Make Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes & Tips

Make Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes & TipsMake Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes & Tips

I love Thanksgiving for many reasons.  Its a time to see family and friends.  And it is holiday celebrated by all Americans.

This year, I am having quite a crowd at my house.  I’m excited about it, but a little nervous.  First of all its “Thanksgiving”, and we all expect certain dishes to be served.  Secondly, I don’t think I have ever prepared a meal for so many people!  Everyone will bring something but I am expecting about 30-35 people!  (I became a little more nervous since I just did a headcount!)  😉

I don’t want to spend all of my time in the kitchen.  I also don’t want to be so tired from preparing the meal that I can’t enjoy the day.  So I decided that I needed to find some tips to make things less hectic.

Whether you are having 30+ guests or cooking for just a few, it might be helpful to make some dishes before the big day!

Here are a few tips I found:

  • Make ahead Mashed Potatoes: You can make mashed potatoes up to 1-2 days ahead.  Take them out of the refrigerator and let them stand at room temperature for 30 mins. before baking.  Reheat at 350 degrees in a loosely foil-covered baking dish for approximately 20 minutes or until the center is hot.
  • Mashed Potatoes in Crock Pot: You can also take your “made ahead” mashed potatoes and put them in your crock pot to reheat.  Start heating them on low about 3 hours before you are ready to serve.
  • Prepare Cranberry Sauce Ahead: You can make your cranberry sauce a week ahead of time.  Just store it in a covered container in the refrigerator.
  • Prepare Stuffing Ahead: Prep your stuffing or dressing, (tastes good no matter what you call it!) a day in advance.  It will be all set to either bake or stuff inside your turkey.
  • Prepare and Freeze Stuffing in Advance: You can even freeze your “prepped” stuffing weeks in advance.  Take it out the night before and it will be ready for you to use on the big day.
  • Freeze Apple Pies: I haven’t tried this myself, but my mother used to freeze her apple pies.  They always tasted good!  No complaints there.  I’ve included the recipe below. 🙂

And also, here is my mom’s apple pie recipe:

Fresh Apple Pie

  • Pie crust
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar (or use half granulated and half brown sugar)
  • 1 to 2 tablesp. flour (if fruit is very juicy)
  • 1/8 teasp. salt
  • 1/2 teasp. grated lemon rind
  • 1 to 2 teasp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 teasp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 teasp. cinnamon
  • 6 to 7 cups thinly sliced, pared, cored cooking apples (2 lbs) – (use firm, tart, juicy cooking apples – my mother always used Rome apples, but Granny Smiths can also be used)
  • 1 tablesp. butter
  1. Lay bottom crust into a 9″ pie plate and refrigerate.
  2. Combine sugar with flour, salt, rind, lemon juice, nutmeg and cinnamon (amount of sugar depends on the tartness of the apples).
  3. Place half of the apples in pastry-lined pie plate, with the apple’s curved edges facing outward; sprinkle with half of sugar mixture.
  4. Top with rest of apples – heaping them into the center, then with the rest of sugar mixture.  Dot with butter.
  5. Lay your top crust on apples and seal the edges. Slit top crust.
  6. Bake 40 – 50 mins or until filing is tender and crust is nicely browned.

If you plan to make this pie ahead of time and freeze it for Thanksgiving, then you need to:

Make the pie as usual.  Some juicy fruit pies may require more thickening that usual when you freeze it, so you will want to up the flour, I would say double it.  Now you have 2 options – you can bake the pie, cool and freeze it.  Or you can freeze it unbaked (my preference).  If pie is unbaked, do not slit the top crust until you are ready to bake it.

When you are ready to serve your pie:

  • Unbaked frozen pie – slit the top crust and bake at 425 for 40-60 mins.
  • If your frozen pie is already baked – bake at 375 for 30-50 mins or until center is bubbling hot.

No matter what you cook or don’t cook, have a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy!

Gigi Howe

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