My passion for creating the ultimate Thanksgiving feast is rivaled only by my quest for making stellar meals with the leftovers. We moved to Arizona six years ago, and now my extended family is more than 2,000 miles away and can’t visit for Thanksgiving every year. I used to prepare a huge spread for a big crowd, and now it’s just the four of us. Funny thing is, I still buy a 20 pound turkey, tons of yams, potatoes and peas, and all the fixings for two pies, one pumpkin and one apple. All that for FOUR people, two of which are under the age of nine!
Crazy? No! I do it because I adore leftovers. But I go beyond turkey sandwiches in my house — here are my favorite with-a-twist leftover ideas.
Pumpkin Cream Parfaits: Scoop leftover pumpkin pie filling from the crust and fold in whipped cream or thawed non-dairy whipped topping. Layer the pumpkin mixture in parfait glasses with crumbled gingersnaps or vanilla wafer cookies and shave white chocolate over the top. You can also use the leftover crust instead of cookies!
Stuffing Frittata: This is the perfect breakfast or brunch dish for hungry house guests! Place leftover stuffing in a large cast-iron skillet (or any oven-proof skillet) and pour over enough beaten eggs to cover the stuffing by about 1 inch. Set the pan over medium heat and cook until the eggs are almost set. Top the mixture with grated Parmesan cheese and place the pan under the broiler. Broil until the eggs are set and the cheese is golden. Top with freshly-chopped parsley or chives and cut into wedges.
Gnocchi Knock Out: Add an egg yolk to a pound of leftover mashed potatoes and mix into a manageable dough. Shape the dough into bite-sized pieces and press with a fork to make indentations. Boil for 3-5 minutes, until tender (but not rubbery!). Serve with butter and Parmesan or your favorite pasta sauce. You can do the same thing with leftover mashed yams/sweet potatoes (excellent when tossed with melted butter and a pinch of ground nutmeg.)
Turkey Calzone: Roll a thawed frozen loaf of bread or pizza dough into a 15-inch round and transfer to a baking sheet (don’t worry if the dough hangs over a little – you’re folding it). Top one side with prepared basil pesto, leftover cubed turkey, any leftover vegetables (broccoli, spinach, onions, peppers) and shredded mozzarella cheese. Fold over the side without toppings and pinch the edges together to seal. Spray the top with cooking spray and dust with grated Parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
TELL US: What are your favorite leftover ideas?
Robin Miller is a nutritionist, host of Quick Fix Meals, author of “Robin Rescues Dinner” and the busy mom of two active little boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinrescuesdinner.com.