Friday, November 29, 2013

A Week Of Thanksgiving Leftovers

Whew! Guys...We made it!

Congratulations, you all lived through all the traffic, the food, the football,
You stuffed yourself until you had to be rolled out to the car. You drank and swapped family stories over gigantic moats of turkey gravy and you traversed a dessert table toppling over with delicious, sugar filled, whip cream dolloped treats.

I am so proud of you. In the days after Thanksgiving you are probably in one of two boats, you were either sent home with pounds upon pounds of turkey or you hosted and were left with pounds upon pounds of turkey (and all the sides, desserts!)

So what we are going to do this week is find a way to help you re-use those leftovers in ways that are a little unexpected and even a few that are a little on the healthful side.

First, here's a list of this weeks meals:

Friday: Turkey Pozole  and Chocolate Dipped Dessert Bites
Saturday: Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps
Sunday: Curried Turkey Hand Pies with Winter Vegetable Salad and Cranberry Sauce Dressing
Monday: Loaded Turkey Taquitos & Green Chile Potato Soup
Tuesday: Pesto Turkey Salad on Croissant
Wednesday: Leftover Stuffing Breakfast Bake
Thursday: Potato Pancakes, Ham Studded Wilted Greens and Poached Eggs

Next, here is a list of little "cheats" in helping you deal with the overwhelming amount of leftovers:

1. What to toss. I am a huge proponent of using up as much leftovers as possible. I hate waste. However, if you really know that no one in your family is going to touch day old gravy- toss it. Recognize what leftover ingredients are usable (leftover meats and cheeses from the snack table, turkey bones for stock) and which are not (wilted garnishes from the turkey plate, mayo based dips or sauces that have been sitting out for hours). I keep all unused bread, crackers, chips and pretzels and pulverize them in my food processor. I use these deliciously flavorful breadcrumbs year round!

2. Think long term. Much of what is leftover can actually be frozen (if you can make room) and kept for weeks or even months. My father in law brought an extra green bean casserole to dinner, so I am freezing the one I made so we can thaw and bake it for Christmas dinner. Leftover desserts freeze well, and I always take about half of the leftover turkey meat I am left with and freeze it for later. The turkey taquitos we'll be making on Monday freeze perfectly! Just pop them out of the freezer right into the oven and bake until golden brown!

3. Bring in the freshness. Leftover have the tendency to feel very one note in terms of flavor, bringing in fresh citrus, chiles, herbs and spices is a great way to breathe new life into your meals.

4. Cook small. The last thing you want to do is end up with a bunch of leftover leftovers! I have to be careful when making things like soups and turkey salad, because it's just the two of us here. So don't cook like me, and make sure you're only preparing what you will reasonably consume in the days following TG.

5. M.Y.O take out. My Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps were inspired by my favorite Thai place in town. They stuff this tender little lettuce cups with ground turkey, fresh mint and green onion with a creamy, sweet peanut dipping sauce. Yum! So think about throwing some of that turkey onto a white sauce pizza, or into pineapple fried rice, and stuffed into gooey quesadillas. Throwing ethnic flavors at turkey meat works because turkey doesn't have a strong taste at all, it's the perfect canvas for all of your favorite take-out preferences.

As much as I love Thanksgiving I love love love playing with the leftovers. Every year I like to challenge myself to try new things with every part of the leftover Thanksgiving meal, not just the turkey. Is there something that your family loves to do with all of your leftovers? Comment below, I would love to hear from you!

I truly hope you all have had a wonderful Thanksgiving, surrounded by friends and family and I hope you're all as stuffed and happy as I am.

Happy Holidays Ya'll!!

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