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Old 11-29-2009, 03:00 AM   #1
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Caterers and other party experts -- preparing party food in advance

Hi all,

I'm throwing my first rather large party this Saturday afternoon and we'll be doing a deep-fried turkey with traditional thanksgiving sides. I want to be able to prepare at least some of the side dishes I am making (stuffing, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese and green bean casserole) ahead of time. I'm afraid if I "assemble" these dishes ahead of time and put them in the fridge overnight, it could change their texture and affect their quality in the time before I put them in the oven.

For stuffing, I use french bread and make croutons from it, then add eggs, stock, spices, sauteed veggies, apples and raisins. Would it work if I assembled it ahead of time or would all the bread and veggies turn to complete mush in the fridge overnight?

For macaroni and cheese -- can the noodles be boiled and the casserole assembled ahead of time without messing up the final product? It'll have evaporated milk and eggs in it, if that matters.

I'm assuming mashed potatoes should be made fresh --I wouldn't mind making these the day of the party. Finally, my green bean casserole will be the simple campbell's recipe, which I also think I could prep the same day.

Thanks a lot for your input!

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Old 11-29-2009, 07:18 AM   #2
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Party this Saturday

I would not make the stuffing or macaroni & cheese ahead of time.
Mac & cheese -- I'm afraid your noodles will get too soggy; too risky. If there are any steps you can do ahead, but not total assembly with moisture on cooked noodles all night.

Stuffing may get dry, because liquid will absorb too much. Can you cut everything up the day ahead -- apples, bread cubes, veggies, combine broth, eggs & the spices; then, do the pre-cooking and assembly the day of the party.

Mashed potatoes: This is something I think you could make ahead. Cook your potatoes the day ahead; drain & store in the fridge and mix with milk and butter the day of the party. I do have a great recipe for mashed potato casserole that can be made ahead.

Mashed Potato Casserole

8 large baking potatoes (about 4 1/2 - 5 lbs.)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 T. butter


1. Peel potatoes; boil until tender. Drain and mash with electric mixer.
2. Beat in cream cheese, sour cream, garlic salt and pepper.
3. Turn into a buttered casserole; dollop with 4 T. butter.
4. Bake at 400 degrees covered for 50 - 60 minutes.


You can make this ahead & chill in fridge for up to 3 days. Cover it with plastic wrap for storage.

Hope it goes well.
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Old 11-29-2009, 11:11 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by julie.a.dehart View Post
I would not make the stuffing or macaroni & cheese ahead of time.
Mac & cheese -- I'm afraid your noodles will get too soggy; too risky. If there are any steps you can do ahead, but not total assembly with moisture on cooked noodles all night.

Stuffing may get dry, because liquid will absorb too much. Can you cut everything up the day ahead -- apples, bread cubes, veggies, combine broth, eggs & the spices; then, do the pre-cooking and assembly the day of the party.

Mashed potatoes: This is something I think you could make ahead. Cook your potatoes the day ahead; drain & store in the fridge and mix with milk and butter the day of the party. I do have a great recipe for mashed potato casserole that can be made ahead.

Mashed Potato Casserole

8 large baking potatoes (about 4 1/2 - 5 lbs.)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 T. butter


1. Peel potatoes; boil until tender. Drain and mash with electric mixer.
2. Beat in cream cheese, sour cream, garlic salt and pepper.
3. Turn into a buttered casserole; dollop with 4 T. butter.
4. Bake at 400 degrees covered for 50 - 60 minutes.


You can make this ahead & chill in fridge for up to 3 days. Cover it with plastic wrap for storage.

Hope it goes well.
I made mashed potatoes similar to these the day before Thanksgiving, kept them in the fridge overnight, then put them in a well-buttered crockpot Thanksgiving morning. I put pats of butter on top, covered and turned the setting to Low. The potatoes were creamy and moist with the added benefit of not using oven space. Good luck with your party!
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Old 11-29-2009, 01:37 PM   #4
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From my work experience -
Mac and Cheese: I cook my noodles up to 3 days ahead, drain them, rinse under cold water and toss with a LITTLE melted butter or oil. Store them in the fridge. Then make your sauce (I am presuming you cook it first), cool it and store in an airtight container up to 24 hours. An hour before you are to bake it, assemble in your baking dish, cover and leave out to return close to room temp. Then just cook as normal.

Stuffing. You can mix the croutons, spices and raisins together the day before and can even saute the veggies ahead, keeping them overnight in the fridge. The next day mix the crouton mixture, veggies, eggs and apple just before stuffing. You could probably even get away with chopping the apple up and mixing it with the cooled veggies, making sure that the apple is all covered or it will go brown.

You can get away with boiling the potatoes the day before and mashing them up, but don't add butter or milk. When you are ready to serve, put the potatoes in a covered dish and put in the oven until heated through. Heat the milk and butter together and whip into the potatoes. Fresh is best, but this, or the casserole ideas above should work as well.

Hope all goes well for you. Cooking for a crowd can be fun if you organize ahead which you seem to be doing!
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Old 11-30-2009, 12:58 AM   #5
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Thanks so much for the info. I'm going to play it safe and just prep all my ingredients and line things up in the fridge so I'll be able to work as quickly as efficiently as possible on Saturday morning.

Callie, your mashed potato recipe is almost exactly like mine. Mine are actually sour cream/cheddar cheese/chive mashed potatoes, but the remainder of the recipe is pretty much the same. I really want to try your idea with the cream cheese, however. Maybe I can whip the potatoes with cream cheese, sour cream and chives and then top the casserole itself with sharp cheddar. Oh gosh, heart attack city, but I bet it'll be good. Do you think chives would work with the cream cheese?

Thanks again for the help!
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