Sunday, December 1, 2013

Yummy Thanksgiving Leftovers

Now that the Thanksgiving Meal has finished, what in the world do you do with all of those leftovers? Most people enjoy the leftovers for about a day, basically by reheating everything in the microwave, but that gets a bit old quickly. What usually happens is no one wants to choke down another dry turkey sandwich and everything either becomes a science experiment in the back of the fridge or gets tossed immediately into the trash or garbage disposal. Did you know that T day leftovers are the number one reason for a call to the plumber for clogged drains? I read that somewhere, and I can not give a reference, but it makes sense.

Food waste is a national shame here in the USA. The average American household throws away one fourth of the food purchased in a year. This could add up to almost $2000  of a families yearly food budget. A report from the National Resource Defense Council shows in graphic detail the food waste from farm to table in this country, which adds up to 40% of total food production in the US This is 28 billion pounds per year in the US, and is 100 lbs. per person. Holiday waste increases 25% from normal waste in a household. Food waste is a major component in landfills, and food waste creates methane gas that goes directly into the atmosphere contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

But the USA is not the only nation that wastes food. Slow Food International and the Farm and Agriculture Organization have joined forces to educate and combat food waste

One of the best ways to combat this problem is to use up leftovers. With Thanksgiving, this means incredibly delicious meals that you may wish to eat long after the festive day.

A typical Thanksgiving feast is usually composed of the following:

Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Cooked Vegetables
Cranberry Sauce
Rolls or Bread

Now that the holiday is over, what can you do with the all left over food? Here are some ideas and there will be simple recipes to follow.

Turkey: Soup, Turkey shepherds pie, grilled turkey and cheese sandwiches, stews

Mashed Potatoes: Potato Pancakes, Top for Turkey shepherds pie

Sweet Potatoes: Sweet Potato Pancakes, Sweet Potato Curry Soup, whip up left over Sweet Potatoes and use in a Sweet Potato Pie recipe.

Cooked Vegetables: Add to soup from turkey stock, add to Turkey Shepherds Pie, add to omelets, toss into salads.

Cranberry Sauce: Mix into yogurt for a holiday breakfast treat, mix in with cream cheese for a bagel schmeer or fruit platter dip, use as a base for mulled cider, use as a glaze for a pork roast or baked ham, filler for buns and cookies.

Rolls: Make your own bread crumbs for other uses, use in an egg casserole, strata or bread pudding. Just follow any recipe and use your left over rolls as a base.

Pie: Just eat it, not much you can do with pie as a left over other than heat it up.

Basic Recipes 

This link has some excellent recipes for soup, I could not do better myself

A basic soup stock recipe, really does not have a lot of exact amounts, so I am not going to give specific ones, these are approximate: Put the left over Turkey Carcass, meat attached into a large stock pot. If you have not used the giblets and neck that is in the cavity of the turkey,

open the package and add that to the stock pot, they give a rich flavor, and when cooked you can remove them and either eat them (my mom loves these) or give them to your cat who will be thrilled. Add a large peeled and sliced onion, a few stalks of chopped celery, especially the heart with all the leaves, several sliced carrots, a spoonful of peppercorns, several peeled cloves of garlic and a sprig of either rosemary or thyme. Fill the pot with water and simmer on low very heat for several hours, maybe up to four, you want the meat to fall off of the bones and the vegetables to be very soft and mushy.

Remove the bones and giblets, the sprigs of rosemary or thyme, use a hand mixer to blend the vegetables into the broth. I like to add salt to taste when the stock is finished. You can add some lemon or lime juice for a unique flavor.

For using up left overs with the turkey stock, you can add any remaining cooked vegetables to the broth, if you have served rice you can add that, top single servings of soup with left over biscuits or make dumplings with left over mashed potatoes. You can also use the above soup link for yummy ideas.

Another really great way to get rid of all those leftovers in one dish, is to make a turkey shepherds pie. Again these are approximate ideas, there really is not fixed way to do this.

In a large mixing bowl, put in cubed cooked turkey, add any left over cooked veggies (carrots, pearl onions, peas, broccoli or cauliflower) Mix in some stuffing and moisten the mixture either with broth, left over gravy or a can of cream of mushroom soup. Spread mixture in a 9 x 13 casserole dish if you have a lot of left overs or in a pie pan, top off with a layer of left over mashed potatoes. Sprinkle the top with some bread crumbs and sliced green onions. Bake at 375 for about 30 - 45 minutes or until completely heated through.

Use left over sweet potatoes as a base for a creamy soup. Put potatoes in a food processor, process until smooth. In a large sauce pan, saute sliced red onion and a crushed clove of garlic in olive oil over medium heat until soft. Add potato puree,  Add vegetable, turkey or chicken broth to the mixture until a thick soup consistency is achieved. Add 1 tsp curry powder, and Tabasco sauce to taste. Serve warm with a dollop of yogurt or swirl of cream for garnish. 

Another great idea for left over mashed potatoes or even sweet potatoes is to make potato pancakes. Add chopped herbs to the white mashed potatoes, dill or chives are quite good, and a couple of spoonfuls of either Greek yogurt or sour cream and mix thoroughly. Take about two tablespoons of potato mixutre and make into a patty, dredge in some bread crumbs and fry in a non-stick skillet with some sunflower oil about one to two minutes on each side. You can do this also with the sweet potatoes.

Finally, use the cranberry relish and a spread over refrigerator roll dough, or puff pastry dough. Roll out dough of your choice, top with cranberry sauce, and roll up like a jelly roll. Slice into pinwheel slices and bake according to the directions on the package. 

You will want to cook a big turkey dinner on a regular basis so you can enjoy all these amazing leftovers! And who knew that all these delicious ideas would help save you money and help the environment all at the same time!

For more information on ideas about food waste, check out Food Shift.

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