My adaptation to the microwave for make-ahead dishes originates with the magazine, Real Simple, November issue, but I have extensively tweaked the recipes.  My adaptations are all kitchen-tested, having been made and enjoyed for Thanksgiving at my house.

There are five recipes, and you need to begin cooking and storing in the refrigerator four days in advance.  Only the last recipe, the chicken dish that substitutes for turkey, must be done immediately before Christmas dinner, or Christmas Eve dinner.

I will post the grocery list by the end of this week, and then give microwaving instructions for each dish a couple of days in advance of when you need to cook for your holiday dinner.

The recipes:

1 – Cook 4 days in advance:  Mushroom gravy with chopped mushrooms, onion, celery salt, vegetable broth, white wine, soy sauce, flour.

2 – Cook 3 days in advance:  Squash/quinoa casserole that includes onion, mushrooms, rosemary, milk, Parmesan cheese, vegetable broth.

3 – 2 days in advance:  Day off.

4 – 1 day in advance:  Dressing with herbs, onion, celery salt, white wine, chicken broth, apple.

5 – Morning of dinner:  Green salad with red leaf lettuce, pecans, dried cranberries, Parmesan cheese with a salad dressing of apple juice, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey.

6 – Just before dinner:  Chicken tenders with maple syrup, onion, garlic, apple juice, chicken broth, paprika.

Making ahead most of the dishes for a special meal does make all the difference!  We enjoyed gourmet dishes with very little sustained effort, and you will, too.  Until Friday for the grocery shopping list, given in plenty of time so that you can plan for this busy season. . .Merry Christmas!

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