Specializing in Leftovers

DSC_0132Holidays are all about abundance – particularly with food. But often having more than enough means days of leftovers after the event is over. What can you do to distract the family from one more turkey sandwich? Here are a few suggestions to make leftovers part of the celebration rather than a burden to get through.

Freeze for later: Although your family may currently be sated on holiday fare, a few months from now an encore meal or variation of the original may be welcomed. Consider freezing some of the turkey sliced, along with a couple of scoops of dressing and a side of cranberry sauce. Later you can turn these three items into scrumptious sandwiches. Use sturdy bread such as a crusty roll or a French baguette. Lightly spread both sides with mayonnaise and layer the turkey and about a half-inch of dressing on the bottom half, topping with a light layer of cranberry sauce. This sandwich is an award-winning combination for a national sandwich shop that you can recreate for a cold-weather treat.

Reinvent a tradition: Turn that extra turkey, vegetables and mashed potatoes into a variation of shepherd’s pie. Mix chopped turkey, any leftover veggies – adding some if needed – and top with the leftover mashed potatoes in an open casserole. Bake to warm and broil the last few minutes to brown the top. Serve it with the leftover gravy.

Treat your guests: Pre-plan to share your leftovers with visitors. If you purchase a selection of different sizes of disposable plastic containers, you can mix up an additional holiday meal for your guests who don’t tend to cook at home. Walking away with another meal ready to heat and eat can be a real blessing to those with limited time, resources or inclination to cook for themselves. And for you and your immediate family, the leftovers will be gone by the end of the day.

If you think of leftovers as an opportunity to be creative and try new approaches, you can turn something that’s a challenge into a bonus that benefits everyone after the holidays are over.

 

Traditional Holiday Foods

002Every family has its holiday favorites. Some go for traditional turkey and dressing, or choose fancy with a standing rib roast or honey baked ham. But whether you always serve that infamous green bean casserole or change side dishes every year, food is an important part of every holiday.

Even more important, the preparation and serving of holiday family dinners may contain traditions you are less aware of, but which are just as important for everyone. It pays to look at those unspoken traditions to make sure that they serve your family well.

How are you passing your traditions along to the next generation? Now everyone loves Aunt Francis’s dinner rolls and Uncle Bob’s turkey gravy, but are the kids getting a chance to help bake and make these family favorites? By including some of the younger members of the family in the preparations, you help ensure that future generations will enjoy the same tastes that delight them now long after the instigators are gone.

You may also find that the standard recipes no longer serve your family as well. Old-style heavier meals may be too much for today’s diet and nutrition goals. While the holidays are certainly a time to indulge a bit, how about adding some lighter fare so that people can balance their enjoyment with some attention to good eating habits. For example, you could replace the cheese and cracker appetizers with vegetables and a tasty yogurt dip, letting people fill up while leaving the calorie-intense foods for dessert.

Holiday food traditions are for enjoying and sharing with others. Remember to plan ways to pass those traditions along with each generation, along with making changes that suit your family’s needs and the overall shifts in how we’re eating now. And above all, enjoy the process of preparing and indulging in your family’s traditional holiday feasts.