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Plan ahead to de-stress Thanksgiving

9:10 AM, Nov 16, 2012   |    comments
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Perfectly Patriotic Pie

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - If you are responsible for cooking Thanksgiving Dinner this year, we have some ways to prepare ahead and avoid some of the holiday stress.

Chef Char Morse recommends preparing as many parts of the meal in advance as possible.

She says you can save time by making your mashed potatoes out of red potatoes. Then you don't have to peel them, just boil the red potatoes and then mash them with the skin.

You can cut up vegetables for casseroles, stuffing or dressing one or two days in advance.

Morse suggests using a crockpots for some dishes if you run out of oven space.

And, if you run out of space in the refrigerator, consider using a coolers too keep items cold.

She says dinner rolls can be made now, frozen and then thawed before serving.

And of course, the best time saver of all, ask other family members or friends to make a side dish or pie and bring it along to the  meal. 

Below you can find Chef Char Morse's pie crust recipe, which you can prepare in advance and freeze until you are ready to use it.

From the kitchen of Chef Char Morse

Thanksgiving Pie Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed
½ cup buttermilk
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla

In a mixing bowl, mix flour salt, sugar and cubed butter. Mix with a pastry blender to break up the butter slightly. Next, add the buttermilk and vanilla. Knead the dough by hand until it forms a ball and butter chunks are about the size of nickels and dimes. Place in refrigerator until ready to roll out dough. When ready to roll dough, split the ball in half. Lightly dust a clean surface with flour and roll one of the halves of dough into a circle to cover a 9 inch pie pan. Place bottom crust in pan. Fill with fruit filling of choice and roll other half of dough ball on a lightly floured surface into a circle big enough to cover a filled pie. Place crust over pie filling, pinch edges of crust, brush with egg white and water mix, then sprinkle with granulated sugar and slice small holes into the top crust before placing pie into a 350 degree preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes. Remove pie from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Time saver tip: If making several batches of this dough to make several pies, a gallon Ziploc bag will hold three batches of dough. Dough can be refrigerated and used for up to 4 days after making dough.

For frozen crusts: Save even more time by rolling out the bottom and top crusts and freezing for up to 3 months. For bottom crust, roll dough into 9 inch circle, place in pie tin and cover with wax paper and before stacking with additional bottom crusts. When ready to place stack of bottom crust into freezer, wrap crusts with plastic wrap before placing in freezer. Top crusts can also be rolled out and frozen. Simply roll crust into 9 or 10 inch circle, place on sheet of wax paper and repeat. Wrap stack of top crusts in plastic wrap before placing in freezer.

When ready to use the frozen crusts, simply remove crusts from freezer to thaw, about 20 minutes, before working with crust to make pies.

For homemade frozen pies: Pies can be frozen immediately after assembly or after baked and cooled. For assembled pies, cut slits in the top crust before placing in a plastic bag. When ready to bake, simply remove assembled pie from freezer, allow to thaw for about 30 minutes at room temperature, then bake according to directions.

For homemade pies that are already baked, cooled and then frozen, remove pie from freezer to thaw, about 30 minutes. Place thawed, cooked pie in a preheated oven at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes. *Not recommended for pumpkin pies.

The ultimate way to save time with pies: Delegate the pie making to someone else!

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