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What to cook this week: Holiday recipes you can make ahead of time

Recipe for make-ahead mashed potato casserole
This photo shows make ahead mashed potato casserole. AP Photo/Matthew Mead

What to cook this week” is a weekly series featuring recipes that use local, seasonal produce. However, with the holidays upon us, this week we decided to focus on holiday meals that you can prepare ahead of time. Look for new ideas and recipes every Thursday.

When hosting a holiday party, anything you can make ahead of time is a huge stress-saver. Plus, make-ahead dishes free you up to spend time with your guests, rather than being isolated in the kitchen preparing your feast.

When planning your menu, organization and timing is key. “You need a game plan,” said chef Sarah Stegner. “You need to write the menu out, not just have it in your head. You need to have it organized in blocks of when you’re going to prepare your food, what can be done ahead and what can be done at the last minute.

Look for dishes that can be served at all temperatures, like this one for roasted beets with orange vinaigrette, pecans and goat cheese. Fill out your menu with dishes that require no heat at all, such as cocktail shrimp or pate.

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Roasted beets can brighten up any holiday table
This photo shows roasted beets with orange vinaigrette, pecans and goat cheese. AP Photo/Matthew Mead

Parboil your vegetables the night before your party, then cool them in ice water and store them in the fridge. The next day, simply reheat the veggies in a pan with olive oil or high quality butter.

Other options for make-ahead meals include the ubiquitous casserole dish. Try this easy recipe for a cheesy, creamy casserole that can be made the night before.

If you have your heart set on serving mashed potatoes at Christmas dinner, consider a mashed potato casserole that can be made ahead of time and baked in the oven.

You can also try these recipes from Food Network Canada, all of which can be prepared ahead of (party) time:

With files from The Associated Press

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