Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Keys to a Stress Free Thanksgiving: Prep and Make Ahead Dishes!

As many cooks know, the day before Thanksgiving is when most of the heavy work is done! I've just spent 3 hours peeling and chopping all the vegetables for tomorrow:

Butternut Squash

I also made 3 side dishes, mashed potatoes, cole slaw and cranberry sauce. The potatoes and cranberry sauce are recipes from Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman. The col slaw is made easier with the use of pre-shredded cabbage and carrots.

Cole Slaw:
Serves 10

2 bags cole slaw vegetables
1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 tbsp sour cream
3 tbsp shredded onion
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp dry mustard
3 tsp celery seed
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Open bags os vegetables into a large bowl. Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, onion, sugar, vinegar, mustard, celery seed, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl, and then add to the cabbage mixture. Mix well to combine and taste for seasoning; add more salt, pepper, or sugar if desired.

Cranberry Sauce:
Serves 10

2 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
2 cup cranberry juice
2 cup maple syrup
6 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoon grated orange rind

Wash the bags of cranberries under cool water, and then throw them into a medium saucepan. Pour in the cranberry juice and maple syrup. Add the orange juice and orange rind. Stir together and turn the heat on high until it reaches a boil and the berries begin to pop.

Turn down the heat to medium-low and continue cooking over the lower heat until the juice is thick, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat. Allow to cool, and then chill in the fridge. It should have a nice jelly-like consistency.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes:

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened, plus more for pan
5 pounds potatoes
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper

Peel and cut the potatoes into chunks. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Drain the potatoes in a large colander. Place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape before adding in all the other ingredients.

Turn off the heat and add 1 1/2 sticks butter, the cream cheese, heavy cream, seasoned salt, kosher salt and pepper. Mash to combine.

Spread the potatoes in the prepared baking dish. You can cover tightly and refrigerate for a day at this point. The day of serving, bake at 350* for 30 minutes.

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