Give Your Holiday Leftovers a Makeover

By Enjoius Staff

It’s the day after Thanksgiving or Christmas. You’re still feeling festive, but you don’t have the energy to cook up another eight course dinner. And anyway, your fridge is heaving with last night’s leftovers. No need to be bashful about serving leftovers -- just invite a few of your nearest and dearest for a holiday redux dinner party! With a few creative menu ideas beyond making turkey sandwiches or reheating everything in the microwave, impress your guests with your cooking ingenuity.

Make turkey the star of another dish. Leftover turkey is really the gift that keeps on giving. Depending on how much turkey you have left, you can make anything from turkey pot pie, turkey shepherd’s pie or turkey and dumplings.

Reuse every bit of the turkey, including the bones and carcass to make a great turkey-based stock. Once you cook it down to a soup, throw in shredded turkey meat and any roasted vegetables you have from the night before. Freshen it up by adding barley, rice, or lentils to give the soup a bit more bulk.

Transform those veggies. To make the most of your cooked vegetables, gather all the cooked sprouts, roasted carrots and potatoes and make it into bubble and squeak -- think of it as a vegetable pancake or as a non-traditional Spanish tortilla. If you decide to host a leftover brunch, serve it as a side with fried eggs.

If you have more mashed potatoes than you know what to do with, the humble potato pancake is always a crowd pleaser. You can also shape the potatoes into rounds, stuff them with cheese, roll in cornbread breadcrumbs, and deep fry them to make croquettes.

Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Hungry Dudes / CC BY 2.0

About those cornbread breadcrumbs. Yes, you can turn your leftover cornbread, or any leftover bread, into breadcrumbs by blitzing it in the food processor. Use the cornbread breadcrumbs however you would normally use breadcrumbs in batter, like fried green tomatoes. You can even turn your cornbread into French toast, too. Just dip it in a bit of egg and milk, toast it on a pan and serve with maple syrup or poached pears. If you have an excess of breadcrumbs, toss it into a ziplock bag and freeze it for later.

This dish deserves a post of its own. Whether or not cranberry sauce actually gets eaten, it’s usually a feature on Thanksgiving tables. But here’s a life tip: one of the best sandwiches you’ll ever eat is a crispy bacon grilled cheese sandwich with cranberry sauce and melted brie. Just try it. You’ll be making cranberry sauce year round once you create this delicious work of art.

Don’t pour that wine down the drain. You’ll probably have several bottles bottles of open wine. Turn it into mulled wine or sangria! Or be super resourceful and use it for cooking in stews or sauces.

Lastly, don’t forget about your freezer. Sometimes we all have to take a break from all that rich holiday food. The best tactic then is to freeze everything and come back to it later. You can always invite your friends over once you’re ready to relive the holidays -- maybe during those quiet and dark January evenings? Just don’t give up on re-working your leftovers into a new, inventive dish.

With these ideas, you’ll be ready to make the most of what’s left from your Thanksgiving and other holiday feasts.

Cover image by rpavich / CC BY 2.0

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