Find ways to save, repurpose those holiday leftovers crowding your refrigerator.
Your company is gone, but your refrigerator is still full of holiday goodies. Usually, it’s loaded down with all the traditional favorites like leftover turkey, dressing, ham, all kinds of potatoes, a variety of vegetables and probably too many desserts.
Before you start storing or repurposing your leftovers, make sure all the food has been handled properly. If your leftovers have been sitting at room temperature for more than two hours, there is an increased chance for spoilage. Be sure to wrap foods individually in plastic wrap, foil or with a vacuum sealing system.
Remember, food that won’t be eaten in the next few days should be frozen. Also, when reheating your leftovers, make sure the core temperature reaches 165 degrees F to ensure bacteria is killed.
Tips for reusing holiday foods
Turkey, mashed potatoes and cooked vegetables
You’ve got all the ingredients, just heat the oven and line a casserole dish to create a holiday-themed Shepherd’s Pie. Layer the bottom of your dish with your leftover veggies (green beans, broccoli), chop up your turkey or ham for the next layer, then top with sweet potatoes and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. If you have some leftover cheeses, try adding them to the top of the potatoes during the last 5-7 minutes of baking.
Cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie
Jazz up your favorite muffin recipe with a dollop of cranberry sauce. Repurpose the pumpkin pie filling into a fun and sweet smoothie — use it as a replacement for bananas.
Broccoli, cauliflower and potatoes
It doesn’t matter if they are raw, steamed or boiled — a good roasting of most vegetables can help bring out a little more flavor and give them a longer shelf life. Drizzle your leftovers with olive oil, season and roast for about 15 minutes (or until golden brown). Use these for soups, omelets or just enjoy on their own.
Carrots, zucchini and bell peppers
The raw vegetable tray provides an easy appetizer for most functions, but can leave you with a healthy batch of leftovers. Freezing these items is always a good option. If properly sealed, fruits and vegetables will last between eight and 12 months in your freezer. Another fun option is to grate these veggies — especially the carrots, peppers and zucchini — creating an easy-to-use mix for salads and stir-fry dishes.
Cucumbers, lemons and pineapple
Use these fresh leftovers to infuse your filtered or tap water. It only takes a few hours and it really livens up your drink with a refreshing burst of flavor. Use sliced cucumbers, lemon peel and other citrus fruits.