By Adrian Kohrt
Turkeys and leftovers come with Thanksgiving. Many people wonder what to do with all the extra food. Turkey is a versatile meat and there are so many things that you can do with your surplus meat and side dishes. Read on to get some ideas that may inspire you to be creative with your leftover foods.
The most important thing to remember is safety in storing your food. Foods have a limited shelf life, depending on what they are. Remember to use airtight freezer bags or plastic containers when storing your leftovers.
U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines say that you can safely keep leftovers in the refrigerator for three or four days or freeze them for three or four months. Frozen leftovers stay safe indefinitely but can lose moisture and flavor when stored longer.
Turkey can be used for many different kinds of meals. Substitute turkey for many meats in recipes, such as chili, pot pie, enchiladas, tetrazzini, and even as a topping on pizza or nachos. The turkey carcass can also be turned into a fantastic turkey soup. In this way, the whole bird is used and nothing is wasted. It makes the most of the turkey and saves you money on another meal.
Here are some suggested recipes that you can use for your Thanksgiving leftovers.
Turkey crescent roll-ups: Roll out crescent rolls and place a small amount of turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce on the roll. Roll up and cook for a delicious breakfast treat.
Breakfast casserole: You can easily convert your favorite breakfast casserole by substituting turkey instead of sausage or bacon.
Turkey panini: Spread softened cream cheese on two pieces of bread. On the top of one piece of bread, place turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce in layers. Top with the second piece of bread. Place on a grill or a nonstick frying pan and cook for several minutes on each side until golden brown.
Turkey sliders: Slice leftover dinner rolls and place the bottoms on a cookie sheet. Top the rolls with a small amount of stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and turkey. Or come up with your own combination! Place the tops on the sliders, spread a light layer of egg wash on the rolls and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until the insides of the sliders are warm.
Turkey salad sandwiches: Chop up turkey and place in a bowl, and add chopped celery, cranberries and grated Swiss cheese. Add mayo and Dijon mustard to the mix and salt and pepper to taste. Serve on toasted bread with a slices of lettuce and tomato.
Other ways that you can use leftovers:
· Add green beans to a stir-fry.
· Use leftover cranberry sauce in hot oatmeal or Cream of Wheat.
· Poured leftover gravy over French fries with a sprinkle of cheese. It can also be used to flavor soups.
· Turn stuffing into a great breakfast by adding beaten eggs, bacon and cheese and spreading the mixture in the bottom of an ovenproof pan. Broil until golden brown on top.
· Use sweet potatoes in a sweet potato soup.
· Mix left over apple pie filling into a milk shake.
· Serve turkey and cranberry sauce over waffles with gravy.
· Make potato pancakes from your mashed potatoes.
Explore the internet and find even more ideas to creatively use your excess food. You no longer have to eat the same boring things over and over again. Now you, too, can be the envy of all your friends by serving fabulous food that takes little to time and effort to make after Thanksgiving.
Don’t forget that the Cooperative Extension Service has a publication regarding how to safely thaw and cook a turkey. You can review “Serving Turkey Safely” at http://bit.ly/2yM3oqA.
Adrian Kohrt is a family nutrition coordinator for Cooperative Extension Service, a part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For questions, she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 907-474-7930.