Entertaining

5 THANKSGIVING DISHES TO MAKE AHEAD

On Thanksgiving, turkey may be cast as the lead player,  but the side dishes often steal the show as family favorites. But, as anyone who makes the big dinner knows, putting together and cooking the side dishes pose a few challenges.

We’ve got some great ideas and recipes for you to make ahead of Thanksgiving day that will give you plenty of room in your kitchen to cook and serve all of your side dish favorites.  Some of these recipes can be made before Thanksgiving, while others can be made first thing in the morning and set aside for serving at dinner later in the day.

MAKE AHEAD MASHED POTATOES

They’re a classic for a reason. Few things complement turkey better than creamy, smooth mashed potatoes. But, taking the time to peel, cook and the mash the potatoes takes up a lot of valuable time on Thanksgiving Day.

There’s a secret to this mashed potato recipe from What’s Cooking America : you use a slow cooker instead of the already crammed oven. Put the frozen potatoes in the slow cooker about three-and-a-half hours before mealtime and let them cook, covered, on low. You only need to stir them once or twice and add butter at the end for a delicious potato side dish.

A NEW TAKE ON AN OLD CASSEROLE

The traditional green bean casserole is a must-have on many holiday tables. However, getting it in the oven while the turkey is cooking can prove to be a problem.

The Food Network released a green bean casserole recipe you can make and freeze up to two weeks in advance. Another benefit of this recipe: even though it is made from scratch (no canned soup here), it has basic ingredients and takes less than 30 minutes to put together.

On Thanksgiving Day, all you need to do is put a new foil cover on the casserole and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees, adding the fried onions during the last 20 minutes. If you’re taking the casserole to a guest’s house, consider purchasing a casserole carrier and leaving it with the host as a hostess gift.

SAVE TIME WITH THESE TWO STUFFING SELECTIONS

If you’re like me, I cheat with the stuffing and start with a box brand, adding my own ingredients to jazz it up a little. You can make this stuffing on Thanksgiving Day, because it only takes a few minutes on the stove top. My secret is then coating a large slow cooker with butter-flavored spray and putting the cooked stuffing inside the pot. I add a little liquid—usually chicken stock—to keep it moist and leave it on low to keep it warm until serving time.

If you like a homemade stuffing, Better Homes and Gardens has an easy, old-fashioned bread stuffing recipe that can be prepped up to 24 hours in advance or be made in a slow cooker as well. Make sure to follow the directions on the recipe carefully; the stuffing is not to be baked at all until the day of the meal and needs about 40 minutes to cook.

A SIMPLE, SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

Is it a side dish? Is it a dessert? The traditional sweet potato casserole, with it’s melty marshmallow topping makes a case for both and this Southern Living recipe is a down-home, from-scratch dish that works well as a prepare ahead option.The only adjustment needed to make this recipe ahead of Thanksgiving is to leave off the toppings until it’s time to reheat and serve.

NO TIME-CRUNCH WITH THESE CRANBERRIES

For many families, it’s just not Thanksgiving without the cranberry sauce. If you’re looking for an easy recipe that goes beyond opening a can, then take a look at Parenting’s recipe for this delicious orange-cranberry sauce.

With only four ingredients and a one pot creation, it is incredibly simple and can be covered and refrigerated for up to one week before the Thanksgiving meal.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking to save time or space (or both) on Thanksgiving Day, having simple and creative recipes to make ahead of time will make even the cook’s holiday a little brighter.