Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Leftovers: use 'em or lose 'em

As we wrap up Thanksgiving weekend, it is also time to wrap up Thanksgiving leftovers.  You can safely eat refrigerated leftovers for up to four day, so we're down to crunch time.  Either use those leftovers, or lose them. 

The Turkey

If you still have a turkey lurking in your fridge (a lurky turkey!  Ha ha!), get it out of there ASAP.  If it is still on the bone, take as much meat off as you can, stick anything you aren't going to eat today in freezer baggies or containers (I prefer 1 or 2 cup reusable freezer containers, since that's the quantity I'm going to be needing them in), and stick the remaining carcass in a stock pot filled with water, a couple onions, some carrots, maybe some celery (I don't use celery because I don't go through enough to justify buying it and we don't miss it in the finished product), maybe some parsley, and a lil' bit of salt and pepper, if desired.  Let it simmer for 5 to 24 hours and you have yourself a goodly quantity of turkey stock for soups, stews, flavoring rice when you cook it, anything else that you might ordinarily use chicken stock for.  When it is done cooking, you can can it if you have a pressure canner, or just freeze it.

You can use those little pieces of turkey meat in anything that you might ordinarily use cooked chicken.  Around here, that includes: chicken stew with dumplings, jambalaya, chicken broccoli cheese casserole, chicken fried rice, chicken teriyaki, chili rice with chicken, chicken egg rolls, chicken and asparagus stir-fry, chicken pot pie, chicken fajitas, and chickenherder's pie.  On any of those recipes, just imagine it says "turkey" anywhere it says "chicken" and you are good to go.

The Mashed Potatoes & Gravy

Around here, we are such potato eating fiends when mashed potatoes are put in front of us, that leftover mashed potatoes is hardly likely.  In the unlikely event that such a thing happens, they are quickly used up in a turkeyherder's pie (see above), which is basically a shepherd's pie type thing that has a mixture of turkey (or chicken), gravy, and mixed veggies (which is one of the reasons I prefer to keep veggies plain if I were hosting a feast, so I could just throw my leftover veggies in with the rest of the leftovers!) in a casserole dish, topped with mashed potatoes and a little cheese.

If by some freak of nature, that wasn't enough to take care of leftover mashed potatoes, I might try this potato soup recipe I came across the other day that looks pretty good.  Maybe even stick in a bread bowl to completely launch myself into a carb coma (is there such a thing?).  Just kidding.

Everything Else

Do people ever even have any other leftovers besides the things I've mentioned?  I usually run out of everything else (aka the good stuff.  Just kidding, kind of) within a day or two.  I actually made more cranberry sauce to go with the stuffing, etc on Saturday and cooked some carrots so we'd have veggies to go with our carb overload on Sunday.  I got nothing for ideas right now, since I honestly don't know what kinds of leftovers I'm missing, so if you still have leftovers that need eaten up right away and don't know what to do with them, post it in the comments!


  1. LOL left overs in our house ment turkey sanswiches for a few days. It got old after a few lunches yuck!

  2. Okay, here we go. Turkey pot pie, of course. We are going to be making them on Tuesday, then freezing them so all I have to do is pop them in the oven for an hour. Curried cream of carrot and turkey soup (turkey broth, bits of turkey, lots of left-over carrots, cooked until mushy, whiz in blender or mash with a masher, add lots of curry to taste, and a bit of milk, cream, or coconut milk). Turkey salad with grapes and nuts, always a favorite. I'm thinking of trying my hand at turkey hash (sort of like corned beef hash) because sis likes it.

    Potatoes become either "just for eating" in their original state but warmed, OR I mix a cup of potatoes with an egg and enough flour to make it batter-like and I fry them on the griddle. Potato pancakes can be served with sour cream (my fav) or apple sauce (sis's fav), and taste great with bacon. Also, mashed potatoes can be popped into ice cube trays and frozen, then the tatercubes get put into a baggie. Later, you can pull out a b unch for "instant mashed potatoes" or you can pull out one or two to thicken a sauce or add to a soup.

    Sweet potatoes - I have two that never got cooked (they got lost in the morass of other foods), and I'll be making my thin sliced sweet potato chips sometime this week. You can also add them to the aforementioned curry soup - the sweetness lends itself well to the curry.

    Stuffing... yeah, we just eat it. LOL

    Corn - goes into soups, salads, Mexican stuff, fried rice, stew, etc.

    I use all my turkey organs for making my broth (all the uneaten and not-meat bits go into the stock pot and get simmered for 48 hours, then I run it through a coffee filter or cheesecloth). I have a huge pot simmering on the stove as we speak, in fact. I use the cut ends of the onions and the onion skins, the carrot peels and potato peels, the leafy ends of the celery, etc. Stock is made from otherwise inedible foodstuffs. Also, things like carrot and onion skins have a TON of vitamins in them that always get thrown away, so you're actually harvesting a healthy meal when you use up the ends!

    Leftover gravy goes onto leftover meals or into the broth. Or over the potatoes when I'm eating them right out of the container...

    I think that's about it. When I have turnips left over, or squash, they just get eaten (I have been known to sit and eat an entire bowl of "mashed 'neeps" with just a bit of butter and salt... yum!).

    Oh, leftover bread! I always put that out (with the last of the bruised apples that aren't going to make it) in a hollow stump by our kitchen window (it's out back where neighbors don't see). The squirrels, deer, chipmunks, etc all come there for *their* Thanksgiving feast, and that becomes a feast of the senses for our excited children. :)

  3. The sides are definitely the good stuff! The only thing we have left over is a lot of ham, which I froze some and we'll be eating it off and on all week.