NORTHWOODS COOKS: Get a jump on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Here are some dishes that can be made ahead of time in preparation for the holiday meal.

Homemade cranberry sauce is a colorful addition to the Thanksgiving table. Cloves, allspice berries and cinnamon sticks give it extra zip. (Adobe Stock)
Brent Hofacker -

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

4 cups fresh cranberries

1-1/2cups water


5 whole cloves

5 whole allspice berries

3 cinnamon sticks

2 cups white sugar

Place fresh cranberries and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Wrap cloves, allspice berries and cinnamon sticks in a spice bag. Place in the water with cranberries.

Cook until cranberries begin to burst, about 10 minutes.

Stir in sugar and reduce heat to low. Continue cooking 5 minutes or until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Discard spice bag. Chill in the refrigerator 8 hours, or overnight, before serving. Keep leftovers refrigerated.


Easy Stuffing Recipe

Spend with Pennies

2 small onions, diced

4 stalks celery, diced

2/3 cup butter

1-1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning or 1/2 tsp. ground sage

black pepper and salt to taste

12 cups bread cubes


3 to 4 cups chicken broth

2 Tbsp. fresh parsley

1 Tbsp. fresh herbs (sage, thyme and rosemary)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery and poultry seasoning (and rosemary if using). Cook over medium-low until tender (do not brown), about 10-12 minutes.

Place bread cubes in a large bowl. Add onion mixture, parsley and fresh herbs. Pour broth overtop until cubes are moist (but not soggy) and gently toss. You may not need all of the broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.Place mixture in a serving dish, dot with additional butter and cover. Bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Tip: To make ahead of Thanksgiving, prepare as directed. Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 48 hours. Remove from the fridge at least 30 minutes before baking. A few minutes extra may be needed if it's still cold from the fridge. Stuffing also lasts several months in the freezer. Reheat in a 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes with a little broth mixed on top to keep it from drying out.

Fast and Easy Biscuits

My Home and Travels

2 cups self-rising flour

1-1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Mix both ingredients together just until flour is incorporated.

Pat out onto a floured board until the dough is 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick.

Cut out with 2-inch cutter. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet about 1/2 inch apart. Bake at 450 for 10 to 12 minutes.

If making ahead of time, freeze biscuit dough on baking sheet and once solid remove biscuits to a storage bag. Take out and bake as needed for the freshest taste.

Biscuits may also be baked ahead of time and then frozen.

Easy Pumpkin Pie Bars

Crust and topping:

1/2 cup unsalted butter melted cooled to room temperature

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground cloves


1-1/2 cups canned pumpkin pie mix

1 large egg

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Prepare an 8-inch square pan by greasing the sides and the bottom. Line with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and salt.

Melt butter. When butter has cooled, add melted butter and mix until crumbly dough forms. Reserve about 3/4 cup of the mixture for the topping.Press the remaining dough into the prepared pan and set aside.

Place all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer and mix until all combined.

Pour over the crust and sprinkle with the topping mixture. Bake for 28 to 32 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. Cool completely in the pan. Cut into squares. Refrigerate leftovers in a covered container for up to three days.

Readers are invited to submit four to five of their favorite recipes to enjoy, along with a note about what makes them special. Send recipes to

Related Topics: FOODRECIPES
Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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