Nov. 30, 2013 07:39 PM

Keep calm and cook on


Monday, Dec. 2, 2013
Written by Kari Walker

Photo courtesy of Ruth's Chris  
A trio of sides from Ruth's Chris Steakhouse adds elegance to any holiday event.  

If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen - unfortunately, around the holidays it's near impossible to avoid the stove. Whether you're cooking for two or extended family home for the holidays, don't let the stress of preparing a five-course meal from scratch turn you into a scrooge. Follow these tips from IND Eats for your holiday gathering plan of attack:

Before starting in the kitchen, set the dining table. This task is usually the last on the list, but taking care of it first means if dinner isn't ready when your guests arrive you'll still look put together and ready to serve.

Plan an early morning trip to the grocery store a few days ahead to beat the crowds and long check out lines. Consider developing your dinner menu around what's in season and shop with ease at one of the area farmers markets for produce, protein and condiments.

If foie gras on a fancy plate isn't your thing, stick to your guns and develop a dinner reflective of your style. Serving the family recipe gumbo is perfectly fine and can fit into any occasion from a Christmas Eve open house to New Year's Day lunch.

Don't put out too many pre-dinner snacks unless you want to be stuck with a kitchen full of leftovers from the actual meal. A simple charcuterie board or raw vegetables and hummus might seem overly simple, but less is more especially when serving a large sit-down meal.

Choose side dishes that can be cooked ahead and reheated for serving or prepped in advance. The goal should be to stress less and make more merry with guests.

Keep it simple and give yourself plenty of time - it doesn't have to be perfect to create a memorable meal with good company.

When in doubt, outsource - Santa has elves and you can too with help from one of the many catering options in Lafayette to add to your holiday feast. Check out some of these local resources:

Hebert's Specialty Meats
It's hard to choose with options like stuffed turkeys and chickens or the ever famous turducken, but no matter your flavor, any meat from Hebert's is sure to be the star of the table. Traveling out of town and want a taste of Acadiana? No problem, Hebert's ships right to you.

From party platters to the whole shebang, Joey's has been serving Lafayette for 32 years. The staff is knowledgeable and can help you choose the right foods for everything from hors'doeuvres to a seated meal. Stop by Joey's for something to bring when a last-minute party invite surprises and you need a go-to dish - frozen party food, side dishes and gumbos are always on hand in Joey's kitchen.

Ruth's Chris Steak House
The Oil Center steakhouse is known for serving up USDA prime steaks cooked to perfection and sumptuous side dishes like sweet potato casserole, green beans with roasted garlic and creamed spinach. For only $29.95 each, add a little white linen elegance by picking up one of these sides for serving.


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