How to Use Your Holiday Leftovers

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By Martha Lee

Now that the holidays are in full swing, it’s time to prepare the food! Family gathered for a big holiday supper, and I am still up to my elbows in goodies! Ham, turkey, pumpkin pie, and the mother-load of all holiday cookies.  Not a bad predicament to be in, but what on Earth do I do with all of this food?!  I’ve already sent the cookies to the office with my husband, and the pumpkin pie didn’t last a day. It’s the leftover meat I’m having a hard time with!  What do I do with all this meat?!  I’m still learning a lot in the kitchen, and experimenting with recipes is what I do best it seems! 

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As a young cook, I try not to get overwhelmed with thoughts of failure in the kitchen, but sometimes it’s inevitable.  I had to toss the gingerbread cookies that were hard as a rock, and my pup was lucky enough to get a few.  So in the aftermath of the cookie craze, I tried not to get too discouraged when it came to saving the remaining ham from the jowls of the dog or the lid of the trashcan.  I quickly scanned the drawers of the refrigerator and found broccoli, shredded mozzarella, and I soon remembered the leftover deep dish pie shell in the freezer (the twin of the one used for the pumpkin pie).  Ham and broccoli quiche was soon the creation.  I made too much, and by the looks of my kitchen, that fact was evident.  Drippy egg concoction was seeping all over the place – the counters, the sink, INSIDE THE OVEN. An absolute mess was made, but after 45 minutes (and a drip pan underneath), the quiche turned out on top!  Sorry pup, but the humans win again! 

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There are endless options to making leftovers new again, but it takes a little creativity to get it going.  Try not to get discouraged like I did, and just stop, look around, and see what you’ve got to work with.  Leftover mashed potatoes?  An easy substitute for crushed crackers in salmon patties (a favorite at our house).  No French Fried Onions for the green bean casserole?  Crush up the holiday cheese straws or biscuits instead.  They add a flavorful crunch that’s delicious! Help me keep the ideas coming, y’all!  What do you guys like to do with leftovers??  Hopefully they don’t end up in the dog bowl like my gingerbread cookies!  Someday, I will master the gingerbread, as they’re certainly not intended to be biscuits for the pups! 

Martha Lee and her husband began working for Paula Deen Enterprises in 2006 until Martha left to pursue a degree in Special Education. She takes a cue from her 1-year-old daughter, Naomi, leaving tiny footprints on the planet. Her blog shares practical, earth-conscious ways to live and parent in the 21st century. Born and raised in beautiful, soulful Macon, GA, Martha and her family now lives in Savannah, where she can be found outside hula-hooping and performing handstands daily.
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Reader Comments:

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Great ideas, yall! Love the use of the gingerbread as a pie crust! I will certainly try that next time. As for the quiche recipe - it's really easy! Steam/boil 1/2C broccoli. Mix together 2C shredded cheese (any kind works) and 2TBS flour - set aside. Beat 4 eggs with 1.25C milk and add seasoning of choice - I added a little house seasoning and extra pepper. Add 3/4C chopped ham. Add broccoli and cheese mixture. Bake at 350 for 45 mins. Just be careful!! Make sure to line your oven or add a drip pan! I still need to clean the oven from the mess I made! smile

By Martha Lee on January 04, 2013

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Love the ideas for holiday leftovers! Another substitute for topping casseroles or cassoule' include: crushed; chips, corn flakes, tater tots, instant mash potatoes, shredded potatoes, (a.k.a. hash browns), shredded cheese, paprika, tomatoes (diced), and numerous other things. I LOVE TO COOK! And more than cooking, I LOVE the compliments on my dishes. HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YA'LL.

By Miss Denise on December 27, 2012

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I loved your post about the quiche! Where's the recipe?

By Lisa on December 27, 2012

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looks good. would like to try some.

By Georgiann S. Clark on December 27, 2012

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My suggestion is to send all the leftovers home with the kids.

By Bonnie on December 26, 2012

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When your cookies get too hard in the oven,just not burnt, make crumbs out of them like you would graham crackers for pie crust. Then use as you would the graham cracker crumbs,for a delicious change. I like gingerbread,shortbread, ginger, chocolate chip and mint cookies as a cheesecake crust and other places where you might use graham crackers. Try your favorite cookies you may find a new favorite use for them. I make my own cookies so that I can cut out the sugar as I am a Diabetic.

By Brenda on December 26, 2012

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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