Thursday, December 20, 2012

Leftovers suck! Or do they...? (T.C. Blue was a chef! Haha!)

There's been so much that's gone on in the past week, and much of it is less than happy. I'm not talking about in my personal life or anything, but in the world in general. It's been a gut-wrenching, heart-rending seven days, and while I could go into that and share my thoughts, I think we all feel something similar, so I'm not going to do that. Kiernan covered it perfectly in her last post here on Ye Olde Blog.

Instead of repeating her words in spirit or in fact, I'm going to focus today on what I promised to a few weeks ago. Even in the face of tragedy, life goes on, the holidays come… and especially this year, I think we're all going to treasure the family and friends we have still in our lives. What we may not treasure so much is the sheer amount of leftovers there always seem to be after the big holiday meals.

So, we wake up the morning after Christmas (or other religious/seasonal feasting) and open the fridge. Personally, I groan -- loudly -- at the sight of all the food that was so yummy but now is just kind of sad… and unappetizing, because let's face it, I stuffed myself to the eyebrows on this stuff just twelve hours ago!

If your family is anything like mine, the leftovers sit there because while no one wants to eat it, there's nothing actually wrong with it. Someone might want it, right? And somebody definitely will be having turkey (or ham, or whatever protein) sandwiches. But one can only eat so many of those. There must be something else to do with leftovers, right?

There is! I've actually used leftovers for loads of things, and I thought I'd share some of my favorite remedies for full-fridge-itis here. J

SOUP: this is a no-brainer, right? What's better than soup in the winter (winter here in the U.S., I mean). And it's easy! Just chop up whatever your protein is, cut up leftover veggies (or toss in a bag of frozen vegetable blend if your leftover veggies are battered, fried, or soaked in cream or cheese). Water or the stock of your choice (sold on grocery store shelves). Throw it all together in a pot, season to taste, bring to a slow boil, then simmer for a few minutes and you have soup! Yay! You can also add leftover mashed potatoes to thicken the soup, if you so desire.

BREAKFAST: Easy-peasy, too! We've all heard of eggs benedict, right? Just substitute your turkey, ham, or whatever for the Canadian bacon and top your poached eggs with Hollandaise (Knorr makes a reasonably decent version in powder form and the instructions are pretty easy). Fancy-schmancy without all the effort of doing Hollandaise from scratch, which no one wants to do whilst in the midst of a food-hangover. Trust me.

HASH: Chopped protein-of-choice, diced potatoes (most grocery stores carry frozen diced potatoes, which work just fine for this), whatever seasonings you like, and I like to use fresh herbs in mine. Add a raw egg, mix together, then cook in a sauté pan like a pancake almost, until both sides are crispy and have a nice, golden brown color. This can be topped with fried or poached eggs if that's your thing. Oh, and whatever leftover gravy you might have works really well as a topping! Keeps it all nice and moist!

SAVORY BREAD PUDDING: If you happen to end up with a lot of stuffing/dressing left over, this is really nice as a side dish. It's really simple, too. Just put your leftover stuffing in a large bowl, add a bit of freshly diced bread (the texture is different and adds to the depth), a bit of shredded cheese, just enough milk or cream to get things good and moist, and an egg yolk or two (depending on how much stuffing you're working with). Mix well and place in a greased baking pan, then bake in the oven at 350 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes (until you see a nice, golden color on top). I like to do this with some caramelized onions, and if I've got whole-berry cranberry sauce left over (as opposed to the jellied variety which just melts here), I'll add a couple spoonfuls of that, too. This can also be topped with leftover gravy. It's super-good! :D

POTATO CAKES: This can be a side dish or an entrée, depending on preference, really. Again, super-easy! Leftover mashed potatoes? Throw them in a bowl. Add a small dash of cream or milk, whatever chopped herbs you like (fresh or dried, though I prefer fresh myself), some of your leftover ham/turkey/other (chopped). Mix well and season to taste. Form potato mix into patties, kind of like you'd form a burger, and cook on a griddle or in a sauté pan, with just enough oil to make things sizzle. (If this is being used as a side dish, you can leave out the ham/turkey/whatever. Crumbled bacon is really nice in this, too.) This can be served with a dollop of sour cream on the side, making it sort of like a baked potato in patty form! Haha!

DESSERTS: If you have leftover desserts from your holiday meal, you're obviously doing something wrong. Just sayin'. :P


So there you have it, guys. Just a few simple solutions to your holiday leftovers problems. And if you don't generally have holiday leftovers or don't consider them to be a problem, well… you're clearly better at planning than I am! Hahaha!

Wishing you all a very happy holiday season. Thoughts and prayers for those who've suffered grave losses, and for those who haven't. I'm convinced that good wishes never go to waste.

Until next time… be good to yourselves and each other!


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