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Recipe ideas for holiday leftovers

19 January 2018

By Jo Campos

A fabulous feast is a highlight of the holiday season, when families gather together and celebrate with a spread of festive food. But when the holidays are over, we usually wonder what to do with the Christmas and New Year dinner or lunch leftovers! We are often left with a refrigerator cluttered with containers of assorted food.

Don’t let those leftovers go to waste - we’ve got a host of delicious ideas to turn them into tempting meals you’ll love to eat a second time around.  I call them leftover makeover.
Here are some simple and yet delicious ideas we can whip up in the kitchen to transform those leftovers into delectable meals!

Creamy Ham Casserole

This is an easy and simple ham casserole recipe that uses up your leftover ham and could be ready in a flash. This is comfort food at its best, and it couldn’t be easier to throw together. So the next time you’re looking for a simple ham casserole recipe, try this one that’ll surely please the whole gang.

• 8 ounces medium egg noodles, uncooked
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 1/4 cup chopped onion
• 1/4 cup sliced celery
• 2 cups chopped cooked ham
• 1 (10-3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
• 1 cup sour cream
• 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
• 2 tablespoons chopped pimiento, drained on paper towel

Method of cooking:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 1-1/2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Cook noodles according to package directions; drain.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil until hot. Add onion and celery and cook 6 to 8 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in ham and heat 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in soup, sour cream, 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, the pimiento, and noodles. Spoon into baking dish.
 3. Cover and bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese, and bake, uncovered, for an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Ham Fritata

The Italian-style omelet known as a fritata is a great way to use up leftover meats and veggies. This delicious recipe for a Ham Frittata does just that, and is perfect for breakfast, brunch or a light lunch.

• 1 dozen eggs
• 1/2 cup milk
• 1 pound deli ham, diced
• 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
• 3 scallions (green onions), thinly sliced
• 1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped

Method of cooking:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs and milk until well combined. Add remaining ingredients; mix well.
3. Pour into baking dish and bake 45 to 55 minutes, or until firm in center. Allow to sit 5 minutes then cut and serve.
Tip: This is perfect for using leftover ham from Christmas dinner, or even the cheese and veggies left from your veggie and cheese platters. Make it your own by adding your favorite meats and veggies.

Turkey Frame Soup

There’s more than one way to get leftovers out of a whole turkey, and our recipe for homemade Turkey Frame Soup will use up every part of our leftover turkey. Think of it as an eco-friendly recipe you’ll love.

• 1 leftover turkey frame
• 12 cups chicken broth
• Leftover pan drippings, if available
• 2 to 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
• 2 to 3 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch chunks
• 2 onions, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• 2 to 3 cups leftover chunked turkey

Cooking Method: 
In a soup pot, combine all ingredients except the turkey. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low, then simmer 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Stir in the turkey, let simmer 10 minutes, then serve.
Note: You can add some cooked egg noodles to make this an even heartier soup.

Crunchy Turkey Bake

This creamy and Crunchy Turkey Bake is so warming and satisfying that you’ll want to save leftovers to make it! This is the perfect way to take the chill off of a mid-winter day.

• 1 pound leftover cooked turkey, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
• 2 (15-ounce) cans mixed vegetables, drained
• 1 10.75-ounce) condensed cream of mushroom soup
• 1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
• 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
• 3/4 cup mayonnaise
• 1 small onion, finely chopped
• 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
• 1 cup French-fried onions (from a 2.8-ounce can)

Method of cooking:
1. Coat a microwave-safe 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the French-fried onions; mix well, then spoon into casserole dish.
3. Microwave at 80% power for 10 minutes. Remove from microwave and top with French-fried onions. Microwave at 80% power for 5 more minutes, or until bubbly and heated through (see Note).

Note: Cooking times may vary. Check your microwave instruction booklet for guidelines.

There are even more ways and ideas on how to turn leftovers into something the whole family will enjoy without wasting food.

But wait there’s more! Here’s another inspiring quote from JC The Foodie:

“Food is for eating, and good food is to be enjoyed… I think food is, actually, very beautiful.”
--Delia Smith
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