Holiday Leftover Ideas

by Rachel Paxton


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The holidays are a time for friends and family and good old-fashioned home cooking. Who can resist the tempting smells coming from the kitchen at this most favorite time of year? Holiday dinners were among my favorite, most memorable meals as a child. Our family shared our holiday meals with different relatives each year, but wherever we were and whoever we were with, we always knew to expect good food and enjoyable family gatherings that we would remember for months to come.

When I was a child, it was always a tradition in our family to have turkey for Thanksgiving and ham for Christmas. We would also always enjoy mounds of creamy mashed potatoes and gravy, candied yams with lots of butter, brown sugar, and melted marshmallows, and I could always count on sampling my dad's famous fruit salad. He would meticulously cut each fruit into bite-size pieces (apples, oranges, grapes, bananas, and raisins), and mix it all together with a generous portion of homemade whipped cream. Homemade cranberry sauce was also always a special holiday treat.

Now that I'm married we have even more family to share our holiday meals with. With so much family, though, we rarely get to host dinner at our house. It's always nice to go to someone else's house to eat, but then we don't get any of the leftovers! We usually end up taking advantage of the holiday sales at the supermarket though, and then we can have our own little feast. I've had a lot of fun over the years devising ways to use up the leftovers from our own holiday meals--and I'd like to share some of my favorite recipes with you.

Turkey and Rice Soup

  • 2 1/2 cups turkey, cooked and diced
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 6-ounce box long-grained rice
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1 cup carrots, grated

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients with 6 cups of water. Simmer, covered, until rice is cooked, approximately 30 minutes. Great with fresh bread.

Turkey Spaghetti

  • 8 oz. spaghetti or other pasta
  • 1 can cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
  • 3/4 c. grated mild cheddar cheese
  • 2 c. leftover cooked, diced turkey
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional - diced celery and/or diced onion to your taste

Prepare soup as directed. Prepare spaghetti as directed then drain. Combine spaghetti, soup and remaining ingredients. Stir until cheese melts. Serve and enjoy!

Mashed Potatoes and Ham Bake

  • 2 cups mashed potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 2 cups ham, cubed
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium-sized bowl, mix mashed potatoes and mustard. Spread potato mixture in the bottom of a greased 8-inch square baking pan. Arrange ham on top of potatoes. In a small bowl, mix cottage cheese and cheddar cheese. Spread over ham. Bake until mixture is heated through, about 30 minutes.

Chopped Ham Sandwiches

  • 2 lb. leftover ham, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 c. ketchup
  • 1/4 c. vinegar
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Fry ham in a skillet and sprinkle flour over it. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Simmer for 1 hour and serve on toast or hamburger buns. Makes 15 to 20 sandwiches.


Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom of five. For recipes, cleaning tips, gardening, frugal living, holiday hints, and more, visit her site and sign up for her weekly newsletter at www.creativehomemaking.com

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