Monday, November 21, 2011

Holiday Help: Make Ahead Tips!

If you want to have time to actually enjoy your friends and family during the holidays (or during any get together that you are hosting) it's important to develop some tricks so that you aren't in the kitchen the entire time of your gathering.  Of course there are always things like store-bought hummus, olives from the olive bar, pre-cut veggies, etc. and even complete feasts that are made for you (like the Tofurky holiday feast!).  But, when it comes to breakfast, there is nothing quite like home made pancakes and tofu scrambles.  I like to have me (and serve my guests) a delicious home made breakfast for the holidays!  And I don't want to be in the kitchen all morning making it.

Today, I'm going to talk about making breakfast ahead, which applies more if you have overnight guests (which we  always do since my family is a bit too far away to do a day-trip).

Make Ahead, Freeze Ahead Breakfast (or lunch, or dinner!) Burgers:
To prepare for Thanksgiving his week, yesterday I made the Denver Omelet Burgers from Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet.  I formed the dough into patties (uncooked) and then "flash" froze them on a cookie sheet lined with a Silpat mat (get one if you don't already have one, it saves a TON of parchment paper!!).

Here's how: put uncooked burgers on the Silpat (or parchment paper) make sure your patties aren't touching or they will freeze together.  Put the whole Silpat lined cookie sheet with burgers on it into the freezer (you don't even have to cover it).  I left them in the freezer on the mat for a few hours (you can leave them overnight, too, it's not a big deal).  Once they are frozen solid, you can transfer them to a tightly sealed ziplock bag and freeze for the duration.  You can do this with just about any veggie burger.

Here are my Omelet Burgers and a few Perfect Pancakes that I flash froze.  

Now, you can cook the frozen, uncooked burgers directly from the freezer.  Just saute for about 3 minutes per side in a cast iron saute pan in a little oil.  I tried a frozen patty today to test it, and it worked perfectly.  They cook right through and brown very nicely (and tasted better and had a better texture than the fresh one I made right from the batter yesterday!).  It pays to test!!

Make Ahead, Freeze Ahead Pancakes: 
As far as pancakes go, you do have to cook those prior to flash freezing.  Allow them to cool completely after cooking. Freeze them on the baking sheet in the same way (on the Silpat).  Once they are frozen, bag em.  Then, you can still use them directly from the freezer.  Just put them in the toaster oven for a few minutes to re-toast them.  I use my oven's little tray, line it with foil and spray the foil with a little canola oil before I put the pancakes on the tray (they can stick if you don't spray the tray) and spray them a tiny bit on top so they get nice and crispy when they are toasting.  I'm sure you could put them right on the rack in the toaster oven, too, without a problem (but I like them sort of "fried" a tiny bit in that extra oil :-)

Now, I have frozen breakfast burgers and frozen pancakes and all I have to do is just saute the burgers and toast the pancakes when my guests come.  Or, when I'm hungry.  SO easy.

Here is my "tester" breakfast this morning :-) I fried the Omelet Burgers right out of the freezer. Works great!
Those pancakes were also frozen and just re-toasted in the toaster oven! AWESOME.

For more easy breakfasts, try my Easy Baked French Toast.  You can make the tofu mixture the night before (I'd say minus the egg replacer, add that right before you are going to pour it over the bread) and keep it in the fridge, then just pour it over your bread in the morning about an hour before you want to bake it!

Also, don't forget you can always buy fresh bagels and just make your own spreads. I like to use Tofutti better-than-cream-cheese and then mix in various things like fresh spinach, herbs, garlic, sundried tomatoes, etc. by blending in my food processor, fun! Home made hummus or bean-based dips are easy, too.  A big pan of baked oatmeal or would also be easy and low-maintenance

You can also freeze cookies and brownies.  Bake them as usual, allow them to completely cool.  Then, wrap cookies individually in aluminum foil and put in a ziplock bag in your freezer.  I guess you could "flash" freeze cookies as well, but I like them individually wrapped so I can just grab a cookie or brownie square out of the freezer whenever the need strikes.

Gotta run, I have to make some vegan sausage patties or maybe the Log Cabin Burgers and more pancakes (banana pancakes!) and freeze them all for T-day weekend.

Are you guys making anything ahead for the big day?  What are some of your make ahead tips?

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