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.


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}


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:


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.   


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:


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!


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!

Day 11… Freezing Chili (Mega Batch Chili)

Large batch freezer chli | the prairie cottage | Day 11 make ahead holiday recipes

My recipe is at the end of this post….  but please use your family’s favorite recipe!! And times it by 2 or more to have extra in the freezer over the winter months.  (I times my recipe by 5 and cook it in a large canning kettle). 

Once your chili is made, to freeze it, cool completely and then ladle into zipper bags.  Freeze flat on cookie trays.  When they are frozen solid, remove and stack in freezer.  

I think of chili as a holiday recipe, because I use it to make Indian Tacos for my boys’ birthdays.  Their birthdays are both in mid-December – and only 1 day apart!  They have always wanted to celebrate their birthday together.  I only make Indian tacos once a year, so they can have something special that is a little bit different from normal December/holiday meals on their birthday :)

Another favorite chili dish is “train wreck.”  We also enjoy having it as regular old bowl of chili, too!  Chili freezes well for at least 6 months and you’ll find lots of ways to enjoy freezer chili all winter long!


1 pound ground beef
1 medium green pepper, chopped
2 cups chopped onion 
2-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1.5 cups soaked and cooked dry beans (or 2 – 16 oz. cans)
28 ounces diced tomatoes
16 oz. tomato sauce
1 tablespoon each ground cumin and chili powder
2 tablespoons oregano
1 teaspoon basil
Salt, to taste.  You will need more if not using canned beans

Cook beef, peppers, onions and garlic until meat is browned.  Drain well.  Return to pot and stir in remaining ingredients.  Adjust spices, if you prefer a hotter chili.  Cover and simmer 2 or more hours (longer is better). 

Freezer Directions:  Cool completely and ladle into zipper bags or freezer containers.  Freeze on cookie trays until they are frozen solid, remove and stack in freezer.  

To eat, thaw frozen chili on a plate in the refrigerator overnight, then warm and eat or use in any recipe that calls for chili.


Train Wreck and large batch freezer chli | the prairie cottage | Day 11 make ahead holiday recipes

Friday, October 11, 2013

Day 10… Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake | the prairie cottage | Day 10... make ahead holiday recipes

Another yummy cake that is moist and delicious fresh and after freezing.  Make it ahead now to enjoy over the holidays!

This makes a large Bundt cake, which you can slice and then freeze the slices.  Or make it in loaf pans and freeze the whole loaf.  The original recipe had frosting, which made the cake too sweet for us.  So we dust the top with powdered sugar…


3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon each of salt, ground allspice & ground cloves
4 eggs
1 can pumpkin (16 oz.)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixer bowl until well blended. Add remaining ingredients except chocolate chips. Mix well. Stir the chocolate chips in by hand. Pour into a greased Bundt pan or 2 large loaf pans. Bake 1 hour & 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar when cool, if desired.

Freezing Directions:  Bake and cool completely.  Wrap with plastic wrap and place in zipper bag.  Freeze up to 6 months.

Day 9… Pumpkin Pie

Freezer pumpkin pie filling | the prairie cottage

Did you know that you can prep your pumpkin pie filling now and freeze it to bake on Thanksgiving?  Just mix it up, pour into a labeled Ziploc bag or freezer container and pop it into the freezer next to your freezer pie crusts.  When you’re ready to bake, just pour into a prepared pie crust and bake as per usual.

We actually like pumpkin filling that has been frozen more than filling that is made and immediately baked.  It gives the spices more time to meld.

This is just the basic recipe that is on the back of Libby’s pumpkin - times 2.  I baked one and froze one :)  


2          9” deep dish pie crusts
2         15 oz. cans pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix!)
2         12 oz. cans evaporated milk
1         cup sugar
1         teaspoon salt
1          teaspoons ground cinnamon
1          teaspoon ground ginger
1/2       teaspoons ground cloves
4          large eggs

Place all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix to blend.  Pour into a prepared pies shell(s) and bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Cover crust with foil or a pie crust shield to keep the crust from browning too quickly.  Drop temperature to 350 and bake for 40 – 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Freezing pumpkin pie filling  | the prairie cottage | 30 days of make ahead holiday recipes

Freezer Directions:  Pour mixed pumpkin pie filling into a Ziploc bag (or freezer container).  Place on a cookie sheet for stability and flash freeze.  Remove from cookie sheet and freeze for up to 6 months. 

And in related news…

HaPPy BiRThDaY Nolan Ryan!!

Noli Ri's 7th Birthday 2013

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Day 8… Lemon Poppy Seed Bread


Lemon Poppy Seed Cake... Make Ahead Holiday Recipes Day 8...  the Prairie Cottage

This recipe is a little bit like the Costco muffin recipe from Day 7, except I like to freeze this bread already baked.  It’s so handy to have ready for a quick dessert. I’ve posted it before, but wanted to include it in this make ahead holiday series.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake... Make Ahead Holiday Recipes Day 8...  the Prairie Cottage


1 yellow cake mix
1 package (3 oz.) instant lemon pudding mix
3 tablespoons flour {high altitude use 4 tablespoons}
2 tablespoons poppy seeds 
4 eggs
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil 

Place dry ingredients into a mixer bowl.  Mix to combine.  Add wet ingredients and mix for 2 minutes.  Bake @ 350 in 2 loaf pans or 1 Bundt pan 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out cleanly.

Chocolate Poppy Seed Cake:  Chocolate cake mix and chocolate instant pudding. 
Almond Vanilla Poppy Seed Cake:  White cake mix, vanilla instant pudding and add 1 teaspoon almond extract. 

**Freezer Directions:   Cool completely.  Wrap in saran wrap and freeze in a freezer container or Ziploc bag.


PS.  I had jury duty this week and now I’m a wee bit behind on the 31 day series… but I’ll get there eventually :)

Day 7… How to Freeze Muffins

How to freeze muffins :: the prairie cottage

I like this method of freezing muffins the best!  It will work with all of your favorite muffin recipes.  So easy to have them fresh from the oven in the morning and you only have to do the prep work once!

I found this recipe on Pinterest.  But use any recipe you may already enjoy.  I like to double the recipe, bake a few and freeze the rest for later.

How to freeze muffins :: the prairie cottage



1 box cake mix
2 tablespoons flour
3 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon baking powder

Mix all ingredients together.  Spoon into prepared muffin cups.  Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned. 

Almond Poppy Seed:  White cake mix, mix 2T poppy seeds and 1t almond extract
Chocolate Muffins:  Chocolate cake mix and stir in 1 1/2 C chocolate chips
Lemon Poppy Seed:  Lemon cake mix and 2T poppy seeds
Spice Cake Muffins:  Spice cake mix and add cinnamon sugar topping before baking
Blueberry Muffins:  White cake mix and add 1-2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

How to freeze muffins :: the prairie cottage

Freezer Directions:  Spoon batter into muffin cups in a muffin tin.  Flash freeze for 30-60 minutes, then remove from the muffin tin and place in zipper bags or freezer containers.  Label and return to freezer.

To bake, remove desired amount of frozen muffin cups from the freezer.  Put them back into the muffin tin and bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Day 6… Freezer Quiche

Make Ahead Aztec Quiche freezer recipe ::  the prairie cottage  31 days of make ahead recipes

One of my most favorite freezer meals ever!  Now that you have a stockpile of pie crust discs in the freezer, the hard part is already done!  But frozen store-bought pie crusts work great, too, if you’re pressed for time or would rather not make your own pie crust.

This recipe is for 1 quiche.  I times this recipe by 3-4 when making them for the freezer.   

AZTEC QUICHE (per quiche)

1 (9 inch) prepared pie crust (a metal pan works best for the freezer)
1-1/4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3/4 cup shredded Colby or mild cheddar
1 can (4 oz.) diced green chilies or jalapenos (if you want more spice)
1 cup half-and-half
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

Note:  We substitute shredded Colby-Jack for the 2 cheeses in the original recipe. 

Spread the 1/2 the shredded cheese in the bottom of the pie crust.  Sprinkle diced green chilies over the cheese:

Aztec quiche  the prairie cottage  Make ahead holiday recipes

Whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, salt and cumin.  (I use my Kitchenaid mixer for this, when making more than one).  Pour over the cheese and chilies and sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese. 

the prairie cottage  freezer quiche

Put the filled crusts on a cookie sheet and find a level spot in the freezer for it.  Freeze completely, then remove from cookie sheet and place in a Ziploc bag.  Return to freezer. 

When ready to bake a quiche, remove it from the Ziploc bag and thaw on a plate in refrigerator.  Bake uncovered at 325 degrees for 40-50 minutes.  It’s done when a knife can be removed cleanly from the center.

If you’re really in a hurry, it can be baked from frozen, but you need to add a few minutes baking time… maybe 10-15 minutes?  Keep an eye on the edges of the crust and cover with foil if they are browning too fast. 

Let cool 10 minutes before cutting and serving.  We like salsa, sour cream and guacamole with ours :)


This freezing technique will apply to any quiche recipe.   Use your own recipe and layer the cheese, meat, and/or vegetables called for in the recipe into the crust.   Pour in the egg, liquids and seasonings.  Flash freeze.  Wrap.  Return to freezer.  Thaw.  Bake.  Enjoy!

Bacon and Swiss, broccoli and cheese, ham and asparagus…  What’s your favorite quiche?  I’d love to try it!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Day 5… Freezer Pie Crusts

the prairie cottage :: homemade pie crusts for the freezer

I like to make a lot of pies.  And on cold winter days we love quiche or pot pie for dinner. 

It is so fiddly, though, to make pie crust one or two at a time.  (And clean up the mess over and over!).  Much easier mixing up one large batch of pie crust to store in the freezer.  Having a supply of ready-made pie crust is worth the initial effort!!

My recipe calls for Crisco, but if I have enough, I like to substitute butter for half of the shortening.  I weigh 1.5 pounds each of butter and Crisco when gathering the ingredients.

And because this amount of ingredients doesn’t fit in my Kitchenaid, I end up using my hands to mix in the ice water :) 

the prairie cottage :: homemade pie crusts for the freezer


3 pound can Crisco vegetable shortening
5 pounds all-purpose flour
3 cups ice water
2 tablespoons salt

1.   Mix flour and salt in a very large bowl or pan.

2.   Cut in Crisco until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal

3.   Add water all at once and mix very gently until the dough forms into a ball. 

4.   Divide into 18-20 portions and pat each into a disc.  Flash freeze OR wrap each disc in plastic wrap and store in Ziploc bags in the freezer.  May be stored in freezer up to 1 year.   

5.   When ready to make a pie, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.  Dust dough, board and rolling pin with flour and roll into pie crust.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Day 4… Candy Corn Cookies


the Prairie Cottage :: Candy Corn Sugar Cookies. Make Ahead Holiday Recipes Day 3

These are fun to make now and have in the freezer for the harvest and Halloween parties in a few weeks. 

Really easy…

Prepare your favorite sugar cookie dough, but instead of rolling and cutting the dough, separate it into 3 portions.  The smallest will be left plain (white) for the tip.  Color the next largest portion yellow. The third portion needs to be colored orange and just slightly larger than the yellow portion. You can use liquid or paste food coloring.

Now roll and pat the orange and yellow into rectangles that are roughly the same size.  Roll the white into the same length.  They don’t have to be perfect!

Yellow, orange, white… Stack them together and form into a triangle shape. 

Refrigerate until firm. Slice and bake. We like thin slices, but slice as thickly as you would like :)

Cool completely before freezing. I use a large lidded plastic tupperware type container with a lid, to keep them from getting crushed.

the Prairie Cottage :: Candy Corn Sugar Cookies. Make Ahead Holiday Recipes Day 3


My sugar cookie recipe is below, but any sugar cookie recipe will work!


2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon rind (the dried kind is fine)
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1 tablespoon cream

Cream together the shortening and sugar. Add eggs and whip until light and fluffy. Add cream, nutmeg, lemon rind, and baking powder and mix. Stir in flour to make a firm dough. Chill at least 1 hour. Roll thin and cut out with a floured cookie cutter. Place cookies on a lightly greased cookie sheet. If using sprinkles, add them before baking. Bake at 350, 7 minutes for thin cookies- up to 12 minutes for thicker cookies.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Day 3… Scarecrow Crunch and World Famous Chex Mix

the Prairie Cottage: Scarecrow Crunch with Freezer Instructions

Scarecrow Crunch… It’s my favorite.  It had me at caramel corn and Reese’s Pieces :)

I’ve already shared this tasty treat a couple times so I’ll send you HERE for the recipe. 

Since it doesn’t have any added liquid, butter or spices, it can be made ahead and stored in the pantry for a couple of weeks.  Just make sure to store in an airtight container with a lid.

And you may want to mark it with something disgusting (like liver treats) to keep little hands from snacking on it ;)

When freezing it ahead, I leave out the candy corn and Reese’s pieces until I remove it from the freezer.  Mix the remaining ingredients and store in the freezer in a regular zipper bag or freezer container.  And make sure it has a space in the freezer where something heavy won’t crush it.  It can be frozen for up to 6 months. 

Isn’t it purdy?

the Prairie Cottage: Scarecrow Crunch with Freezer Instructions

World Famous Chex Mix is also freezer friendly.  It makes a lot and it’s nice to have a supply in the freezer for last minute snacks. 

the Prairie Cottage :  world famous chex mix make ahead recipe

I’ve had this recipe for a long time... not sure why it’s called “world famous,” but it is our absolute favorite!  It can be made ahead up to a week in advance and stored in the pantry or frozen for up to 6 months.  To freeze, allow to cool completely and then store in freezer containers or zipper bags in the freezer.  As with the scarecrow crunch, make sure it doesn’t get squished by heavier items!


11 cups Crispix cereal
4 cups Cheerios
4 cups pretzel sticks or small twists
4-5 cups goldfish or Cheez-It crackers (or combination of both)

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
5 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Gently mix Crispix, Cheerios, pretzels and cheese crackers in a large roaster. 

Melt the butter over low heat and stir in spices and Worcestershire sauce until combined. 

Drizzle butter mixture over cereals and stir gently to coat the pieces evenly. 

When mixed thoroughly, place in 225 degree oven for 1 to 1.5 hours.  Stir every 15 minutes.  It’s finished when there are no longer any wet pieces and it’s light and crispy.

Let cool and store in freezer or pantry. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Day 2… Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup

Pumpkin Spice Syrup.  Freezer friendly or keep in fridge up to 1 month.  {{the prairie cottage}}

Over the 31 days, there will be a mix of sweets and treats, main and side dishes and even a few gift ideas :) I’ve tried to share ideas that may not be thought of as something that could be made ahead.

I’m going begin with fall and Thanksgiving recipes.  I love fall and Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays!  

One of the things I look forward to most in the fall is Pumpkin Spice appearing on the Starbucks menu!  I recently heard you can make your own pumpkin spice syrup to make lattes at home and I’m so excited to share this simple recipe with you!


1.5 cups water
1.5 cups sugar
1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon ginger 
1/2 teaspoon cloves 
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg


1.  In a saucepan, simmer water on medium-low until the sugar dissolves.

2.  Stir in the spices and pumpkin puree.  Simmer gently for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

3. Once it has thickened slightly, remove from heat and strain through a mesh strainer.  This step is optional and is only to remove some of the spices, so they won’t end up as sludge in the bottom of your cup.  I do strain mine, then rinse the strainer and strain once more ;)

4.  Store in a jar or other airtight container. The syrup lasts for 1 month in the refrigerator. 

FREEZER DIRECTIONS:  The syrup will keep up to 6 months, when stored in the freezer.  Allow to cool completely.  Pour into a freezer safe container (I like to use recycled Coffee-Mate containers to store syrup in the freezer).  Be sure to leave at least 1.5 inches of headroom at the top.  The syrup will expand when frozen and needs the extra space at the top of the container.  Once removed from the freezer, store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

LATTE DIRECTIONS:  To make into a latte, add 2-4 tablespoons of this syrup to warm milk or half and half in the bottom of a mug and then add hot espresso or coffee.  If you have whipped cream for the top, it will taste even better!   


Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup with freezer directions |the Prairie cottage|

I just made a double batch of this pumpkin yumminess.  Half the syrup is in the fridge to enjoy through October and the rest is waiting in the freezer to be used over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Hope you get a chance to try some pumpkin spice.  The syrup makes a great homemade gift, too!

Monday, September 30, 2013

31 Days…

31 days of make ahead holiday recipes

October's almost here and it’s time for the Nester’s 31 day series.  I love following along with some of the bloggers and their 31 topics every fall and this year, I’m going to try being one of them. 

I've thought a lot about what I want to write about for 31 days in a row.  To be honest I don't feel like an expert in any topic, but I've decided to share 31 recipes that can be made ahead before the busy holiday season.

This year I want to try and simplify the holiday baking/cooking.  So I’ll be preparing many of our favorite holiday recipes ahead of time.  Some of the recipes came be made weeks or months in advance and kept in the freezer until needed.  Others are made a few days in advance.  Both methods will help simplify the busy holiday season.

I’ll be posting a recipe each day and posting the link here.  Will you join me in simplifying our holidays and making a few dishes ahead of time this year?

DAY 1:       31 Days of Make Ahead Holiday Recipes….
DAY 2:       Pumpkin Spice Syrup
DAY 3:       Scarecrow Crunch and World Famous Chex Mix
DAY 4:       Candy Corn Cookies
DAY 5:       Homemade Pie Crust for the Freezer
DAY 6:       Aztec Quiche… Make Ahead Freezer Quiche
DAY 7:       Freezer Muffins
DAY 8:       Lemon Poppy Seed Bread
DAY 9:       Freezer Pumpkin Pie
DAY 10:     Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake
DAY 11:     Mega Batch Chili
DAY 12:     Freezing Onions, Peppers, and Celery
DAY 13:     Freezer Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole
DAY 14:     Make Ahead Freezer Mashed Potatoes
DAY 15:     Freezer Turkey Gravy
DAY 16:     Turkey Stuffing {Dressing}
DAY 17:     Sweet Potato Casserole with Streusel Topping
DAY 18:     Homemade Andes Mints
DAY 19:     
DAY 20:      
DAY 21:      
DAY 22:      
DAY 23:       
DAY 24:      
DAY 25:      
DAY 26:      
DAY 27:      
DAY 28:      
DAY 29:      
DAY 30:      
DAY 31:      

31 make ahead holiday recipes

Saturday, August 24, 2013

It’s already happening


Crabapple leaves are already turning - 08/15/2013


The crabapple and aspen leaves in my yard are already starting to turn!

Needless to say, I am not ready for fall. 

We’ve had a cool summer with rain and devastating hail… I hate to see our chances for warm weather come to an end.

I’ve been going through my Pinterest boards, looking for some fall inspiration. 

I need a little help this year switching to fall mode :)

Hope it is still warm where you are… have a great weekend, friends!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Words for my grandson…

Jacob Leroy:

For the Lord has chosen Jacob to be his own.

Israel to be his treasured possession.  

Psalm 135:4

Jacob Leroy

This is my new grandbaby, Jacob Leroy!

Isn’t he so, so sweet?!

Jacob Leroy June 2013

I really love the meaning of names and found that his name means:

Jacob = To track or follow
Leroy =  King

Jacob - June 2013

In the Bible, Jacob was one of the most important men in the old testament. 

He was the youngest son of Isaac and Rebecca, the twin brother of Esau and husband of both Leah and Rachel. 

God later changed Jacob’s name to Israel and the twelve tribes of Israel evolved from his twelve sons!

Awww... Jacob Leroy,  June 2013

Jacob Leroy,
May you always follow the True King and seek His presence. 
May you forever walk in the sunshine of Jesus love. 
And may your life always be filled with joy, wonder and laughter...

Sara, Jared and Jacob - June 2013

“No misfortune is seen in Jacob.  The Lord his God is with him.  Numbers 23:21

Monday, August 19, 2013

Oven Baked Barbecue Chicken & the Secret to Real Grill Taste


the Prairie Cottage: Oven baked barbecue chicken with grill tasted

I’ve had this recipe pinned for awhile and finally tried it a couple weeks ago.  The recipe is from Cooking with K and promises “real grill taste” in oven baked chicken.  Her secret is simply baking the chicken in a cast iron pan and it is by far the best oven barbecued chicken we’ve ever made!

K has a wonderful post with beautiful photos and I will refer you to her for the original recipe.  I only made a 1/2 recipe, as 10 chicken breasts were more than we needed.  Also.  I had to make a couple substitutions… I couldn’t find the Montreal seasoning and substituted Paula Deen’s house seasoning.  And we already had KC Masterpiece barbecue sauce, so I used that instead of Sweet Baby Ray’s.  My changes are below:

Oven Baked BBQ Chicken

5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (rinsed and patted dry)
1 teaspoon Paula Deen House Seasoning 
1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce

~Preheat oven to 375 degrees  
~Spray a 12-inch cast iron skillet with non stick cooking spray; set aside.
~Season chicken with house seasoning.
~Place the chicken in the cast iron skillet and bake for 45 minutes.
~Remove from the oven and generously spoon barbecue sauce over each piece of chicken.
~Turn the oven up to 425 degrees and return the chicken to the oven. 
~Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until chicken is done and barbecue sauce has thickened and slightly browned.

Hope you enjoy this BBQ chicken as much as we did!

the Prairie Cottage :: Oven baked bbq chicken with the secret to grill taste


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