Thanksgiving motto: Be prepared

It used to be that nary a meal was served at our house that didn’t include a healthy portion of some sort of potatoes and/or bread on the side.

Potatoes are still one of my very favorite things —especially a big plate full of mashed potatoes and gravy —but our eating habits have changed. Now, we’re more apt to have a big side of broccoli, cauliflower or a salad rather than potatoes. I have to admit that I feel better not consuming so much starch every day, and there’s also the benefit of losing a few pounds along the way.

But with Thanksgiving on the horizon, it’s inconceivable to contemplate a big holiday meal without potatoes and stuffing. To me, they are the stars of the meal. Sure, we will probably include a healthy dose of vegetables, too, to balance out the heavy stuff, but potatoes and stuffing will definitely be on the table. I’ll deal with the consequences later.

And besides being tasty, it’s convenient that both dishes can be made in advance, taking a bit of the work out of the Thanksgiving Day cooking load.

Yes, I have shared both the Refrigerator Mashed Potatoes and Crockpot Stuffing before —probably every year about this time. But it is my mission to convert everyone to these make-ahead components of the feast.

Seriously, if you haven’t made either one before, consider putting them on your menu this year. I make the stuffing the day before, pull it out the morning of, and let it cook away until dinner time. The potatoes can be made days in advance, as they will keep almost two weeks in the refrigerator.

Crockpot Stuffing

In 1 cup butter, saute 1 cup chopped onion and 2 cups chopped celery. Remove mixture from stove and stir in 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning and 2 teaspoons sage.

In a large bowl, combine 12 cups dried bread pieces with the butter-vegetable mixture. Beat 2 eggs and combine with 3 to 4 cups chicken broth; pour over bread and stir well to combine.

Place mixture in slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours. (I turn it up to high for about 1 hour in order to get the crispy stuff around the edges.)

Refrigerator Mashed Potatoes

Peel 5 pounds (10 large) potatoes and cook in boiling salted water until tender; drain. Mash until smooth (no lumps).

Add 6 ounces cream cheese (or lower fat Neufchatel), 1 cup dairy sour cream (I prefer the light version or Greek yogurt), 2 teaspoons onion salt, 1 teaspoon salt and ᄐ teaspoon pepper. Beat until light and fluffy. Cool. Cover and place in refrigerator.

May be used anytime within 10 days. Place desired amount in a greased casserole, dot with butter and bake in 350 degree oven until heated through, 30 to 60 minutes, depending on size of dish.

 

I hope you and your family have a blessed, tasty and hassle-free Thanksgiving celebration!

 

 

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