5@5 - Five tips for Thanksgiving leftovers
November 26th, 2010
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and just when you thought the turkey gorge was over, you open up your refrigerator and find all sorts of tinfoil wrapped casseroles and a lingering eau de sage. What's a severly yam-med out but unwasteful eater to do? That's where Melissa d'Arabian comes in.

D’Arabian is the winner of season five of "The Next Food Network Star," and host of the Food Network show "Ten Dollar Dinners."

Five Tips for Thanksgiving Leftovers Management: Melissa d'Arabian

1.  Freeze while fresh!
"Why wait until your turkey has aged two extra days until you realize that you are in over your Thanksgiving head? On Thanksgiving Day, as you are cleaning up after dinner, immediately cube up half the remaining turkey and package it up into quart-sized freezer bags, about a cup or two each portion, depending on the size of your family.  Label and freeze, and now you’ll have the freshest leftover possible that becomes an easy ingredient in the freezer just waiting to have a second life a month or two down the road in another recipe: pasta, soup, savory pies, omelets, etc…"

2.  Tired of turkey? Trick your tastebuds!
"My Saturday strategy for the turkey I still have around?  Go ethnic or regional with these creative ideas!  Think Thai (turkey Pad Thai, for instance), Mexican (turkey taquitos), or Southern BBQ (BBQ pulled turkey sandwiches).  A whole different flavor profile will break the mold on Thanksgiving flavors and you’ll fool your palate into thinking your dish is a fresh new idea, not a recycled leftover."

3. Turkey’s gone but what about all the rest? Repurpose your sides.
"We all have side dishes that we make out of tradition, but that aren’t eaten quite as much as we would hope.  The result is leftover overload!  Cranberry sauce is a major culprit in my house.  The solution? Think of cranberry sauce simply as a tart fruit, and use as you would use any other.  Make a yogurt parfait, or toss with apple slices and make a cobbler or crumble, or heat up and pour on vanilla ice cream and top with toasted pecans for a sundae.  

You can even make a fantastic sweet-heat salsa (perfect with my turkey taquitos, above).  The other major leftover is the (in)famous yams!  

One idea: think breakfast!  Make a delicious maple-yam compound butter and serve with scones or waffles.  Or turn sweetened yams into a filling for empanadas, or make cinnamon bran muffins with the yams.  On the savory side, try swirling some yams into your leftover mashed potatoes for a delicious marbled potato side dish. (I know; I didn’t give you any ideas for stuffing.  But if you have stuffing leftovers, you need a new recipe.  I’m just saying.)"

4. Ingredients are leftovers too, so scan the fridge!
"Remember one of my cardinal rules of saving grocery dollars: wasted food is the most expensive food you buy, no matter how cheap it was at the store.  So, be sure to check your refrigerator for lurking ingredients on their last legs, so that you can leverage all your leftovers instead of tossing them.  Use that leftover heavy cream you bought for mashed potatoes to make a quick homemade spicy butterscotch pudding.   Used half a sour cream container to make your mom’s crazy Jell-o salad? Find a way to use up the other half (those taquitos bail us out yet again!).  A good general strategy is to check your refrigerator weekly (ideally just before menu planning or grocery shopping), and pull any 'must use' ingredients front and center of the fridge so you don’t forget about them. "

5. Feel good about less.
"Sometime between Halloween and the New Year, do a major purge of stuff you don’t need and donate it.  And if you are feeling the squeeze of the economy as we head into the holidays, volunteer at a homeless shelter, food bank or soup kitchen.  There is nothing like helping those who are less fortunate than you to make you feel grateful for what you do have, which will curb overbuying (and overcooking) and keep the holidays focused on what matters: the people in your life.  And while it’s too late to change how much food you bought for this year, maybe next year this strategy will have you just buying slightly less.  But this year, it will make us grateful for having leftovers at all, even if we don’t turn them all into a taquito."

Thanksgiving leftovers – love or loathe? Serve them reheated or cold? Dish it out in the comments.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Holidays • Thanksgiving • Think

soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. D FREE


    December 3, 2013 at 11:43 am |
  2. cigarette pas chere

    This makes great sense!

    November 22, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  3. Sharon

    Dressing, made the "old fashion country way" is more of a pudding with celery, onions, eggs, evaporated milk, spices, and drippings not that box stuff. Anyway for leftover dressing make sandwiches! A little mayo and you have a real taste treat!

    November 22, 2011 at 9:11 am |
  4. syntek home business

    That was very descriptive article

    October 16, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  5. BigDaddyRhino

    Why the hell do people keep validating this woman? Her show sucks, but more than that, she lost the "Next Food Network Star". L-O-S-T it. They voted her off the damn thing and in a truly monumental move of bullshit television politics, brought her back. How are you going to eliminate someone and then arbitrarily bring them back just to hand them the competition? These things are rigged all along. Melissa D'Arabian, YOU SUCK. Please go away.

    November 29, 2010 at 4:21 am |
  6. Matthew Porter

    Regarding Ron Eysters humorous send up of rude guests posted on October 19, 2010...We went to dine at Ron's house Thanksgiving Even, before reading this now infamous blog. We were celebrating a birthday. Out of earshot of my partner, I asked the manager if they did anything "special" for birthdays. He offered one free dessert. The hostess later suggested I read this blog post... when I saw myself as the dumb ox hiding behind Door No. 2, Customers Who Expect Free Desserts for Birthdays, I regretted my free flan faux pas. I wanted to be considered one of the "chosen" customers, the "first name basis type," the well regarded and warmly received. Instead, I was among those with a sense of free cake entitlement. To cleanse myself, I returned to the restaurant with 6 bucks and a note that explained, essentially, "it is better to give than receive, but better still to give in the spirit of friendship rather than resentment and contempt." Let Ron have his cake... and eat it too. On the house.

    November 28, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  7. RichardHead@AD

    Last time I saw Rachel she needed a wideload sign on her butt. She used that left hip to close the oven door and I thought the door was gonna fall off. That would be reality T.V.

    November 28, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
    • AuroraDawn

      LOL Yeah, I caught her talk show a couple of times and ugh! I don't know what it is I personally just find her and her macand cheese topped slider loathsome.

      November 28, 2010 at 12:21 pm |
  8. AuroraDawn

    LOL I will check pray tell at the 50.00 cat poop question! Yeah, polls have too much of a margin of error to be conclusive. OMG Rachael Ray and her giant mouth...it's like she's gonna swallow you whole if you sit too close to the tv!!! Although, her soccer mom fans are die hards.

    November 28, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
  9. RichardHead@AuroraDawn

    Nice and quiet- Still trying to figure out why my TCU Horn Frogs are NOT considered #1 in the BCS standings. Stupid Polls. I concur on Rachel Ray! Stick that EVO where the sun don't shine.

    November 28, 2010 at 10:35 am |
  10. AuroraDawn

    Cookies turned out great. Made about 6 different kinds. Now,onto Michael Symon...who does these polls anyway???? LOL Oh well, I still like him...I mean poor guy someone has too now! LOL

    Now...if people want bad food shows LOL Try Food Network Canada....I swear now there is a whole line up of bad shows except Laura Calder. Although, on FN I love Giada,and Paula Deen more for their personalities than cooking. Now...I cannot stand Rachael Ray however. I mean those who love her...like her a lot. But, with her "SAMMIES","STOOP",EVOO AND "SPOONULAS" She makes me a little on the homicidal side. lol So how was your Saturday anyway???

    November 28, 2010 at 10:08 am |
    • RichardHead@AD

      Truth and I left you a message on the $50.00 cat poop thread. We need your highly scientific mind to answer a question.

      November 28, 2010 at 11:19 am |
  11. RichardHead@AuroraDawn

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news but on a competing website they have The Top 5 Worst Food Network Shows. Well this chick above ranked #1. Guess who was #5? Go ahead I'll wait,,,dodododolalala-Yes,YOUR Lover Boy Symon! I have seen Food Feuds once and it was a Blatant takeoff of Travel Channels Food Wars. Besides, Camille Ford is easy on the eyes. Slap,Slap@Food Network. How'd the cookies turn out?

    November 28, 2010 at 9:26 am |
  12. Sharon

    I LOVE leftovers – in fact I offer to cook Thanksgiving dinner and deliver it to whoever is willing to host. I live alone so my first plan is to make up a nice container of sliced meat, stuffing and enough gravy to reheat the container. The gravy helps it freeze nicely and nothing is better than mashing up a potato on a Saturday night and feeling like you are having a banquet. Leftover veggies – all into the blender and in to the soup pot. It makes that soup stock taste amazing. I even add the puree'd veggies to the gravy to extend it and add depth of flavour.

    Bring it on!

    November 27, 2010 at 9:59 pm |
  13. Damaris @Kitchen Corners

    I just had the chance to chat with Melissa on a phone interview and I'm so impressed by her great tips. Here was my interview is anyone is interested http://www.kitchencorners.com/2010/11/interview-with-melissa-darabian-and.html she shared a cranberry salsa recipe that sounds divine.

    November 27, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
  14. Truth@RichHead, Biddle, Sir Biddle, AuroraDawn

    I am out for the day. Enjoy the rest of your weekends and will talk at ch'all on Monday!

    November 27, 2010 at 1:40 pm |
  15. RichardHead

    shhhh-It's as quiet as a field mouse in here. WAKE UP AMERICA! I love cherry pie mmmmmmmm.

    November 27, 2010 at 1:33 pm |
  16. Truth@RichHead, Biddle, Sir Biddle

    I can understand the "no phones at the table rule", but there are far worse things that can be pulled out (Think Blazing Saddles)

    November 27, 2010 at 11:28 am |
  17. RichardHead

    Thank You Sir. Gotta keep Momma HAPPY.

    November 26, 2010 at 5:53 pm |
  18. Sir Biddle@truth

    I just finished eating, figured my wife would have handed my @SS to me if AI pulled out my phone at the table. Well played Rich!

    November 26, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  19. Truth

    I would definitely hit that...

    November 26, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
    • RichardHead

      Had to take the tables and chairs back to the warehouse and thought I would miss out on this. What happened to AD?

      November 26, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
    • Sir Biddle@truth

      I triple that!

      November 26, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
  20. RichardHead

    Take that Truth and SirB. BOO-YAAAA!

    November 26, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
    • Truth@RichHead

      You are da man!

      November 26, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  21. RichardHead

    I'd HIT it/

    November 26, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
    • AuroraDawn

      LOL I knew you would!!!

      November 26, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      The classics

      November 29, 2013 at 11:58 am |
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