Make ahead for the holidays

aged eggnog

Holiday meals can be stressful, especially for a food lover. Trying to make each dish absolutely perfect may cause blood pressure to rise and even tempers to flare. Unachieveable perfection goals aside, it is a challenge to juggle the many side dishes and holiday roasts that all compete for oven space, not to mention having a house (and kitchen) full of guests. One way to reduce holiday stress to make ahead as many items as possible. The EYB Library is very helpful in this regard, as one of the search filters is the Cooking ahead filter. There are over 23,000 online recipes available!

Many dishes can be partially, or even fully, prepared in advance and simply popped into the oven or thawed and heated on the stovetop. Indexed magazine Food & Wine offers several make-ahead dishes, including an interesting twist on dressing with  Spinach-shiitake bread pudding by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The dressing can be made in individual portions using a muffin tin, baked ahead and rewarmed while the turkey rests.

There are many tips for making mashed potatoes ahead and keeping them warm, as indexed blog The Kitchn shows us. (The crock pot method is great!) Sweet potatoes can also be made ahead; many can be refrigerated for a few days and gently warmed on the stovetop just before serving.

Squash and spinach pieIf you are looking for something a bit different, Epicurious has several recipes to try, including several salads, like this Wild rice, farro, and tangerine salad from Bon Appétit. Meanwhile, Delicious Magazine (UK) offers a completely make-ahead Squash and spinach pie (pictured left). You can bake it ahead and just reheat in the oven (or toaster oven). 

Gravy is an excellent item to make ahead. There are several recipes in the EYB Library that utilize turkey wings or necks and can be made weeks before your meal and frozen. Just thaw and reheat for perfect gravy without the last-minute hassle. 

Dinner rolls can also be made to the shaping stage and frozen to be baked straight from the freezer, and cranberry sauce will hold for a few days in the refrigerator. And a few items even require you to make them ahead, like fruitcake and the Aged eggnog by Michael Ruhlman (pictured top). With all of these great choices, the hardest part will be deciding which items to make!

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