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It happens every year. You are left with tons and tons of leftover food during the holidays. If you are like me, you have new Tupperware, baggies, tinfoil and shopping bags ready to pack up a lot of these leftovers and send them home with your guests. I’ve been clearing our my holiday kitchen like that for years…and it works most of the time. I always keep enough food for a midnight snack and a meal the next day but I always pack up food packages for my guests so they too, can enjoy it the next day.  I even let my guests pick and choose what they want to take.

The turkey, stuffing, gravy and desserts always get picked right away.  If there are any sweet potatoes left, they’ll go next followed by any bread and/or snacks.  But inevitably, there is food that “doesn’t move”. You know the stuff:

  • Your Jellied Cranberry-Pomegranate Sauce (and the cranberry sauce someone else brought to the party) You can’t pack up what someone else brought and give it away as a gift…it’s the rule! And while everyone feels obligated to eat it on Thanksgiving, most don’t touch it the rest of the year.
  • The mashed potatoes. Once light and fluffy, the leftovers are now hard, lumpy and have the texture of paste.
  • Vegetables. You’ve tried every trick you know to get people to eat their veggies but on a holiday, they are loading up on turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy. Those poor vegetables just get left behind. Don’t try pawning them off on one of your guests either. They are on to you and want nothing to do with those wilting asparagus!

So every year, I plan for those particular leftovers and I’ve had some great success with a couple of tried and true recipes that I make every year (almost like an extension of the feast itself). Most of these I make year round because they are just a great use of leftovers and they taste fabulous. No one is going to know you are recycling food…trust me.

First, let’s deal with the cranberry sauce. Whether you’ve made my Cranberry-Cherry Sauce, my Cranberry-Orange Sauce or my Jellied Cranberry-Pomegranate Sauce, there is probably left overs.  I have a great recipe for Holiday Meatballs which uses the sauce as a glaze (yum) and I’ll also mix some with Greek yogurt to create a dip for fruit, cookies and pretzels.  But the easiest and best tasting use for this holiday condiment is to spice it up a bit. Adding prepared horseradish to it changes the flavor completely and creates the perfect spread for sandwiches and wraps.  It works great on a turkey sandwich and works as a last minute glaze on a chicken breast.  Another favorite way to use this is as a dip with chicken or turkey fried nuggets or fingers. 

1 Cup Cranberry Sauce
2 Tbsp. Prepared Horseradish

  • Mix in a bowl and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use. This will last for a couple of weeks. Feel free to use any kind of cranberry sauce or jelly. It is great to kick up stored bought sauce too.

Next up, leftover mashed potatoes.  These can easily be turned into delicious potato cakes.  They are crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and a piece of cake to make.  You can mix in any type of cheese you like so the recipe is pretty flexible.  I can make these from any leftover mashed potatoes I have and freeze them so they are always available. They are a great side dish topped with salsa and sour cream.   If you just make them a little smaller, they are the perfect size for a fabulous appetizer too.  I’d just top them with a little sour cream and some chopped chives.

Get the recipe here:

Finally, leftover vegetables.  Depending on how you have prepared your veggies, my go-to recipe for leftover veggies are my Egg Muffins. Any of my standard vegetable dishes work well in this recipe including my Roasted Asparagus and my Roasted Vadouvan Vegetables.  You make these in a cupcake or muffin tin so it is super easy.  Light and fluffy eggs are packed with the chopped leftover veggies, cheese and Greek yogurt for the perfect breakfast, lunch or snack. My Keto and WW friends love these and eat them all the time with fresh vegetables. All veggies are good veggies so use what you have on hand.  These work great with any steamed veggies you’ve served at your dinner (if you added butter you are fine).  I wouldn’t try to use honey and maple glazed carrots in this recipe but basic steamed, broiled or roasted veggies work great.

You can even add some chopped leftover turkey to the mix for a heartier muffin.

Egg Muffin | My Curated Tastes

Get the recipe here:

When you transform these leftovers into new and exciting dishes, no one even realizes they are eating yesterday’s food.  All three of these recipes are in regular rotation in my house and always on the “day after menu” after a holiday.  Hope you try them and enjoy them!