How many times have you heard someone say they’ve slaved away in the kitchen all day? Stress in the kitchen can easily arise for a variety of reasons, especially when you’re strapped for time and have a never-ending to-do list.

As a survivor of Gordon Ramsay’s MasterChef competition, Caitlin Meade – a top 4 finalist on season 8 – understands the pressure all too well. To decrease the stress and make your hosting experience more enjoyable, consider putting these tips from Chef Meade into practice.


Prep Before You Begin

Practice the “mise en place” method – a French term alluding to having everything in place before cooking. Measure ingredients, chop vegetables and prepare utensils to create a steady workflow.

Plan in Advance – Like a Chef

Prep the main dish the night before, have easy appetizers assembled ahead of guests’ arrival and outsource sides to family and friends.

Save Money by Getting Spicy

Before it’s time to cook, pre-make spices. Since many store-bought blends can be overpriced, this is a way to save both time and money while personalizing your own flavors.

Save Table Wine for Drinking & Use Cooking Wine

A secret ingredient and important pantry staple for Chef Meade, cooking wine is perfect for when she needs to make a pan sauce or add flavor. It’s even saved her from having to open a nice bottle of table wine, as most recipes call for less than a cup. An option like Holland House Cooking Wines delivers consistent, bold flavor while standing up to high temperatures. Available in Sherry, Marsala, Red and White, there are plenty of flavor-boosting options that will have your friends and family wondering what your secret ingredient is.

Create Your Own Stock

Many recipes call for chicken stock. One way to save money and time at the store is to create your own. Save any leftover poultry carcasses, wing tips, neck and bones. Add onion peels, celery tips, carrot tops and other vegetable scraps in the freezer. When you’re ready to make a batch, fill a large pot with the leftovers, cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer 1-2 hours for stock that can last up to one year.

For more stress-free holiday recipes, visit


Spinach Feta and Artichoke Dip

Recipe courtesy of Cate Meade

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 2 hours

Servings: 10-12


Nonstick cooking spray

3 – cloves garlic, minced

1 – package (12 ounces) frozen spinach, thawed and excess liquid drained

2 – cans (14 ounces each) whole artichokes, drained and chopped

1 – can (8 ounces) sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped

1 1/4- cups low-fat mozzarella cheese

3/4 – cup feta cheese, crumbled, plus additional for garnish

1 1/4 – cups low-fat Greek yogurt

1/4- teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

1/2 – cup Holland House White Cooking Wine

1- package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese

Salt and pepper, to taste

Garnishes (optional): feta cheese, roasted red peppers



1. Grease 6-8-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In slow cooker, mix garlic, spinach, artichokes, water chestnuts, mozzarella, feta, yogurt and red pepper flakes.

3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, simmer cooking wine 3 minutes. Stir in cream cheese and turn off heat.

4. Transfer cream cheese and wine mixture to slow cooker; add salt and pepper, to taste, and stir to combine ingredients.

5. Cook on low for two hours.

6. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with feta and roasted red peppers, if desired.


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