Unlike Thanksgiving, Christmastime focuses on more than just one meal. Cocktail parties, cookie swaps, work gatherings, school celebrations – December calendars get full fast so having a well-stocked pantry makes juggling easier.
Christmas celebrations are as varied as they come. From all-day pierogi-making to staging a seafood boil, setting up a baked potato bar with bring-your-own toppings or hosting an all-appetizers meal for 20, this time of year is all about fitting in to tradition. Here are my top five pantry picks for making that happen.
More Nuts Than You Think You Need
Desserts, snacks or an easy, crunchy topping for soups, salads and sides – nuts manage to work their way in to many holiday dishes. If you have guests with nut allergies, substitute seeds like pumpkin and sunflower for any nut needs.
A bit of a dark horse (no pun intended) I know, but prepared horseradish is surprisingly versatile. The condiment adds serious zing to anything it touches – mashed potatoes, mayo, gravies. Use it as a punchy crust for roasted meats and seafood, too.
My cranberry infomercial: Forgot to decorate the front hall? Fresh cranberries, popcorn and a little string save the day! Toss chopped up fresh cranberries with a little honey or sugar for an easy and pretty cake topper. Make a fast cranberry sauce for the roast by stewing cranberries with a spoonful or two of orange juice. Blitz cranberries with ketchup in a blender for a fun shrimp cocktail sauce – just add horseradish! (see above). Or consider a cranberry spin on barbecue sauce.
Something bubbly is very important to have around during this time of year. Sparkling wine, cider or even fizzy water brings a festive feeling to even the simplest gathering. My father-in-law, puts a little splash of cranberry juice into a glass of sparkling water and calls is a “blush.” How fancy is that?
What are some items your Christmas pantry can’t live without? Share your tips and suggestions in the comments section below.