Enjoy Your Leftovers!
We had an incredible Thanksgiving feast! We enjoyed time with family and friends, played card games, and ate lots of food. Everyone ate until they were full, and packed in a little extra. Most took home some leftovers to enjoy again. Even with all that, we have so much food left! I love planning how to use leftovers–especially holiday leftovers–so I want to share some ideas.
The 23-pound turkey we bought this year was the best we’ve ever tasted! Monty brined the bird overnight, and we roasted it in a roasting bag. Roasting bags basically replace basting, and seal in so much moisture. (If you’re unfamiliar with “brining,” here’s a link to instructions.) After stuffing it, rubbing it with oil and herbs, and surrounding it with onions, celery, and carrots, we tied up the bag and into the oven she went! The built in thermometer popped out right at 4 hours, so we took out the bird and let it rest for about an hour. It was juicy and delicious, and I saw most folks go back for seconds! There is shockingly little meat left, but we will pick the the bones of all usable leftovers for recipes like these:
1. Turkey Casserole
Take all the meat and cut it into bite-size chunks. You can use this meat in casseroles, soups, or salads. One of my favorite casseroles is turkey, rice, and broccoli with cheese. You can find lots of recipes on Pinterest, or you can just improvise. Mix the rice with turkey chunks, cooked broccoli, and cream of mushroom soup. Add salt and pepper to taste, and spread into a casserole dish. Top with your favorite cheese and bake for about 30 minutes. Delicious!
2. Turkey Salad
You can also use your turkey chunks to make a sandwich spread like chicken salad –but this would be turkey salad, of course. Add some mayonnaise and sweet pickle relish to a cup or so of chunked turkey; throw in some dill weed, salt, pepper, and a little onion powder. Use a fork to shred the turkey and mix the ingredients. Serve the turkey salad in romaine lettuce leaves, or on bread or rolls (even LEFTOVER rolls!) as a sandwich. Wonderful!
3. Leftover Turkey Soup
There are so many great soups to make with leftover turkey! One of our favorites is a chicken taco soup recipe, using turkey instead of chicken. You can use some of your cooked and raw veggie leftovers, too! Or you could make a turkey noodle soup, using your leftover gravy as a thickener. Tasty comfort food!
4. Turkey and Swiss Sliders
Leftover turkey sliders are delicious and perfect for casual gatherings. We use sweet Hawaiian rolls (cut in half) and spread with a bit of mustard, mayo, or both. To fill them, simply add a thick piece of turkey and a slice of Swiss cheese. Cover them with foil and warm in the oven (350) for 10 minutes or so.
5. Turkey Broth
I always make broth with the carcass of the turkey. If I’m too tired to make it when I’ve finished getting all the meat off it, I put it in a zipper bag in the freezer for later. When it’s time to make broth, I toss the turkey carcass in the Dutch oven, fill 2/3 full with filtered water, and turn the stove on high. While waiting for the water to boil, I add salt, celery tops and bottoms, onion tops and bottoms, carrot ends, and any leftover veggies or herbs that will enhance the flavor. After it boils, I turn it on low, put the lid on, and let the broth simmer for 30 minutes-1 hour. Then I let it fully cool, strain the liquid, and pour it into large mason jars –2/3 full if I plan to freeze them, or almost full if I’m going to just refrigerate them. For a bone broth, do the same steps, but let it simmer overnight. Bone broth is an excellent source of nutrients, especially when you are sick. Broth is delicious as-is, or it can be used to cook rice, potatoes, soups, or other foods instead of water. Use this as cooking liquid for pasta and you’ll have delicious turkey noodles to eat plain or with vegetables.
6. Dried Beans with Ham
We always save the ham bone to use for flavor in cooking dried beans. White beans, black beans, kidney beans, and pintos all taste great when cooked with a ham bone. You can use the cooking instructions on the bag of dried beans, and just add the ham bone to your cooking water–remember that dried beans usually need a long soak before cooking. I cook my beans in the crockpot and serve them with cornbread. Reminds me of Mom’s cooking!
7. Quiche or Frittata
Ham has so much flavor, you can use a small handful of ham chunks to flavor scrambled eggs. If you want to serve a group, consider making a frittata or quiche with ham, broccoli, mushrooms, cheese, etc. These are easy to make, delicious, and kind of elegant.
8. Ham Breakfast Casserole
If you have leftover ham, you can use bread cubes or diced potatoes and assemble a delicious egg, ham, and cheese breakfast casserole. Very satisfying!
9. Ham Sliders
The only sandwiches better than turkey sliders are ham sliders. Same assembly instructions as turkey, but we use spicy brown mustard, cheddar cheese, and ham slices. Optionally, you can drizzle the tops of the sandwiches with butter and herb mixture, but it is delicious without. What a crowd-pleaser!
10. Potato Soup
One of my favorite soups is potato soup, and I love to add small ham chunks and sharp cheddar cheese for extra flavor. We rarely have enough leftover mashed potatoes for a meal, but plenty to mix with broth and other ingredients for a warm, hearty soup.
11. Potato Pancakes
Potato pancakes are delicious, but we rarely have enough potatoes leftover to make them! It is a great idea, though . . . right?
12. Raw Veggie Stir Fry
Take leftover snow peas, carrots, celery, peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower from the raw veggie tray, and add sliced onion and some roasted garlic. Sauté veggies in olive or coconut oil and add soy sauce and powdered ginger. Serve over brown rice, and enjoy a really different dish. You can even add leftover turkey if you want protein. This recipe is so healthy, it may alleviate some of your guilt from over-indulging!
13. Leftover Vegetable Curry
Most vegetables (cooked carrots and green beans, raw veggies from veggie tray sautéed to tender crisp) can be added to Panang Curry sauce, made from yellow curry paste, coconut milk, and peanut butter. Serve over rice for a spicy Thai treat.
14. Raw Carrots
For some reason, there are always more carrots left over than other vegetables on the veggie tray, and I LOVE to cook with them. The easiest thing to do with carrots is to spread them on a foil-covered cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray, spray the carrots with the spray, sprinkle a little salt on them, and roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or so. Turn and roast some more until there’s a little brown on the carrots. Serve plain or drizzle a little honey over these delicious roasted carrots.
15. Cranberry Bars
Fresh Whole Cranberry Sauce is my absolute favorite. Ever since I tried making cranberry sauce using the recipe on the bag of cranberries, I’ve been hooked! Not everybody is a big fan of cranberries, so I always have a good amount of sauce leftover. Last year, I found a recipe for cranberry bars. You make a crumbly mixture of flour and oats and layer the cranberry sauce on top. The result is a delicious bar that feels like a healthy treat!
16. Cranberry Topping
Fresh cranberry sauce makes a tasty and healthy topping for oatmeal. Try adding a heaping tablespoon of sauce to your cooked oatmeal.
Meal planning isn’t something to do ONLY on holidays; it is helpful all year long. However, if you’re new to doing it, planning meals with your leftovers may be a great start for you. If you want to look at ideas for meal planning, just go to the top menu and hover over “Living Large On the Cheap” and select “Meal Planning.” There are lots of ideas here. I also have a great post called “A Cheat Sheet for Weekly Meal Planning” that you may find helpful.
Here’s a great freebie to help you start meal planning.
It is a simple planner for each day of the week. Just provide your name and email address, and you’ll receive the planner sheet free! Thanks for reading the blog, and comment to let me know what you think!