Luscious Holiday Leftovers
Don't Just Throw It Out
-- By Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietician
Kitchens across the globe are in a state of turmoil with holiday meal preparations underway. Dinner is served, food is eaten, and dishes are done…then the chaos really hits! “What are we going to do with all these leftovers?!”
Don’t panic. Armed with a few food safety tips (and some simplye ideas for making magical meals using leftovers), you’ll be set to feed the crew for several more days.
Think Safety First
Refrigerate leftover foods quickly (at a proper temperature) to slow the growth of bacteria and prevent foodborne illness.
- Make sure your refrigerator is set below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Ensure that perishable leftovers do not sit out unrefrigerated for longer than two hours.
- To cool the leftovers quickly, divide the food into small portions. Store each portion in shallow, uncovered containers in the refrigerator.
- Avoid overloading the refrigerator because cold air needs room to circulate.
The following cooked foods will last in the refrigerator for up to the number of days listed.
- Vegetables…3-4 days
- Pasta…3-4 days
- Rice…7 days
- Deli-counter meats…5 days
- Ham, sliced…3-4 days
- Beef, poultry, pork, & fish…3-4 days
- Gravy…1-2 days
- Stuffing…1-2 days
- Seafood…2 days
- Soups, stews, and casseroles…3-4 days
- French Toast—Leftover yeast breads and quick breads (like banana or pumpkin) make delicious French toast the next morning. Top with fresh fruit or fruit compote, made from leftover fruit. To make the fruit topping, warm fruit and juice on top of the stove. Thicken slightly with a cornstarch slurry (equal parts water and cornstarch).
- Bread Pudding—Stale, crusty bread and rolls can be cubed and used in your favorite bread pudding recipe. Serve warm with a caramel topping. Try SparkPeople's Chocolate-Cinnamon Bread Pudding Recipe
- Vegetable Quiche—Fill an empty pie shell with finely-chopped vegetable leftovers, shredded cheese, and diced ham. Beat together 3 eggs, 1 cup evaporated skim milk, and a dash of salt and pepper. Pour mixture over the veggies and bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, until filling is set.
- Souper Soup—Open a can of your favorite vegetable soup. Add leftover vegetables and beef broth or tomato juice for a hearty lunch. Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches.
- Barbeque Turkey Wraps—Slice leftover turkey, adding some warm barbeque sauce and canned chili peppers. Wrap mixture in soft tortillas.
- Stuffed Pitas—Stuff a pita pocket with leftover ham slices and baby Swiss cheese. Add tossed greens, sliced tomatoes, and hot spicy mustard to taste.
- Turkey Fajitas—Stir-fry leftover turkey (sliced), fajita seasoning, onions, and peppers until warm. Serve in warm tortillas. Top with salsa and sour cream.
Stir Fry—Sauté leftover veggies and chopped turkey. Add a little soy sauce, orange juice, and ginger. Serve over quick-cooking rice.
Ham and Cheese Soup
1-1/2 cups carrots, diced
1-1/2 cups potatoes, diced
3 cups water
10-ounce bag frozen peas
2 cups ham, cooked and finely cubed
1 can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
6 ounces American cheese
In a large pot, combine carrots, potatoes, and water. Cover with lid and cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add peas and ham. Cook 5 minutes more. Add mushroom soup and cheese, stirring. Heat thoroughly until cheese melts. Add additional water if necessary.
Turkey Gumbo Soup (serves 6)
3 cups turkey or chicken broth
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
10-ounce bag of frozen okra, cut
16-ounce can tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup rice, uncooked
2 cups turkey, cooked and diced
Boil broth. Add vegetables, seasonings, rice, and turkey. Cover and cook over low heat (about 15 minutes) until vegetables and rice are tender. 170 calories per 1-cup serving.