You’ve survived making one huge meal. Now it’s time to deal with the leftovers.
If there is one thing about Thanksgiving so many people enjoy as much as the Thanksgiving meal or gathering, it’s having leftovers for the next few days.
Having Thanksgiving leftovers, from mashed potatoes and gravy, to vegetables, and, of course, turkey, gives you a head start on meals. The options are vast. Think about making soups, sandwiches, salads and pot pies.
More:DraftKings Sports & Social to bring sports betting, game day experience to Troy on Dec. 1
But first, don’t let those leftovers linger around too long. The U.S. Department of Agricultural (USDA) recommends using leftovers that have been stored properly within three to four days or freezing them.
More:Zana opens in downtown Birmingham, promising alluring ambiance
Here’s a sample of how to store and how long leftovers will keep. Also, we’ve added a few favorite recipes and ideas for using leftovers.
More:Detroit mom baked sweet potato pies for years. Then she turned it into a business.
Turkey meat should be picked from the carcass after the meal. Don’t store the whole turkey in the refrigerator with the meat still on it.
When using leftover turkey in recipes, keep in mind that it just needs to be reheated because it’s already cooked.
It’s best to use frozen leftovers within a few months, but the USDA says leftovers frozen under 0 degrees are safe indefinitely, but the quality may be impacted.
What to know
Reheat leftovers to 165 degrees in the oven, microwave, or stovetop.
Cooked mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes freeze well in an airtight container but leave about half-inch of headspace at the top. They’ll keep for 10-12 months. Reheat the potatoes with 1-2 tablespoons of milk, cream, or water to prevent sticking.
Cranberries will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or frozen for up to one year.
Leftovers Pot Pie inspired by Kid Rock’s mom
Turkey Soup with Stuffing Dumplings
Makes: 8 one-cup servings / Preparation time: 15 minutes / Total time: 1 hour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 carrots, peeled, diced
1 small onion, peeled, diced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken or turkey broth
1 cup low-fat milk
1 medium to large russet potato, peeled, diced small
2 cups shredded, cubed or bits and pieces of cooked turkey
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 packet (0.87-ounce) turkey gravy mix
1 cup frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste
FOR SERVING (OPTIONAL)
Pastry crisps (see directions)
In a soup pot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots and onion and sauté about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with flour. Stir in the broth and milk and heat to just a boil. Stir in the potato, leftover turkey, poultry seasoning, and turkey gravy mix. Reduce heat, cover slightly and simmer for about 30 minutes.
While the soup simmers, if desired, make pastry crisps for serving by cutting ready-to-roll refrigerated pie crust into wedges. Place on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until browned, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
To finish the soup, stir in the peas and simmer for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with french-fried onions and pastry crisps, if desired.
From and tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen. Analysis per 1-cup serving.
196 calories (25% from fat), 6 grams fat (2 grams sat. fat), 20 grams carbohydrates, 17 grams protein, 322 mg sodium, 40 mg cholesterol, 3 grams fiber.
Makes: 4 / Preparation time: 15 minutes / Total time: 30 minutes
2 celery ribs, sliced 1/8-inch thick
1 leek (white part only)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, divided
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
6 ounces white cheddar cheese, shredded (or use Bravo Farms sage cheddar cheese)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
8 slices favorite bread such as a French or sourdough, cut 1/2-inch thick
1/2 pound roasted turkey, coarsely shredded
8 fresh sage leaves, optional
Peel the celery and cut off the large white end. Slice the green part across (width-wise) into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Cut the leek in half lengthwise, retaining the light green and white parts. Cut into 2-inch-long pieces, then into matchstick-size strips. Wash the leek strips thoroughly.
In a small pan over medium-low heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Add the celery and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover the pan and cook about 3 minutes until the celery is slightly tender. Add the leeks to the celery, stir well and cover. Continue to cook until both are tender without coloring.
Place the white cheddar cheese in a bowl and mix in the sage. (Do not use the fresh sage if using the cheddar already seasoned with sage.)
To assemble the sandwich: Lightly butter one side of each slice of bread. Place half of the bread slices buttered-side-down and evenly spread 1 ounce (or more as desired) of the cheese, then layer some shredded turkey on top of the cheese and add some of the celery mixture. Top with about 1 ounce more cheddar on top of the turkey. Top with another slice of the bread with the buttered side up. Place 2 sage leaves, if using, on top of the slice of bread before grilling.
Grill the sandwiches in a moderately hot skillet or panini grill for 4-5 minutes until the bread is golden brown and the cheese has melted. If working in a skillet, turn sandwiches over halfway through grilling. Cut the sandwiches in half on the diagonal and serve hot.
Adapted from “The Macy’s Culinary Council Thanksgiving & Holiday Cookbook” (Book Kitchen, $24.95). Tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.
576 calories (50% from fat), 32 grams fat (18 grams sat. fat), 38 grams carbohydrates, 33 grams protein, 791 mg sodium, 117 mg cholesterol, 3 grams fiber.
Makes: 12 / Preparation time: 25 minutes / Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Here’s a way to make turkey sandwiches for a crowd. These also make great use of leftover rolls and cranberry sauce.
12 soft white dinner rolls or slider buns
6 tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided
3/4 cup cranberry sauce
12 slices (about 1/4-inch-thick) leftover turkey
12 thin slices provolone
Pepper to taste
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Slice rolls in half horizontally. Spread 4 tablespoons Dijon on cut sides of roll tops and bottoms. Place a dollop of cranberry sauce on the top inside roll. Arrange roll bottoms, cut side up and side by side, in 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Place turkey slices on the roll bottom. Fold the cheese slice in thirds and place over turkey. Season with pepper and cap with roll tops.
Combine butter, onion and poppy seeds in bowl. Microwave until butter is melted and onion is softened about 1 minute. Whisk Worcestershire, garlic powder and remaining 2 tablespoons mustard into butter mixture until combined. Generously brush tops and edges of sandwiches with all of butter mixture. Spoon any remaining solids over sandwiches.
Cover dish with aluminum foil and let sit for 10 minutes to allow sandwiches to absorb sauce. Bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until cheese is melted around edges and tops are slightly firm, 7 to 9 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. Serve.
Cook’s note: Sandwiches can be brushed with sauce, covered and refrigerated up to 1 day in advance. Bring to room temperature before cooking.
Adapted from Cook’s Country magazine. Tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.