How to Use Your Holiday Leftovers

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By The Paula Deen Test Kitchen

Feeling over whelmed with all of your leftovers and wondering what to do with all that food?  Use these helpful tips to make the most of your holiday abundance.

First, be sure to buy proper storing containers and zip top baggies.  These will be helpful for your own storing purposes and also for packing up leftovers for your guests to take home. 

Freeze, freeze, and freeze! Freezing food is a perfect way to preserve your holiday leftovers.  And , you will be so happy on a busy day down the road when you remember you have a ready to go meal in the freezer.  Use these tips for keeping your frozen foods safe and fresh:

1. Be sure to freeze in airtight container or wrapping to prevent freezer burn.  Zip top freezer bags are the best, and are sure to get as much air out of the bag as possible before sealing.
2. Cool food completely before freezing.  Begin the cooling processes on the counter, and then finish it in the refrigerator before freezing.  Do not leave food at room temp longer than 2 hours.
3. Freeze in small portions for quick defrost.
4. Freeze within 3 days of cooking.
5. Don’t keep frozen meats or gravy longer than 4 months
6. Re-heat frozen pie in a 350 degree oven while still frozen for about 20-25 minutes
7. Defrost food in the refrigerator, microwave or cold-water bath (in a sealed zip top bag).  If using cold water bath change water every 30 minutes to keep it cold.

Make soups and stocks.  Leftover turkey carcasses and vegetables make wonderful homemade stocks, which freeze well for a rainy day.  Try one of these delicious soups to use up your leftover ham or turkey:

Turkey Minestrone
Yellow Squash and Ham Soup
Senate Bean Soup
Butter Bean Soup
Sweet Potato Date Soup

Make breakfast or lunch for all of your house guests. Everyone knows the leftover thanksgiving sandwich is almost better than the meal itself!  Fill your friends and family up with one of these next-day recipes:

Turkey Hash
Turkey Cranberry Monte Cristo
Turkey Potpie
Gobbler Cobbler Pie
Smashed Potato Pancakes
Ham Salad
Hungry Brothers Biscuits
Potato Casserole

Donate! And lastly, remember those less fortunate in your community.  Donate leftover canned food and non-perishable items to a food pantry in your area.  Or, make up a plate of food and deliver it to an elderly person in your neighborhood. 

Read More From Holidays and Entertaining.

Read More From Christmas.

Read More From Thanksgiving.

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Reader Comments:

54321

On you aunt Peggy's sweet potato soufflé, I think someone mistakenly added baking potatoes to the ingredient list. Other than that I have tried it and it was yummy!

By Kolynn on November 30, 2013

54321

Thanks for the tip. I have been doing that this past week. I find that I do not need to buy such big quantities of supplies as I am cooking for 2 now. I love to bake, but have scaled down the sizes of flour, spices, etc.so they do not go bad before I get to use them up. I am also putting dates on the packages. Have a blessed Christmas with family and friends. Peace and goodwill to you! Donna

By Donna Haffenden on November 29, 2013

54321

I HAVE BEEN TYING TO GET ON THE EMAIL LIST. AND ALSO GET RECIPIES. AND ALL I EVER GET IS ( YOUR MEMBERSHIP HAS NOT BEEN PROSSED AS OF YET. WHY IT;S BEEN ABOUT 3 WEEKS. CAN I RECEIVE RECIPIES OR NOT!!!

By darlene dilimone on November 28, 2012

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Paula Deen
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hi! wink i was wondering if you could share the recipe for the chiken/grape salad-the one that is pictured on the croissant above? thanks! wink sandra
Sandra Neuheimer-Huller in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 19, 2014 at 10:37 am

Where do I buy these magazines
in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 8:22 am

I WISH I COULD COOK. COULD I COME WORK FOR JUST ROOM AND BOARD AT YOUR NEW RESTURAUNT IN PIGEON FORGE FOR THE SUMMER? I WENT TO COLLEGE NOT FAR FROM THERE - HIWASSEE COLLEGE. YOU WOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY ME, I WOULD WORK FOR FREE JUST FOR THE EXPERIENCE. TAMMY LEVAN 19 SPENCER WAY KINGS PARK, NY 11754 HAPPY EASTER! CHRIST IS RISEN!
TAMMY L LEVAN in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 4:31 am

Hi Bubbles, You have some great tips. Can't wait to read your other blogs! Please give Aunt Peggy a big hug from me and here is one for you! (((HUGS))) See you in May!
Jaci Pardun in 10 Quick Household Tips on April 18, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Paula, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who makes Easter Baskets for their adult children and mail them across the United States. My Daughter lives in Long Beach, CA and I not only sent her a basket but her husband and my granddaughter Reese. We also buy special Russel Stover Bunnies for each child too. My husband has the list in his phone... Sara .. Cookies 'n Crème.... Sidney and Stephen.. Peanut Butter Etc. It one of my favorite things to do for my kids.. no matter how old they get. And passing it along to my Grandchildren. It's even more special to me knowing we share a family tradition. Blessings and Happy Easter!!
Sharon Cason-Card in A Basketful of Traditions on April 18, 2014 at 11:03 pm