26 December 2009

What to do With the Christmas Dinner Leftovers

The big day is over but you wouldn't know it to look at the fridge. It is bursting with leftovers and they all have to be used up. Try some of these ideas and get some time off from kitchen duty.

Freeze them. Freezing means that you can enjoy your Christmas fare at anytime. You can freeze sliced meats in gravy, and have a ready made roast for later on. Dice the vegetables and combine to use as fillings for pies, crepes and casseroles. If you use plastic storage bags, make sure that they are freezer bags and write the contents date of freezing on the outside (masking tape is good for this). Freeze in portion sizes or meal sizes and then you can thaw out only what you need and not the lot.

Make up some doggy bags and send guests home with food. Why keep all the bounty to yourself? Load up on disposable plates and bowls (in festive colours) so that each guest can take home some food for later.

Make a gourmet salad. Green salads can be so boring sometimes. Add a slice or two of turkey, beef, chicken or ham to spice it up. Dice or crumble the meat and use as a salad topper. Cold peas, carrots, corn, broccoli, cauliflower etc can all be added to a green salad for colour and texture.

Breakfast additions. Omelettes are fun to make. Even more fun than making them is adding different ingredients to them to see what kind of combinations you can come up with. Use leftover Christmas dinner fare to decorate your omelette. Ham, chicken or turkey can be diced to use as an omelette add-in. Leftover vegetables can also be cut up to sprinkle inside an omelette.

Turn it into a stir-fry. Cut the leftover chicken, turkey, beef or pork into thin strips. With a few stir-fry vegetables you have created a new dinner meal. If stir fry is not your cup of tea, you can make lo mien, fried rice and other Asian dishes that include meat. Or if you had the traditional turkey and there's still a lot left, go wild with turkey chow mein.

Create a pie. Turkey or chicken and even beef can be placed inside a crust with tons of delicious veggies to make a pot pie your family will love. Use a basic white or cheese sauce as the binder (or even a can of cream of something soup - chicken, mushroom, asparagus etc) and let your imagination run wild with the combinations. If you have a pie maker you can whip up a batch of gourmet pies in no time and freeze them, ready for a grab and heat lunch. Use bought pastry sheets if you're not a pastry maker, or give Elaine's Easy Pastry a try.

It can be overwhelming when faced with all that leftover food, and it's tempting to just ignore it until it goes furry and then you can throw it out, but I'm hoping that some of these ideas will inspire you to use up those leftovers and save your grocery budget.

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