Meals and hors d'oeuvres that freeze well
For Christmas, I'm considering making my mom and step-father, as well as my inlaws, a bunch of dishes for the freezer... things that they can pull out with minimal planning, and still have a great homemade meal. I'd like some combination of hors d'oeuvres (maybe appropriate for serving company) and main course dishes. Assuming that they have enough space in their respective freezers, I thought this would be a unique gift (and appropriate, since I'm broke, I like to cook and I'll have a few days to spare before Christmas).
My family is kind of meat and potatoes, but my in-laws are less so (and a little more adventurous).
On the list of maybes:
Marcella Hazan's bolognese sauce
butternut squash soup
cinnamon curried chicken (and spiced lentil mash)*
lamb tajine with plums and honey*
mini leek pies*
* Would these freeze well?
And what kind of appetizer things would you recommend? I've heard that puff pastry cheese straws might work, but I don't really know what they are. It's occurred to me that spanikopita, mini crab cakes and spiced nuts might fit the bill here.
I would definitely try soups and pasta sauces, like you mentioned (don't know if the asterisked items would freeze). Another idea is to freeze the filling for chicken pot pie and give them a box of phyllo separately. Just defrost the filling, then top with phyllo and stick in the oven to brown/warm.
Not sure about appetizers, but I have become a HUGE fan of icebox cookies. I know there are savory recipes out there, some of which might work as hors d'oeuvres. Also, I've made sweet potato tartlets in ready-made phyllo shells (http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/rec...); again, I'm thinking freeze the filling separately from the phyllo. I know they're amazing fresh, and probably good frozen.
go to an interesting/upscale grocery and see what they have on offer in their frozen foods section. That will give you some ideas of what combos freeze well. Then make your own choices based on similar cooking techniques and foods with similar densities/moisture contents in the recipes.
The others are right that stuffed filo is a great thing to do. Freeze them un-baked, then bake them until brown. The fun thing is that if you make them in different shapes, you can add different fillings (I don't think you want the same shape for different fillings, or people can't tell the difference). Spinach and feta are good, as are mushrooms and goat cheese or gorgonzola. Perhaps some butternut squash and curry would be nicely seasonal.
The inside of the box always includes advice on how to use the filo and a few recipes. Good luck!