Meal Planning Mondays: Christmas Eve Dinner

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Honey Baked Ham

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3 1/2 lbs ham (spiral cut smoked, fully cooked)
1/2 cup pear or apple juice (I used a apple harvest blend)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
1/2 cup honey

Special Equipment: hand held butane torch

Prep Day: Mix the pear or apple juice with the orange juice in a small pitcher and mix. Place in a 1.5 or 2 cup freezer container. Place brown sugar and honey together in a quart sized freezer bag. Squish the sugar mixture and freeze. Place ham in freezer bag along with juice container and sugar mixture. Freeze.

Serve Day: Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the ham, cut end down, in a large baking pan. Pour the juice mixture over the ham and bake for 15 minutes basting frequently with juices. Remove from oven. Brush or rub mixture over ham and bake for another hour or until internal temperature reads 140°F. Using a butane torch carefully caramelize the glaze to the crust using small strokes.

Sour Cream and Chive Mashed Potatoes

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Makes 8 cups

5 pounds Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
1/2 cup (1 bunch) snipped chives
1 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Prep Day: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Wash and peel potatoes and cut into 2-inch chunks. Add to water and boil over medium heat until potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes. Drain potatoes in a colander.

Place hot drained potatoes in a large bowl along with sour cream. Use an electric hand mixer to whip potatoes until little or no lumps remain, according to your preference. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in chives. Serve hot if you want to eat any of the potatoes before freezing.

To Freeze: Cool completely. Depending on if you plan on baking or microwaving the potatoes later, package in baking dishes that have been sprayed with cooking spray, or in lidded freezer containers, or zipper-lock plastic bags. I find small ramekins make great ways to freeze individual portions of mashed potatoes that can go directly from freezer to oven for reheating.

Serve Day: Thaw in refrigerator if desired to reduce baking time. Bake thawed or frozen potatoes in a 375 degree F. oven until heated through and top has barely started to brown. Timing will depend on portion size and whether the dish is frozen or thawed. Figure about 20 to 40 minutes for thawed potatoes, 1 to 1 1/2 hours for frozen.

Alternately, microwave thawed or frozen potatoes, stopping to stir every minute or two, until heated through. Timing will depend on portion size.

Sweet Potato Casserole

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Note: Double if using a 9″ x 13″ for a large gathering

4 large (or 6 medium) sweet potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup heavy cream

Topping:
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (OR 1/2 cup quick oats)

Prep Day: Peel and cube sweet potatoes. Place in medium pot and fill with water to cover sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil, covered, and cook until soft – about 20 minutes.

While sweet potatoes are cooking, in a small bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, and butter. Combine with fork until crumbly. Add pecans (or oatmeal). Stir to combine.

When potatoes are finished, drain and place in a large mixing bowl. Beat sweet potatoes, butter, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Add heavy cream. Beat until smooth.

Pour sweet potato mixture into a lightly greased pie plate or medium baking dish. Top with brown sugar topping.

To Freeze: Cover with plastic wrap then cover with foil. Freeze.

Serve Day: Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes – 1 hour or until top is golden brown.

Garlic Almond Green Beans

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Note: double for a large gathering

1 lb Green Beans (I used fresh, you can use frozen if desired)
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic
3-4 dashes of onion powder
1/3 cup slivers or sliced almonds

Prep Day: If using fresh green beans, blanch them first. I did this by steaming for 3 minutes, and then taking the wire basket that they are steamed in, and putting it directly into ice-cold water. Remove from the cold water, and dry well. While your green beans are steaming, melt 1 tbsp of butter in 1 tbsp of olive oil. When it is melted, add 1 clove of minced garlic. Put in your 3-4 dashes of onion powder, and mix well. When your garlic is slightly browned, mix in your nuts, and toast well. Take your garlic mixture, and mix it well with your green beans. When your green beans have cooled, place in a freezer bag, label, and date.

Serve Day: You can simply thaw and heat in the microwave.

Fruit, Nut, and Goat Cheese Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

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Note: NOT a freezer recipe!

Serves 6

9 ounces mixed greens
1 pear, sliced
½ cup pitted and sliced Medjool dates
¼ cups pomegranate seeds
½ cups coarsely chopped walnuts
½cups dried cranberries
3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
For the Pomegranate Vinaigrette:
½ cup pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon date honey (substitute regular honey)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

For the Salad: Put all the ingredients in a salad bowl. Toss with pomegranate vinaigrette (recipe below) or serve on the side.

For the Pomegranate Vinaigrette: Combine all the ingredients in a food processor, or vigorously whisk together by hand. Taste and adjust as necessary.

Strawberry Jello Pretzel Salad

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Note: NOT a freezer recipe, but CAN be made ahead of time.

2 cups crushed pretzels (I used the checker shaped ones but you can also use sticks)
3/4 cup butter melted
3 Tbsp. sugar
16 oz. cream cheese softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
16 oz. cool whip thawed to room temperature
1 (6 oz) box Strawberry Jello
2 cups boiling water
3 cups strawberries sliced

Combine melted butter and sugar. Stir in the crushed pretzels. Press evenly on the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Bake at 375 degrees F for 8 minutes. Let cool completely.

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, and cool whip. Beat until smooth. Spread over pretzel crust. Make sure to get the cream mixture tight against the edges of the pan to prevent the jello mixture from seeping through.

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Remove from stove and add jello. Stir until Jello is dissolved. Add sliced strawberries. Pour over cream layer and put in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

Dinner Rolls

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Makes approx. 36 rolls

2 cups warm milk (120-130 degrees)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 packet (2.25 teaspoons) active dry yeast
4 – 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 Tablespoon salt

Prep Day:Combine warm milk, melted butter, and sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves. Sprinkle in yeast and let stand about 10 minutes. The yeast should be bubbly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add milk/yeast mixture and stir well to combine. Place bowl in a warm place, cover with a clean towel, and allow to rise–about an hour.

Punch down dough, lightly flour your work surface, and turn dough out onto surface. Divide dough in half, roll out on floured surface, and knead in a bit more flour if dough is too sticky. Shape into golf-ball size rolls and place in a greased 9×13 baking dish. Cover and let rise in warm place, until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 350F. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and rub tops with a cold stick of butter, or brush with a butter-dipped pastry brush.

Freezing Directions: Prepare dough as above. Divide dough in half, and roll out on a floured surface, kneading in a bit more flour if dough is too sticky. Shape into golf-ball size rolls and place on a greased baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap, and flash freeze until firm. Once frozen, transfer to freezer bags and return to freezer up to four weeks.

Serve Day: Remove desired number of rolls from freezer and place in a greased 9×13 baking dish. Cover and let rise in warm place, until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 350F. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and rub tops with a cold stick of butter, or brush with a butter-dipped pastry brush.

Vanessa’s French Silk Pie

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Note: NOT a freezer recipe, but CAN be made ahead of time.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
Whipped cream or Cool Whip
Baked pie crust
Instructions

Bake a pie crust or use a Pillsbury refrigerated crust and make according to package directions for a fully baked crust.

Beat sugar and butter on medium high until light and fluffy, about 6-7 minutes. Add chocolate and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add eggs, two at a time, beating 5 minutes after each addition.

Note: The filling will be pale in color but will darken as it chills. Put it into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. This allows it to set up and thicken a bit before adding it to the pie shell.

Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow filling to chill for 2-3 hours before adding to cooled pie crust. Add prepared whipped topping, You can garnish with shaved bittersweet chocolate as well.

WAIT until tomorrow to eat. You can certainly eat it after it has chilled for several hours, BUT believe me when I tell you that you will be very thankful that you waited overnight. The filling needs time to set up. Any graininess you may have detected when you tasted the filling will be gone after a good night’s rest.

Yum!

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