How to Freeze Thanksgiving Ahead

How to Freeze Thanksgiving Ahead

Here is a question I received that I believed warranted answering for everyone—

Hi- I LOVE “Saving Dinner”! My husband loves the food even more. Here is my question: how feasible is it to freeze any Thanksgiving side-dishes in advance (ie cranberry sauce, casseroles, even stuffing)? Thanks! I am busy with a new baby AND hosting this year!

From, Flybaby Barbara


 

Hi Barbara!

Great question. You know how I’m all about doing things ahead for the holidays. And I’m all about the freezer, too. Can these two things be compatible and make for an even easier holiday? The answer is…yes and no. Some things just need to be done freshly and some things freeze beautifully, so let’s take these things one by one:

1—The Turkey. Yeah, it freezes, but the quality will not be the same. This is one place where I will say make it fresh the day of. I make it the easy, juiciest most delicious way if I do say so myself. And the best part? You don’t stuff it and you don’t baste it.

2—Cranberry sauce. Go ahead, knock yourself out! Again, I have a great recipe for it and it freezes beautifully. For the record, I’ve bought bags of fresh cranberries and frozen them in the bag I bought them in, used them about six months later and they were great too. Or you could save yourself some trouble and buy the canned variety.

3—Dressing. I can tell you from personal experience that dressing freezes fairly well. It can dry out a bit, but if you’ll thaw it overnight in the fridge, then drizzle a little melted butter and broth over the top, cover it with foil and heat thoroughly through, it will work fine and no one will be the wiser.

4—Gravy. Good gravy, yes! Gravy is a wonderful thing to behold and it freezes fabulously. Here’s a secret for you that I have in the Thanksgiving Menu-Mailer—extend your homemade gravy with some store-bought stuff. Oh yeah, that’s the best cheating secret out there. No one will know (your secret is safe with me!) and you too, will own the Endless Gravy Boat. This is important stuff when you’re worried that your father-in-law is going to hog all the gravy!

5—Pies. You can freeze your pies—or you can buy them frozen, LOL. This is one place where I would either have people bring them or buy frozen myself. Having had a Thanksgiving baby myself (my son was born on a November 21st), I remember doing Thanksgiving and having my mom bring the pies.

6—Mashed potatoes. In my book, they are a non-freezable, item—quality and texture suffer big time. I would make these fresh in the morning and put them in my crockpot on low all day. BUT, and this is the big BUT; TEST YOUR CROCKPOT FIRST with a pot full of taters (you can make cream of potato soup out of them later) to make SURE your crockpot won’t burn them. All crockpots are not created equal and it’s through trial and error that we learn our own crockpotty appliance’s nuances.

7—Veggies. You can freeze sweet potato casseroles and green bean casseroles too. Those are not my particular favorite Thanksgiving veggies, but if they are mainstays at your table, rest assured, they freeze fairly well. May get a little watery on top, but easily blot-able with a paper towel and a little finesse.

8—Rolls and Butter. By all means, freeze the both of them. They freeze well, thaw well and quality does not suffer.

That about covers it. Hope it helps!

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Still planning your Thanksgiving feast?  Grab my plan and recipes by clicking here.  You’ll get to choose from classic, paleo, or keto versions, as well as receive my prep timeline and Turkey 101 & triage guide.

Healthy Fall Comfort Foods

Healthy Fall Comfort Foods

It doesn’t take long for those familiar comfort food cravings to set in with the onset of fall, does it? There are days that I would do just about anything for a big scoop of macaroni and cheese! But as much as I love mac and cheese, I just don’t eat that way anymore.

Lucky for me (and anyone else who loves comfort food), there are plenty of ways to serve up a comforting meal that isn’t loaded with calories and unhealthy ingredients.

Here are five ideas for comforting, nutritious foods for fall.

Sweet potato casserole. I don’t know about you, but for me, sweet potatoes are one of the most comforting of all foods. See how to make my Thanksgiving sweet potato recipe here!

Shepherd’s pie. I like making a lean version of shepherd’s pie on a regular basis. Fun fact: Did you know that if you don’t use lamb, it is referred to as cottage pie? Ground turkey is a nice lean option for this comforting meal. But I often use ground beef or a mixture of whatever grounds I have on hand. If you use sweet potatoes as your topping instead of whipped white potatoes, and toss in as many healthy veggies in between as you can, you have a lightened up version that will taste every bit as comforting.

Meatloaf. A meatloaf is a perfect canvas to stuff with healthy ingredients. I love grating veggies into my meatloaf. Zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes… yum. Again, try to use a mixture of ground turkey and lean ground beef for a comforting and healthy meal.

Soup. Soup is a no-brainer when it comes to comforting meals. Try my Beefy Mushroom Soup recipe here!

Dessert. When it comes to comforting fall desserts, I suggest reaching for fruit. Try this recipe!

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Cardamom Poached Pears
Course Desserts
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Course Desserts
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Instructions
  1. In a large pot, combine all ingredients except pears.
  2. Bring to boil over medium high heat and then turn heat down to a low medium.
  3. Add pears, cover and cook until very tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Serve pears with sauce that will have reduced.

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PS–Don’t forget how useful your slow cooker can be to keep warm Fall comfort foods on the table.   Check out our Crock Cooker and One Pot Collections in the shop!

Peaches Galore

Peaches Galore

If you are lucky enough to have access to a peach tree, you might quickly find yourself surrounded by more peaches than you can realistically eat before they go bad. Here are a few ways to cook with peaches that you might not have thought of.

One of nature’s best accomplishments in the summer, peaches are also quite healthy. A ripe peach is loaded with beta carotene, potassium and a smattering of B vitamins. Further, there are quite a few good folks who believe peaches are good for lowering the cholesterol level in the blood, helping to prevent cardiovascular diseases, anemia and renal diseases.

Most people tend to think of peach ice cream and peach pie but there are some healthier ways to eat peaches. Grilling peaches brings out an incredible depth of flavor. You can cut a peach in half and rub the cut sides with brown sugar before grilling, or else top with whipped cream (homemade so you can control the sweetness) and a few sliced almonds. A dash of cinnamon or nutmeg adds a warm touch to this healthy dessert.

Some of the best uses for peaches aren’t desserts at all. Peach is a wonderful complement to the flavor of pork. You can toss some diced peaches in a slow cooker along with a pork loin roast and chopped onions. If you’re using pork chops, brown them in a pan and then brown the peaches in the same pan along with some sliced red onions. Combine and bake until the pork is cooked and the peaches are tender.

Peach salsa is the perfect accompaniment to any type of grilled meat, especially chicken or fish. Combine the following ingredients (amounts according to taste) and then chill: diced fresh peaches, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, vinegar, and olive oil. You can even serve this peach salsa with tortilla chips as a snack.

Add some sliced peaches to a green dinner salad. For example, try some baby spinach, sliced peaches, sliced avocado, pistachios, and a few chopped green onions. Drizzle with sherry vinegar and a bit of olive oil to make a memorable salad. You could even throw in leftover chicken or feta cheese to make it more meal-like.

The important thing to remember is that with a little extra planning and thought you can enjoy a huge variety of flavors with your abundance of peaches.

5 ways to squash your dinner

5 ways to squash your dinner

You can tell by the bright yellow or orange flesh of winter squash (well, depending on the variety), that this fall harvest fruit is good for you. (Yes, squash is a fruit!) Winter squash, like acorn and butternut, are the more substantial varieties. And I’m sure you already knew it, but zucchini is considered a summer squash.

If you’re looking for some ideas about how to get more of this delicious fruit that’s easy to find, easy to cook and easy on the budget, I happen to have some fab suggestions for you. 😉

The following are five ways you can prepare squash to enjoy with your dinner this evening:

Roasted with root vegetables. If you’re roasting beets, parsnips or carrots, toss in some squash. You can also make it even easier and simply slice your squash in half, remove the seeds (save them to roast later), and roast in its skin at 375 for about 30–40 minutes, depending on the squash and its size. When dinner’s ready, scoop out the flesh of the squash and enjoy with some butter.

Mashed or puréed. You can steam your squash and mash it, just like you would with potatoes. I personally don’t care for this method as it’s not nearly as flavorful as roasting, but it’s a good way to bulk up a serving of mashed vegetables. Puréed squash also looks very pretty on a plate.

Souped up. Make a simple soup from your squash, and serve it as an appetizer. Or, bulk it up with more veggies and serve it as a main course.

Stuffed. You can stuff and roast just about any squash you would like. Imagine a beautiful spaghetti squash, sliced in half and stuffed with tomato sauce and meatballs. Or an acorn squash sliced and stuffed with sausage and apples. Use your imagination (and Google—you can find endless ideas for roasting squash.)

As noodles. You may already know that you can roast a spaghetti squash and scoop out its noodly flesh to eat as you would any traditional noodle. But if you have a vegetable spiralizer, you can also make noodles out of other types of squash like acorn or butternut, and gently steam them to serve for dinner. (You can find veggie spiralizers on Amazon.) The accord squash “noodles” are wonderful!

I hope I’ve inspired you to add squash to your menu this evening. 🙂

Gluten Free Mixed Berry Crisp

Gluten Free Mixed Berry Crisp


Print Recipe
Gluten Free Mixed Berry Crisp
You can't have summer without berries. We love berries in every form, but this Gluten Free Mixed Berry Crisp makes you feel like you're back in your grandma's kitchen! Summer comfort food. And the best part? It's not only gluten free it's also refined sugar free!!! Glory Glory! So gather your berries, and let's crisp it up!
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Topping:
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Filling:
Topping:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 380 degrees.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients for filling (berries through arrowroot powder).
  3. Cook over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes or until berries have released moisture and the mixture has begun to thicken. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients for the topping (butter through nutmeg). Using a fork, gently blend it all together.
  5. Transfer berries to a medium sized baking dish, and evenly distribute crisp topping over them.
  6. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until berries are bubbling and crisp is golden.
  7. Serve with ice cream, or greek yogurt, or coconut yogurt or coconut whipped cream - the options are endless!
Summer Watermelon Salad

Summer Watermelon Salad


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Summer Watermelon Salad
This is the perfect dish for summer. Anything with watermelon is as summery as it gets! This delicious salad is super easy to make, really lovely to serve, and a guaranteed crowd pleaser!
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Ingredients
Servings
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Instructions
  1. Layer all veggies and feta on 4 plates, drizzle with oil and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper - that's it! Super easy!
  2. To make Paleo: omit feta cheese
Recipe Notes

If you need to prepare in a large bowl so it can be self-served, simply cube or ball the melon instead of cutting it into wedges, dice the heirloom tomato, and then just toss everything in a large bowl!

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