12 Easy Make-Ahead Ideas for Christmas

12 Easy Make-Ahead Ideas for Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year, as the song says. Christmas also goes by in a blur. Time seems to speed up, leaving us gasping & wondering how we are going to get it ALL done! Betty Crocker to the rescue with a selection of recipes you can make ahead. Being able to prepare dishes ahead of time calms me. I feel a bit more in control of the situation, whether or not I really am. So take a breath & take moment to decide which of these delicious recipes might give you more time to celebrate Christmas! Enjoy!

Make Ahead

Christmas Countdown C -6

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Baked Spaghetti

My cousin, Mary would always prepare this dish for family gatherings. It is simple, filling and may be prepared ahead of time. I am able to expand this recipe as needed, enabling me to make more than one pan of spaghetti at a time. 

  • 12 oz pasta
  • 1 lb ground meat
  • 1 small onion, chopped (or ½ cup frozen chopped onions)
  • 2 small cans tomato sauce
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 2 cubes beef bouillon
  • seasoning as listed 

Preheat oven to 350. Brown ground meat. Drain and set aside.

Boil 1 ½ quarts water in a large stock pot. Add bouillon cubes and allow to dissolve. Add 1 tablespoon oil to boiling water. Add pasta. Stir to prevent sticking. Cook pasta until just tender.  DO NOT DRAIN.

Add tomato sauce and paste. Season with 1 tablespoon crushed garlic, 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, 1 tablespoon basil and salt and pepper. Blend thoroughly.

Add meat. Mix. Pour mixture into large flat baking dish. It will look sloppy. Top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Bake one hour or until firm. Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Cut into squares.

The Simple Joy of Holiday Baking Part 4

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Christmas & baking go together like hands in gloves. There are so many delicious things you can bake for your family or friends that it can be hard to know where to begin. Of course, time can be so short during the busy holiday season that it might be difficult to find the time to do any baking at all. You could always buy your Holiday goodies but that can be very expensive. What’s a Mother to do?

Jean Ann & Simple Joy to the rescue. This week, Jean Ann offers you tips, ideas & recipes to help simplify your Holiday baking. Continue your Holiday baking tradition or begin a new tradition in your family when you make Holiday baking a Simple Joy!

6 Santa Cookie Creations

6 Santa Cookie Creations

Kids LOVE making Christmas cookies. Making cookies with my mom is one of my favorite Christmas memories. I always made cookies with The Child when she was growing up to continue the tradition. Both Katy & I share our creations with friends during the Holidays, passing the joy of baking along!

Betty Crocker shares her baking traditions with these darling Santa cookies. Your kids are going to enjoy making each of these sweet treats. Start your own tradition this year or continue an ongoing one when add these cookies to your Holiday baking schedule!

Santa Baby

40 Christmas Cookie Recipes to Treasure

40 Christmas Cookie Recipes to Treasure

Cookies are a traditional treat for Christmas. Whether you only bake a batch for Santa or prepare dozens for friends & family, it’s always fun to add a new recipe to the mix!  Midwest Living offers us a BIG selection of cookie recipes from which to choose this Christmas! Pick one or two. Let your kids pick a new cookie to make. However you decide, it’s guaranteed to be a Simple Joy!

Christmas Cookies

40 Thanksgiving Potluck Recipes

40 Thanksgiving Potluck Recipes

Hosting Thanksgiving at your house this year? Wondering how you are going to prepare all that food without losing your mind? Who says you have to provide all the food? Simple Joy Rule #2 says “Ask for Help.” If you are having a crowd, there is no need to wear out yourself or your wallet. Make dinner a potluck! Provide the turkey & let your guests each bring their favorite Thanksgiving dish. You can always fill in the gaps but this makes sure everyone has their favorite dish on Thanksgiving.

Midwest Living has provided you & your guests 40 recipes that are perfect for Thanksgiving potluck. Use one of these recipes or use one to help you decide what to prepare. A Thanksgiving potluck allows everyone to take part in dinner preparation. What is someone complains about you hosting a potluck? Well, give them a hug & thank them, LOUDLY, for offering to host Thanksgiving dinner NEXT YEAR !

Thanksgiving Potluck

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipes

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipes

When I prepare a large dinner or food for a special event, I use as many shortcuts as possible while still offering my guests a fabulous meal. However, there are certain small things I do to impress my guests. And they are all very simple. People are impressed because it just isn’t the way most people would do it. For example, making dressing from scratch. All it takes is dried bread & seasoning plus the things you always add to dressing. Very easy but the fact I made it from scratch seems to impress people. I’m really not out to impress them but I like to make things special for all my guests.

Good Housekeeping has a way YOU can impress your guests this Thanksgiving: homemade cranberry sauce! It is easy to make, allows you to personalize it & will impress your guests! Plus, homemade sauce has a fresher flavor than the canned stuff. Browse through these recipes & try one! Or, use one as a starting point for your own recipe. You never know what you might discover!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

58 Delicious Holiday Appetizers Your Guests Will Love


Great appetizers set the tone for your special Holiday event. Whether you are serving one to whet your guests’ appetites before a meal or offering a selection at your Holiday Open House or Cocktail Party, appetizers should be planned carefully & made well. Coming up with something new or a selection can be challenging. Fortunately, Country Living has made the job easier for you with this fabulous selection. Enjoy!

Holiday Appetizers