Fresh Mamas Cooking Club: 3 Easy Make-Ahead Recipes for the Holidays

With the busy holiday season upon us, the Fresh Mamas decided a holiday prep cooking day was in order. We made cranberry sauce, make-ahead mashed potatoes, swiss chard spanakopita and even had time to make a batch of granola bites, recipe (HERE), for everyone! How's that for a productive few hours?!

granola bites, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and spanakopita!
Cranberry sauce is my absolute favorite part of a holiday meal. It is tart, sweet and a whole mouthful of deliciousness with every bite. This is a basic cranberry sauce recipe, which is how I like it, but feel free to doctor it up with some cloves, or cinnamon or citrus zest. There are so many ways you can customize it to your liking. 
Fresh Cranberry Sauce (Printable version)
1 cup orange juice
1 cup sugar
12 oz. fresh cranberries, rinsed -- remove any stems or undesirable berries
1. Bring orange juice, sugar and cranberries to a boil in a medium saucepan on medium-high heat
2. Allow to boil until sugar is fully dissolved, turn heat down to a simmer for about 12-15 mins until berries have burst and sauce has thickened. Your sauce should look like this:

cranberry sauce when ready to remove from heat
 3. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Place in container and refrigerate up to a week. Or cool completely, place in freezer bag and freeze up to 3 months.
These potatoes are a life-saver! Who wants to be mashing the potatoes right before you sit down to eat? Well, I don't and ever since I made these last year, I vowed to never again slave away over the potatoes while everyone else is enjoying their appetizers. Again, this is a basic recipe, but I'm sure it would be yummy with some roasted garlic mixed in there too, so go ahead and experiment if you like.
Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes (Printable version)
3 lbs. potatoes
3 oz. cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup milk (plus 1/4 cup milk for reheating)
2/3 cup sour cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1. Peel and cube potatoes, place in large pot and cover with water, 1 inch above potatoes
2. Bring to a boil, cook on a low boil about 12 minutes, until fork tender
3. Drain water off carefully and place potatoes back in pot
4. Mash with potato masher and run through potato ricer, until all potatoes are smooth
5. Add cream cheese, butter, 1/4 cup milk, sour cream, salt and pepper, stir until all the cheese and butter is melted and combined with potatoes
6. Spoon into 13x9 casserole dish -- you can place in fridge for 3 days before reheating, or double wrap with aluminum foil and place in freezer for 3 months.
To Reheat - Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Defrost in fridge overnight
2. Pour 1/4 cup milk over top of potatoes
3. Place in oven and heat, uncovered, for 30 minutes until hot and edges are slightly browned
4. Remove from oven, stir thoroughly and transfer to serving dish. Enjoy!
If you are looking for a unique and delicious appetizer for a holiday party, look no further. These little triangles stuffed with swiss chard and a blend of cheeses are the perfect crowd pleaser. This has been dubbed a "Mama Love" recipe in the FMCC homes. Although we all had plans to freeze and reheat for the holidays, they were all gobbled up immediately by the kids and I think the moms and dads might have gotten a few bites, too! If you have already started freezing your greens, then this a perfect recipe for your frozen swiss chard. If you do not have any swiss chard frozen, follow the directions for freezing swiss chard (HERE), but simply use immediately instead of freezing. About 3 bunches of fresh chard make 2 generous cups of cooked chard.
Swiss Chard Spanakopita (Printable version)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2 cups frozen chopped Swiss Chard, thawed and drained
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 clove minced or crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, melted
1 16 oz package phyllo dough, thawed completely
1. Mix all ingredients except phyllo dough and butter in large bowl
2. Using a pizza cutter, cut phyllo dough in half lengthwise - cover top layer of phyllo with a damp towel so it doesn't dry out
3. Lift one strip of phyllo, brush top with butter and place a small spoonful of swiss chard filling (about a tablespoon) in corner of dough like this:

4. Fold dough in half lengthwise and brush with more butter, then fold into triangles like this:
5. Once strip has been folded completely into a tidy triangle, brush outer layer with butter and place onto baking sheet. Repeat until all filling has been used and bake for 18-20 minutes until lightly browned. 
The spanakopita can be frozen and reheated at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Make a batch and you will have a yummy, homemade appetizer ready to go!
Adapted from Frugally Delish


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