As the holiday season winds down, many are left with an abundance of delicious leftovers. Rather than allowing these remnants to go to waste, consider transforming them into mouth-watering dishes, extending the Christmas joy. This article shares a collection of recipes, on how to deal with Christmas leftovers, from hearty bean soup using holiday roast remains to creative sandwiches featuring turkey, mashed potato casserole, and cranberry sauce.
Embrace these holiday leftover recipes to reduce food waste, save money, and prolong the holiday spirit with delicious Christmas leftovers. Let’s make Christmas last a little longer!
The Problem of Food Waste During the Holiday Season
During the holiday season, around 40% of food is estimated to go to waste. This staggering statistic not only has environmental consequences but also impacts our wallets.
Leftover food, such as Thanksgiving leftovers and Christmas leftovers, often gets thrown away without a second thought, contributing to the growing issue of food waste.
The Environmental Impact of Food Waste
Food waste is a substantial contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. When food ends up in dumps, it rots and casts methane, a powerful greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. Additionally, the resources used to make that food, such as water and energy, are wasted along with it.
By finding creative ways on how to deal with Christmas leftovers, we can reduce our carbon footprint and positively impact the environment.
Christmas Holiday Leftover Recipes
Recipe 1: Festive Turkey and Cranberry Panini
Turn your turkey leftovers and cranberry sauce into an ultimate comfort food that will make your taste buds sing.
Start by applying a layer of cranberry sauce on two slices of bread. Layer on some leftover turkey, leftover stuffing, a generous amount of cheese, and a handful of arugula. Grill the sandwich until the cheese is liquified and the bread is golden brown. The combination of flavors in this sandwich is simply divine, and it’s also a great way to make use of those leftovers.
Recipe 2: Cheesy Mashed Potato Pancakes
This delicious recipe can transform leftover mashed potatoes into a breakfast sensation.
Mix the mashed potatoes with an egg, some flour, and shredded cheese. Form the mixture into patties and fry them in a hot skillet until golden and crispy. Serve these cheesy and creamy mashed potato pancakes with a bit of sour cream and a sprinkle of chives for a truly indulgent breakfast treat.
Recipe 3: Spiced Pumpkin Bread Pudding
If you have leftover pumpkin puree from your holiday baking, why not turn it into a decadent dessert?
Combine the pumpkin puree with milk, eggs, sugar, and warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour the mixture over cubes of day-old bread and let it soak for a few minutes. Bake the bread pudding until it is set and golden. Serve it warm with caramel sauce for a dessert that will make your guests swoon.
Recipe 4: Leftover Ham and Vegetable Frittata
A frittata is a versatile dish and is also a great recipe to deal with Christmas leftovers that can be made with whatever ingredients you have on hand.
Take your leftover ham and any leftover vegetables, such as bell peppers or spinach, and sauté them in a skillet. Whisk together some eggs and pour them over the ham and vegetables. Cook the frittata until the edges are set, then transfer it to the oven to finish cooking. The result is a savory and delightful meal perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Recipe 5: Sweet Potato and Turkey Hash
Turn your leftover sweet potatoes and turkey into a hearty, flavorful hash.
Start by sautéing diced onions and bell peppers in a skillet until they are soft and fragrant. Add diced sweet potatoes and cooked turkey to the skillet until everything is heated through. Season the hash with salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs and spices. Serve it with a fried egg on top for a delicious and satisfying meal.
Sweet Treats Using Leftover Desserts
1. Christmas Pudding Trifle
Break up leftover Christmas pudding into small pieces and layer them in individual serving glasses or a trifle dish.
Top with a layer of custard, followed by whipped cream alongside a dash of grated chocolate or crushed nuts. Repeat the layers until the dish is full. Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving. This dessert is a delightful twist on the traditional trifle.
2. Pumpkin Bread Pudding
This is another way to deal with Christmas leftovers.
Cut leftover pumpkin pie into cubes and place them in a greased baking dish. Put eggs, sugar, milk, and spices, such as cinnamon and nutmeg, in a medium-sized bowl, then whisk together. Pour the mixture over the pie cubes and let it soak for about 20 minutes. Preheat an oven and bake until the bread pudding is set and golden brown. Serve warm and drizzle with caramel sauce. This cozy dessert is perfect for cold winter evenings.
3. Cranberry Cheesecake Bars
Crumble leftover cranberry sauce onto a graham cracker crust in a baking pan.
In another bowl, mix cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract, and eggs until smooth. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the cranberry sauce and bake in the oven until the cheesecake is set. Let it cool before cutting into bars. These tangy and creamy bars are a delicious way to enjoy leftover cranberry sauce.
Exciting Ideas Using Leftover Vegetables
1. Vegetable Fried Rice
Heat some oil in a pan and sauté leftover vegetables such as peas, carrots, and green beans until they are heated through.
- Add cold-cooked rice and stir-fry until everything is well combined.
- Push the fried vegetables and rice to one side of the pan and crack an egg into the empty space.
- Scramble the egg and mix it with the fried rice and vegetables.
- Season with soy sauce and serve hot.
This quick and easy recipe is a great way to use leftover vegetables.
2. Roasted Vegetable Quiche
This is also a great recipe for how to deal with Christmas leftovers. Line a pie dish with store-bought pie crust or make your own if you prefer.
- In a bowl, whisk eggs, milk, pepper, salt, and your choice of herbs together.
- Arrange leftover roasted vegetables, such as leftover potatoes, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and bell peppers, in the pie crust.
- Pour the egg mixture on the roasted vegetables and bake in the oven until the quiche is set and golden.
This flavorful quiche makes a delicious brunch or light dinner.
3. Vegetable Soup
- Chop leftover vegetables into small pieces and sauté them in a pot with some olive oil.
- Add vegetable or leftover chicken broth and simmer until the vegetables are tender.
- Season with pepper and salt.
Optional: Add herbs or spices you prefer. If desired, blend the soup until smooth or leave it chunky for a heartier texture. Serve with crusty bread for a satisfying meal.
Tips for Proper Storage
To ensure your leftovers stay fresh and safe to eat, follow these tips for proper storage and organization:
Within two hours of cooking, refrigerate any leftovers in shallow containers to allow for quick cooling. This helps prevent bacterial growth. Use clear containers to easily identify the contents and prevent them from being forgotten at the back of the fridge.
Ensure each container is labeled with the contents and storage date. This will help you track how long the leftovers have been in the fridge and ensure you use them within a safe time frame.
If you have more leftovers than you can consume within a few days, consider freezing them for later use. Properly wrap the food in freezer-safe packaging to prevent freezer burn.
4. Meal Planning
Incorporate your leftovers into your meal planning. By planning meals with leftovers, you can ensure they are used before they spoil. Take inventory of your leftovers and brainstorm creative ways to repurpose them into new meals.
5. Food Safety
Always reheat leftovers thoroughly at least 165°F to kill the bacteria that may have grown. Discard any leftovers left at room temperature for more than two hours.
By transforming our holiday leftovers, such as Christmas and family-oriented Thanksgiving, into delicious meals, we can reduce food waste, save money, and positively impact the environment. Each recipe shared in this article showcases how simple it can be to turn scraps into sensational dishes.
So, the next time you find yourself with an abundance of leftovers, embrace your culinary creativity, make the most of every last bite, and enjoy creating how to deal with Christmas leftover recipes. Let’s make holidays last a little longer and say goodbye to food waste.
Mindful eating during the holiday season is the best way to enjoy some of those tempting holiday offerings without the negative consequences often associated with over-indulging. Check out these 10 Tricks for Eating Mindfully During the Holiday!
Rick Kaselj MS, is a leading kinesiologist and injury specialist as well as co-creator of the best-selling Unlock Your Hip Flexors program. Rick creates exercise programs that help people heal injuries and eliminate pain, so they can go back to living a full, active, healthy life.