I know you probably saw the title of this post and thought, "What the hell is wrong with her?" But it's actually the title of a cookbook I'm currently enamored with, "Happy Holidays from the Diva of Do-Ahead" by Diane Phillips. This is one of my Half-Price Books bookstore scores. Published in 2006 with a cover price of $14.95, I found it on the clearance shelf for just $1.00 which is so wrong-wrong-wrong, but a smokin' deal for me. (I am honestly surprised that the cover price for this book is only $14.95 because I think it's worth a lot more!)
I have about eleventy-million sticky notes marking the recipes I plan to try if that tells you anything about the potential of this cookbook. The tag line is "A Year of Feasts to Celebrate with Family and Friends" and the true beauty of these recipes is that they're all meant to be made ahead of time so you're not running around on the day of like a chicken with its head cut off. For each holiday, there are recipes included to make a complete meal with a Do-Ahead Countdown calendar that tells you what steps to take when, even months ahead.
I tried the Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes recipe for our family Christmas Eve dinner last year and they were absolutely delicious, loaded with parmesan cheese, sour cream and cream cheese. I made them the day before and reheated them for dinner. And they were perfect!
So in preparation for this little dinner party we're having, I pulled this book out and have tried a few more recipes. Love them all!
Along with Hubby's barbecued steaks, I made ...
Roasted Red Smashed Potatoes with Olive Oil and Rosemary
3 pounds small red potatoes, halved (I actually just cubed normal sized red potatoes)
2/3 cup olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1. Preheat the oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, aluminum foil or a silicone baking liner. Arrange the potatoes on the baking sheet, pour 1/2 cup of the olive oil over them and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Toss the potatoes so they are coated with the oil and seasonings. (I did this in a mixing bowl first and them plopped them onto the baking sheet.) Diva Do-Ahead: At this point, you can cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
2. Roast the potatoes for 45 to 50 minutes, until crisp and tender, turning them once during the cooking process.
3. Remove from the oven and heat the remaining oil in a large skillet. Add the rosemary and saute for 1 minute. Add the potatoes and smash them in the pan using a wooden spoon or heavy spatula. (I just used my potato masher). Turn them to expose their flesh to the flavored oil. Continue to cook the potatoes, turning to prevent them from sticking, for about ten minutes. Serve immediately. Diva Do-Ahead: At this point, you can cool and refrigerate for up to 24 hours, then reheat, covered in a 300 degree oven for 20 minutes before serving.
Diva Variation: Roast 6 cloves of garlic with the potatoes, and then smash them in the skillet too.
2 pounds of asparagus, trimmed of tough stem ends
1/4 cup olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or a silicone baking liner.
2. Arrange the asparagus in a single layer on the sheet. Sprinkle with the oil, salt and pepper, then roll the asparagus in the mixture until coated. Bake until crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes (pencil-thin asparagus will take about 3 minutes, thicker asparagus a bit longer.) Diva Do-Ahead: At this point, you can set the asparagus aside at room temperature for up to 2 hours or let cool, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Since both of these recipes are at 400 degrees, I put the potatoes in, then when there was just 5 minutes left to go, I pulled out the sheet and added the asparagus to it, then finished the cooking time. Both of these dishes were easy and tasted wonderful. I really love the make-ahead aspect so you can visit with and enjoy your guests while looking all calm, collected and organized.
Many years ago, my family got me this gorgeous white marble mortar and pestle for Christmas. I use it to grind up herbs and spices. Our youngest daughter -- who has always made up words of her own anyway -- calls it the mortal and pester!