There is a part of Thanksgiving dinner with which I have developed a love/hate relationship. That part? Leftovers.
On one hand, I want to cook everything at my house because I want to be able to take advantage of the leftovers. On the other hand, after 3 days of open-faced turkey sandwiches, the bird kinda loses its charm.
Even Jesus indicates that we should use our leftovers: “And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost’” (John 6:12).
Maybe you feel the same way.
We are called to be good stewards of our blessings, so maybe these ideas will help out a little.
Dilemma #1: The leftover veggies from the veggie tray
Finger foods are nice to snack on before dinner and for children who love the baby carrots and snow peas, but there always seem to be leftovers. How about a post Thanksgiving stir fry?
Take the leftover raw broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peppers, green onions, celery, and snow peas that are probably already bite size. In a wok or large skillet, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat to medium high. Toss in your chopped veggies and sauté for 2-3 minutes until the veggies are almost tender.
Um, you can even cube up some of that leftover birdie and toss it in at the last minute…
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together your choice of soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, sesame oil, chicken broth, and cornstarch (or open a prepared sauce). Pour gently over the veggies and cook until the sauce has thickened. Sprinkle it with red pepper flakes.
Serve over rice.
Dilemma #2: The leftover, leftover turkey
This leftover bird can become an ingredient in a very different type of dish–a casserole!
Mix leftover shredded or cubed turkey with 1 can of cream of chicken soup, 1 regular container of sour cream, and 1 sleeve of Ritz Crackers (crushed).
Grease a casserole dish and pour the mixture in.
Top with another quarter to half a sleeve of crushed crackers.
Melt a stick of butter and drizzle over the top.
Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.
Sprinkle with poppy seeds or parmesan cheese.
This is great served over rice or (leftover?) noodles.
Dilemma #3 The turkey carcass (or frame)
You know that batch of bones left in the roaster? It doesn’t need to go to waste, either. Make turkey frame soup! This is a great “waste not, want not” recipe to make sure you are making the most out of your leftovers! Here’s what to do:
1. Break down the turkey frame
Take the roast turkey and remove all of the meat from the bones and place in a container. Break the turkey carcass apart at the joints where you can, in order to be able to fit it into the soup pot.
2. Simmer the turkey carcass
Place the turkey pieces and bones into a large stock pot. Add enough water to cover everything, just to the top of it. Simmer for 3-4 hours until the turkey bones are starting to break down, the last of the meat is falling off the bone, and the broth is looking richly colored.
3. Remove the bones and strain
Remove the bones from the soup pot carefully and strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer, then return the strained broth to the pot.
4. Add the remaining soup ingredients
Add in the rest of the soup ingredients: the seasonings, a large onion cut into quarters, 2 carrots cut in thirds, 2 celery stalks ( if you have the leafy tops, they are amazing for flavor, add them in!) . Add in 2 tbsp of salt, 5-6 peppercorns, 2-3 sprigs of fresh parsley, if possible, and rice if you wish. Then add enough water to cover everything well and allow for how much liquid the rice will absorb. Simmer until the vegetables are soft and the rice has cooked completely.
If you want noodles in your soup, cook them separately and add them before serving to keep them from becoming mushy.
5. Cool and skim the fat off the top.
The broth alone or the finished soup can be frozen and saved for use on a cold winter night in January!
Dilemma #4: The leftover mashed potatoes
This doesn’t happen very often at our house, but when it does …
Mix the leftover mashed potatoes with one beaten egg, parmesan cheese, chopped fresh parsley, and salt and pepper.
Gently roll the mixture into small balls, then press into oval cakes.
Dip and coat the cakes in Italian bread crumbs.
Fry in a small amount of oil until the cakes are crisp on the outside but still tender on the inside.
These potato cakes are delicious for any meal!
Dilemma #5: The leftover cranberry sauce
“What do you wanna do with the rest of this cranberry sauce?”
“Just pitch it. Nobody wants it after Thanksgiving.”
DON’T PITCH IT!!! Instead …
Cube one large apple, one large pear, and half a dozen grapes. Mix in walnut pieces. Spoon into wine glasses (probably makes enough for four). Give your cranberry sauce (whole berry or jelly) a wicked stir, then drizzle over the fruit and nuts. Top with whipped topping and a shake of cinnamon.
This can be down right elegant if you treat it right, and it doesn’t even look like leftovers!
You are welcome!
God bless you and may your leftovers be a double blessing!