Your free time may be in short supply during the holidays, as one event after another fills the calendar. And the gatherings you host are naturally the most demanding. But a little planning can ensure success. Prepare party food while you have spare time, and then freeze it well in advance of the festivities.
We've assembled a variety of simple, delicious hors d'oeuvres you can prepare and freeze days, weeks, or even months before your company comes. Some of these dishes don't require thawing and can be reheated straight from the freezer, making them ideal for impromptu gatherings. (Add salad or soup—and increase the serving size—to turn these frozen treats into quick and easy dinner entrées.) Round out these offerings with a ready-made crudité platter from the supermarket and a selection of cheeses, and your party food concerns are covered.
Cold Facts on Freezing
To ensure your food doesn't suffer during freezing and thawing, follow a few guidelines:
- Freezer temperature should be below 0° to freeze foods safely. You can check the temperature with a freezer thermometer.
- The faster foods freeze, the less they will be affected by the process. (Slow freezing allows large ice crystals to form, which damages the food's cell structure during thawing.)
- Chill freshly prepared foods in the refrigerator. Then, before freezing, wrap or package them tightly-with freezer-safe plastic wrap, zip-top plastic bags, or airtight plastic containers-in small portions, which will freeze faster than larger helpings.
- Label each bag or container with the date and contents. Also include instructions for reheating on the label, if desired, as a reminder for yourself and others.
- To avoid food safety problems, always thaw frozen appetizers in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.