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Thanksgiving dinner can be like a juggling act. No other holiday menu has as many side dishes delivered to the table simultaneously with a large roasted turkey.
Time management, prep-ahead and freeze can make it possible.
Green bean casserole, sweet potato soufflé, apple pie and dressing are perfect candidates. So is something my family loves, the corn and green chile casserole.
Thawing anything before baking, especially the turkey can take up lots of refrigerator space.
Checked with USDA folks years ago and learned it was safe to thaw a frozen turkey in a cooler; it provides its own refrigeration. Clean the cooler thoroughly, place the frozen turkey in a plastic trash bag. Depending on size it can take 3 days; check after 2.
If side dish recipes call for thawing before baking, bag them and thaw in the cooler with a reusable ice pack. Should be ready to bake the next day.
Note: If your plan is to bring side dishes or desserts to the Thanksgiving gathering, disposable foil avoids taking dirty dishes home.
If Thanksgiving is coming to you, any of these recipes can be frozen in oven-proof baking dishes or pans instead of foil.
NOT YO MAMA’S GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
Yep, this is has been altered from traditional but can’t stand cream of mushroom soup.
1 10¾-ounce can cream of chicken soup
¾ cup half and half
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 9-ounce packages frozen French style green beans, thawed
1 4-ounce can mushroom pieces, drained
¾ cup shredded Swiss cheese
1½ cups crispy fried onions
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13-inch foil baking pan.
2. In a large bowl combine soup, half and half and pepper. Stir in green beans, mushrooms and cheese. Pour into prepared pan, cover with greased foil and freeze up to 2 weeks.
3. To serve, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake casserole 45 minutes. Uncover and top with fried onions and parmesan cheese. Bake 20 minutes or until casserole is hot and bubbly. Makes 8 servings.
SWEET POTATO SOUFFLE
My nieces insist on marshmallows. Added a crunchy topping others may prefer.
8 large sweet potatoes
2 cups half and half
¾ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1½ cups mini marshmallows
1. Grease a 9×13-inch or an foil baking pan with nonstick spray.
2. Place sweet potatoes in a Dutch oven and cover with water. Boil until potatoes are tender. Remove from water, let cool long enough to handle. Peel, cut in chunks and place in food processor
3. Add half and half, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and eggs to sweet potatoes. Process until smooth and pour into prepared pan.
4. Sprinkle with marshmallows, cover with greased foil and freeze up to 4 weeks.
5. Thaw soufflé in the refrigerator overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 30 minutes, uncover gently and bake 15 minutes more until marshmallows are light brown. Makes 8 servings.
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup quick cooking oats
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1. In a medium bowl combine pecans, brown sugar, flour, oats and butter until combined and crumbly.
2. Sprinkle over the sweet potatoes in an even layer. Repeat directions above for freezing, thawing and baking.
AWESOME APPLE PIE
Pie dough for a double crust 9-inch pie
3 cups peeled, thinly sliced Granny Smith apples
3 cups peeled, thinly sliced McIntosh or Rome apples
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1. Preheat oven to oven to 425 degrees. Roll out enough pie dough for a single crust and set into to pie pan. Roll out top crust.
2. In a large bowl mix together apple slices, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and lemon juice. Pour evenly into bottom crust.
3. Brush edges of bottom crust with water. Carefully cover apples with top crust. Pinch edges together, roll up and crimp. Brush with melted butter.
4. Tightly wrap unbaked pie with 2 layers of Press-And-Seal; make sure it’s completely covered and sealed. Carefully slip into a gallon-size freezer bag and freeze up to 6 weeks.
5. To bake, preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a cookie pan with baking parchment.
6. When oven is ready, remove pie from freezer and cut slits in the top crust to vent. Sprinkle with sugar and place in the prepared pan.
7. Bake 25 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake 450 to 50 more minutes or until crust is golden brown and apples are tender when tested with a knife tip. Serve warm. Makes 8 servings.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
12 tablespoons cold butter cut in pieces
1/3 cup shortening cut in pieces and frozen
6-8 tablespoons ice water
1. Place flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor; pulse to combine.
2. Add the cold butter and frozen shortening, Pulse 8 to 12 times or until butter is the size of peas.
3. Gradually add water through the feed tube and pulse until the dough begins to form a ball.
4. Move to a floured board, divide in half and shape into discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill 30 minutes. Enough for a double-crust pie.
5. On a well-floured board roll each disc into a 12-inch circle. Fold over the rolling pin and carefully transfer to 9-inch pie pan. Fill and repeat with remaining dough. Trim and seal edges with water, roll up, crimp and cut slits in the top crust to vent. Bake pie according to recipe directions.
To freeze: Wrap dough discs in plastic wrap and freeze in gallon freezer bag. Thaw in refrigerator when ready to use. The recipe doubles easily.
CREAMY CORN AND GREEN CHILE CASSEROLE
1 12-ounce bag frozen corn
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, cut in cubes
¼ cup milk
1 4-ounce can green chiles
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons onion powder
½ teaspoon salt
1. Grease a 9-inch foil baking pan with nonstick spray.
2. In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl combine corn, cream cheese, milk, green chilies, cumin, garlic powder and salt.
3. Microwave at 50 percent about 4 minutes stirring occasionally until cream cheese has melted. Pour into prepared pan; cover with greased foil and freeze up to 3 weeks.
4. Thaw in refrigerator or cooler. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake casserole 45 minutes. Uncover bake 15 minutes or until casserole is lightly browned, hot and bubbly. Makes 8 servings.
8 cups crumbled cornbread
3 biscuits, crumbled
½ cup butter
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 14-ounce cans chicken broth
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
3 eggs, beaten
Combine cornbread and biscuits in a large bowl 2 days before preparing dressing. Cover with a dish towel and turn occasionally to dry evenly.
In a deep skillet over medium heat melt butter and sauté celery and onion until translucent. Add chicken broth, poultry seasoning and pepper; simmer.
Toss beaten eggs into dried cornbread and biscuits. Gradually add broth and vegetable mixture to moisten completely. Check seasoning. If needed add more canned broth.
Pour into a greased 9x-13-inch foil baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap and foil, freeze.
Thaw in refrigerator or cooler. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake uncovered 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
This article originally appeared on Wichita Falls Times Record News: Time management, preparing ahead make Thanksgiving possible