Continuing with our Thanksgiving theme this week, today I wanted to share an easy recipe for Cranberry Pancake Syrup made from your leftover cranberry sauce. This cranberry pancake syrup recipe is made from two simple ingredients; your leftover cranberry sauce and maple syrup.
Walmart challenged me to create a recipe using some of our Thanksgiving leftovers and I immediately thought of this idea that I had for our leftover cranberry sauce.
This was the first year that I made my own cranberry syrup for Thanksgiving and I loved it so much that I wanted to use it as an ingredient in another dish that we could share after the holidays were over. This Brandied Orange & Cranberry Sauce was so heavenly that I knew it would be the perfect accompaniment with a big stack of pancakes.
I couldn’t put this sauce on just any pancakes though, it had to be our family favorite- the Fluffy & Light Pumpkin Pancakes that we share (almost) weekly on Sundays in the autumn months.
When the pumpkin and cranberry are combined together, it is like experiencing Thanksgiving Day all over again! I hope you can give these a try with your own leftover cranberry sauce. I promise, it is a recipe that will not disappoint!
Today’s post will conclude our make-ahead Thanksgiving feast that I have been working so diligently to prepare for the site (and for our guests). Today I am sharing a foolproof bread machine roll that is perfect to make and freeze for the holiday season. These buttery bread machine rolls are my go-to bread recipe for the holidays because they always turn out perfectly and can be dressed up with whatever is in the cupboard or refrigerator for topping and personalizing.
I adore my bread machine and use it every single week in my house for our Friday night pizza nights as well as cinnamon rolls for weekend treats or just these rolls for our holiday feasts. Be sure to read my Bread Machine 101 article for some background information on how to use a bread machine in your house. If you don’t have one, my last three I have gotten (yes, I actually have had three bread machines over the last ten years because I use them that much) have been found at garage sales and thrift shops for $15-20! Be sure to check there when doing your shopping!
There is just so much to love about this roll recipe. First of all, it isn’t sticky or hard to work with at all. Secondly, it is quick to shape. Third, it rises like a dream. And fourth, you can customize the rolls to your heart’s delight. In year’s past we have added a cinnamon butter on the side or brushed with butter and a generous shake of cinnamon & sugar. The rolls I baked up tonight accompanied our weeknight chicken noodle soup and were brushed with a little butter, salt, and dried rosemary for a yummy finish.
If you have never made rolls before, try making a practice batch for your Thanksgiving feast, like I have shown here. One batch of rolls will yield approximately 15 rolls. Freeze them after shaping, up to one entire month, and then pull them out of the freezer the night before your big day. Allow them to rise overnight then bake as directed.
These are so beautiful and so delicious, don’t be surprised if they are the only thing everyone talks about at dinner!
On that final note, thank you all for joining in on all the make-ahead Thanksgiving Day fun. I am so proud to have my entire feast in the freezer and I can’t wait for you to have less stress around the holidays too!
A foolproof bread machine roll recipe that can be customized with whatever compliments your meal- sweet toppings, savory toppings, or flavored butters. Freeze these for the holidays and bask in the compliments when hosting your holiday feasts!
1 cup milk (110 degrees F.)
½ cup butter, room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature and lightly beaten
¾ teaspoon salt
4 cups bread flour
3 teaspoons instant yeast
Place all ingredients in (in order given), in bread pan of your bread machine.
Select DOUGH setting and press start.
When dough cycle has finished, remove dough from pan and turn out onto a lightly-floured surface. Shape pieces of dough into balls and place in a greased pan to make the rolls.
If freezing, freeze now (for up to one month).
Before baking, allow rolls to thaw completely and rise overnight.
To Bake: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake in a regular oven approximately 20 to 25 minutes or until they are a light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Brush with butter and favorite blend of seasonings or herbs (optional)
I’m back again with another fun Thanksgiving make-ahead recipe. Today’s recipe is an apple, sausage, and sage sourdough stuffing that tastes just as good as it sounds. This recipe is easy to prepare and can be made-ahead and placed in your freezer for the big day, which means one less thing for you to worry about on the day of your big feast!
Have you ever made your own stuffing? It is one of the easiest and most rewarding dishes to create for the holiday season. My grandma made a mean dressing when I was growing up, but stuffing was definitely something that came out of a box. I remember in sixth grade when we had to do a Thanksgiving play and I was supposed to pretend to make stuffing and had no idea what the teacher was talking about when he handed me a loaf of bread and celery.
What the heck was that for?
Being the true foodie I am, I still don’t think the boxed stuff is that bad, and you can’t beat the ease of preparation. It doesn’t hurt to gourmet things up a bit once in awhile though, especially when you can put this in your freezer and save it for the big day!
The biggest challenge with stuffing is all of the dicing and chopping to get the ingredients prepared. A handy food chopper can be your best friend when chopping up ingredients like onions or herbs. Once the ingredients are chopped though, it is just a simple matter of mixing them up and then placing the stuffing in the pan for baking.
I really love the ingredients in this recipe because they are the perfect balance of sweet and savory. I used turkey sausage in this recipe, but you could certainly substitute with chicken sausage instead. I love Granny Smith apples for baking because they maintain their texture and firmness in this dish. Leave the skins on for a little added color to your stuffing (not to mention, a little fiber too!)
I baked up a little dish for you to show you what this looks like when it is all done. The top is crunchy and the inside is delicious and fluffy. The apples add tartness while the onions, celery, and turkey sausage add a little savoriness to the stuffing. When these ingredients are all baked together, it is like a little symphony in your mouth! Reserve a few sprigs of sage to garnish the top of your dish!
Preheat oven to 300°F. Spread bread cubes out on two large rimmed baking sheets and bake until dried but not browned, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Remove the sausage from the casings, and add it to the skillet to cook, breaking up chunks with a spoon, until browned, about 6 minutes.
Add apples, celery, onion and butter and cook, stirring occasionally, until apple and vegetables are softened, 8 to 10 minutes more. Add to toasted bread. Stir in broth, poultry seasoning, sage, salt and pepper.
Add stuffing to a freezer-safe greased 9x13 foil pan. Place in the freezer (for up to four weeks). 1-3 days before, remove the stuffing from the freezer. Drizzle a ½ cup additional chicken stock over the top to moisten the stuffing. Heat oven to 350°F and bake until lightly browned and crisp on top, 50 to 60 minutes. This stuffing can also be stuffed in your turkey, just be sure that the stuffing has cooled before proceeding.
I’m back with another make-ahead recipe for Thanksgiving Day today. This week I am sharing a fantastic Make-Ahead Gravy recipe that you can have waiting in your freezer for the big day. I am excited about this recipe because it provides, yet again, one more dish that you can create to make your day as stress-free as possible.
To begin this recipe and create the base, without the turkey, you can use chicken or turkey wings along with onions that you roast in your oven to make those magical drippings that you need to create the base of this gravy recipe. I was not able to locate turkey wings at our market so I substituted with the always available chicken wings. Don’t be surprised if your kitchen already smells like Thanksgiving with just the base of this recipe!
After scraping your roasting pan up and getting all of the stuck on bits that make your dressing so rich and flavorful, add these to your pot along with some other components like carrots, celery, fresh herbs, turkey or chicken stock, and a little poultry seasoning to round out the flavorings. Allow this to simmer for an hour and a half and then, after straining, you can add the flour mixture to the gravy to thicken it.
There you have it, an easy make-ahead gravy that makes eight cups of delicious gravy for the big day!
Don't panic about the gravy this year! Try this easy make-ahead gravy recipe that makes eight cups of gravy for your Thanksgiving feast.
6 turkey or chicken wings
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
2 tablespooons olive oil
1 cup water
2 quarts chicken broth, divided
¾ cup chopped carrot
1-2 stalks of celery, chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme (leave on the stem and add to the pot)
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange a single layer of turkey or chicken wings in a large roasting pan. Scatter the onions over the top of the wings. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the preheated oven for 1-1/4 hours or until wings are browned.
Place browned wings and onions in a 5 quart stockpot. Add water to roasting pan and stir, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour the the water from the pan into the stockpot. Stir in 6 cups broth, carrot, thyme, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper (to taste). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 1-1/2 hours.
Remove wings from the pot and place on a cutting board. When the wings are cool, pull off the skin and meat. Discard the skin and save the meat for another use. Strain contents of stockpot through a large strainer into a 3 quart saucepan. Press on the vegetables to extract any remaining liquid. Discard the vegetables and skim the fat off the liquid. Bring the contents of the pot to a gentle boil.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour into the remaining 2 cups chicken broth until smooth. Gradually whisk the flour mixture into the simmering turkey broth; simmer 3-4 minutes or until the gravy has thickened. Stir in the butter and pepper. Serve immediately or pour into containers and refrigerate or freeze.
Continuing with my make-ahead Thanksgiving theme this week, I wanted to share with you a make-ahead green bean casserole made only with the freshest ingredients and that can be made ahead and tucked in you freezer for the big day.
Walmart challenged me to share my meal preparation strategies for getting my Thanksgiving dinner on the table and my strategy this year, and all the years in the past, is to get as much done early as possible so that I can truly enjoy the day with my family. I am taking you along on my make-ahead Thanksgiving meal preparation journey by providing some really great dishes that you can make early so you also can enjoy that special day with your family.
Have you been following along in our make-ahead series? If not, here are the recipes I have created so far!
This week I will be sharing my final dishes: a Make-Ahead Gravy & a Make-Ahead Apple, Sausage, & Sage Sourdough Stuffing, and Make-Ahead Buttery Bread Machine Rolls so please come back so you don’t miss those fun dishes!
Green Bean Casserole is one of those dishes that our family absolutely loves, but this year I wanted to create a dish that didn’t rely on canned food ingredients and instead relied only upon fresh ingredients.
Fresh green beans and mushrooms are tossed in the the world’s most delicious cream sauce and then topped with a crunchy topping of fried onions, that we all know and love, along with a healthy dash of panko (found in the Asian foods section of Walmart) to create the ultimate crunchy topping.
To prep this dish ahead, I purchased some inexpensive foil pans and poured my casserole into it. On the lid, I jotted down the instructions for the big day. The panko & onion topping was poured into a baggie and placed in my pantry so it doesn’t get soggy in the freezer.
The difference between the canned casserole versus the fresh casserole is amazingly different. The green beans are crispy, the cream sauce and mushrooms remind me of a rich and creamy mushroom soup, and the panko adds a crispy crunch to the dish that helps to round out the flavors. Although this dish is far more time consuming than a canned casserole, one bite will have you (and your guests) convinced that this is a dish worth repeating every year!
A completely fresh green bean casserole that can be made-ahead for your Thanksgiving feast. Once you try this fresh take on this casserole, you'll never go back to the canned type again!
½ cup panko
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon table salt
⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups canned fried onions (about 6 oz.)
2 lbs green beans, ends trimmed and halved
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 lb sliced white button mushrooms
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
fresh ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1½ cups low sodium chicken broth
1½ cups heavy cream
In a small bowl, mix together panko and fried onions with two tablespoons of olive oil. Set aside.
Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. of water to boil. Add two tablespoons of salt and the green beans. Cook beans until bright green and crisp-tender, approximately 6 minutes.
Drain beans in colander and plunge immediately into ice water to stop cooking. Set aside.
Add butter to your now-empty pot and melt over medium-high heat until foaming subsides. Add mushrooms, garlic, ¾ teaspoons salt, and ⅛ teaspoons pepper; cook until mushrooms release moisture and liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes.
Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and bring to simmer, stirring constantly. Add cream, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until sauce is thickened and reduced to 3½ cups, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add green beans to sauce and stir until evenly coated. Arrange in even layer in 3 quart (or 13 x 9") baking dish.
Store your onion & panko topping in a baggie in your pantry. Freeze in a freezer-safe container or in a foil pan. Allow the casserole to thaw 1-3 days before your event.
Heat the casserole in a 425 degree oven for 10 minutes, then add the topping and bake for 1-20 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling on the edges.
Do you have any Thanksgiving meal planning strategies to share? Feel free to leave them in the comments below!
Today I wanted to continue with our theme of prepping our freezers for Thanksgiving Day. This recipe for Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes has been a huge favorite of mine over the years. These make-ahead mashed potatoes create the creamiest potatoes that freeze beautifully and warm up easily in the slow cooker.
Walmart challenged me to come up with some strategies for party-planning that have helped me. My number one tip for holiday party and dinner preparation is to make as much ahead of time that you possibly can for your holiday feasts.
This mashed potato recipe is the perfect example of something that I used to stress about for the holidays and now I already have this dish sitting in my freezer for the big day. No need to take up space on your stove to reheat these, they heat beautifully in the slow cooker and can even be doubled for a big crowd.
Here are my dishes and recipes that I create in my kitchen now for holiday prep later. These are all dishes that you can freeze or create before your big day that will be a huge time-saver for your holiday parties and meals.
I talk a lot about this in my book, “The Good Life For Less.” In fact, I have an entire chapter devoted towards saving money and making the holidays easier on your family.
With all of these dishes prepped in your freezer, party planning, & meal preparation just got a whole lot easier. It leaves your time free to focus on preparing your home and the main dish for your holiday meals.
Be sure to give these make-ahead mashed potatoes a spin for your holiday feasting. I guarantee that these potatoes will go fast, are stress-free, and a huge crowd-pleaser!
Make these crowd-pleasing mashed potatoes before your holiday meal and freeze them until the big day. Reheat in your slow cooker to save space in your oven.
5 pounds of potatoes
1 block (8 oz) of low-fat cream cheese, softened
¾ cup low fat sour cream
4 tablespoons butter
¾ cup milk (or more if desired)
1½ teaspoons salt
Peel potatoes and cut into small cubes. Throw the potatoes in a large pot filled with cold water.
Cook for 25 minutes or until fork-tender.
Drain the potatoes and put them back into the hot pot. Add cream cheese, butter, milk, and salt. Mash with a potato masher or use a hand mixer to whip the potatoes.
Spoon mixture into a freezer-safe container and label.
On Your Holiday Day: Put potatoes in the fridge 1-2 days before to allow them to completely thaw. Spray slow cooker with cooking spray and put potatoes in the slow cooker. Brush the top of the potatoes with a tablespoon of butter and sprinkle with paprika. Cook on low for two to four hours.
Alternate cooking method- Bake the potatoes at 350 degrees for thirty to forty minutes or until completely hot.
What are some of your favorite make-ahead dishes for the holidays? Do you have any strategies for making holiday party planning easier?
Certain aspects of Thanksgiving preparation seem intimidating to me. Making a homemade cranberry sauce was one of those things. This recipe for Brandied Orange & Cranberry Sauce though was so easy to create and so delicious that I can’t imagine buying the canned variety again.
For the holidays, Walmart asked me to create a dish you could share around your Thanksgiving table. It seemed like the perfect time to tackle making my own cranberry sauce.
All of the flavor in this dish comes from, of course, the use of fresh cranberries and the zest and juice from fresh oranges. You need a microplane (can be found at just about any kitchen supplies store) to achieve the finest orange zest to be incorporated throughout the dish. The most time-consuming process about this sauce is the zesting and squeezing of your fresh oranges. I promise that it will be worth it!
The other key component with this sauce is a tablespoon of brandy. I tasted the sauce without the brandy and then I tasted the sauce after the brandy and the difference is substantial and worth the extra splurge. An entire bottle of brandy costs about $6 and I incorporate this in everything from quick pan sauces for meats to my favorite slow cooker lemon chicken recipe to my fresh blueberry sangria lemonade.
You want to cook this sauce until the berries have popped and the sauce begins to thicken. After the full cooking time I have listed, you may believe your sauce is still too thin and watery. Do not worry!
Remove the sauce from the heat and allow it to come down to room temperature. A beautiful discovery will be found when you check back in your pot and realize that your sauce is thick and rich, just like you had always envisioned. You see, cranberries have their own natural pectin (who knew?) that allows the cranberry sauce to thicken. In fact, cranberries are one of the highest pectin containing fruits.
Cranberry sauce is a great make-ahead dish that you can start preparing now for your big day. Once your sauce has cooled, you can place it in your freezer to save for the big day! Just place your sauce either double-bagged in freezer bags and label or in a freezer-safe container. I would pull it out a few days before the big day or for a quicker idea for thawing, place the freezer bag of sauce in a bowl of warm water for an hour, or until it has thawed.
Stay tuned for ideas for how to use up any leftover sauce you might have later this month!
Once you make this cranberry sauce, you will never buy the canned variety again. Make this dish ahead & freeze for your Thanksgiving meal.
⅓ cup orange zest (approximately the zest from four oranges)
2 cups water
2 cups white sugar
⅔ cup orange juice (I used the juice from four oranges)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 cups cranberries
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon brandy
In a small pan over medium heat, combine the orange zest and water. Cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain, reserving zest and ⅓ cup liquid.
To the reserved liquid, add the sugar, cinnamon, orange juice and lemon juice. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes uncovered, stirring often.
Add cranberries; increase heat to medium-high and boil for about 30 minutes. The cranberries should pop and the sauce will be slightly thickened. Once cooled, the sauce will be much thicker (don't worry!)
Remove from heat, stir in brandy.
See above for directions on freezing or store in your refrigerator for up to two weeks.
If there is one ingredient I love it is lemons. There is something about that citrus addition that brightens flavors so much. Today I am sharing my favorite Lemony Spinach & Tomato Quinoa Salad that is one of my favorite ways to use lemons in my house.
More importantly though, we are celebrating this citrus ingredient today in honor of a very special blogger that I have truly grown to love and her beautiful blog, “The Lemon Bowl.” I am so excited to be celebrating Liz in a virtual baby shower today with so many amazing bloggers to share in this celebration.
If you haven’t visited The Lemon Bowl before, you are in for a treat. Liz creates the most delicious dishes and finds new ways to make healthy dishes seem absolutely sinful. She is one of my favorite food bloggers to follow on Instagram and you will often find her in recipe development or shopping at the local farmer’s market through her photo stream.
Everyone that is participating will be using lemons in some way whether it is a delicious side, a soup, an appetizer, or a dessert. Lemon is one of the most versatile ingredients and the zest and juice from lemons are often my secret weapon in making the dishes I create stand out.
Today I wanted to share my favorite lemon recipe that I love to create and share at potlucks, cookouts, and just as a quick and healthy lunch for myself. As you know, I am quinoa-obsessed these days. With the ease of preparing quinoa in the rice cooker, I love to make big batches of it to use in my dishes throughout the week.
This Lemon Spinach & Tomato Quinoa Salad gets all of its flavor from the zest and juice of a lemon. Tossing the quinoa with my favorite combination of spinach and tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil, and just a little salt and pepper makes this dish both easy and very budget-friendly.
If you want to add even more protein to this, consider adding a little roasted chicken breast (I love this method of preparation) or dice a little chicken using a prepared rotisserie chicken. Thanks to using quinoa in this, rather than pasta, you already have a protein-filled dish that doesn’t even need the meat.
An easy gluten-free salad that is always a crowd-pleaser!
1 pound spinach, washed, dried, stems removed
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 lemons, zested (reserve the lemons for juicing over the pasta)
2 cups cooked quinoa (use the technique I shared above)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the bowl
Salt and pepper
Prepare quinoa in your rice cooker or as directed on packaging.
Pile spinach leaves in stacks 1 on top of the other. Thinly slice stacks of leaves to make spinach confetti. Pile shredded spinach into the bottom of a medium sized mixing bowl.
Halve grape or cherry tomatoes with a paring knife and add them to the mixing bowl.
Add the zest of 2 lemons to the bowl reserve the lemons for adding juice to the sauce later.
Add hot cooked quinoa to the mixing bowl. The heat of the quinoa will wilt the spinach and warm the tomatoes at the bottom of the bowl and get the juices flowing from veggies. The heat of the quinoa will also release the flavor and oils in the lemon zest.
Drizzle 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and the juice of two lemons over the quinoa and toss to combine the veggies and quinoa.
Add a generous amount of salt and pepper to taste. Toss the ingredients together to combine.
Serve with grated parmesan cheese or leave plain if you are taking the salad on the go.
Who is ready for a happy & healthy Halloween feast? Halloween is just around the corner and this year Kenmore has you covered with an easy Halloween dish and treat that you can enjoy with your family before or after your trick-or-treating has begun. That’s right, there is no need to order a pizza or stress out about festive snacks, at least not this year! This year I am sharing an easy slow cooker recipe idea and a treat that is not only healthy, but also a festive addition to your dinner offerings!
Chili weather makes me oh-so-happy and today I am featuring a Pumpkin Chili recipe that you just have to try this year in your slow cooker. Yes, you heard me right, Pumpkin Chili is my new favorite chili and once you try this pumpkin chili recipe, you will be singing its praises too.
I am one of those people that gets settled into her old routines when it comes to recipes especially recipes that I just don’t think they should be fooled with. Chili is one of those types of recipes, yet, I have found myself on the hunt for fresh new pumpkin recipes and just knew that I had to try out this idea for Pumpkin Chili.
After stumbling upon a recipe, trying to take it completely apart, playing with spices, and then switching out the ingredients until they pleased me, I now have a version of Pumpkin Chili that is all my own.
Don’t be scared of the pumpkin because chances are that you won’t even notice the pumpkin flavor. No, all the flavor for this one comes from the pumpkin pie spices that are incorporated within in it. Much like my Creamy Pumpkin Pasta recipe (you MUST try that!), it just leaves everyone going, “Hmmmm…What is that?!”
Basically, when you lean in to smell the chili in your slow cooker, it will smell like pumpkin pie, but you will see chili in there and get super confused. And then it will all work itself out when you taste it, and then might be a tiny bit confusing, but then you will realize that it is perfectly genius together.
And all will be right with the world again.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I have. In fact, I am making my second batch of that this week along with another batch of Slow Cooker Stuffed Green Pepper Soup, another slow cooked wonder that I highly recommend.
If you are looking for another great chili recipe, be sure to check out my White Chicken Chili for another fun variation!
Once you try this chili, you will never make any other type of chili again. Pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice are the secret ingredients that make this chili a standout recipe and make your guests go, "Hmmm...What is that?"
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans, drained
1 (46 fluid ounce) can tomato juice
1 (28 ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes with juice
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon chili powder (or adjusted to your own level of heat)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
In a large pot over medium heat, cook beef and ground turkey until brown; drain.
Stir in onion and bell pepper and cook 5 minutes. Transfer ingredients to your slow cooker.
Add in beans, tomato juice, diced tomatoes and pumpkin puree.
Season with pumpkin pie spice, chili powder and sugar.
Put lid on slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours.
Serve in bowls with a variety of your favorite toppings.