Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Without The Stress

Thanksgivings as a kid meant mom cooked all day long while Dad and us girls played and watched TV. I just figured that’s the way it worked. That’s what Mom’s do. Dinner would magically arrive on the table; we’d eat in about 20 or 30 minutes exclaiming at how delicious it was and then go back to what we were doing. It wasn’t until I started my own family and began to say goodbye to my childish perspective of the holidays that I began to notice a few things. I started to notice that Mom didn’t get to sit down and enjoy the TV shows or the puzzles that we played with. In fact, I didn’t see much of Mom until it was time to eat. When she finally sat down at the table she looked worn out and almost too tired to eat and gradually I realized what my own Thanksgiving fate would someday be. It was upon that realization that I decided to make some changes.

I really like to cook so I knew I didn’t want to hand over those duties to my husband or kids. I wanted to put a great feast on the table for my family, just like my own Mother did. But I definitely wanted to enjoy the day and all the relaxing and recreation that everyone else did. So my plan was to get as much done as I could, before the big day. I searched out recipes that could be made ahead but not lose any fresh cooked flavor before it was served. . I found that the Turkey, stuffing, potatoes and desserts could all be made either earlier or in much less time consuming ways. Many dishes could be mixed up the day before and just popped in the oven to cook on the big day. Dips could be made ahead, homemade rolls baked early, salads could be tossed and dressing added when served, and traditional foods like jello molds and pumpkin pies are even better when the flavors are allowed to blend overnight. And as they say, “The rest is history.” My Thanksgiving are much more relaxing now and we all get a nice leisurely weekend full of family and friends. I hope these recipes help you to enjoy your holiday too.

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes


    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 3 lbs potatoes (about 4 large)
    • 2 tablespoons butter or 2 tablespoons margarine
    • 2 (3 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
    • 2/3 cup sour cream
    • 1/4 cup milk
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon butter or 1 tablespoon margarine, melted
    • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  1. Place potatoes in a saucepan; add water to cover and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  2. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  3. Drain.
  4. Peel potatoes; place in a large mixing bowl, and mash with a potato masher.
  5. Add 2 tablespoons butter, cream cheese, sour cream, milk and 3/4 teaspoon salt.
  6. Mix until all ingredients are blended.
  7. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 12X8X2-inch baking dish.
  8. Brush top of mixture with melted butter; sprinkle with paprika.
  9. Bake immediately, or cover and refrigerate.
  10. If refrigerated, let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.
  11. Bake at 350F, uncovered for 30 minutes or until hot.

Moist Crockpot Stuffing


    • 2 cups chopped onions
    • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced celery
    • 1 cup diced tart apples, peeled and cored
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 1 tablespoon ground sage
    • 1 teaspoon ground marjoram
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon savory
    • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
    • 12 cups lightly toasted bread, cubes
    • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
    • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  1. In a large fry pan sauté onions, celery and apple in butter until onion is just translucent.
  2. Stir in sage, marjoram, salt, pepper, savory and thyme.
  3. Combine vegetable mixture with the bread cubes and parsley.
  4. Toss well.
  5. Pour stock over mixture, tossing well.
  6. Spoon into your crock-pot.
  7. Cover and cook on high for one hour.
  8. Reduce to low and continue cooking for 2-3 hours, stirring every hour.
  9. As stated for Vegetarians use vegetable stock.

Still Moist, Make Ahead Turkey

Use your favorite Roast Turkey recipe and cook it the day before. Carve it up and arrange slices in the large ovenproof dish that you’d like to serve it in. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The next day when ready to serve, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour 1 can or 2 cups of homemade broth over the turkey slices, cover with foil and heat through, about 20 – 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Make Ahead Bacon and Cheddar Stuffed Mushrooms

    • 6 slices bacon
    • 16 cremini mushrooms
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 2 tablespoons chopped onions
    • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet.
  2. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown.
  3. Drain, dice and set aside.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  5. Remove mushroom stems.
  6. Set aside caps.
  7. Chop the stems.
  8. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
  9. Slowly cook and stir the chopped stems and onion until the onion is soft.
  10. Remove from heat.
  11. In a medium bowl, stir together the mushroom stem mixture, bacon and 1 cup Cheddar.
  12. Mix well and scoop the mixture into the mushroom caps.
  13. Bake in the preheated oven 15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
  14. Remove the mushrooms from the oven, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  15. Put into the oven for a couple of seconds to melt if desired.
  16. To freeze: Flash freeze them before baking in the oven.
  17. A freezer bag would work great for storing these.
  18. Let defrost and then add cheese and bake in oven for 15 minutes.


~ Lyndsay The Kitchen Witch said...

I do all of my sides and stuffing a day ahead and what a HUGE difference it makes. We've already had Thanksgiving in Canada, but Happy Thanksgiving to you and thanks for the recipes. They all look wonderful.

Beverly@Beverly's Back Porch said...

I really agree with the make-ahead plan for any holiday dinner. I bake my potatoes instead of boiling for a creamier mashed potato, plus after you scoop the potato out you have the wonderful skins for "potato skins" for part of dinner the day before the big meal. Now you have used everything and no waste.

Anonymous said...

Just curious about peeling potatoes *after* boiling them. Is there a reason for this? I've always peeled my potatoes before cooking them and it seems like it would be much easier to peel them before they are cooked.

Gayle said...

Either way works. When you boil them in the skin the peeling just slides right off with no cutting. But I prefer to peel and cut them into small chunks simply because it takes less time to boil.