I have always cooked for my freezer. And that doesn’t mean that I buy extra groceries and freeze them. If I buy food for the freezer, i.e., meat or poultry, and freeze it, I will rarely thaw it and cook it.  However, if I cook it from fresh and then freeze the meal or leftovers for another day, I will always eat it and I look forward to it. It gives me security to know that on any given day, I can have a homecooked meal without any more work than to ‘heat and eat.’ 

Turns out, I am in good company. James Beard award-winning chef Ashley Christensen and food writer Kaitlyn Goalen have taken cooking for the freezer to new heights in their new cookbook, It’s Always Freezer Season: How to Freeze Like a Chef with 100 Make-Ahead Recipes. If you love cooking in advance, and organizing your kitchen as much as clothes people like to organize their closets, this book is for you.  

The book is divided into three parts. The first part is where you learn to be a master freezer cook. It all about “technique.” This section of the book is encyclopedic in its coverage—it’s the ultimate guide on how to use a freezer. Every detail and question that you could think of is addressed. It’s the updated, expanded and “cheffed up” version of the branded freezer booklets that were written by home economists in the 1950s.  

Specifically, Ashley and Kaitlyn show you how to package, store and organize the food in your freezer as well as how to thaw it before using, or how to heat up from frozen.  They make sure you understand the fundamentals of what to freeze, and what not to freeze. This section of the book will help you get the most out of your freezer and streamline your daily meal prep by relying on your freezer as a second pantry.

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Once you’ve been schooled in how to use your freezer as an essential part of your kitchen, you are rewarded with original recipes. The recipes are elevated flavor bombs that you expect from an award-winning southern chef, but written in a very accessible manner. 

Take waffles for example. Who doesn’t love a good waffle? And waffles are easy to freeze and reheat.  Just think of the millions of boxed frozen waffles that sit in America’s freezer. There is no reason that you can’t give yourself a mealtime upgrade and make those waffles from scratch and freeze them. Makes sense, right?  Well, what happens if you are more of a cheesy, sausage breakfast lover?  The authors have created the most delicious Cheesy Sausage and Sage Waffles that are made, frozen and reheated in minutes for a quick brunch or even breakfast for dinner.

I love this recipe because I love cheesy sausage eggs but I never thought to add sausage to waffles. I’ve made bacon waffles many times but never sausage waffles until now.   And the fact that I can freeze them and have them anytime the craving strikes without taking out the waffle maker is mealtime magic!

Cheesy Sausage And Sage Waffles

This waffle batter is studded with shredded mozzarella and crumbled pork sausage. When heated, the cheese crisps up, creating a nearly crunchy waffle exterior.  Dipped in maple syrup, it’s a case study for the merits of sweet-savory flavor pairings.

Makes 8 Waffles

1          pound loose breakfast sausage

1 3 ⁄4   cups all-purpose flour

2          teaspoons baking powder

1⁄4       teaspoon baking soda

1          tablespoon sugar

1⁄2       teaspoon kosher salt

3          large eggs

1⁄2       cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 1 ⁄2   cups full-fat buttermilk

2          cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1⁄2       cup shredded Parmesan cheese

4          fresh sage leaves, minced

Pure maple syrup, for serving

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon, for 8to 10minutes, until crumbled and no pink remains. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate and let cool completely.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, butter, and buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold together with a rubber spatula just until mixed. Fold in the sausage, mozzarella, Parmesan, and sage.

Preheat a waffle maker. If your waffle maker has heat settings, set it to medium. Spray the grids with nonstick cooking spray. Ladle some of the batter onto the bottom grid (about ¾ cup for a standard 7- to 8-inch round waffle), close the lid, and cook for about 4 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining batter.

TO FREEZE: Let the waffles cool completely at room temperature. Wrap each waffle individually in plastic wrap and carefully place the waffles in a zip-top plastic bag. Label and date and freeze for up to 3 months.

TO REHEAT FROM FROZEN: Pull a waffle from the plastic bag and unwrap it. Toast in a toaster on medium-high heat until warm and crispy throughout. Alternatively, preheat the oven to 350°F, place the waffle on a rimmed baking sheet, and heat for about 15 minutes, until warm and crispy throughout.  Drizzle with maple syrup and serve.

This recipe is reprinted from It’s Always Freezer Season. © 2021 by Ashley Christensen and Kaitlyn Goalen. Photographs © 2021 by Lauren Vied Allen. Published by Ten Speed Press an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.