Thanksgiving has passed but that doesn’t mean the holiday potluck season has. I love hosting parties and enjoy visiting with my guests. That’s why I think casseroles are a must because of early preparation. Plan ahead so you have time to visit and catch up with friends and family, instead of slaving away in the kitchen.
For the holiday of thanks, I always prepare a large variety of side dishes. I want each guest to like at least one of my creations. H hates sweet potatoes. College gal loves them. Everyone loves smashed taters, so they’re of course always on the menu.
With all the delectable sweets, we need to remember to eat healthily. Homemade cranberry jelly atop spaghetti squash is super yummy. An old family friend taught me how to disguise broccoli so everyone, or almost everyone, will love it. I tend to adjust the recipes and make them my own, you can do the same if you like. Of these, there has to be at least one that you can take to a holiday potluck. They’re also excellent for those days we spend fixing fence, hunting, or working all day. Check out the menu below.
Prebaked Mashed Potatoes
There are so many mashed potatoes recipes, you can make any that you like, put them in a casserole, freeze, then bake it before dinner. Most baking times are approximately 45 minutes. I use a stick thermometer to be sure I’m not serving anything that’s half frozen. Here’s my smashed potato recipe:
Start to finish: 55 minutes; Prep time: 10 minutes
5 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3-4 quarts water
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
2-4 cups shredded cheese (optional)
Add the potatoes and water to a stockpot. Boil on high until the potatoes are soft when poked with a fork. Strain potatoes from the water. Add them to a mixing bowl. Mix on low until the potato chunks are softened. Add the butter, sour cream, and milk to the mixing bowl. Mix until all ingredients are well blended. Add the mixture to your favorite casserole dish that has been coated inside with cooking spray (or to a disposable one if you’re going to take them to a friend’s house where you may not get your dish returned).
You may top the potatoes with shredded cheese if it pleases you. Cover the dish with parchment paper and then wrap tightly with aluminum foil. Freeze. Pull the dish out and place it in the refrigerator one day prior to baking day. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or until the center is between 160 and 180 degrees. Unwrap, serve and enjoy your time with friends.
Pioneer Woman’s Soul Sweet ‘Taters
Click HERE to get the recipe. I’ll tell you how to prepare it ahead so your guests will love it.
In my family, my mother and I are the only ones who like nuts, so I leave them off, but you can add them as you like. Prepare the recipe as directed, putting the creation into the baking dish that has been coated inside with cooking spray, but save the topping until baking day or you’ll have smashed topped with mush. Place parchment paper atop the sweet potatoes and then wrap the dish tightly in aluminum foil and freeze.
Pull the dish out and place it in the refrigerator one day prior to baking day. On baking day, uncover the dish and add the topping mix as directed in the recipe. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or until the center is between 160 and 180 degrees. Serve it while it’s hot, and enjoy your time with friends.
Cranberry Spaghetti Squash
This is a creation I’ve adapted from a recipe I found for a wonderful homemade cranberry terrine I make every year. I’ve modified it to use as a topping for my spaghetti squash. It’s festive, mostly healthy, season appropriate, and a perfect make-ahead dish.
Start to finish: 1 hour, 15 minutes
1 8-ounce bag fresh cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup pure pomegranate juice
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole black peppercorns
2 large strips orange peel, white pith removed
2 spaghetti squash, cleaned, baked, and removed from their peels
We’ll be following the directions as posted in the Food Network’s Terrine Recipe, but we’ll adjust our ingredients and stop just prior to adding the gelatin.
“Pulse the cranberries and 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor until chunky and juicy, about 8 times. Set aside for 20 minutes to macerate.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup (this has been adjusted for the spaghetti squash recipe) pomegranate juice, the cinnamon stick, peppercorns, orange peel and a pinch of salt in a saucepan over medium heat; simmer, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat; let steep for 20 minutes. Discard the cinnamon, peppercorns and orange peel.” Add the steeped mixture to your food processor or blender. Give it a couple of pulses to mix.
Spread the cooked spaghetti squash in a casserole that has been coated inside with cooking spray. Next, spread your cranberry mixture evenly atop the squash. Place parchment paper atop the casserole and then wrap the dish tightly in aluminum foil and freeze. Pull the dish out and place it in the refrigerator one day prior to baking day. On baking day, bake for 45 to 60 minutes at 350 F, or until the center is between 160 F and 180 F. Serve it while it’s hot, and enjoy your time with friends.
Best Ever Broccoli-Cauliflower Casserole
This is another recipe I’ve adapted over the years. An old family friend used to make it with only broccoli, but I chose to add the cauliflower, and my friends and family rave about it.
Start to finish: 55 minutes; Prep time: 10 minutes
2 heads broccoli – cut florets and discard stems
1 head cauliflower – cut florets and discard stems
1 22oz can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup
1 cup milk
6 boiled eggs – peeled and sliced
2-4 cups shredded Mexican cheese
1 sleeve saltine crackers – crushed
Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Spread the broccoli and cauliflower florets evenly in the bottom of a prepared casserole dish or pan. In a separate dish, whip together the cream of mushroom soup and milk. Pour the mixture evenly atop the florets. Spread the egg slices atop the vegetables, saving a dozen pretty slices aside. Put these in an airtight container in the refrigerator (if you’re going to be freezing your casserole for a prolonged period, you will want to boil fresh eggs for the day of the party baking). Top with shredded cheese, cover with parchment paper and aluminum foil, then bake at 350 F for 45 minutes. Let the casserole cool completely, then wrap it tightly with aluminum foil and freeze.
Remove the casserole from the freezer and place in the refrigerator one day prior to baking day. On baking day, uncover the casserole. Spread the remaining egg slices atop the shredded cheese topping. Spread your saltine crumbs evenly atop the casserole and then bake for 45 to 60 minutes at 350 F, or until the center is between 160 F and 180 F. Serve it while it’s hot, and enjoy your time with friends.
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