Instead of spending holidays in the kitchen while your family and friends frolic somewhere else, prepare and freeze traditional dishes now.

Start with Thanksgiving and Christmas desserts.

Rum cake and gingerbread freeze well. Add toppings to them when ready to serve.

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This is the best rum cake ever!

Chocolate Raspberry Rum Cake

• 18.5 ounces (or as close as you can get) chocolate cake mix (I prefer Duncan Hines Devil’s Food Cake mix)

• 3 3/4 ounces (4 serving size) Chocolate Instant Pudding (I suggest Jell-O brand)

• 1 cup dark rum, divided (I use Meyer’s)

• 3/4 cup water

• 1/2 cup unflavored vegetable oil such as canola (not olive oil)

• 4 large eggs

• 12 ounces semi-sweet or chocolate chips (I use milk chocolate)

• 12 ounces black raspberry preserves (I like Smucker’s seedless, available at Princeton Kroger)

• 2 tablespoons butter (no substitute)

• 2 ounces white chocolate (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Generously butter and flour a bundt or tube pan. (Baker’s oil spray with flour works wonderfully well.)

Combine cake mix, instant pudding, eggs, 1/2 cup dark rum, water and oil. Mix just until moist. Fold in 1 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips.

Bake on second rack from bottom of oven for 50 or 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

While cake is cooking, bring 12 ounces raspberry preserves and remaining (1/2 cup) dark rum to a simmer.

Remove cake from oven.

Cool about 15 minutes. With a long skewer or tines of a kitchen fork, make deep holes all over cake while it is still in the cake pan. Pour melted hot raspberry preserves and rum mixture over cake. When cake is cool and preserves-rum mixture is absorbed, to freeze turn cake out on plastic wrap on plate or prepared corrugated cardboard.

Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil. Be sure no air can reach cake. Place cake in plastic freezer bag. With a drinking straw suck air from bag before sealing. Freeze immediately.

Remove cake from freezer a day before serving. Melt remaining chocolate chips and butter. Drizzle on cake. Allow to run down sides. Cool. Melt white chocolate and spoon over top of cake. White chocolate is hard to melt correctly. I botch it every time, but it tastes good!

Serve as dessert or with tea or coffee. Yum!

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This recipe makes soft, moist cake. Delicious!

Old Fashioned Ginger Bread

• 3 cups all purpose bleached flour

• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

• 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

• 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

• 1 teaspoon ground mace (nutmeg if you have no mace)

• 1 teaspoon baking soda

• Pinch salt (optional)

• 1 cup brown sugar, packed

• 1/2 cup melted butter

• 1 cup molasses

• 2 jumbo or 3 large eggs

• 1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 325 F. Generously butter and flour an 8-by-8-inch glass baking pan.

Combine flour, baking soda, spices and salt in a batter bowl. Whisk to combine.

Mix melted butter and brown sugar in large electric mixer bowl. Add molasses. Blend on low. Add eggs, one at a time. Whip until blended. Use French whisk instead of paddle if you have one.

Bring water to a rolling boil.

Add alternately dry mixture with boiling water to butter-sugar-molasses mixture. Whisk gently after each addition just until the ingredients are moistened. Do not over-mix. Scrape batter into prepared pan.

Place pan on second oven rack from bottom. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Cool cake in pan for 20 minutes. Turn cake out onto a rack to cool completely.

As soon as cake is cooled, wrap in plastic wrap, then in double layer of aluminum foil. Place in plastic freezer bag. Suck air from bag before sealing. The most important consideration is successfully keeping the cake airtight.

Freeze immediately.

Remove from freezer an hour or so before serving. Serve with warm lemon sauce (see recipe below) and whipped cream.

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Lemon Sauce

• 1 tablespoon cornstarch

• 1/2 cup sugar

• Pinch salt

• 1 cup water

• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

• 1 teaspoon lemon zest

• 1 egg yolk

• 1 tablespoon butter

In a medium-size saucepan, mix first 3 ingredients. Slowly stir in water.

Stir constantly over medium-low heat until sugar and water become clear and thickened. Add lemon juice and zest.

Beat egg yolk. Spoon some hot mixture over yolk, whisking constantly. Scrape egg yolks into saucepan. Continue to whisk over low heat for a couple more minutes. Add butter. Whisk to blend.

Cool and refrigerate. Makes 1 1/4 cups.

Serve warm spooned over Old Fashioned Ginger Bread with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

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