Thanksgiving for the Freezer

Welcome to “Thanksgiving for the   Freezer”

Where we take the last minute guesswork and hassles out of your holiday.

 

Let’s Talk Turkey

In a perfect world, Norman Rockwell has painted your family’s Thanksgiving Day dinner. In a perfect world, remember. However, it’s not perfect in my house and I’ll bet your house isn’t perfect either.

 

After making Thanksgiving Day dinner at least 20 times in my life, I still get nervous hoping it will all come together at the last minute–even with my trusty timeline and beloved familiar recipes!

 

This year, it’s going to be SO much easier and different. Why? I’m using our newest menu, The Thanksgiving Freezer Menu! This menu was developed to give us all a break. Doing Thanksgiving bit by bit, freezing it and then thawing it the night before the big day (with the exception of The Big Bird) is my idea of a happy meal! LOL

 

Join me this Thanksgiving in breaking through the work and the hassle and trying our new Thanksgiving Freezer Menu! Honestly, it won’t get any easier than this. I hope you LOVE LOVE LOVE this menu as much as I do!

Dinner Kit Shopping List

Assembly and Mealtime Ingredients

Recipe 1: Simple Roast Turkey

Recipe 2: Pan Gravy

Recipe 3: Spiced Cranberries

Recipe 4: Thanksgiving Dressing

Recipe 5: Just Divine Potatoes

Recipe 6: Praline Squash

Recipe 7: Autumn Greens

Recipe 8: Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf

Recipe 9: Caramel Apple Pie

Recipe 10: Refrigerator Angel Biscuits

 

MEAT

1 (15- 16-lb.) turkey, fresh or frozen [R1]

Bacon (10 slices) plus 1/2 pound (if making Oyster Dressing) [R4] [R5]

Sausage (1/2 pound) (if making Cornbread Dressing) [R4] Oysters (24 shucked) (if not using canned or frozen) (if making Oyster Dressing) [R4]

 

CONDIMENTS

Olive oil [R7]

Vegetable oil[R8]

 

PRODUCE

3 pounds onions [R1] [R2] [R4] [R7] Garlic (4 cloves) [R7]

Carrots (2 medium) [R1] [R2]

Celery (2/3 cup chopped plus 1 medium stalk) [R1] [R2] [R4] Russet potatoes (10 medium) [R5]

Acorn squash (4 medium) [R6]

Kale OR Swiss chard or other hearty green (2 1/2 pounds [R7]

Lemons (3 tablespoons juice) [R9]

Apples (6) (additional 2 if making Apple Walnut variation of Thanksgiving Dressing) [R1] [R4] [R9]

1 (12-oz.) package cranberries [R3]

 

CANNED GOODS

Low sodium chicken broth (1 or 2 (14.5-oz.) cans or more for backup [R4]

Oysters (24 shucked) (if not using fresh or frozen) [R4]

2 (8-oz.) cans pineapple tidbits [R3]

1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin puree (also called 100% pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie filling) [R8]

 

SPICES

Ground cloves [R3]

Nutmeg [R3] [R9] Sage [R1] [R4]

Thyme [R1][R4]

Cinnamon [R6] [R8][R9]

Ginger [R6]

White pepper [R2]

 

 

DAIRY/DAIRY CASE

Butter, unsalted [R1] [R4] [R6] [R9]

Eggs (4) [R8]

Sour cream (1 cup) [R5]

Half and half for coffee Buttermilk (2 cups)[R10]

2 (8-oz.) packages low fat Cheddar cheese [R5]

2 ready-made piecrusts (the kind you unfold – sold in a box) [R9]

 

DRY GOODS

Unbleached flour (3 cups plus 3 tablespoons)

Self-rising flour (5 cups) [R8] [R9] [R10]

Wondra flour OR Pillsbury’s fine flour (they’re in canisters and shake out) [R2]

Baking soda [R8] [R10]

2 (.25-oz.) packages yeast [R10]

Sugar (at least 2 pounds for baking, coffee, etc.) [R8] [R10] Brown sugar [R3] [R6] [R9]

Powdered sugar

Vegetable shortening (1 cup) [R10]

Golden raisins (1/2 cup) [R7]

Pecans (1 cup chopped) [R3] [R6]

Walnuts (1 cup chopped) (if making Apple Walnut Dressing) [R4]

Chocolate chips (1 1/2 cups) [R8]

Caramel squares (9) [R9]

Coffee for dessert (perhaps decaf?)

 

FREEZER

24 shucked oysters (if not using fresh or canned) (if making

Oyster Dressing) [R4]

 

BAKERY

Sourdough bread (8 cups cubes if making

Thanksgiving Dressing OR 4 cups cubes if making Apple Walnut Dressing) [R4]

Cornbread (8 cups crumbled if making Cornbread Dressing OR 4 cups crumbled if making Apple Walnut Dressing) [R4]

 

OTHER

2-gallon freezer quality zipper-topped plastic bags

1-gallon freezer quality zipper-topped plastic bags

1-quart freezer quality zipper-topped plastic bags

Sharpie pen

Plastic wrap

Heavy-duty aluminum foil wrap

SHOPPING LIST LEGEND

[R1] – [R6] = Recipe 1, Recipe 2, etc…

Each recipe is assigned a number which corresponds to the shopping list. This is

handy if you need to alter any recipes or omit a certain recipe from the menu.

 

 

 

Thanksgiving from the Freezer Thawing Schedule
 

 

The Caramel Apple Pie filling should be thawed during the day before and baked the night before Thanksgiving Day (see directions below). If you haven’t already baked the Refrigerator Angel Biscuits, these should also be baked the night before and can be reheated just before dinner is served.

 

Pull everything else out of the freezer the night before Thanksgiving and thaw in the refrigerator. Anything not thawed adequately in the morning can be placed in a sink filled with cold water to continue thawing (Exceptions: Just Divine Potatoes and Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf or they’ll become waterlogged!).

 

Thanksgiving from the Freezer Cooking and Serving Detail
 

 

Thanksgiving Dressing, Just Divine Potatoes and Praline Squash can be baked during the turkey’s 1- hour resting period (see baking times below).

 

Thanksgiving Dressing: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place thawed dressing mixture into a lightly greased

2-quart baking dish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through and lightly browned on top.

With all variations of dressing, follow the same procedure with the exception of Apple Walnut Dressing: Add the walnuts to the thawed dressing mixture and blend thoroughly; follow directions for baking.

 

Just Divine Potatoes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake thawed potatoes for 30 to 40 minutes or until heated through and golden brown on the top.

 

Praline Squash: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place thawed squash halves in a large baking dish. Melt butter and drizzle it over the top then evenly sprinkle with brown sugar mixture. Bake for 45 minutes or until tender and bubbly.

 

Autumn Greens: In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat; add kale mixture and raisins; cook and stir constantly till fragrant and heated through.

Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add kale mixture and raisins, stirring constantly till fragrant and heated through.

 

Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf: Once thawed, use a paper towel to carefully remove any “sweat” from the freezer (if any has formed). Place loaf on a serving plate and, using a sieve, sprinkle ¼ cup powdered sugar over the top; slice thinly for 16 pieces or thickly for 8.

 

Spiced Cranberries: Transfer thawed cranberry mixture to a serving dish, add chopped pecans and blend well. Refrigerate till ready to use.

 

Caramel Apple Pie: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Carefully unfold one of the pie crusts in a 9-inch pie pan. Add thawed apple mixture and sprinkle with the caramel pieces. Place the second pie crust over the top, pinching the edges and cutting a few slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until apple filling is cooked through and crust is golden.

 

Simple Roast Turkey

Recipe 1 — Serves 12 with leftovers

INGREDIENTS:                                                                                       

1 turkey

1 turkey (15-pound or more – I will probably go bigger for more leftovers)

One stick of unsalted butter, softened

Salt and pepper to taste

1 recipe Thanksgiving Dressing (see recipe)

 

 

(un-stuffing option: one carrot, one

stalk of celery, a large onion, a

green apple, some thyme)

Thyme

Sage

Water

­­­COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

You will usually find a package of giblets (innards) in the neck cavity of the turkey. Remove those, place in the fridge and I will tell you what to do with them later. Right now, it’s bath time for old tom. Rinse the cavities (the neck and bottom) and outside of the bird with cool water then pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the cavity of the turkey lightly with salt if desired. If you are not stuffing the bird, throw a washed carrot cut in half, a large onion cut in half and a celery stick cut in half into the cavity, sprinkle a little thyme and some salt and pepper. You can also add a half a green seeded apple, quartered if you like. I would also throw a little sage and thyme in there and mix everything up with my hand (about 1/2 a teaspoon each). This will just help to flavor the drippings, which in turn will help you make scrumptious gravy. Do not salt the cavity if you will be stuffing the turkey.

 

If you will be stuffing the bird, don’t do it now. Wait to do that till just before he hits the oven. Remove a rack from the oven, and position the last rack to be the second to the bottom ledge (in other words, not the very bottom). Turn on the oven to preheat, 500 degrees.

 

Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan (the rack will help the whole turkey brown). Rub your bird down (using your hands) with a cube of softened, unsalted butter (this isn’t one of those calorie conscientious meals). You will want to get under the skin and over the skin too (unless putting your hand under the turkey’s skin creeps you out). Put ½ cup of water on the bottom of the pan. If you are using a meat thermometer (which is advised), place the thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh muscle, but do not allow it to touch the bone or you will get a false reading.

 

Now, stuff the bird if you are going to stuff it. I have recently become a dressing convert after years of stuffing my bird. I used to stuff and I love the stuffing, but I have found that stuffing the turkey is one of the reasons the turkey dries out, so my stuffing has become dressing now. A part of me mourns the loss of that delectable stuffing that came out of my turkey, but the other part of me is thrilled with the moist results of my turkey.

 

Place the turkey in a preheated 500-degree oven for a half hour. Set your timer! The reason for the intense beginning heat is that this will allow the fat under the skin on the bottom of turkey (remember—you’ve got her sitting on a rack in the roasting pan) to melt and help brown the skin on the bottom. No more mush bottomed turkeys! Also, the turkey will begin to turn bronzy brown, which you want. After the initial 500-degree zapping, turn your oven down to a respectable 325 degrees. Do you feel better now?

 

Follow the timetable on the turkey packaging for approximate roasting time. Place a tent of foil loosely over the turkey when it begins to turn golden brown, exposing only the drumsticks to the oven. Roast the turkey until the meat thermometer reads 180 degrees (for a whole turkey) and the juice is no longer pink when you cut into the center of the thigh (it should be clear). The drumstick should move easily in the socket when lifted or twisted. When the turkey is finished roasting, remove it from the oven and let it stand at least 1/2 hour for easiest carving. However, it’s even better to let it rest an hour. That way you can count down the rest of the meal. Keep the turkey tented with foil so it will stay warm.

 

Spiced Cranberries

Recipe 3 — Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup water

3/4 cup brown sugar

Pinch of ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

 

1 (12-oz.) package fresh cranberries

2 (8-oz.) cans pineapple tidbits, drained

1 cup chopped pecans

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

In a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat, combine water, sugar, spices and cranberries. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until cranberries pop open. Remove from heat and stir in pineapple. Cool to room temperature then place in a 1-gallon freezer quality zipper-topped plastic bag. Expel excess air and seal.

In a 1-quart freezer quality zipper-topped plastic bag, place the chopped pecans.

 

In yet another 1-gallon bag, mark SPICED CRANBERRIES and the date you assembled it. Place the bag of cooled cranberries in this bag first, then the bag of chopped pecans. Expel excess air, seal and place in the freezer.

 

*To finish this recipe, see Thawing Schedule and Cooking Detail for all recipes.

 

Thanksgiving Dressing

Recipe 4 — Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/3 cups chopped onion

2/3 cup chopped celery

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

8 cups sourdough bread cubes

1 1/2 teaspoons sage

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

 

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté onion and celery in the butter for 3 to 4 minutes or until onion is translucent. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and blend well.

Place mixture in two 1-gallon plastic bags, each marked THANKSGIVING DRESSING and the date you assembled it. Expel excess air, seal and place in the freezer.

 

*To finish this recipe, see Thawing Schedule and Cooking Detail for all recipes.

 

VARIATIONS:

Oyster Dressing:

Omit butter. Cook 1/2 pound bacon; drain on paper towels and crumble. Add onion and celery to bacon drippings and sauté until onion is translucent. Add bacon and chopped oysters and proceed with recipe as directed.

 

Cornbread Dressing:

Omit sourdough and use crumbled cornbread instead.

Omit butter. In a skillet, lightly brown ground sausage till cooked through; remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. Add onion and celery to sausage drippings and sauté until onion is translucent. Add sausage and proceed with recipe as directed.

 

Apple Walnut Dressing:

Use equal amounts cornbread and sourdough bread (4 cups each).

Peel, core and chop 2 apples and sauté in the butter with the onion and celery until onion is translucent; proceed with recipe as directed. Toast 1 cup of chopped walnuts and place in a 1-quart plastic bag; add this bag to one of the 1- gallon plastic bags. Expel excess air, seal and place in freezer.

 

Just Divine Potatoes

Recipe 5 — Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

10 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 cup sour cream

 

2 (8-oz.) packages low fat shredded

Cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper, to taste

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

Lightly grease a 2-quart, freezer friendly baking dish.

In a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat, cook potatoes till fork- tender; drain and transfer

to a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and combine with an electric mixer till smooth, or if you don’t mind it a little lumpy, use a potato masher. Transfer to prepared baking dish and allow mixture to cool to room temperature.

 

Cover baking dish with plastic wrap then place it in a 2-gallon plastic bag, if it will fit. Otherwise, wrap the baking

dish with more plastic wrap and then wrap the whole thing two times in heavy-duty aluminum foil wrap, making sure it is very well sealed. Mark the bag or the top of the wrapped package DIVINE POTATOES and the date you assembled it.

 

*To finish this recipe, see Thawing Schedule and Cooking Detail for all recipes

 

Praline Squash

Day 6 – Serves 6

INGREDIENTS:

4 medium acorn squash, halved and seeded

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 cup chopped pecans

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 

Place squash halves in a baking dish; add 1/2 inch of water; bake for 10 minutes or until slightly tender (you just want it partly cooked). Allow squash to cool then place 4 pieces each into a 1-gallon plastic bag.

In a bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and pecans; place in a 1-quart plastic bag. Place the butter in another 1-quart bag. Expel excess air from both bags and seal.

 

On a 2-gallon plastic bag mark PRALINE SQUASH and the date you assembled it. In that bag, place first the sugar bag, then the butter bag, followed by both of the squash bags. Carefully expel excess air, seal and place in the freezer. If only one of the 1-gallon squash bags will fit into the 2-gallon plastic bag, just mark the other one PRALINE squash and freeze.

 

*To finish this recipe, see Thawing Schedule and Cooking Detail for all recipes.

 

 

 

 

Autumn Greens

Recipe 7 — Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup golden raisins

4 cloves garlic, pressed

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

 

2 1/2 pounds kale, stemmed and chopped

(can use Swiss chard or

other hearty green)

Salt and pepper, to taste

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

Soak raisins in a large bowl of water for about 10 minutes; drain, then place in a 1-quart plastic bag. Expel excess air and seal.

 

While raisins are soaking, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add garlic and onion and sauté until garlic is fragrant and onion is translucent. Add remaining oil and kale to the skillet and cook just until kale begins to wilt and turns bright green; remove from skillet and cool to room temperature.

 

Place kale in a 1-gallon plastic bag marked AUTUMN GREENS and the date you assembled it. Add the bag of raisins. Expel excess air, seal bag and place in the freezer.

 

*To finish this recipe, see Thawing Schedule and Cooking Detail for all recipes.

 

Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf

Recipe 8 — Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups unbleached flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

4 eggs

 

2 cups sugar

1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin puree (also called 100% pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie filling)

1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

 

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease and flour 2 loaf pans.

 

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; set aside. In another mixing bowl, combine eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil.

 

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.

 

Gently stir in chocolate chips and then pour batter evenly into prepared loaf pans. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.

 

Allow loaves to cool completely then remove from pans and wrap twice in plastic wrap followed by two layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil wrap. Mark the tops CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN LOAF and the date you baked them.

 

*To finish this recipe, see Thawing Schedule and Cooking Detail for all recipes.

 

Caramel Apple Pie

Recipe 9 — Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

6 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

 

3 tablespoons flour

1/4 cup unsalted butter, diced

9 caramel squares, unwrapped and

cut into fourths

2 ready-made refrigerator pie crusts –

he kind you unfold

(sold in a box)

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

In a large saucepan, combine apples, lemon juice, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, and butter. Cook over medium- high heat just until apples are fork-tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside and allow mixture to cool to room temperature then place in a 1-gallon freezer quality zipper-topped plastic bag marked CARAMEL APPLE PIE and the date you assembled it.

 

Place the cut-up caramel squares in a 1-quart plastic bag and add to the 1-gallon bag. Expel excess air, seal bag and place in freezer.

 

*To finish this recipe, see Thawing Schedule and Cooking Detail for all recipes.

 

Refrigerator Angel Biscuits

Recipe 10 — Assembly Guidelines — 4 Dozen

INGREDIENTS:

5 cups self rising flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup vegetable shortening

2 (.25-oz.) packages yeast

1/4 cup warm water

2 cups buttermilk

 

Assembly Instructions

In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar and baking soda; cut in shortening, using a fork or pastry cutter.

 

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water; add to flour/shortening mixture together with buttermilk; blend well. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 1 week.

 

Refrigerator Angel Biscuits

Recipe 10 — Cooking Instructions — 4 Dozen

 

Preassembled Ingredients

5 cups self-rising flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup vegetable shortening (it’s okay to use it for this recipe, LOL)

2 (.25-oz.) packages yeast

1/4 cup warm water

2 cups buttermilk

 

Cooking Instructions

Lightly grease a baking sheet.

Roll out dough and cut out biscuits, using a biscuit cutter.

Place biscuits on prepared baking sheet and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours before baking.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bake for 10 minutes.

Copyright © 2010 Leanne Ely All Rights Reserved. May be copied for individual personal use only.

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