The holidays are around the corner and I’m already planning both our Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. Our menu doesn’t change really from year to year, as we are traditionalists and some may find that boring, but there is something so comforting and nostalgic to me in sitting down and putting together these menus each year – I can’t wait to get started.
This truly is my favorite time of the year.
One thing that has been a challenge each year is getting all of the dishes prepared for the big meal on each holiday! We only have 1 oven and I do all the cooking from the main entrée to all of the side dishes, from the rolls to the desserts (yes there is more than 1 dessert for each holiday meal) – call me crazy (or a control freak) but I like to do it all. Not that I would ever say no to some help in the kitchen – though volunteers are usually few and far between.
Since space in the oven is a hot commodity (pun intended), I’ve taken to using my other favorite cooking apparatus…have you guessed it yet? The CROCK POT!!! Side dishes that we make in the crockpot free up the space in the oven for the big bird we are all waiting for!
I’ve already shared with you crock pot macaroni and cheese, (which is a staple at our holiday meals). Here are two additional side dishes you can whip up in your crockpots – everyone should have more than 1 right? (I am up to three). Otherwise, borrow a couple more from your family, friends, and neighbors – just don’t ask me, mine are booked!
The first side dish is a traditional and well-loved side dish we all know – Green Bean Casserole! In years past, we were always rushing to get the turkey out of the oven and the Green Bean Casserole in – but those days are over! Super simple and easy to prepare, you can thank me later!!
Crock-Pot Green Bean Casserole
Now this couldn’t be easier – all I did was take the recipe on the French’s Fried Onion package, followed it and cooked the casserole in the crock-pot on high for 2 hours instead of putting in the oven!! And I think it tasted sooo much better than the oven version.
1 10.5 oz can Cream of Mushroom Soup
¾ cup Milk
1/8 tsp. Black Pepper
4 cups cook cut green beans or 2 14.5 oz cans of Green Beans, drained
1 1/3 cups French’s® Crispy Fried Onions
Spray crock-pot with non-stick cooking spray
Mix soup, milk and pepper in large bowl. Stir in green beans and 2/3 cup of Crispy Fried Onions.
Put mixture in crock-pot cook on high for 2 hours.
Top with remaining 2/3 cup onions (optional: you may put in the oven for 5 minutes until onions are golden).
On to mashed potatoes! This recipe will basically put your mashed potatoes on autopilot. Usually my husband handles the mashed potatoes, and he complains the entire time, with how time consuming it is – we tried the crock pot version and he vowed, we will never go back to our old method ever again!!
Crock-Pot Garlic Parmesan Potatoes
3 pounds red potatoes, washed and cut into chunks
1 cup water
1/2 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded (not grated) Parmesan cheese
2-3 tablespoons milk, if needed
Add potatoes to slow cooker.
Pour water and chicken broth over potatoes. Cover and cook on high 3-4 hours or on low, 5-6 hours, or until potatoes are tender.
When potatoes are ready, drain liquid.
Add in butter, Greek yogurt, garlic, salt, pepper, and cheese. Using a potato masher or electric hand mixer, mix until potatoes have reached your desired consistency. If needed, milk and/or more Greek yogurt can be added.
Finally, we always have a number of desserts to tempt one and all – I found this recipe for Bite Size Pumpkin Pie Bites, they are so cute and so tasty I’m sure you will add these to your holiday meals! This of course can be prepared the day before along with the rest of your holiday baking.
Easy Bite Size Pumpkin Pie Bites
Homemade All Butter Pie Crust* (recipe below) or 2 pre-made, ready to roll pie crusts
1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs + 1 egg for egg wash
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour (or use nonstick cooking spray) a mini-muffin pan. Set aside.
Roll the dough or pie crust out on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin.
Using a round cookie or biscuit cutter (approximately 3 inches diamater) cut at least 24 rounds out ( or 12 rounds of each pie crust, if using store bought)
Carefully press each round into the mini-muffin pan. Use your fingers to round the ends into a pie crust.
Brush egg wash from one egg to the top edges of each pie.
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating each until combined.
Add pumpkin puree and beat to combine. Stir in vanilla and pumpkin pie spice.
Spoon mixture into each mini pie crust almost up to the top.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden around the edges.
Remove from oven and let cool on a cooling rack, or chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with more pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon on top and before serving. Keep refrigerated.
Pies will be puffy when they come out of the oven, but will sink back down when cooled.
*Homemade All Butter Pie Crust
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and diced
1/4 cup ice water, but possibly less
Begin with very cold butter, you can put it in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Dice it with a knife into cubes about 1/3” across, they don’t have to be exact.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt.
Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Add the ice water a tablespoon at a time and mix swiftly and gently.
Add just enough water to allow the dough to form into a loose ball.
Flatten the dough into disks, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hour or overnight.
Well, I hope this will help with some meal planning preparation for the upcoming Holidays, for my family and myself this truly is the most wonderful time of the year, I hope it is for you as well. Happy Holidays! Enjoy! +