Holiday Leftovers Re-Imagined

It hardly seems possible that a year has passed. My hiatus from the blog will be explained in the near future… When things settle down a bit more, but in the mean time, here’s a little something that we can all use this time of year… Happy Holidays! 

When it comes to Thanksgiving leftovers, I confess, I do love turkey sandwiches – and the cranberry salad I make with my mother’s recipe. Back in August, I posted my Pot Pie recipe, which works equally well for chicken or turkey leftovers. You can even use your leftover gravy as part of the sauce if you like. It’s a remarkably simple recipe, made even easier if you use pre-made pie crusts. Follow this link to the Chicken or Turkey Pot Pie Recipe.
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No one eats the dark meat at your house, you say? Well try turning the dark meat into a bacon substitute. You can smoke it in your smoker for a couple of hours, using some hickory chips, and turn it into “bacon bits” that you can use on salads or in quiche or, if you make bigger slices, on some amazing turkey, lettuce and tomato or turkey/turkey club sandwiches. If you don’t have a smoker, you can use liquid smoke – just don’t over do it. Let it soak for a bit, then brown it up in a skillet to get it crisp.

Leftover stuffing was the thing we found most difficult to re-imagine. Although almost everyone looks forward to stuffing at holiday dinners, few people choose it when they’re rummaging through the fridge for leftovers.  We brain-stormed about what we could do with leftover stuffing, and came up with a couple of obvious ideas, like spreading it out on a cookie sheet and drying it in the oven, to use in place of croutons in salads or soups. You could even form it into balls and fry it up or spritz it with olive oil and bake it into a sort of hush-puppy-like side dish. Our best idea, however, and the one that we used with our leftover stuffing for this Thanksgiving, was to grind it up in the food processor, add a couple of eggs and a pound of ground meat (in our case, moose) to make meatloaf for two and 24 meatballs – enough for 4 meals for the 2 of us. The meatloaf was delicious. We’re looking forward to trying some of the meatballs with spaghetti and red sauce later this week.

 

 

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Leftover mashed potatoes can be transformed into a tasty garlic mash to serve with whatever tasty morsels you can find in the post-holiday Manager’s Specials at your local grocery store (see our rosemary marinated/grilled lamb chops and garlic mash in the “feature image” for this post) or used to make potato pancakes. Another option is to take part of your leftover mashed potatoes and use them to make a thick and tasty potato soup. Peel and dice a large potato and boil it in about 2 cups of salted water with 1 tablespoon of dried minced onion until both the onion and potato are soft. Stir in 1 to 1 ½ cups of leftover mashed potatoes (depending on how thick you want your soup) and ½ a cup each of Half and Half and milk. Heat through and add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with some of your turkey “bacon”, cheddar cheese and some chives.

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This year, my friend Karen made 6 dozen rolls. Wow. They were delicious, but with so much other wonderful food to eat, people were unwilling to fill up on bread, so there were lots of leftover rolls. One of our favorite things to do with an excess of bread is a savory bread pudding. This fabulous go-to is a good way to use up your leftover veggies, as well. Just cut the bread into 1 ½ inch chunks, (it works a bit better if you let it sit out and dry for several hours or dry it in the oven for a bit.) In a large baking dish combine your leftover bread and veggies, consider adding some diced tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, etc. and stir to mix well. In a large measuring cup whisk together 3-4 eggs and 1-1 ½ cups of Half and Half (depending upon the amount of bread you have and the size of your pan), add some Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and whisk until well combined. Drizzle the egg mixture over the bread mixture in the baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. If desired, sprinkle with some shredded Italian blend cheese 10 minutes before the end of the baking time. (You can even add some smoked or cooked Italian sausage before baking if you like and make it a meal.)

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As far as the bits and pieces are concerned, I picked the meat off of the ham bones and saved the scraps then boiled the bones in water with some onion to make a nice stock that I can use for ham and beans. The turkey neck and giblets were be used, along with a mirepoix, (plenty of leftover celery and carrots after Jon made the stuffing) to make a lovely turkey stock that I’ll incorporate into a homemade turkey and noodle soup later this week. I don’t like to let things go to waste, and we enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to use it all up.

We’ve tried to give you a few new ideas for re-imagining your holiday leftovers. I didn’t have the heart to call them recipes…after all, it all depends on what, and how much you have to work with. These are basically guidelines that we hope you’ll find helpful.

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