Friday, October 18, 2013

Day 18… Homemade Andes Mints


Homemade Andes Mints | Day 18 Make Ahead Holiday Recipes | the Prairie Cottage

I first saw this recipe on I’m Topsy Turvy’s blog a couple years ago and have wanted to try them ever since.  My photos are not nearly as nice as hers, so please click, over to her blog for the full tutorial and recipe :)

The recipe only has a few ingredients.  I used the candy melts from my local Michael's.  I used two bags of dark chocolate and one bag of green for the middle layer.  It was a little difficult to find peppermint oil {not extract}…  The grocery stores, Walmart, Joann’s, and Michaels don’t carry it, but I did finally find it at Hobby Lobby!  Make sure you have the oil based candy flavoring oil and not peppermint extract. 

I followed all of Topsy’s steps and it really was easy.  It took a LOT longer for the layers to turn from glossy to matte than hers did – about 30 minutes.  The layers are stuck together just fine, but we waited to long to cut them into squares.  So the edges aren’t as pretty… oh well.

Freezer Friendly Homemade Andes Mints | Day 18 Make Ahead Holiday Recipes | the Prairie Cottage

It really makes a huge amount of Andes mints!!  I tossed them into the freezer in air tight containers and will have lots to give away over Christmas!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Day 17… Sweet Potato Casserole with Streusel Topping


Sweet Potato Casserole Freezer Side Dish | Day 17... Make Ahead Holiday Recipes | the Prairie Cottage

Every family has their own favorite version of sweet potatoes, but many times they have marshmallows on top.  I'm not a fan of the marshmallows and love this recipe because it has a streusel crumb topping instead.

It's really very good and can be easily prepped the day before baking or prepped and frozen for up to 3 months.  If you like sweet potatoes, I hope you’ll give it a try!

To make the mashed sweet potatoes, you can use drained canned or fresh sweet potatoes.  Peel, quarter and boil until tender, if using fresh sweet potatoes.

SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

5 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup melted butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Crumb topping:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cold butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans {we have nut issues and don’t add these}

In a mixing bowl, mash sweet potatoes and then add brown sugar, whole milk, butter, eggs, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.  Mix until smooth and pour into a greased 2-quart baking dish.

Combine brown sugar, flour and pecans (if using them) and cut in butter until crumbly.  Sprinkle over sweet potato mixture.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until bubbly and the crumbs just begin to brown.

FREEZER DIRECTIONS:  Pour the unbaked sweet potato mixture into a Ziploc bag or freezer safe container and seal.  Mix streusel crumbs and put them into a separate bag or container.  Label both and store together in freezer for up to 3 months.

TO BAKE:  Thaw sweet potatoes and crumb topping in refrigerator.  Pour thawed sweet potato mixture into a greased baking dish and sprinkle crumbs on top.  Bake as above, uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Day 16… Make Ahead Turkey Stuffing {Dressing}


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This is my Grammy’s recipe, which we have been using to make our Thanksgiving turkey stuffing for more than 40 years.  I think the original recipe may have come from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook…. the red and white checked one :) 

Although we used to cook the stuffing right in the turkey, we now cook it separately.  It is a much safer method to cook the turkey if you do not stuff it first.

Making the stuffing ahead gives the flavors more time to mingle.  I prefer to make it now and freeze it, but it can also be made 1-2 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator until ready to bake.  Either way saves precious prep time on holidays!

You can use your personal favorite stuffing recipe.  Here is Grammy’s recipe:

OLD FASHIONED STUFFING

1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 cups seasoned dry bread cubes {I like Pepperidge Farms cubes}
1-2 cups chicken broth

Put dry bread cubes into a large bowl.  Melt butter and sauté celery and onion until tender.  Stir in poultry seasoning, sage, and salt.  Add to bread cubes and stir.  Add enough broth to moisten without it being soggy.

Put in casserole dish, cover and store in freezer (up to 2 months) or refrigerate (for 1-2 days).  When ready to heat, thaw completely in refrigerator.  Bake at 325 degrees with cover or foil on top until hot, 1 to 1-1/4 hours.  Remove foil the last 20-30 minutes to brown the top. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Day 15… Make Ahead Gravy {Freezer Gravy}


Make Ahead Turkey Gravy {Freezer Gravy} | Day 15 Make Ahead Holiday Recipes | the Prairie cottage

To go along with your freezer mashed potatoes, you’ll want to make some gravy!  This gravy can made ahead up to 3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator or frozen for up to 2 months.   

MAKE AHEAD TURKEY GRAVY

6 turkey wings (I often use chicken, as it is easier to find)
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
1 cup water 
8 cups chicken broth
3 carrots, cut in chunks
3 stalks celery with leaves, cut in chunks
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Roast wings and onions at a 400 degree oven for 1 to 1-1/4 hours or until wings are browned.  If you want a lighter colored gravy, roast the wings and vegetables for a shorter time, until they are cooked, but not brown.

Place browned wings and onions in a 5 quart stockpot. Add 1 cup water to roasting pan and stir, to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour the roasting pan water into the stockpot.  Stir in carrots, celery, thyme and 6 cups of chicken broth {reserve 2 cups in the refrigerator}.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 1-1/2 hours.

Strain contents of stockpot through a large strainer into a 3 quart saucepan. {When the wings cool, you can pull off the meat and save for another use}.  Press on the vegetables to extract any remaining liquid, then discard them. 

Skim the fat off the liquid and pour back into the saucepan.  Bring to a gentle boil.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour into the remaining 2 cups chicken broth until smooth. Gradually whisk the flour mixture into the simmering turkey broth; simmer 3-4 minutes or until the gravy has thickened. Stir in the butter and pepper.

Serve immediately or pour into containers and refrigerate or freeze.

To Freeze:  Pour into freezer containers or Ziploc bags.  Freeze for up to 2 months.  Thaw in refrigerator overnight.  Reheat in a saucepan, stirring with a whisk. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Day 14… Make Ahead Freezer Mashed Potatoes


Freezer mashed potatoes | Day 14 make ahead holiday recipes | the prairie cottage

This warm and creamy comfort food is not difficult to make, but does require a bit of prep work.  What with the peeling and boiling and all.  So I like to save time by making a large batch and freezing them ahead in meal-sized portions. 

But even if you don’t want to freeze them, go ahead and make them up to the point of baking the day before your big event.  It makes for almost no work the day you serve them :)

In case you don’t already have a mashed potato recipe, this is the recipe I use:

FREEZER MASHED POTATOES

10 lbs. potatoes
2 cloves garlic (optional, but I always use)
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/4 to 1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt

Optional:  Chopped chives, bacon, shredded cheese

Peel, quarter and place potatoes in large pan.  Cover completely with water and add garlic cloves.  Boil potatoes until tender.  Remove garlic cloves and drain well. 

In a large bowl mash potatoes and stir in softened cream cheese, sour cream, butter, and salt.  I do this in batches with my Kitchenaid, then combine it all together in a large bowl before packaging for the freezer.    

Freezer Directions:  Spoon potatoes into freezer bags or casserole dish and freeze.  Divide it out into smaller portions if you need less servings.  I like to also have some smaller bags for use in recipes like shepherd’s pie, etc.

To Serve:  Thaw completely in refrigerator.  Pour into a casserole dish (if you used freezer bags).  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until heated through.  Stir occasionally to make sure they are heating evenly.  They may look watery when you first heat them, but don’t panic!  As they heat through and you stir them, it will turn back to the original consistency.  

Near the end of reheating, I like to stir in a bit more butter and/or sour cream, then sprinkle cheese on top :)

You’ll love having mashed potatoes handy in the freezer!

Make Ahead Freezer Mashed Potatoes | the prairie cottage day 14 make ahead holiday recipes

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Day 13… Freezer Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole (Funeral Potatoes)


Freezer hashbrown casserole | make ahead meals day 13 | the prairie cottage

This comfort food needs little introduction and is a freezer favorite!

FREEZER CHEESY HASHBROWN CASSEROLE

2 lb. frozen hash brown potatoes {thawed enough to mix, but still mostly frozen}
1/2 cup
chopped onion
2 cups sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2-1/2 cups grated cheese {reserve 1 cup of cheese for top of casserole}

Mix together onion, sour cream, soup, 1-1/2 cups of cheese, salt and pepper until well blended.

Add the hash browns and stir gently until coated.

Pour into a freezer safe 9 x 13 casserole dish and sprinkle with reserved shredded cheese. 

Alternately, you can pour the potato mixture into a Ziploc bag.  Put the reserved shredded cheese in a separate Ziploc bag and then store them together in the freezer.

Place in freezer for up to 6 months.

When ready to cook, thaw in refrigerator for 24 hours.  If you froze in Ziplocs, put the potatoes in your casserole dish and sprinkle reserved cheese on top.

Bake at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly around the edges, about 35-40 minutes.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Day 12… Freezing Onions, Celery and Peppers

 

How to freeze onions, celery and peppers | Make Ahead Recipes Day 12  |  the prairie cottage

A few of the upcoming make ahead recipes call for chopped onions, celery, and/or peppers.  Freezing said chopped celery, peppers or onions a couple times a year is a necessity for me.  Not only do I hate buying them for a recipe that uses a small amount and then having the rest go to waste, but it is such a time saver having them prepped and ready to go when you’re trying to throw a meal together. 

And when you chop the onions all at once…. you only suffer onion tears once, too  :)

Celery, peppers and onions that are chopped and frozen are perfect for any recipe that will not require them to be crisp-tender when cooked.  Like sauces, soups, casseroles, meatloaf, etc.  They won’t be crisp in stir fry or steamed dishes… but still taste good! 

First, chop them up how you usually do.  I chop at least 5 pounds of onions at a time, along with several bunches of celery and a dozen or so peppers.  Because I’m prepping a large amount, I prefer to dice them up in the food processor.  But if you have just a few to chop, a knife works just as well.

Line a cookie sheet with wax paper.  Spread the chopped vegetables into a thin, even layer with a spatula.  Freeze 6 hours or overnight.  Break apart the frozen sheet of vegetables into smaller pieces and store in Ziploc bags in your freezer.  Store in the freezer up to 6 months. 

You just saved yourself loads of time!

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