Make Ahead Dishes For Easy Holiday Entertaining

Dishes that can go right from the freezer to the oven make holiday entertaining a lot easier.

During the holidays guests often stop by unexpectedly.  It’s great to be prepared with premade dishes that can go right from freezer to oven.  Here are three dishes that are easy to prepare and can last in the freezer for months.   The empanadas are great because you can bake only as many as you need and keep the rest in the freezer for another occasion.

Andouille Sausage Empanadas



2 1/2 cu All Purpose Flour
6 oz Cold Cream Cheese, diced
3/4 cu Cold Butter (12 tablespoons), diced


1 tbl Olive Oil
1/2 cu Onion, chopped
1/2 cu Red Pepper, chopped
1/2 cu Green Pepper, chopped
1 tbl Jalapeño Pepper, minced
9 oz Andouille Sausage, quartered lengthwise and chopped
1 cu Artichoke Heats, roughly chopped
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Oregano
1 cu Granny Smith Apples, diced
1 tbl Granulated Sugar
1 cu Grated Parmesan Cheese


Combine flour, margarine and cream cheese and mix together with your hands, breaking margarine and cream cheese down into smaller bits.  Continue blending until the flour has been incorporated and dough holds together into a smooth dough.  Divide the dough into two equal parts.   Roll each into a ball and flatten slightly.   Wrap each in plastic and refrigerate for an hour.  Working with each half, roll the dough out on a lightly floured board to about 1/16" thickness.  Cut 4" rounds from the dough using a cookie cutter.  Continue to rework scraps to make as many rounds as possible.  The two balls of dough should yield about 32 rounds.  The rounds can be stored in layers separated by wax paper in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

In a large saucepan, saute onions, green pepper, red pepper and jalapeño in the olive oil over a medium low heat until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.  Add sausage, artichokes, cumin, oregano, salt & pepper and saute for an addition 5 minutes.  Add apples and saute for an additional 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and add sugar.  Allow to cool and then finely chop all ingredients into a small dice.  Add parmesan cheese and mix to combine.

To assemble the empanadas, place a round on a lightly floured board.  Place about 1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons of tightly packed filling in the center (a 2 tablespoon mini ice cream scoop works well).  Gently fold the dough over the filling and gently press the palm of your hand over the entire empanada to form a crescent shaped cover over the filling.  Press the edges together and use a floured fork to crimp the edges and form a seal.  Repeat with the remain filling and rounds.

Bake Now:  If you want to enjoy these immediately, place them on a cookie sheet and into a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 15-20 minutes or until light golden brown.

Freeze:  To freeze, place the empanadas on wax paper in a single layer, being sure they aren't touching each other.  Place in the freezer for 1 hour. After an hour, place the empanadas in an airtight container and freeze for up to 2 months.  To Bake, place on a baking sheet and into a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 20 minutes or until light golden brown.

These empanadas are great as is or with a side of honey mustard for dipping.

Chicken and Mushroom Tortellini
courtesy of Karen Pfeifer

Karen shared this recipe as part of our Facebook Friends Cookbook.  You can see her recipe and all the others at

Breakfast Casserole


2/3 cu Bread Crumbs
1 tbl Olive Oil
8 oz Sliced Mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cu Roasted Red Peppers, chopped
1 tbl Fresh Oregano, minced
1/2 lb Smoked Turkey, cubed (you can use other cooked meats of your choice)
1 1/2 cu Shredded Sharp Cheese (loosely packed in a measuring cup)
3 tbl All Purpose Flour
3 tsp Ground Mustard
10 lg Eggs
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
2 tbl Heavy Cream

Cooking Spray
9” Springform Pan


Coat the sides and bottom of the springform pan with cooking spray.  Pour 1/3 cup of the breadcrumbs into the pan and tilt the pan to coat all surfaces.  Pour any excess back with the remaining crumbs.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Add mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 5-7 minutes.   Add red peppers and oregano and sauté for one minute more.  Remove from heat and add remaining breadcrumbs.  Stir to combine and then allow ingredients to cool.  Once cool, pour into the bottom of the springform pan and spread out evenly.

Mix turkey, shredded cheese, flour and mustard in a large bowl until well combined.  Pour ingredients over mushroom mixture and spread out evenly.

Crack the eggs into the same bowl.  Add cream and season with salt and pepper.  Beat the eggs to an even consistency.  Pour eggs over the cheese and turkey mixture.  At this point you have three options for with your casserole:

Bake Now: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cover casserole with aluminum and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for 15-20 additional minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and allow casserole to rest for 10 minutes before unmolding and slicing.

Refrigerate Overnight:  Cover casserole with plastic wrap.  In the morning, remove casserole from refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Discard the plastic wrap and cover casserole with aluminum.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and then follow baking instructions above.

Freeze And Bake Later:  Place casserole in freezer uncovered for 1 hour.  Remove from freezer and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the egg mixture.  Place another piece of plastic wrap (or aluminum) over the entire pan and seal well.  Place casserole back in the freezer for up to 2 months.  To bake, remove casserole from freezer and let it stand a room temperature for 30 minutes.  Remove all coverings except a single piece of aluminum.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake for 1 hour covered.  Remove the aluminum and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

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