 3 tbsp. butter or oil 45 mL
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sprinkle of sugar

Place carrots and parsnips into a nine X 13 (22 x 33 cm) baking dish. Drizzle the butter or oil over the vegetables and mix thoroughly. Add salt, pepper and a light dusting of sugar. Cover and roast in the oven for one hour at 350 F (180 C) or until tender. Serves six.
Note: You can use all carrots or all parsnips if you desire.

Lemon Pudding Dessert

If your main course fills your oven, try this make-ahead dessert.

  • 1 c. cold butter or margarine 250 mL
  • 2 c. flour 500 mL
  • 1 pkg. softened cream cheese 250 g
  • 1 c. icing sugar 250 mL
  • 2 c. whipped cream or topping, divided 500 mL
  • 3 c. cold milk 750 mL
  • 2 pkg. instant lemon pudding 99 g
  • chopped pecans
  • fresh berries for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
In a mixing bowl, cut the butter into the flour until crumbs form. Press into an ungreased nine x 13 inch (22 X 33 cm) pan and bake for 18 minutes. Cool.
Beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Gently stir in one cup (250 mL) of the whipped cream or topping. Spread over the base.
For the third layer, beat the milk with the pudding mix (unprepared powder) on low speed for two minutes. Gently spread over the cream cheese layer.
Let set for five minutes and then top with the remaining whipped cream or topping.
Top with finely chopped pecans and refrigerate for one hour before serving.
Garnish with fresh berries before serving.
Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Makes 12 small pieces. Source: www.tasteofhome.com.

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Orange Honey dressing

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This is an antioxidant rich side dish that can be prepared well ahead of the meal. It is a refreshing addition.

  • 8 c. spinach, torn 1 L
  • 2 c. fresh sliced strawberries 250 mL
  • 1 finely cut red onion
  • sprinkle of nuts or seeds (I prefer chopped pecans)

Dressing:

  • 1/2 c. oil 125 mL
  • 1/4 c. vinegar 60 mL
  • 1 tbsp. sesame seeds 15 mL
  • 1 tbsp. poppy seeds 15 mL
  • 1/4 c. sugar 60 mL
  • 2 tbsp. honey 30 mL
  • 1/4 c. orange juice 60 mL

Combine the first four ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well. Combine dressing ingredients and pour over greens just before serving and toss.

Skinny B Parfait

A new find for our pantry, Skinny B breakfast cereal provides a snack rich in fibre and omega 3. Combine it with fresh berries and vanilla or plain yogurt to complete the mix.
In a dessert cup or glass, start layering with vanilla or plain yogurt.Use Greek style if you want added protein. Top with two tbsp. (30 mL) of dry Skinny B and finish off with fresh berries of your choice.

Jodie Mirosovsky is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: team@producer.com.

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