Green Beans (serves 4-6)
Make 2 days ahead
1 pound of green beans, trimmed
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
6 garlic cloves, crushed
Salt and pepper

Blanch green beans:  Bring large pot of salted water to the boil, add green beans and cook until just tender, about 2-4 minutes depending on beans.  Immediately remove beans with a spider or tongs into ice water.  Let cool and remove, drain.  This can be done 2-3 days ahead of time if necessary.  Keep refrigerated wrapped in a kitchen towel and in a covered container. When ready to serve, sauté garlic in 2 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter and toss in green beans.  Add remaining butter and reheat about 5-10 minutes until hot.  Check seasoning and serve.
[Oven reheating directions.  Toss cold green beans in garlic and olive oil and break up butter.  Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate.  When ready to serve, place in an oven at 350 F and bake until butter is melted and beans are hot, about 20 minutes.  Remove foil and toss with salt and pepper to taste and to redistribute butter and seasonings, serve immediately.]
I make my green beans 1-2 days ahead of time and choose the method of heating based on where I have space to reheat.

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Baguette Stuffing or Dressing (Serves 6-8) 3 days ahead
6-8 ounces sausage, removed from casings (optional)
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
2 celery ribs, sliced thinly
½ cup butter
2-4 tbsp. raisins, currants or dried cranberries (optional)
2-4 tbsp. pine nuts, chopped walnuts, chopped pecans or chopped almonds (optional)
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
1 tsp. dried thyme, rosemary or sage
1-2 cups vegetable, chicken or turkey stock*
1 baguette, diced into 1 inch pieces

Place baguette pieces on a baking tray and dry out in kitchen or low oven (300 F for 20 minutes).  
Sauté the sausage if using, until just cooked and place in a large bowl.  Sauté onions and celery in same sauté pan in the leftover sausage fat and butter, until tender, about 10 minutes.  When tender, mix in with sausage and add dried fruits, nuts, herbs and baguette cubes.  Toss to combine.  Add at least one cup of stock.  Add more depending on how you like your dressing and how you will be cooking it.  Cool and cover and refrigerate until ready to bake either in poultry or casserole dish.

This will fill a large chicken or a small turkey.  Any excess can be baked in a buttered oven safe dish at 350 F covered for 30 minutes then remove foil and continue cooking another 15-20 minutes (add extra liquid if baking in oven dish.

*If you will be using as a stuffing in a chicken or turkey I use 1 cup of broth.  If using as dressing (not stuffed in a bird), use 2 cups stock and bake in a greased 1 ½- 2 quart oven safe dish (8 X 8) at 350 F for covered for 30 minutes remove foil and continue to bake 15-20 minutes. This can be made 2-3 days ahead.


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Spice Roasted Winter Vegetables (Serves 6-8)
Make 1 day ahead
1 ½ lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and diced large
1 ½ lbs carrots or parsnips, peeled, halved or quartered
Salt and pepper
2-4 tbsp. olive oil
1-2 tsp. curry powder or pumpkin spice

Preheat oven to 425 F.  Place sweet potatoes and carrots on 2 large rimmed baking trays covered in parchment paper.  Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and spice and toss until well coated.  Place in oven and bake until tender but caramelized, about 45 minutes.  When vegetables are ready, place in serving bowl or platter and toss gently in remaining vinaigrette.  Cover and refrigerate until needed.  Reheat in oven 350 for 15 minutes until warm and toss if necessary.  These can be made 1-2 days ahead.


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Creamy Mashed Potatoes (Serves 8-10)
Make 2 -3 days ahead
4 pounds Yukon Gold, russet or red rose potatoes, peeled or not and cut in quarters
6 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
¼ cup butter or olive oil
2 ½-3 cups Half and Half (or heavy cream or milk or mixture of the two)
2 1/2 tbsp. Salt, divided
1/2 tsp. chopped sage, oregano, rosemary or thyme (optional)
Pepper

Place potatoes in a large pot, cover well with water and add 2 tbsp. salt.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.  Gently cook until potatoes are tender when you insert a fork into center of potato without resistance.  Drain potatoes well.  Add butter, garlic and herbs into a large bowl followed by drained potatoes and ½ tbsp. salt and 1 cup liquid.  Begin mashing with potato masher, ricer, hand held mixer or a large fork.  Once the liquid has incorporated into the potatoes add more liquid and mix until combined.  After you have added 2 cups of liquid, assess the consistency and seasoning.  Adjust with salt and pepper if necessary and more half and half or milk as needed and serve warm.  If you are serving the next day, cool quickly.  Pour about 1 extra cup of half and half or milk on top of potatoes and cover and refrigerate until ready to put in oven.  Bake at 350 F until hot (about 25-30 minutes) or reheat gradually in a slow cooker on low or medium heat, checking to make sure they have not dried out and adding more liquid if necessary.  Be sure to stir just before serving to redistribute liquid.  This can be made 3-4 days ahead or frozen.

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Cranberry Sauce (Makes about 4 cups)
1 package fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup diced pear, apple or persimmon
1 cup red or white wine, Brandy, Grand Marnier, Cointreau or Triple Sec (optional)

In medium sauce pan, add cranberries, sugar, liquor and dice fruit.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until cranberries skins break and fall apart about 30 minutes, or longer if desired.  Taste for seasoning and add more sugar or some water if necessary.  At this point the sauce can be cooled and served.  For a thicker and milder sauce, keep cooking at simmer to evaporate more liquid.  The sauce can be strained through a fine sieve or left as is for a more rustic sauce.  Can be made 5 days ahead or frozen.

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Turkey Stock
Turkey wings, carcass or bones*
1 onion, chopped
2 celery ribs
2 carrots
Thyme sprigs
Bay leaf
Parsley stems
Salt and pepper
Cold water

Place vegetables, turkey carcass and spices in large pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a low simmer.  Continue to simmer for about 4 hours.  Strain and cool quickly. *I like to use the wings and the giblets from the turkey for this.  Or I make a turkey a few weeks before Thanksgiving and use the carcass to make the stock then I freeze it for use when needed.

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Herb Roasted Turkey with Homemade Gravy (serves 8-10)
1 10-12 pound turkey, giblets removed and saved for gravy if desired
1 onion, peeled and quartered
6 garlic cloves whole, unpeeled
1 lemon, quartered (optional)
Several sprigs of sage, thyme and rosemary
Several pieces of parsley stems
6 tbsp. butter, softened or 6 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper

Gravy:
1 bay leaf
3 cups turkey or chicken stock
1 cup white wine or brandy (optional)
6 tbsp. butter or turkey fat
8 tbsp. flour or cornstarch
1 tsp. sage, thyme or rosemary (optional)
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

A day before cooking, remove turkey from packaging.  Remove giblets and wings and use to make turkey stock or freeze for next time.  Dry turkey inside and out with a few paper towels and let sit uncovered in refrigerator overnight.  When ready to roast, preheat oven to 350 F.  Prepare a roasting pan or Dutch Oven.  Place onions and garlic on bottom of roasting pan.  Dry turkey if necessary and season turkey cavity with salt and pepper and stuff it with lemon and herbs.  Rub turkey with softened butter or olive oil and season all around with salt and pepper.  Place turkey breast side up on vegetables and place in oven.  Roast 2 ½- 3 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh (without touching a bone) reads 155 F and inserted into the breast reads 150 F.

Place turkey onto a plate and loosely tent.  Gently pour out most of the fat and juices from the roasting pan into a fat separator.  Pour the juices into the turkey stock and keep or discard fat.  Place roasting pan on a burner on medium high heat and deglaze with wine.  While the alcohol is reducing, be sure to scrape up any brown bits and incorporate them into the sauce.  Once the alcohol has reduced by 2/3 to ¾ add in broth and reheat.  When boiling, strain liquid back into the sauce pot using a fine mesh strainer and making sure to get all of the juices and flavors from the vegetables.  Add any accumulated juices from the turkey into the sauce pot as well.  In a cup, mix together the flour and ½ cup stock and whisk until there are no lumps.  When the sauce boils, add the flour and stock mixture and begin whisking immediately.  Continue whisking as necessary until the gravy thickens, about 5-10 minutes.  Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper and add chopped parsley.  Carve turkey when cool and place on an oven safe dish.  Reheat turkey if necessary in the oven or with the hot gravy or both and serve with extra gravy on the side.

Alternative gravy method:  Once turkey is out of the pan and resting, deglaze roasting pan with brandy, wine or stock and scrape to recuperate any browned bits.  Strain into stock.  In a sauce pot, heat 6 tbsp. butter and add flour and sage, thyme or rosemary and cook until golden brown and bubbly but do not burn.  When flour is cooked, add in turkey stock and deglazing juices all at once.  Whisk and heat until bubbly.  Taste for seasoning and to make sure the flour is cooked.  

Easiest Gravy Method:  One or two days before serving turkey.   Melt butter with flour and cook stirring occasionally until brown but not burned.  Add in 3 cups of turkey stock and one cup or wine or brandy (or 4 cups of turkey stock) all at once and continue to cook with bay leaf, and sage, rosemary or thyme until thick on a low simmer.  Reheat when ready to serve and add parsley and any turkey juices desired.


Holiday 
Side Dishes to Make Ahead
+
Roast Turkey

Desserts

Chocolate Pots de Crème aux Epices ~ Spiced Chocolate Custard Cups (Serves 8-10)


10 ounces bittersweet, semi-sweet or dark chocolate finely chopped
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 tsp instant espresso mixed with 3 Tablespoons water or 3 Tablespoons cold espresso
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon cardamom
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
4 large egg yolks
5 Tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half and half

Sweetened Cream
1 cup crème fraiche, mascarpone, plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
2 Tablespoons sugar

For the pots:     Place chocolate, vanilla, espresso and spices  in a medium bowl, set fine mesh strainer on top, set aside.  Whisk yolks, sugar and salt in a medium bowl, whisk in heavy cream and half and half.  Transfer mixture to medium saucepan.  Cook mixture over medium-low heat, stirring frequently but gently with a whisk, paying attention to the sides and bottom of the pan.  Continue cooking until thickened, to about 175-180 degrees, about 12 minutes.

Pour custard through strainer over chocolate.  Let mixture stand to melt chocolate, about 3 minutes.  Whisk gently until smooth.  Divide evenly amongst the 8, 6-ounce ramekins or decorative cups or 10, 4-ounce ramekins.  Bring pots to room temperature then cover and refrigerate 4-24 hours.  Before serving, let stand at room temperature 20-30 minutes.  Serve with a dollop of sweetened cream.

For sweetened cream: mix cream or yogurt with sugar.  Whip cream, sugar and spices until cream is desired texture.


Classic Fudge

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups (or 1 12-ounce package) chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt

In a sauce pan over medium heat, heat the sweetened condensed milk until it almost simmers.  Remove from heat and add chocolate chips, salt and vanilla extract.  Let sit for 5 minutes, and then stir until smooth.  If necessary, place back on heat and warm as necessary.
Pour into a pre-greased or parchment or wax paper lined 9 x 9 or 8 x 8 inch pan.  Let chill in refrigerator until firm, about two hours.  Cut into about 48 pieces, cleaning knife with every slice.

Add ins:
Mocha Fudge:  2 tbsp. instant coffee or espresso dissolved in 2 tsp hot water.  Add to sweetened condensed milk.
Nut Fudge:  ½-1 cup chopped walnuts, almonds or pecans.  Add in when chocolate is smooth until just combined.

Rocky Road Fudge:  1 cup mini-marshmallows and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. Add in when chocolate is smooth and once marshmallows are in, don’t over mix or they will break down.

Peppermint Fudge:  ½ tsp peppermint extract and ½-1 cup crushed peppermint candies or candy canes.  Add peppermint extract with vanilla extract.  Stir 1/3 of the crushed peppermint candies into the fudge and sprinkle the rest on the top of the fudge pressing down slightly.

Coconut Macaroons

1 14-oz package sweetened shredded coconut
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 egg whites, room temperature
1 pinch of salt
1 cup white or dark chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 F.  In a large bowl, mix together coconut, sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips.  Whisk egg whites and salt until medium peaks form.  Gently fold egg whites into coconut mixture. 
Using an ice cream scoop or spoons, scoop out batter and place onto parchment lined baking trays and bake until golden brown all over, about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the cookies.  Makes about 2 dozen


Pecan Shortbread (aka Mexican Wedding Cookies)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts or almonds
½ cup or more powdered sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Mix together butter, sugar and vanilla until well blended and smooth.  Add flour and mix gently until almost combined.  Add nuts and finish mixing until smooth.  Refrigerate if necessary to help shape the balls.  When dough is cool, shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, about 1 inch apart. 
Bake 12-15 minutes until the edges and bottoms of cookies are slightly golden.  Cool for 5 minutes and roll cookies in powdered sugar.  Let cool completely and before serving or when completely cool, roll a second time in powdered sugar to give a nice final coating.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Salted Caramel Sauce (makes 1 cup)

1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
6 tbsp butter, diced in 6 pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, add water then sugar and start cooking on medium high heat.  Gently stir sugar until just dissolved then do not stir until caramel is done.  Boil without stirring until caramelized to a golden brown.  Remove from heat and add butter, vanilla, salt and cream being careful of the hot steam.  When combined place into a small jar or serving bowl and let cool before using or storing.