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De-stress your Thanksgiving with Katie Lee's frozen to fresh meals

Want to cut down on your work in the kitchen on Thanksgiving day so you can focus on the turkey? Katie Lee has the secret: Make meals ahead of time, freeze them and then re-heat them on turkey day. Here's she sharing her recipes for sausage balls, sweet potato casserole and easy pumpkin cheesecake. Appetizer: Sausage balls1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed2 ½ cups baking mix (I use Bis

Want to cut down on your work in the kitchen on Thanksgiving day so you can focus on the turkey? Katie Lee has the secret: Make meals ahead of time, freeze them and then re-heat them on turkey day. Here's she sharing her recipes for sausage balls, sweet potato casserole and easy pumpkin cheesecake. 

Appetizer: Sausage balls

Today
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 ½ cups baking mix (I use Bisquick)
  • 3 cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the sausage meat, baking mix, and cheese. Use your hands to completely mix until well blended. The dough will be crumbly. 

Use your hands to roll into 1½-inch balls and place on the prepared baking sheet and rush each sausage ball with heavy cream. Or freeze your meatballs to bake later.

If the balls are frozen double the original baking time (15 minutes), until golden brown. 

Today

Side: Sweet potato casserole

  • 4 large sweet potatoes (about 4 pounds), peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • One 16-ounce bag large marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 4-quart baking dish.

Place the sweet potatoes in a medium pot. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until potatoes are fork tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the milk, cream, and butter until warm but not simmering. Return the potatoes to the pot and add warm milk mixture, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger Using a handheld mixer, whip the potatoes until smooth and creamy with no lumps. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. 

Freeze without adding the marshmallows. Let thaw in the refrigerator overnight. 

Top with marshmallows. Bake until the marshmallows are golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Today

Dessert: Easy pumpkin cheesecake

  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 3/4 cup gingersnap crumbs
  • 8 ounces (1 package) cream cheese, cut into quarters
  • 2 cups cottage cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Whipped cream, for serving

Heat oven to 375 F.  

Spritz an 8" round springform pan with cooking spray.  

Mix cookie crumbs with butter and use the bottom of a measuring cup to gently press the crumbs into the sides of the pan to form a crust.   

In a blender, combine the cream cheese, cottage cheese, eggs, sugar, pumpkin, flour, spice and vanilla until smooth, about 45 seconds. Gently pour into the pan. Bake until it looks set but has a slight jiggle, about 40 minutes. Let cool in pan 20 minutes.  

Refrigerate two hours then wrap tightly with plastic wrap and freeze. Let thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving.  

Serve with whipped cream.