This article was originally published on November 14th in the Huffington Post.
Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday — it’s a day that’s American to the core and it’s a day that’s all about what and how we eat.
I learned from my grandmother, who grew up in devastating war times, how important it is to keep with tradition and celebrate the holidays during tough times. Hurricane Sandy showed us that more than anything. Residents in the New York area witnessed the kind of impact one act of nature can have, and now more than ever we need to keep tradition to lift our spirits. It’s also the time to offer whatever you can to friends, neighbors or anyone who could benefit from even the smallest gesture of kindness.
I often talk about cooking with a spiritual compass — when you’re making that turkey on Thanksgiving morning, think about buying one more bird and giving it away. Hurricane Sandy lessened the number of food banks receiving free turkeys this year because many who usually donate were displaced by the storm. Additionally, frozen-food sections of supermarkets were damaged, ruining many turkeys that would otherwise be given away. Give someone who is struggling a reason to keep the holiday tradition alive in their home, wherever that may be.
And make sure to eat with a spiritual compass, too. Don’t waste any part of your leftovers. A study by the National Resources Defense Council reported that Americans throw away 40 percent of the food supply every year. That’s $165 billion annually. If you need help getting creative with how to use your Thanksgiving leftovers, with the help of Food Republic I’ve compiled my 10 favorite ways to make sure you’re not wasting a thing this holiday season.
Turkey Split Sandwich
Customers love our popular “Chickety Split” sandwich at the Red Rooster’s sister stand, the Nook. Here’s a new way to use the turkey meat leftovers that’s not only delicious, it will have your guests coming back for more. You can make the bread and butter pickles yourself, or just use store bought ones to save some time. And for an added kick, I love throwing some spice shake onto the fried turkey.
Folding leftover stuffing into freshly made mac-n-cheese isn’t for the faint of heart. But it’s definitely an easy and fun way to use up what’s left. Serve with a side salad and plenty of fresh vegetables to offset the richness of this dish.
After Thanksgiving, most people opt to just use the leftover meat for sandwiches and casseroles. But in my house, I like to go 360 degrees on the bird which means using the bones and carcasses to make a rich turkey stock that’s the perfect basis for a hot bowl of ramen the next day.
Harissa Roasted Turkey Breast
If you’re entertaining a smaller crowd, you don’t have to buy a whole bird. Think about spicing up a turkey breast with some exotic flavors that will ensure your guests aren’t even thinking about what happened to the drumstick.
Mashed Potato Goat Cheese Kale
Instead of just reheating your sides, why not get creative and invent a new dish to have the next day? Here’s a modern take on traditional Irish colcannon, courtesy of Food Republic.
Ham and Cheese Biscuit
If your family prefers ham over turkey on Thanksgiving, don’t break out the sandwich bread for your leftovers. Why not make some of your own?
Cranberry Cornbread Trifle
Leftovers can be dessert too! This is a no-cook dessert recipe that is as easy as it is delicious using leftover cranberry sauce. Perfect for a sweet ending the day after Thanksgiving, use clear water glasses or martini glasses for a beautiful and colorful presentation.
From the middle of November on through the New Year, glögg is served in Swedish homes on every festive occasion or when visitors drop by. Many families also like to serve glögg after the evening meal, when everyone is sitting around the fire, and this can be enjoyed all winter long.
Leftover Thanksgiving Hash
In Sweden there’s a dish called pytt i panna that’s literally translated to little pieces in a pan. Here, we call it a hash and there’s no better way to use your Thanksgiving leftovers (or any leftovers) than to fry them up with some potatoes and throw in some kind of protein. Here I use fingerling potatoes, brussel sprouts, leftover turkey, and drizzle it with some turkey gravy. The best part? The fried egg on top.
Turkish Candied Squash
If you have some leftover squash from your stuffing or roasted vegetable dish, this is a great way to have something unexpected and sweet for your weekend houseguests. Taking cues from Istanbul, this treat is topped with sesame seeds for crunch and can be served with our without sweet cream.