Leftovers

The holiday season is finally here and with it comes fancy dinner parties with loads of delicious foods. Turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, green bean casserole, and the list of deliciousness goes on! It’s amazing the first time around and maybe even a second time around but with all of this food, it begs the question: “What the heck am I supposed to do with all of these leftovers?!”

Here are some great tips for dealing with your leftovers during the holidays.

Tip #1: Make a Chicken Turkey Broth
Once you have eaten all the wonderful turkey meat, don’t throw away the bones!  It is a commonly missed opportunity for you to make AMAZING broth for your future meals.  It takes just a few simple ingredients added to a pot of hot water and the turkey carcass and BOOM…you’ll have a great base for any soup or sauce.  Anoush, my culinary star of a friend, has mastered the making of chicken broth.  Check out the simple instructions (and her delightful commentary) on her own blog: http://thehappytastebud.blogspot.com/2011/07/chicken-stock.html.  You will not regret it.  One word of advice: don’t boil everything.  Instead, keep it at a low simmer.  If the heat is too high (like during a boil), the fat will emulsify and turn your stock cloudy = not cute.

Anoush’s Amazing Chicken Stock

Tip #2: Sandwiches!!
Fresh Turkey Meat > Deli Turkey Cold Cut Slices.  Sorry, Oscar Meyer.

Tip #3: Reuse Your Veggies
Throw them into a salad or a stir fry. Boom. New lunch/dinner!

Tip #4: Potatoes, Potatoes, Potatoes…
Mashed potatoes can be used as a topping on a beef stew to make a shepherd’s pie.  Mashed potatoes also tend to firm up and are FANTASTIC candidates for potatoes croquettes.  Who doesn’t like fried mashed potatoes.  Got leftover sweet potatoes.  Puree that ish up and make a great soup that will warm you up during this cold weather.

Another thing to consider is how you can store your leftover food and when to toss it out.  Here are two solid safety rules to follow:

Rule #1: Freeze Pre-Made Meals
Make your own “Frozen Dinners” that are ready to be reheated at your convenience.  Air-seal containers work best to prevent freeze burn and maintain higher quality.  They’ll be handy for those unexpectedly long nights at work when you come home so late.  These frozen meals simply require reheating and they will last in your freeze for between 3-4 months (after which time: toss it).  Lean Cuisine, eat your heart out.  Wow, look at me hate on these brand name food companies.

Rule #2: Eat or Freeze Everything by Day 4
Safety guidelines dictate that after four days of refrigeration, food should be thrown out.  Why?  Food intoxication/poisoning.  Food that has been in the fridge for an extended period of time is a prime place for bacteria to grow.  They love to release toxins that are hazardous to our health.  So, before the 4th day, eat it or freeze it (see tip #3 above). On the fourth day, throw it out.  No exceptions!

Ultimately, be creative!  It takes just a few minutes of planning to maximize your food usage.  Also, be safe.  Don’t eat food after it’s been stored in your fridge for more than four days.  Being money conscious shouldn’t come at the price of your health!

Happy eating.

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