5 Make-Ahead Meals Perfect for the Holidays

5 Make-Ahead Meals Perfect for the Holidays

Whip up these easy, festive dishes in advance so you can spend more time with the people you love.

The holiday season is all about the three Fs: family, friends and food. Whether you’re hosting guests over the holiday break or bringing appetizers to a party, you might not have the time to whip up something at the last minute. No worries – these five make-ahead recipes are perfect for big holiday breakfasts, family dinners, parties and more.

A Guest-Friendly Breakfast Casserole

Avoid the morning mayhem by assembling this hearty breakfast casserole the night before. In the morning, put the casserole in the oven, gather the family, set out the Bounty napkins and have everyone dig in.

  1. In a small bowl mix 1/3 cup ricotta cheese and 1/3 cup raspberry jam to combine. Spread mixture over 12 slices of white bread. Place them jam-side up in a 9-by-9-inch pan to make four equal stacks. Top each stack with a plain slice of white bread. With your palms or a spatula, press down on bread to flatten
  2. In a medium bowl whisk six large eggs, 2 cups of milk, ½ cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and ¼ teaspoon of almond extract to combine. Pour over the bread
  3. Spread 1 pound of frozen berries evenly over the bread. Cover and refrigerate for eight to 24 hours
  4. Heat oven to 350 F. Sprinkle with ½ cup of pecans and ½ cup of rolled oats. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. After 45 minutes, loosen the foil and tent the casserole. Bake until puffed and a knife inserted near the middle comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired

Shrimp Rillettes

This buttery shrimp spread requires only five ingredients, and you can safely stash it in the freezer for up to three weeks. It’s heavenly on crusty bread, crackers or toast as a delicious addition to your holiday menu.

  1. In a large frying pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add 1 lb of shelled and de-veined raw shrimp, and cook for two minutes or until cooked through
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of cooking brandy or sherry and allow to bubble for 30 seconds
  3. Transfer shrimp to a food processor, and pulse until finely chopped
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, 4 tablespoons of butter and a little salt and pepper to the food processor, and then pulse again until evenly blended
  5. Transfer mixture into three clean jars, and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the shrimp mixture. The rillettes will keep for up to three days in the fridge, or you can store in the freezer

When you’re cooking for a large group, you don’t have a lot of time to spend on cleaning up. Look to Dawn Platinum dish soap to speed up the dishwashing process – it powers through stuck-on messes in seconds, even if the dishes sit overnight. Then use Bounty paper towels to wipe up cooking- and meal-related spills and splatters.

Cranberry and Pear Compote with Dried Winter Fruits

Just a small spoonful of this cranberry sauce on the side of each plate will make your holiday dinner extra yummy, and it’s also perfect as a spread for leftover turkey or ham sandwiches. But why stop there? Try it as a unique topping on oatmeal or cheesecake.

  1. In a 2-quart baking dish, combine 2 cups of fresh cranberries, 2 medium pears (peeled, cored and chopped), 1 cup of dried fruit (prunes, dried apricots, raisins) and ½ cup of sugar. Put in refrigerator for up to a week in an airtight container
  2. In a medium bowl, mix 1 cup of oats, ¼ cup of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of flour, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg, and store in a cool, dry place
  3. On the day of serving, preheat oven to 325 F. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter and add it to the dry mixture. Sprinkle mixture over fruit
  4. Bake one hour until lightly browned and bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature
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Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Shiitake Mushrooms

You can use roasted pumpkin or butternut squash in this simple recipe, which is made extra flavorful with the addition of shiitake mushrooms. Keep it in the fridge for up to three days, or freeze.

  1. Combine 3 lbs of chopped sweet pumpkin or butternut squash with one quartered onion, two shiitake mushrooms and one clove of garlic. Toss mixture with a little oil, spread onto a baking tray and roast in a hot oven for about 30 minutes
  2. Transfer to a saucepan and heat with 2 cups of stock. Purée with a blender until smooth. Gradually add 3 cups of stock and purée again. Bring the soup to a simmer and then season
  3. Serve topped with roasted pumpkin seeds or bacon

Slow Cooker Ham

This slow cooker recipe makes an impressive main dish that’s not only delicious but also hassle-free – exactly the way it should be! The ham will keep in the fridge for up to three days.

  1. Place a ham joint into the slow cooker
  2. Rub a pot of cranberry sauce over the top of the ham
  3. Blend a can of pineapple chunks in juice and pour over the ham. Cook for eight hours
  4. Once cool, refrigerate until mealtime

What’s your favorite holiday recipe or meal-planning tip? Share your ideas with us below.

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