Over the years, I learned that a stressed out host makes for a lousy shindig. Because I was that host (sorry, friends and family!) So, over time, I changed. I chilled. In particular, these three things helped immensely:
- I simplified. As much as I want to make three desserts – one with flames, natch – it’s not worth losing my ever-loving mind to make it happen.
- I got myself a husband who sees to it that the house is spic-and-span so that I don’t have to worry about it. I seriously lucked out on that front.
- Make ahead, make ahead, make ahead. The freezer, in particular, is my very best friend. A best friend who helps make sure that I’m enjoying my guests, wine glass in hand, as opposed to sweating bullets and cursing quietly (or not so quietly) in the kitchen.
With its myriad of dishes – and large ones, at that – Thanksgiving is a prime candidate for the make-ahead strategy. Every year, I like to challenge myself to make as much as humanly possible ahead of time in early November (or even October). Man, does it help with Thanksgiving Day chaos.
With me?! If so, here are 5 Freeze-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes You Can Make Right Now – yep, right now!
Cranberry Sauce from Kitchen Treaty
My very favorite thing to make ahead and freeze for the big day. This recipe is for a basic (but delicious!) sauce, but if you’d like to mix it up, how about one of these? Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce, Honey Sweetened Orange, Orange Maple, Apple Cranberry, Spicy Apple, Ginger Pear, Lemon and Miso. So many options!
Vegetarian Onion Gravy from Kitchen Treaty
Freeze gravy, you say? Yes! Once when I was whipping up this recipe, I realized that with that list of ingredients, there was really no reason why it shouldn’t freeze and thaw perfectly. And it did! Make it, cool it, freeze it in an airtight container or zipper bag. Then pull it out a day or so before Thanksgiving and put it in the freezer. Once it’s thawed, you can just heat it up in a saucepan on the stove. It looks a little weird cold, but it comes right back together once it heats up. See also Vegan Garam Masala Brown Gravy – a new favorite!
Unlike most potato-potatoes, sweet potatoes are perfect for making ahead and freezing. Who knew?! Not me, until this year. I can’t wait to give it a whirl. More sweet potato recipes to try: Gingerbread Sweet Potatoes, Best-Ever Sweet Potato Casserole with Apples, or Sweet Potato Casserole Lightened Up.
Rolls are known for freezing wonderfully, and these honey whole-wheat swirls are no exception. Make these rolls, partially bake them, then freeze. Finish them off in the oven right before the feast for that can’t-be-beat, fresh-baked taste. More rolls and other delicious stand-ins that are perfect for freezing ahead of time: Overnight Dinner Rolls, Pumpkin Cornbread, Skillet Honey Cornbread, Pumpkin-Shaped Pretzel Bites, Cranberry Pumpkin Rolls, Parmesan Thyme Crackers and, for slathering, Cranberry Honey Butter.
This swoon-worthy cheesecake will have everyone oohing and ahhing, including you. But your oohs and aahs are because all you had to do was cut and serve – the work was done weeks ago, then it kept beautifully in the freezer! Life is good. More freezer-friendly decadence: Chocolate Ganache Swirl Cheesecake, Vegan Gingerbread Pear Bundt Cake, Pumpkin Cream Cheese Rolls, Pecan Pie Shortbread, Browned Butter Pumpkin Spice Cake, Carrot Cupcakes, Fresh Cranberry Brownies, and Vanilla Bean Caramel Pecan Bars.
What are your favorite make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes?