Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Be creative with Thanksgiving Day leftovers

I am part of a big clan of friendly people. That means the food cooked for a special occasion such as Thanksgiving is often enough to feed a small battalion of friends who they might happen to invite at the last second. I remember one year inviting a Capuchin monk because his family wouldn’t be around for the holidays. I knew my father-in-law -- who is always saying the more the merrier -- would approve.
It’s for this reason my mother-in-law’s refrigerator is always full. When you cook for an army there tends to be plenty of leftovers.
So what do you with all of the potatoes, turkey, ham and other stuff left over from the holiday meals? First and foremost is to store it properly. Anything you plan on saving in the refrigerator or freezer should be done immediately or at least no longer than 2 hours after the meal has ended. This will eliminate any risk of bacteria proliferating in the food. Now that the food is safely stored, check out this list from Metro Newspaper Services on creative menu ideas for leftovers from any holiday:

  • Turkey wraps - Sandwiches are always a great idea for leftover turkey and ham. But instead of bread, consider using flatbreads and tortilla wraps.
  •  Turkey burgers -- Mix the chopped meat along with the dressing together to create a meat patty. Fry it up and top it with the leftover cheese and other appetizers such as pickles, olives and sweet onions.
  • Days after breakfast -- Dice the leftover ham or sausages along with any vegetables and toss them in a bowl with some eggs for a country-style omelet. Add some onions and bacon bits to the leftover mashed potatoes and you’ve got a side dish of potato pancakes.
  • Soup base -- Promptly toss the ham bone or turkey carcass and leftover meat into a big pot of water and boil it for homemade stock for soups and stews. To make potato soup, add cream, bacon and scallions to the leftover mashed potatoes.
  • Baked goods – Mash the leftover sweet potatoes and bake them into a sweet potato bread loaf.   
  • A toast - Spread the leftover cranberry sauce over a toasted bagel or piece of fresh bread and butter.
  • Everything quiche - Dice up leftover meats and veggies and mix them with a batter of pancake mix to create an easy quiche.
  • Bread pudding - Break up the stale rolls and leftover bread and then find a good recipe for bread pudding. Toss in those leftover walnuts, cranberries or other dried fruits from the appetizer trays.
  • Mexican night - Fry up the leftover meats and add enchilada sauce to create spicy fajitas. Top them off with sour cream, salsa and fresh tomatoes and avocadoes.
  • Quick dinners - If you’re lucky enough to own a grinder or food processor, takes the leftover meat and grind it. Then add some breading and spices and bake it into a meatloaf one night when you’re strapped for time.
  • Fondue night - Gather up the leftover cake, cookies and other desserts and serve them on skewers for dipping into chocolate fondue.
  • Pot pies - Take the chicken, turkey, ham or even sausage and cube it. Mix it in a bowl with leftover gravy along with cubes of potatoes, carrots and onions and pour it all into a pie shell.
  • Jack’s sandwiches - One of my dad’s favorite traditions following Thanksgiving was to create a batch of open-faced sandwiches. Just pick up a loaf of fresh bread, cut the bread into thick slices and pile on the leftover turkey, cheese, ham, red peppers, onions or whatever you happen to enjoy and toss it in the toaster over or oven (set on broil). His sandwiches were always served with a side of chips and a hot cup of Earl Grey tea.    

1 comment:

  1. What terrific suggestions for leftovers -- thanks for including this list, which I will keep in mind as we approach Christmas and all those big meals!