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Having Thanksgiving - No time to prepare - what can I cook ahead and freeze

kleibokleibo Registered User Posts: 1,306 Senior Member
edited November 2009 in Parent Cafe
My sister who was supposed to have Thanksgiving but can't this year. I have ageed to have it but really have no time to prepare. If I would have known, I would have taken off the Wednesday before. Now I am working all week and picking my son up from the airport on Wednesday night before Thanksgiving - getting me home about 10 pm on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. So I plan to do as much as I can the weekend before.

Can I cook, cut and then freeze my turkey if I cook it on the weekend. What about the gravy?

What other things can I do ahead of time. How about peeling the potatoes for mashed potatoes - I can't possibly freeze the mashed potatoes and reheat on Thanksgiving day can I??

All and any help is greatly appreciated.
Post edited by kleibo on

Replies to: Having Thanksgiving - No time to prepare - what can I cook ahead and freeze

  • seiclanseiclan Registered User Posts: 4,182 Senior Member
    I always make a large sweet potato casserole two weeks early and freeze it. The recipe has butter/brown sugar/marshmallows/orange juice in it. If it appeals to you, let me know and I will post the recipe.
  • Singersmom07Singersmom07 Registered User Posts: 3,878 Senior Member
    Can you have dinner later - more like 4 PM or so? We usually have Thanksgiving dinner at 6 PM. I do everything that day to keep it fresh. But if you do not want to do all that - can people bring some things? If not, you can peel cut and blanch the potatoes, freeze then finish and mash. You can do gravy ahead of time with turkey wings and just add the flavor of brownings at the end. Candied sweet potatoes can be done ahead frozen and reheated - they are actually better that way.

    Turkey loses texture if frozen and reheated. I would not do that. Buy a cooked turkey from the supermarket instead if you can't cook it. . What else are you trying to fix? Keep it simple this year or shift some of the burden to others.
  • violadadvioladad Registered User Posts: 6,645 Senior Member
    No issues whatsoever in premaking the gravy and freezing. I always freeze whatever gravy leftovers there are, and it thaws easily in fridge or microwave. Along with the turkey wing gravy starter there's other gravy tips here: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parent-cafe/604194-turkey-gravy.html?highlight=turkey
  • maritemarite Registered User Posts: 21,586 Senior Member
    Could you make the stuffing ahead of time? It's called stuffing, but most people don't actually stuff the turkey with it (I don't). You could make the cranberry sauce, gravy and the various pies ahead as well.

    I follow a recipe I read in the NYT some years ago (no brining); a 12lb turkey takes about 2.5 hours. this would be plenty of time for the turkey to be ready for the usual Thanksgiving "dinner." We actually eat ours at 6-7pm as we cannot contemplate eating a huge meal at midday.
  • kleibokleibo Registered User Posts: 1,306 Senior Member
    I also want to try to do as much as possible ahead of time so I can spend some time with my Freshman son who is coming home for the Thanksgiving break. I'm sure all I am going to get is Thanksgiving day with him and then by that eve he will be off visiting his friends that are also home for the break.

    I am going to request friends and relatives to bring some items this year - that will hopefully cut down on the preparation. I am expecting about 15 people.

    And thanks for all your tips - hopefully they will keep coming.
  • NorthstarmomNorthstarmom Registered User Posts: 24,853 Senior Member
    Have you considered making it a potluck? That's what I usually attend for Thanskgiving, and it's relaxing and fun for all.
  • seiclanseiclan Registered User Posts: 4,182 Senior Member
    Here is my freeze and bake Sweet potato casserole recipe. I love this cause all the mess is over with well in advance. I have that it serves 10- 12 but I have it really does serve up to 18 people.

    Sweet Potato Casserole (Freeze and Bake)
    Prep time: 2 hours
    Number of Servings: 10-12

    15-20 Sweet potatoes (need 9 cups mashed) 3/4 cup margarine/butter
    2 1/4 cups light brown sugar 6 tablespoons milk
    3/4 teasp. salt
    3 teasp. grated orange rind/zest
    12-15 regular marshmallows 3 cups crushed pecans or corn flake crumbs (if allergic to nuts)


    Boil sweet potatoes for 1 1/2 hours or until soft. Peel skins. In a large bowl, Mash sweets with butter/margarine, milk, orange rind, br. sugar, and salt. Make a one inch layer of sweet potato mixture (about half the mixture) on bottom of deep (~4 in.) 9 X 13 aluminum tin. Put marshmallows on next layer, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Put another layer (the rest) of sweet potato mixture on top, completely covering the marshmallows. Sprinkle pecans/cornflake crumbs on top layer. Cover with aluminum foil and freeze. Bake frozen at 350 degrees for 2 hours (uncover after the first hour).

  • worknprogressworknprogress Registered User Posts: 1,536 Senior Member
    I have a great cranberry relish recipe that freezes very well. If you want it I will type it out.

    Also - you can make stuffing in a crockpot and it tastes great!

    If I were going to make TDay easier (i am a vegetarian so keep this in mind) I would switch to a turkey breast and do it ahead of time as well.
  • NYMomof2NYMomof2 Registered User Posts: 5,948 Senior Member
    Definitely ask people to bring things - maybe pies and a side dish or two? You can make cranberry sauce the weekend before, you could make some pumpkin muffins and freeze them, and you can get the table ready and the house cleaned. Do you have a grocery delivery service? I sometimes use FreshDirect. You could arrange for groceries to be delivered Wednesday late afternoon or evening if you act fast. Thanksgiving dinner is not all that hard to do the same day, if you get some help with time-consuming things like pies.

    And going along with Marite's suggestion, I sometimes cook two 12-pound turkeys instead of one huge one.

    Could your son help you in the kitchen on Thanksgiving day? Even if he can't cook, he could chop vegetables and peel potatoes.
  • NYMomof2NYMomof2 Registered User Posts: 5,948 Senior Member
    I have a very easy recipe for an appetizer that we always have on Thanksgiving. It is the only really disgusting, horribly unhealthy dish I ever make. I've been making it for years, and everyone loves it. Everyone who has ever lived in the midwest has this recipe. It has three ingredients: canned artichoke hearts, parmesan cheese, and Hellman's mayonaisse. I serve it with stoned wheat thin crackers. Let me know if you are interested.
  • snowballsnowball Registered User Posts: 2,719 Senior Member
    The Southerners also have that recipe and we have it every T'Day!! What is easy about it is the measurements,1 of everything-1 can artichoke hearts, 1 cup grated parmesan, and 1 cup Hellman's. Mix everything in the baking dish, sprinkle with paprika and bake. I have tripled the recipe and there is still nothing left; my crew loves it! When there is leftovers, I love adding it to a baked potato.

    I have a make ahead mashed white potato casserole if you want the recipe, I would just have to pull it out.
  • POTO MomPOTO Mom Registered User Posts: 517 Member
    Call your local Heavenly Ham and order one. Then AHEAD OF TIME you can cut out a turkey head and turkey tail and poke it in the ham before you put in on the table. No fuss, no muss and it will make one of those "forever memories" that you will laugh about for years to come. Plus, ham doesn't dry out.
  • kleibokleibo Registered User Posts: 1,306 Senior Member
    Snowball - both recipies please. You can either post or PM me. thanks. I think I will ask people to bring desserts. My oven will be too crowded with the darn turkey :( - I was hoping to cook that thing ahead of time, but if I can't, I can't.

    Yes i have two boys and a husband that help out. My house is pretty small so we are always rearranging and grabbing every square foot we can.
  • TreetopleafTreetopleaf Registered User Posts: 2,721 Senior Member
    You can bake stuffing ahead in a casserole. I have a wonderful recipe if you need one.

    I wonder how restaurants do turkey dinners? Do they slice the meat and store it in broth or something, then heat as needed? Seems like a good approach.
  • snowballsnowball Registered User Posts: 2,719 Senior Member
    I am heading out but will post the recipes later. While I have never tried it, I know many people grill their turkey; it would free up your oven!!

    Here is some how to information from Weber: Weber Grills and Accessories - Recipes

    I have a pdf for their Hickory-Smoked Turkey that was emailed to me. A quick search on their site did not show it, but I did find it with a google search if someone was interested. It was called Weber's Way to Grill: Hickory-Smoked Turkey with Bourbon Gravy.
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