Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Prep: Make-Ahead Dishes

big pot of sweet potatoes

If you're cooking a big meal this weekend, you know there's a lot to be done. The trick is to do as much now as you can so you can actually enjoy the day and interact with your guests.

What can you do now? Start with mashed potatoes. Did you know you can make these ahead? At the very least, you can peel, cut, and boil them ahead. Pot in the fridge and warm up tomorrow, then mash and add milk and butter. Or you can mash them now, adding just enough milk to make them stick together. Tomorrow, heat up and add more hot milk, butter, and salt to taste.

Sweet potatoes are a cinch to prepare ahead too. Reader Megan suggested not peeling the sweet potatoes. I admit I was skeptical, but it worked like a charm. Just clean and chop your sweet potatoes into chunks, then boil until tender (15-20 minutes usually). Mine are now cooked and waiting in the fridge to be finished tomorrow. (That pot held about 4 lb of sweet potatoes. I'll add 2 peeled and sliced apples, sauted in butter, apple juice, and cinnamon until falling apart, then mash them together, adding additional cinnamon and nutmeg to taste.)

Making your cranberry sauce ahead takes only a few minutes. Recipe up next!

The best use of your time today, if you don't have much, is to make your dessert ahead. I'm making caramel apple pie bites and pumpkin cheesecake. The pumpkin cheesecake is Paula Deen's. The apple pie recipe is coming shortly. Making dessert ahead frees you up to spend time with your guests during dinner and afterward, rather than fussing over dessert. Set up your coffee pot with decaf and water before your guests arrive, and you'll be able to just press the button while you plate dessert and have coffee ready to go.

No comments: