Don't spend your entire day in the kitchen

Make-Ahead Recipes to Freeze for the Holidays

by Lois Breneman

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Since we all could use extra hours around the holidays, any shortcuts we can apply in our kitchen will give us more time and energy to be used elsewhere. Here are a few ways of trimming down our kitchen time and energy over Thanksgiving and Christmas.

If using a frozen turkey or turkey breast, be sure to give it a couple days in the refrigerator for safe thawing. For a juicy turkey or turkey breast, place a grapefruit, orange or lemon inside the cavity prior to roasting. Pierce the fruit to prevent it from bursting, and simply cook it as usual. You are "guaranteed" a juicy bird each time and there is no citrus or orange flavor in the turkey. I don't know how this works, but it does. You simply take the fruit and dispose of it after roasting. Obviously, you don't stuff this bird, but it works great to have a separate casserole dish of stuffing as a side dish. I have tried this and it works great!

Make-Ahead Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes can be cooked and mashed ahead of time, then frozen. When sweet potatoes are on sale, I like to stock up, because the prices fluctuate greatly. Autumn is when we find the best prices in the US. Bake the washed sweet potatoes in a Dutch oven or roaster pan with a small amount of water for moisture. Bake at 350 F. for about an hour (check for tenderness). When cool enough to handle, peel, mash and freeze in freezer bags. It's as simple as that! I like to freeze sweet potatoes without salt or seasoning, so they can be used for sweet potato casseroles, muffins and pies, though freezing a casserole flavored with ingredients such as butter, brown sugar, cinnamon or cranberries also works very well. It's wonderful to go to the freezer and take out a dish already prepared, except for heating!

Mashed Potato Casserole

Five or ten pound bags of white potatoes are often "Buy One, Get One Free," so in order to take advantage of these special prices, without them spoiling, you can cook, mash and freeze them into multiple casseroles for later. This is a delicious and convenient recipe from the "More-With-Less Cookbook" by Doris Janzen Longacre. If your family does not like spinach, try substituting grated carrots or other vegetables, although it is very good plain, with vegetables served on the side. If potatoes are the only vegetable your children will eat, try mashing a few cooked carrots or some sweet potato in with the white potatoes. When I've done this, my family thought I had added cheese. A sprinkle of dried dill weed before baking adds extra flavor and color.

Cook and mash: 3 to 4 large potatoes.

1/3 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
1/2 tsp. sugar (given in recipe, but not necessary)
1/4 cup butter

Add just enough milk to bring to proper consistency and beat until fluffy.

1/8 tsp. dill seed
2 tsp. chives, chopped
1 cup cooked spinach, well drained, chopped

Place in greased casserole and top with 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese. May be made a day or two ahead and refrigerated, or make a double recipe and freeze half to add to a future oven meal.

Frozen Cranberry Salad

1 2-pound can crushed pineapple, drained
1 can whole cranberry sauce
1 cup sour cream

Mix together and put in ice cube trays or in a 9x9 glass dish. Sprinkle chopped nuts on top. Freeze overnight. Can be used for salad or dessert.

Frozen Individual Cranberry Molds

1 can whole cranberry sauce
1/2 cup sugar (or less)
8 oz. crushed pineapple with juice
1 cup chopped pecans
8 oz. sour cream

Mix together all ingredients and freeze in muffin cups.

* Either cranberry recipe is a great make-ahead salad or dessert for Thanksgiving or Christmas! Of course, either recipe can be frozen in a large mold, glass dish, muffin cups, custard cups or individual molds.

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Dressing or Stuffing

I like to make a large dishpan full of stuffing at Thanksgiving, so I can freeze the extra and completely skip the process for Christmas as it's already done! I don't really use a recipe for this, but make it as my mother always did. Cube bread (whole wheat and white mixture) and let it dry out on a large tray for a day or so. Sometimes I dry it in a dishpan, stirring occasionally over a 2 to 3 day period. Melt butter, add chicken broth, beaten eggs, lots of cooked celery and onions (sometimes a small amount of grated carrots for color), salt, onion salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, other dried herbs (parsley, Greek oregano, thyme, rosemary or tarragon, etc.). Stir well. Add enough bread crumbs for a slightly moist mixture. I bake it in a greased dish, (rather than in the bird) at 350 F. until golden brown on top. Don't over bake. The unbaked stuffing mixture will freeze great in containers or freezer bags to serve later.

Pumpkin Cake

2 cups sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups flour
2 cups pumpkin (1 lb. Can)

Cream sugar, eggs, and oil until all traces of oil are gone. Add dry ingredients. Mix. Add pumpkin and mix. Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan and bake at 350 F. for 1 hour, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.


3 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. butter
2 cups confectioners sugar

Confetti Corn

If you want to save last minute meal preparation, cut a couple pats of butter into a microwavable casserole dish. Add finely chopped fresh or frozen green pepper, a jar of chopped pimento, dill weed and frozen corn. Cover and put dish in the freezer. On the day you are ready to serve the corn, take from freezer and microwave as you normally microwave corn. Add salt to taste just before serving. To cook on top of the stove, add a small amount of water first. This is a quick, tasty and colorful dish -- yellow with red and green!

Lois Breneman is the Editor of the Heart to Heart Newsletter, bringing encouragement to women. She shares many creative ideas for the Christian family, - regarding homemaking, marriage, children and so much more.

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