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Recipes for dishes you can freeze before or after Thanksgiving

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The big day is almost here, and I’m already thinking about leftovers.

Considering the fact that Americans throw out about forty percent of the food they purchase, we’d save a lot of money and perfectly good food by thinking ahead about dishes we can make using the leftovers (or the leftovers themselves) that freeze well.

Recipes for dishes you can freeze before or after Thanksgiving photo

Two new books aim to help you do just that. Life As Mom blogger Jessica Fisher’s first book, “Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook,” (The Harvard Common Press, $16.95) chronicles her effort to feed her famly of eight on an $800-a-month food budget by buying in bulk and preparing meals ahead of time, and Southern Living editors compiled tips and their best freezer recipes for their new (and oddly titled) book “Southern Living Fix It & Freeze It Heat It & Eat It” (Oxmoor House, $19.95).

Some Thanksgiving-related takeaways from the books:

The faster you can cool and freeze any food, the better the quality when you reheat it. Use high-quality freezer bags and try to squeeze out as much extra air as you can to prevent freezer burn.

Recipes for dishes you can freeze before or after Thanksgiving photo

If you’re making turkey stock, freeze the liquid in small batches and, if you’re using plastic bags, lay them flat so you can stack them on top of one another. (Try making the stock in a slow cooker this year. As soon as the dinner is over, place carcass and bones, along with a quartered onion, a few celery sticks and enough water to cover them, in a slow cooker and cook on low overnight.)

Sliced turkey will stay good in the freezer for up to nine months, but casseroles should be eaten within two to three months. To avoid having a freezer full of all your favorite baking dishes, you can line your casserole dish with foil, freeze the prepared casserole in its dish and then use the foil to help pull the frozen rectangle or square out. Place the frozen food into a large freezer bag, and when you’re ready to reheat it, place back in original dish.

Freeze rolls in a single layer on a cookie sheet and then place in an airtight container or freezer bag.

Instead of trying to eat that extra pecan or pumpkin pie before it goes bad, you can cover it tightly with foil and freeze it for about a month. Let it thaw in the fridge and then reheat in the oven. (Some bakingware can handle the swift temperature change from freezer to hot oven, so proceed carefully if you do decide to reheat your food that way.)

Tee’s Corn Pudding

This classic recipe has a souffle-like texture without the hassle. The result is an impressive side dish the entire family will love.

12 to 13 ears fresh corn, husks removed

1/4 cup sugar

3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 tsp. salt

6 large eggs

2 cups whipping cream

1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut kernels from cobs into a large bowl (about 6 cups). Scrape milk and remaining pulp from cobs; discard cobs.

Combine sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, and whisk together eggs, whipping cream and butter in a large bowl. Gradually add sugar mixture to egg mixture, whisking until smooth; stir in corn. Pour mixture into a lightly greased 9-inch-by-13-inch casserole dish. Bakes for 40 to 45 minutes or until set. Let stand five minutes before serving. Serves 8.

To freeze it, let casserole cool completely. Wrap casserole tightly with aluminum foil, label, and freeze up to 1 month. To reheat, preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake frozen casserole, covered, for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake 20 more minutes. Let stand 5 minutes.

— From “Southern Living Fix It & Freeze it Heat It & Eat It” (Oxmoor House, $19.95)

Turkey Pot Pie

This is a great post-Thanksgiving recipe to use up some of that leftover turkey, but you can substitute chicken.

2 cups cooked, chopped turkey breast

1/2 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup cooked, diced carrots

1/2 cup cooked, diced potatoes

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup milk

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. dried thyme

Double pie crust, homemade or store bought

Combine turkey, peas, carrots and potatoes in a bowl; set aside.

In medium saucepan, melt butter. Sauté onion until clear. Whisk in flour and cook until bubbly. Whisk in broth and milk. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened. Stir in seasonings. Pour over turkey-vegetable mixture and stir to combine.

Cool completely if preparing for freezer. Line pie plate with bottom crust. Pour in filling. Position top crust, crimp edges and either wrap in foil, label and freeze; or bake at 375 degrees for one hour or until crust is brown and filling bubbles.

To serve from frozen: Brush top layer with milk. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes and then reduce heat and bake at 375 degrees until crust is browned and filling bubbles, about one hour more. Serves 4 to 6.

— From “Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook” (The Harvard Common Press, $16.95) by Jessica Fisher

Chicken Divan with Cheddar Crust

If you grew up in the 1970s and ’80s, some version of broccoli-and-chicken casserole will probably be familiar to you. Many, like the one my mom used to make, contain canned soup, curry powder and mayonnaise. Some are served over rice or noodles; some are served alone. Here, Chicken Divan gets a little makeover with a simple homemade sauce and extra broccoli and chicken. The comfort is still there, but with improved flavor and more wholesome ingredients. I like this version over steamed brown rice.

1 1/2 lb. broccoli, cut into florets

4 cups chopped cooked chicken

1 (10.75-oz.) can cream of celery soup

1/2 cup sour cream

2 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 Tbsp. sherry

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/2 cup bread crumbs

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Grease one 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish with lid or two 8-inch square baking dishes with lids.

Steam the broccoli just until tender. Arrange the florets in the prepared dish(es). Layer the cooked chicken or turkey over the broccoli.

In a large bowl, combine the cream of celery soup, sour cream, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, sherry and Dijon mustard. Whisk the mixture until smooth, then pour over the chicken layer.

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and melted butter. Top the dish with the cheddar cheese and buttered bread crumbs.

To freeze, cover and chill in the refrigerator before freezing. To reheat: Thaw completely in the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until heated through. Serves 6 to 8.

— From “Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook” (The Harvard Common Press, $16.95) by Jessica Fisher

Our annual Thanksgiving food section was published Monday, but you can find recipes, tips and other holiday stories at austin360.com/s/food-drink.