What kinds of things do you prepare and then freeze, well in advance of the holiday season, to use for meals, impromptu get-togethers, etc.? ;o)

Yes, I'm thinking this far ahead. My end-of-year deal crunch kicks into high gear in early November, so I always like to have my game plan in place, and my calendar for what-to-do-when (really, through the end of December) in place by the end of October. Of course, I love spending time considering the options, mapping out possibilities, etc.; I find that process a lot more fun when I can do it under relaxed circumstances, as in, right now.

More details here: https://food52.com/blog... Thank you, everyone. ;o)



amysarah September 24, 2015
This is a bit of a tangent from your question, but I'm thinking of putting up a big batch of Limoncello, if I can find some pretty bottles, to give as holiday gifts. It's easy and best when made at least a month ahead. Also tastiest when stored in and served from the freezer. It just uses lemon skin (removed in strips with a vegetable peeler) - so I juice the lemons to freeze in cubes for other things.
AntoniaJames September 24, 2015
Excellent suggestion, amysarah. You could use some of that limoncello during the holidays to make this incredible tiramisu; https://food52.com/recipes/3668-simplified-limoncello-tiramisu-with-raspberries (I tested and served it for a special dinner party where it was a real hit. That's my photo, with the cut glass trifle bowl.) I imagine that just-thawed frozen raspberries could be used, or you just top it with long curls of quick-candied lemon zest, or perhaps orange zest. ;o)
Lucia F. September 21, 2015
Arancini! And Marcella Hazan's Tomato, Butter and Onion Sauce. Perfect appetizer!
AntoniaJames September 24, 2015
Lucia, do you have a favorite recipe for arancini? Believe it or not, I've never made them before - it's high time that I do. My friends and family will be thrilled. It has never occur to me that you could freeze them. How do you re-heat arincini? In the oven? Do tell! Thank you, Lucia. ;o)
Niknud September 21, 2015
One more thing to add since I made it this weekend and it made me think of this thread. My Poor Me Chicken & Biscuits (I kind of hate promoting my own recipes since it makes me feel awkward but I'm doing it anyway since it's so darn convenient) - the filling can be made in advance and frozen. THen you just defrost and heat up the filling and plop the biscuits on top. It will be on the table in 30 minutes (counting the pre-heating time on the oven). In fact, I decided to make a double batch of filling this weekend and half is in the freezer for our annual, have 25 people in town/rent a place so our house isn't trashed First Christmas bonanza.
AntoniaJames September 24, 2015
Niknud, don't hesitate to make a reference to your own recipe here. You know it's a good dish, tried and true for this purpose, which makes it exactly the type of helpful information for which we're all looking. I often freeze leftover roast chicken in stock plus whatever pan sauce / gravy is left, to use in a similar dish (which I make up after defrosting the chicken in sauce), but we put ours over toast. Your recipe sounds so good. I'm definitely putting it on the list. Thank you so much! ;o)
Bevi September 19, 2015
Applesauce, Marcella Hazan tomato sauce, roasted figs, pestos, IPK's puff pastry pinwheels for appetizers, and NY Times recipe for cranberry and cheddar gougeres. Also, Ina's individual meat loaves and my leftover stuffed peppers.
AntoniaJames September 24, 2015
Great ideas, all of them, Bevi. I'm intrigued by the gougeres - will have to run that recipe down. I've never frozen gougeres. Such a revelation. Thank you so much. ;o)
Bevi September 24, 2015
Michelle September 19, 2015
I make the turkey gravy ahead. Usually just a week or two ahead but I don't see why it couldn't stay in the freezer for a month or so if properly stored. I get the butcher to order in some turkey wings for me, then roast them along with some onions, carrots, and celery. I use the roasted wings to make a stock. I make a dark roux, add the stock and simmer. Then I add some of the strained vegetables to thicken to the consistency I want. If there are any useful pan drippings on serving day, I combine them with the thawed gravy. I got the strained vegetables and the make ahead gravy idea from a December 1996 issue of Cooks Illustrated.
AntoniaJames September 24, 2015
Thank you, Michelle. I also make gravy ahead of time (and actually posted a recipe here a few years ago - it's a key element of my plan-ahead, make-ahead project: https://food52.com/recipes/7530-make-ahead-turkey-gravy ). I have never thought to add strained vegetables, but I imagine they make it even tastier. Thank you for the tip! ;o)
TheFritschKitchen September 18, 2015
Chocolate Chip cookies, already scooped out into balls. Great when you don't want to eat a full batch. My husband and I will routinely bake off 4 as we eat dinner, as you cannot beat fresh baked cookies for dessert.

Pizza dough - great for quick dinners, just have to remember to take it out early enough to let it thaw!

Homemade potstickers - another great dinner. I use Smitten Kitchen's recipe, doubled and stock my freezer one afternoon. Great, since you don't have to remember to let them thaw for dinner (cause I am forgetful... :) )

Others: twice baked potatoes, gougeres, sugar cookie dough.
AntoniaJames September 24, 2015
TheFritschKitchen - Potstickers are such a great idea (I would never have thought of that), as are your other suggestions. Thank you so much. ;o)
Nancy September 18, 2015
This is not baking, and may sound indulgent, but helps with entertaining. If you do flavored brandies or vodkas with things like spices or good fruit, now is the time to put some of them up (we've passed most of the summer fruits, sadly). Often they need minimum 2-3 months steeping, then straining and storing.
Also, you can make your own cocktail bases with simple syrup & flavorings and keep them in the fridge for easy or impromptu aperitifs.
Last, you can fully mix some drinks (like vodka gimlet) and leave in the freezer for ready-to-drink serving.
Picholine September 18, 2015
That's a great idea!
AntoniaJames September 24, 2015
Nancy, what a great idea. Flavored brandies, whiskey, etc. with intensely flavored dried fruit such as apricots and sour cherries would also be good. They need a couple of weeks to steep, and then the dried fruit can be drained, pressed and used in cookies and quick breads. ;o)
inpatskitchen September 17, 2015
I make my Holiday Cocktail Meatballs and freeze them and the sauce separately, Little Mushroom Pinwheels get rolled and frozen, pasta sauce for our mini family gathering a few days before Christmas gets frozen. I also make and freeze bacon wrapped water chestnuts and a crab and cheese spread for English muffins.
AntoniaJames September 17, 2015
IPK, those meatballs look terrific. I am certainly going to keep those in mind. Thank you. ;o)
Sarah September 16, 2015
Pie crusts and cookie dough. Gingersnaps get pre-scooped and everything. When I had a second freezer I prepped pie crusts (in the pans) and wrapped with plastic for Thanksgiving ease. I also like to keep puff pastry (or even just rough puff) for last minute parties/pot lucks
Sarah September 16, 2015
Pie crusts and cookie dough. Gingersnaps get pre-scooped and everything. When I had a second freezer I prepped pie crusts (in the pans) and wrapped with plastic for Thanksgiving ease. I also like to keep puff pastry (or even just rough puff) for last minute parties/pot lucks
AntoniaJames September 17, 2015
Sarah, thank you; I love the idea of making ginger snaps. Do you have a recipe that you really like? Do tell. ;o)
C S. September 16, 2015
Is not are. and currants not currents.
C S. September 18, 2015
Antonia James, Here is the recipe I use. It is not an old family recipe I planted my fig tree about 10 years ago and it is only the last 4 or 5 years that it has borne heavily.

Fig Bread: 3 eggs, 2 1/2 cups sugar, 2 cups mashed ripe figs, 3/4 cup veg. oil, 2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1 cup chopped pecans.

Beat eggs, add sugar and beat well. Add figs and oil. Sift together flour, soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the fig mixture alternately with the buttermilk.. Beat well, fold in pecans. Bake at 350 for 1 hour in greased and floured pans. Makes 2 large or 3 small loaves.

(The sugar can be reduced down to 1 3/4 cups.) It has been popular at morning coffees at work.
AntoniaJames September 24, 2015
C Sangueza, thank you so much for posting this! How much flour do you use? ;o)
C S. September 16, 2015
My family tradition for many generations are to make a yeast bread with cinnamon and currents to eat on Thanksgiving. I usually make it a week or two ahead and freeze it. I also made fig bread when I had more figs than I knew what to do with. It freezes well as do many quick breads which I find nice to have on hand in case someone stops by for tea, or I need to take something to a potluck.
AntoniaJames September 17, 2015
C. Sangueza, do you have a favorite fig bread recipe? Figs are plentiful here, so much so that it's considered an act of great kindness to take bags of them from neighbors whose trees are heavy with fruit. That's such a good idea, as is the cinnamon raisin bread. I usually make cinnamon buns, but I can see how having a loaf or two of a sweet yeast bread like that would be perfect for toast and especially French toast. Thank you so much for the great ideas! ;o)
Niknud September 16, 2015
Homemade spaghetti sauce for sure - first, it totally gets better the longer it sits and second, nothing is more comfy and family-y than a big bowl of homemade meat sauce with crusty bread on the side. It's great for the day after meals (day after Thanksgiving, Christmas, whatever). Also, it's not frozen, but I'll usually can a batch of jalapeno-berry jam during the late summer and bust it out for cheese plates for the holidays.
AntoniaJames September 17, 2015
Niknud, thank you. We all really like Nigel Slater's Bolognese sauce, so I've made a note to make double batches henceforth, freezing one. Such a good idea. I'm not big on chiles but my sons are, so the idea of making a fruit + jalapeno jam is excellent. Too late for strawberries, but I'm thinking late-season plums would work . . . . plus, you could add some soy sauce and fresh ginger to make a nice glaze for chicken or salmon. ;o)
Niknud September 17, 2015
Any sweet berry works - blueberries are also extremely tasty. I made raspberry last year but only because there was a serious sale on some almost bad overripe at the grocery store. That's generally how I choose which berry to use. :)
HalfPint September 16, 2015
Tomatoes roasted with garlic, thyme, and olive oil. Makes a versatile sauce that can be used in a number of dishes. My lazy way of preserving the last of the summer tomatoes.

Every six months I make a large batch of XO sauce and freeze it (keeps better in the freezer). Good for stir fries or fried rice or noodles.
Susan W. September 16, 2015
Half Pint, do you use a particular recipe for your XO sauce?
AntoniaJames September 17, 2015
Tomato sauce, yes. I hadn't thought of that. Definitely will add that to the list. I make "cold sauce" (recipe here on Food52) and was planning to make some anyway with the last basil of the season. Now I'll make twice what I was planning. Thank you, HalfPint. ;o)
AntoniaJames September 17, 2015
I'd like that XO sauce recipe, too. Thank you.

I found one on FoodandWine which looks incredible. On my to-do list for this weekend. ;o)
HalfPint September 18, 2015
@Susan W, this is the recipe I use with great results.
The ingredient list is missing the amount of shallots, which is mentioned in the recipe, so I use about 1/2 cup of chopped shallots.
Picholine September 16, 2015
Lasagna uncooked.
AntoniaJames September 17, 2015
Thanks, Picholine. Great idea! ;o)
Niknud September 17, 2015
Uncooked lasagna? Can I get details on this so I don't hork it up and have epic fail in front of my family? It sounds like a great idea!
Picholine September 17, 2015
I use the no boil lasagna noodles and I make a meat sauce and layer as one does with ricotta and mozzarella cheese.
I always have extra sauce too. I cover first with a layer of non stick foil sprayed with say Pam then I wrap tightly again sealing the baking pan with heavy duty foil tightly. I let it sit overnight in the fridge ( I do this because I want the noodles to absorbe the sauce as I would if I was going to bake hours later) the next day or at least 8 hrs later, l freeze the pan and the extra sauce. When I'm going to bake it I defrost the Lasagna and place in a preheated oven and heat extra sauce in a pan to serve with. Baking 350° about hour and uncovered 10 m . Follow your fave recipe just use the freezing and defrosting directions I listed and it will tastes as you made it that day. Here is another tip ...if I'm taking the lasagna frozen somewhere ,I use double foil lasagna pans carefully lined with nonstick foil and the squares come out perfectly and then the pan can be thrown out!
AntoniaJames September 17, 2015
Picholine, thank you. Your explanation is so helpful. (My sons will be thanking you, too, as they both like lasagne quite a bit, and it's been eons since I made it for them!) ;o)
702551 September 16, 2015
I try to keep a 2-3 month limit on items stored in my freezer for simplicity. That's a standing policy year-round, not just something for the holidays.

The main things in my freezer are chicken stock, some soups/stews (including ratatouille), and pulled pork. When I was still making my own pasta, I'd freeze some.

A ball or two of pastry dough is handy to have in the freezer, but it's never something I'd stock up on months in advance.

To me, the only thing worth preparing months in advance of the winter holidays is lebkuchen. However you store lebkuchen at cellar temperature, not in the freezer.

Otherwise, there's nothing I prepare months in advance of the winter holiday season.
702551 September 16, 2015
Oh, I forgot tomato sauce.
AntoniaJames September 17, 2015
cv, thanks so much. Do you have a recipe for lebkuchen that you really like? My mother made it every year at Christmastime when we were growing up. Would love to hear more about yours. Thank you. ;o)
702551 September 17, 2015
Actually, I'm not the one who makes lebkuchen. A relative makes it and I'm a lucky beneficiary.

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