Getting Thanksgiving on the Table

Thursday, November 13, 2014

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Thanksgiving in the freezer? Sounds a bit strange, but last year I pre-made a few of our Thanksgiving dinner items and stuck them in the freezer for that infamous Thursday.  It was a lifesaver!

I made the dressing and froze it in a 9 by 13 pan.  I even made a second pan of it for a friend because she loves it so much.  Here is the recipe:

To-Die-For Dressing
{Recipe from my dad}

7 oz.  herb seasoned dressing
7 oz. cornbread stuffing
15 slices dry bread cubes
2 large celery sticks, chopped fine
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups butter
3 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 1/2 tsp sage
chicken broth

Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add celery, onion, sage, and poultry seasoning.  Cook until onion and celery are soft. Put the cubed bread and the two types of stuffing (seasoned and cornbread) into the sauce and mix well.  Pour chicken broth over the bread to make the mixture sticky.  No dry or crunchy stuff!  Spray a pan with oil and put the dressing in the pan.  At this point you can freeze it or bake it for 30 minutes at 325 degrees.  You will need to thaw before baking if that is the route you take.

Mashed potatoes are another item that can be made ahead and put in a pan to be placed in the freezer.  Honestly, I never really use a recipe for mashed potatoes.  I basically peel and quarter the potatoes and cook them in boiling water until tender.  I then blend them in my Kitchen Aid with butter, chicken broth, and either milk, sour cream or cream cheese.

The dessert side of Thanksgiving can also be frozen whether it is a traditional pumpkin pie or another type of dessert.  My family loves pumpkin pie...that is the whole family except me.  While I like it I would prefer to have a different type of pie.  Here are some other options...not very traditional, but hey, why be boring?!  It is ok to mix it up a bit!

Peanut Butter Pie

1 graham cracker pie crust (or a chocolate pie crust)
1 (8oz) package cream cheese
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 T. vanilla
1 (8oz) carton of Cool Whip

Make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature.  Mix all ingredients together and pour into pie crust.  If desired, chop Reese's peanut butter cups and put on top or drizzle melted chocolate chips on top.  Refrigerate for at least four hours before serving.

Key Lime Pie

1 graham cracker crust
4 t. grated lime zest
4 egg yolks
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh lime juice

Preheat oven to 325. Whisk the lime zest and egg yolks together in a medium bowl for 2 minutes (I used my Kitchen Aide). Whisk in the sweetened condensed milk, then the lime juice. Let set a few minutes for the filling to thicken. Pour filling into the crust. Bake until the center is set, yet wiggly when jiggled, about 15 minutes. Cool at room temperature and then refrigerate at least three hours.

Caramel Apple Pie -- A little bit more work, but worth it! Better than normal apple pie!

So be creative! What can you stick in the freezer ahead of time to save you work on the big day?

If you are looking for other ideas on how to take a meal from freezer to table and save time and money check out Not Your Mother's Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook. Jessica offers loads of great ideas and recipes to make meals easier.

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