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Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021

Re-inventing Holiday Leftovers

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A new take on delicious ways to enjoy the remains of the day

The holidays are approaching, and our favorite classics are making their way to dinner tables across the country. But what do we do with all of the tasty leftovers? If you’re like me, the same leftovers get pretty tiring after a day or two. Luckily, there are so many different ways to reinvent your holiday leftovers.

Turkey: Try a wrap instead of the typical turkey sandwich. Wrap leftover turkey, fresh greens, and cranberry sauce in a whole wheat tortilla. Leftover turkey is also great with fresh greens, apples, celery, nuts and a vinaigrette for a light salad. Turkey pot pies are great, but have you tried turkey wontons? Stuff wonton wrappers with leftover turkey and other vegetables, pan-fry and enjoy. If you enjoy the classic mayonnaise-based chicken salad, use turkey instead. Another great way to use turkey and other leftovers are to make a turkey stew. Use leftover gravy as the base and add in turkey and vegetables. If your stew needs thickening, use leftover mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes. Turkey chili or turkey tortilla soup are some other warming leftover soups to try. Turkey can also be frozen. Plain turkey slices and pieces last in the freezer for about four months.

Ham: Add leftover ham and vegetables to broth for a quick, tasty soup. Ham is also a great breakfast meat and can be added to omelets, frittatas, egg muffins, egg scrambles, quiches and hash. Leftover ham makes for a tasty baked potato topping paired with vegetables and a sprinkle of cheese. Cubed ham can be added to a fresh green salad or a pasta salad. Ham lasts in the freezer for about one to two months.

Mashed Potatoes: Leftover mashed potatoes can be reinvented by making a quick, one-pot potato soup or adding them to shepherd’s pie (bonus points if you use leftover turkey as the meat). Or, try your hand at homemade potato bread. If you have a waffle iron on hand, you can even make leftover mashed potato waffles for a savory breakfast. Mashed potatoes are good for up to two months in the freezer.

Cranberries: Cranberries can be blended with fruits and yogurts to make smoothies, layered with Greek yogurt and nuts to make a parfait, mixed in with a bowl of oatmeal or overnight oats, or used as a topping for waffles, pancakes or bagels. Cranberry sauce can be made into a mayonnaise for leftover turkey sandwiches or made into a salad dressing. Cranberry sauce also makes

for a tasty glaze on grilled meats. Try brushing some cranberry sauce thinned out with a little water or apple cider vinegar over chicken breasts, beef kebabs, pork tenderloin, pork chops or turkey tenderloins toward the end of grilling. Cranberry sauce can also be added to barbecue sauce for a flavorful twist. It’s not recommended to freeze cranberry sauce, as it tends to get too watery.

Dressing: Leftover dressing makes for great breadcrumbs. Simply chop in a food processor until fine and use as a crust coasting for oven-baked chicken or pork or as a substitute for breadcrumbs in meatball and meatloaf recipes. To use up both your dressing and turkey, make stuffed bell peppers, top with mozzarella and bake. You can also stuff acorn squash with leftover dressing and turkey. Leftover dressing can be frozen by itself and will last for about two to three months in the freezer.

Sweet Potatoes: Leftover mashed sweet potatoes can be added to pancake or waffle batter, as well as some muffin, bread and biscuit recipes. Ever tried a sweet potato smoothie? Blend mashed sweet potatoes with milk for a simple smoothie, or you can add in fruits for an extra punch of flavor and nutrients. Sweet potato mash also makes for an excellent quesadilla filling. Simply spread mashed sweet potatoes on a tortilla add some spinach, black beans, corn and cheese, fold the tortilla, and bake in the oven or toast on a skillet. Sweet potatoes will last in the freezer

for two to three months.

Food safety is key when working with leftovers. Refrigerated holiday leftovers are only safe for about three to four days before they should either be frozen or thrown out. If you freeze your leftovers, be sure to wrap them securely or store them in containers designed for freezing. When reheating refrigerated and frozen leftovers, make sure they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before serving. This can easily be checked by using a food thermometer.

Abigail Scallan is an asssistant extension agent (general nutrition) for the LSU AgCenter. Her main focus is adult nutrition education and promotion in Caddo and Bossier parishes. She can be reached at ascallan@agcenter.lsu.edu.

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