We are officially in the home stretch for the Christmas Holiday and if you're not ready, we're here to help.
Alicia Vitarelli stopped by the ACME in Bala Cynwyd for some last-minute hacks that only look like you spent a lot of time and money.
"What I love about this is that a lot of these tips are do-aheads, so that you don't have to crash and crunch at the last minute."
"You can put them in the fridge today and on Christmas Day or New Year's Day or whatever holiday, you take them out and you're ready to go!"
First to the appetizers, for your holiday spread.
Executive Chef Jeff Anderson says this cheese spread is quick, easy and yummy.
Start with cream cheese and shredded cheddar, like a cream cheese snowball.
"We used a little smoked bacon and chives to mix it all together and shape it."
You can do that days in advance and keep it in in the fridge.
Then the day of, add fresh toppings.
"Roll it in and press it on... and that's the extent of it it's super easy."
Chef Anderson also says compound butters are a great "make-ahead" and can be used on anything from meat to fish to turkey.
"This is unsalted butter, unsalted butter in cubes, rosemary, and then we put the garlic in a pot... add olive oil, brought it to boil, and then fried it."
Mash it all with a fork, roll it into a cylinder, and then cover it with parchment paper.
"I think everybody should be doing things with compound butters. What's neat is you can put any flavorings you want, from sun-dried tomatoes to lemon zest."
And last we have the "World's Best Cookie."
Chef Anderson says that's because it's packed with all kinds of yummy flavors
"Walnuts.. it's got walnuts, pecans, chocolate chips, dates, apricots..."
Again, make the mixture ahead and keep it in the freezer or fridge.
Then on the day of your gathering, just scoop, bake and serve.
Bacon Cheddar Cheeseball
8 ounces Lucerne Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup cooked chopped bacon (use 1/2 for the cheeseball and 1/2 for the crust)
6 Tbsp. fresh minced chives
1 cup grated Lucerne Cheddar Cheese
1. In a bowl, mix cream cheese, cup of bacon, cheddar cheese and chives together until evenly incorporated. Reserve in refrigerator.
2. Combine bacon, cheddar cheese and chives on a plate and mix together for the crust. Remove cheese mixture from refrigerator and form into a ball. Roll cheeseball into the crust.
3. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with crackers and vegetables.
Roasted Garlic Butter
1 stick Lucerne Sweet Cream Butter
6-8 cloves of roasted garlic
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1. Preheat oven to 425. Take a small square of aluminum foil, slice top of garlic head off, place garlic on foil, drizzle olive oil on garlic and wrap foil into a pouch, place in oven for approximately 30-40 minutes or until soft and golden brown.
2. Bring butter to room temperature
3. Fold roasted garlic and rosemary into the butter until fully incorporated.
4. Place butter onto parchment or wax paper and form, refrigerate until hardened.
World's Best Cookies
1 cups All-purpose flour
tsp baking powder
tsp baking soda
cup butter, unsalted
cup shorting, vegetable
1 cups old fashion oats
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup dried fruit
1 cup bittersweet chocolate
1 cup shredded coconut
1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
2. In a mixer bowl beat the butter and shortening until smooth, add in the sugar, molasses, vanilla and egg, beat at low speed until everything in incorporated
3. Add flour mixture and beat slowly until incorporated.
4. With a rubber spatula fold in the chocolate, oats, coconut, nuts, dried dates and apricots.
5. (note reserve a little of the coconut, nuts and dried fruit for putting onto the top of the cookie)
6. The dough is ready for scooping 1 1/2 ounce balls, on a lined sheet tray place dough balls 2" apart for baking, press slightly, then chill for 15 minutes
7. Bake at 325 f for 15 minutes, rotating the pan at midway point and add the reserved coconut, nuts and dried fruit, remove once cookie is fully set
Recipes and tips to save time and money before Christmas