Everyone knows that make-ahead recipes are the secret to entertaining success. Just as I demonstrated in my "Easy Weekday Entertaining" post, if everything is made before the party, you can enjoy your guests and relax instead of running around like crazy. I like to take it a step further and prepare entertaining worthy recipes that can go in the freezer to get out for any last minute gathering.
Sometimes I just get the itch to be in the kitchen, even if I happen to not have anyone or anything specific to cook for. So, when I have extra time I take advantage of urge and whip of a few favorites to put in the freezer. Of course, casseroles and soup work great in the freezer, but I also make appetizers, marinade meats and breads. The freezer is really one of my favorite tools. I am always putting our leftovers in individual containers for my husband to grab for lunch during the week or making twice as many mashed potatoes for dinner so I have another batch for the freezer. I love being able to get out when we're ready for a quick dinner of seared steaks or grilled fish.
One of my favorite recipes to make for the freezer is a warm and comforting Apple Cranberry Crumble. It is quick to put together, great for a crowd and the cinnamon, orange zest and apples make my kitchen smell amazing when baking in the oven. Everyone thinks I've been slaving away in the kitchen, when really I've just pulled it out of the freezer. Dessert seems to be the last thing I think about when I'm planning a party. It is so nice to have one of these waiting for me in the freezer for a last minute party or if we go out to dinner with friends and decide to invite everyone over for dessert.
Apple Cranberry Filling :
10 apples (4 pounds), cored and peeled
3/4 cup of dried cranberries
2 teaspoons of orange zest
4 tablespoons of orange juice
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
Crumble Topping :
1 1/2 cup of flour
1/2 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1/2 tsp of salt
1 1/2 stick of butter, cold
Cut the peeled and cored apples to large cubes, about 3/4 inch pieces. Place them in a large bowl. Add cranberries, zest, orange juice, sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss together with a big spoon until all of the fruit is well coated. Pour the fruit into a casserole dish or deep baking dish.
For the topping, in a mixer with the paddle attachment, place flour, sugar, brown sugar and salt. Cut the cold butter into 1/4 inch cubes. Place the butter in with the flour mixture and mix on medium until the butter incorporates to create and crumbly mixture, about 2 minutes. Take handfuls of the mixture and top the apples with it. Cover the top completely.
If freezing, wrap tightly, label and put it in the freezer. When you get it our of the freezer, bake for 1:15 - 1:30 at 350 degrees.
If baking right away, bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.