Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Leftover Ideas

If you're like me there are only so many times you can re-heat and eat the same old leftovers in the same old form.

In honor of all the Thanksgiving leftovers millions of Americans are currently tackling, I thought I'd recycle this old post of mine.

Stir-fries are a great way to use up not only vegetables, but leftover meat. It gives you the freedom to cut the meat in smaller pieces and add it at the end of cooking, so it doesn't get dried out and overdone. Had I used this steak in another method, it would have easily become very tough and dry, but it remained moist and tender heated only a minute with the veggies at the end.

Stuffed Peppers! Use any pre-cooked meat and mix with veggies or rice. Stir in cheese or spices to make the meal have a different taste each time. Spoon the mixture into a half of a green pepper, and top with sauce or gravy and bake in a 350° oven, covered, until the peppers are tender, usually about 30-45 minutes. (Additional stuffed peppers here.)

I've made two versions of stuffed acorn squash, found here and here. The squash microwaves quickly and you can use literally anything to fill the cavity where you've scooped out the seeds. Couscous, quinoa, small noodles, rice, and any veggies or meat you have on hand. The possibilities are endless! (Additional stuffed squash here and here.)

Pot pies are an excellent way to use up both red meat and poultry. Mix the meat with a gravy and your choice of fresh or frozen veggies. You can buy the frozen pie crusts in the pack of 2 and simply flip the 2nd crust upside down as the "top," and crimp the edges together. Either bake then, or freeze for later! My mom always makes turkey pot pies with all the Thanksgiving leftovers, killing two birds with one stone!

Soups! I've made way too many to link to, so you can either search (up at the top left), or come up with your own ideas! I usually start with my "big ass pot" and fill it with a mixture of veggies on hand. Carrots, celery, onions, potatoes are staples. Then, vegetable stock and sometimes rice, barley, pasta, to bulk it up. I usually use a store-bought rotisserie chicken, but you could use any meat on hand. Just add it to the pot last and let it come up to temperature. This is another post-Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey user-upper.

Sweetie Pie's cabbage nests are fantastic for new flavors and ideas. I've made them with sausage and I've made them with chicken. Simply roast the cabbage and any veggies in the oven. Then, assemble, putting the meat of your choice, sauce, gravy, etc. on top and bake. You could add cheese during the second bake, or even top it with a fried egg, which Sweetie has done before, but I've yet to try!

Savory bread pudding is a relatively new introduction to my repertoire of using up leftover meat, but it's a great one! Use up your old bread or rolls, use up veggies, and use up meat. Smother it with eggs and cheese - could anything be better, or easier? It also scores bonus points for being a one dish meal and the ability to throw it in the oven and forget about babysitting it!

Throw it on a salad! I've put everything from leftover steak cut in strips, chunked up ham, chicken breast, tuna, shrimp, and Morningstar burgers on a salad. It's so easy to fluctuate the toppings and dressing choice to compliment the extra protein you've thrown on top!

If all else fails - add eggs! You can mix meat with your egg sandwich in the morning, throw it in an omelette, or make a skillet frittata for dinner! Eggs are a great way to use up leftovers from breakfast to dinner and everything in between!

What is your favorite way to use up leftover meat, or any other leftovers for that matter!? I'm always looking for new ideas!


sophia said...

Sadly, no leftovers. We demolished the feast that night, and I did take some mac & cheese home but ate it that night as a snack! I love your ideas though, esp the stuffed acorn thing and bread pudding!

I would also lke to add quiche! And rice porridges. Savory oats. Fried rice!

CaSaundraLeigh said...

Love all your ideas--I usually make pot pies! :-)