A lot of preparation and planning goes onto a Thanksgiving Day meal. From what the appetizers will be to which wine will be served. Take some of the stress out of it all by preparing these Thanksgiving Day dishes ahead of time, so that you can spend more quality time with family and friends.
Orange-Scented Cranberry Sauce
This delicious Martha Stewart recipe for cranberry sauce can be made up to a week before Thanksgiving when stored in an air tight container.
- 2 bags (12 ounces each) fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 4 wide strips orange zest, plus 1 cup fresh orange juice
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, orange zest, and 1/2 cup water; season with salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce to a simmer and cook until thickened, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in orange juice.
When making your own rolls for Thanksgiving Day dinner, you actually can do everything, but the baking of the rolls ahead of time. Once the dough is formed and shaped, it can keep in the freezer for up to two months.
- 1/4 cup warm water (115 degrees)
- 2 packets (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 cups warm whole milk (115 degrees)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for bowl and pans
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 3 large eggs
- 6 to 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for work surface
- Place water in a small bowl; sprinkle with yeast, and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together milk, butter, sugar, salt, and 2 eggs. Whisk in yeast mixture.
- Using a wooden spoon, stir in 6 cups flour, 1 cup at a time, until you have a soft, shaggy dough (if necessary, add up to 1/2 cup more flour). Turn dough out onto a floured work surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes. Butter the inside of a large bowl; place dough in bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; let stand in a warm spot until dough has doubled in size, about 1 1/4 hours.
- Butter two 13-by-9-inch baking pans. Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a 15-inch rope; cut each rope into 15 1-inch pieces. Press each piece into a disk, then shape into a ball. Arrange dough balls in prepared pans. (To make ahead: Wrap pans well, and freeze, up to 2 months.) Cover pans loosely with plastic; let stand in a warm spot until rolls have doubled in size, about 1 1/4 hours (2 hours more if frozen).
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a small bowl, beat remaining egg until blended; brush onto rolls. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes, rotating pans back to front and top to bottom halfway through. Let rolls cool 15 minutes before serving.
Thanksgiving Day dessert is a cinch when you decide to make this pumpkin cheesecake. This recipe can be made a few days before the big day even made a few weeks ahead so it can be frozen.
- 1 1/4 cups graham-cracker crumbs (from 10 whole crackers)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 4 packages (8 ounces each) bar cream cheese, very soft
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin-pie spice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in center. Assemble a 9-inch nonstick springform pan, with the raised side of the bottom part facing up.
- Make the crust: In a medium bowl, mix cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter until moistened; press firmly into bottom of pan. Bake until golden around edges, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Make the filling: With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar on low speed until smooth; mix in flour (do not overmix). Add pumpkin puree, pie spice, vanilla, and salt; mix just until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next.
- Place springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour filling into springform, and gently smooth top. Transfer to oven; reduce oven heat to 300 degrees. Bake 45 minutes. Turn off oven; let cheesecake stay in oven 2 hours more (without opening).
- Remove from oven; cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours. Unmold before serving.
Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
This delicious recipe for mashed potatoes can be prepared up to a day ahead and then simply reheated in the oven.
- 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, warmed
- In a large pot, cover potatoes by 2 inches with salted water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes. Drain thoroughly and pass potatoes through a ricer or food mill into pot.
- Over low heat, add butter and stir until melted. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until potatoes are stiff, about 1 minute. Gradually add cream, stirring constantly to combine. Using a rubber spatula, pass potatoes through a fine-mesh sieve. Season with salt and pepper.
It is quite easy to prepare your own Thanksgiving Day feast by planning ahead and preparing a few easy side dishes in advance.
Ann Martin is a writer for Dinnerware Center, which offers a line of exquisite dinnerware styles and flatware sets, such as the Noritake colorwave and Noritake china sets. Ann is a writer for travel, home, and wedding-related websites. When Ann is not writing, she enjoys spending time in her kitchen preparing hearty meals for all to enjoy.
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