Jazzing up Thanksgiving Leftovers

Who’s over their Thanksgiving leftovers? Tired of plates of Turkey, stuffing, greens and cranberry sauce? It’s cool, me too, and for the record there has never been a “part 6” of a series that wasn’t tired and at least a little disappointing. The following recipes are versions of Shepard’s Pie that are designed to use my Thanksgiving leftovers. I recommend not doing all of these, pick the leftovers you have the most of for this one and then do something completely different tomorrow night. Also? All of these can be frozen after assembled for about 3 to 4 months, so you can save these for February when you really like turkey again if you’d rather.

Option 1:

  1. Tear or dice cooked turkey (white or dark won’t matter) and place in bottom of medium-sized casserole dish.
  2. Add 1 can drained or 1 small bag frozen mixed veggies (soup mix or diced mix work best) to casserole dish.
  3. Top with enough turkey gravy to coat (about 1 to 2 cups, this is a preference thing) and stir.
  4. Create “top crust” with mashed potatoes. You want this layers to be between 1 1/2 and 3 inches deep, again depending on preference. Also, it’s a crust, do not stir.
  5. Sprinkle paprika and seasoned salt across the top.
  6. Bake in 350 degree oven until peaks of potatoes brown slightly, this will take about 20 minutes.
  7. Make sure dish is hot all the way through and serve!

Option 2:

  1. Repeat steps 1 through 3 from above.
  2. Top with “top crust” of stuffing (or dressing, whatever you call it). This layer should be about 2 to 3 inches thick. Do not stir.
  3. Sprinkle with paprika across the top.
  4. Bake in 350 degree oven until edges of stuffing become browned and crispy, about 20 minutes.
  5. Make sure dish is hot all the way through and serve!

Option 3:

  1. Repeat steps 1 through 3 from option 1.
  2. Crumble cornbread over top, creating a 2 inch minimum topping. (If you have no cornbread but want to try this: mix 1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin mix as directed on the box and pour over “filling”. Bake as directed on box)
  3. Add several (generous or about 2 Tbls) dollops of butter sporadically over the cornbread. Cover dish with lid.
  4. Bake in 350 degree oven until heated through and butter has melted, about 20 minutes.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Option 4:

  1. Repeat step 1 from option 1.
  2. Add any leftover veggies (ex: corn off cob, green beans, broccoli, spinach); or few spoonfuls of green bean casserole (now mushy onions and all); or broccoli casserole. whatever you add, stir it all together.
  3. Add about 2 cups (again preference thing here) of shredded cheddar or colby cheese. (If you are using broccoli casserole you should probably go with just one cup).
  4. Top with mashed potatoes, twice-baked potato casserole, or cornbread. (Depending on what you are topping with follow the appropriate instructions above, or just coat top with potato casserole about 2 inches thick).
  5. Bake about 20 minutes in a (you guessed it) 350 degree oven.
  6. Make sure it is heated through and serve!

Option 5: (the veggie-less option for the picky ones in your group)

  1. This works best with leftover ham torn into bits, but turkey and chicken also work. Layer leftover meat in bottom of medium-sized casserole dish.
  2. Add one can (drained) in its own juice chuncked or tidbit pineapple. (if you have leftover crushed or that’s what’s in your pantry, that’s fine, just use about 1/2 of the can (also drained).
  3. Top with leftover sweet potato casserole or any leftover cooked sweet potatoes (including just plain mashed or sliced). Sprinkle crushed pecans on top (if you like).
  4. Heat in microwave until heated through, or oven if you prefer (but put the lid on in the oven).
  5. Serve and enjoy!

So five casseroles to choose from. These use up some leftovers pretty quick (especially if you make one to freeze for later). Obviously all of these are still going to have a fall comfort food feel, so I like to alternate a leftover casserole with something like spaghetti or tacos, just to break things up. I hope these ideas help you jazz up some of your leftovers!

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4 Quick Dinners for the Little Ghouls

Happy Halloween everyone! Prayers to those of you still without power or under water. I hope you all go Trick-or-Treating as soon as you are able. For the rest of us, it’s Trick-or-Treating on a school night. (Ugh) I always hate that when it happens, you can’t let them eat their candy while you are walking around the neighborhood (Ahh! Potential poisons/razor blades/allergens/oh my!!), which you are doing at an unreasonably early hour (it’s still daylight and only the toddler crowd and complete lame-os Trick-or-Treat before dark; ask any of my kids, they will totally confirm this fact), so you go home after, everyone gets one piece of candy then it’s teeth brushed, pjs on, and off to bed. (hurry, hurry) And the next day? Cranky, pissy, sugar-hungover kids; hanging out at school with other kids of a similar disposition. (an excellent reason to not teach elementary school, or to give your kids teacher an excellent gift prior to the “winter holiday”, however you want to interpret that) I’m kind of surprised there aren’t more fights at school the day after Halloween, I wonder… (To do: Google average day of school year with most fights…) Anyway so before the treating and tricking this evening you still have to feed the little dears (I normally wouldn’t refer to kids that way, but trying to get them to anything like eat a healthy meal prior to Trick-or-Treating? Psht, right), my mommy guilt gets on me and I’m all “a healthy meal before we indulge this evening” while they are all (picture short people vibrating with excitement) “but I’m not hungry for supper (same child is normally in the final death throes of starvation by this time in the afternoon), I just want to put on my costume and goooooo (whiney tone added to the physical vibration here)”.  Ahh, these are the days… Good times and all that. I have discovered a few (very fast) fairly appealing and yet moderately nutritional Halloween suppers. I thought I’d share (since most of them were ideas from cookbooks that I simplified or used as is). These are also fun for any busy night in October or, I suppose, if you go for the ghoulish, any busy night year round.

Ghost Soup and Graveyard Salad

*the trick to any Halloween dish is make it sound as gross/scary as possible*

Ghost Soup is actually low-sodium New England Clam Chowder topped with a slice of Provolone Cheese cut with a ghost shaped cookie cutter. (place cheese while steamy hot and your ghost will be more melty and less cookie cuttery-yes I just made that word up) Graveyard Salad is Base Salad with large wheat croutons (gravestones) and alfalfa sprouts (moss) and raspberry vinaigrette dressing (zombie blood), delish!

Wormy Sandwiches with Bug-Infested Logs

Wormy Sandwiches are hotdogs, sliced length-wise into thin strips and tossed in your fav BBQ sauce, served in a pile on a hamburger bun (or dinner roll for littler monsters). Bug-Infested Logs are a gross (er?) take on the classic ants on a log (aka the only way anyone has ever been excited about celery, ever). You cut your celery logs and fill the trough with cream cheese (maggots) or cottage cheese (if you kids are willing-mine aren’t & well, neither am I *shudder*) top with raisins (flys, bugs, whatever you wanna call them). Bon-appetit! 🙂

Vampire Soup and Fang Sandwiches

Vampire Soup is just classic tomato soup (blood) with a slice of Colby (or American, just orange cheese) cut with bat-shaped cookie cutter (you can usually get 2 bats per slice) floating on top. Fang Sandwiches are grilled cheese sandwiches cut into 4 triangles (arrange into a toothy grin on plate around bowl of soup). This one usually makes even the pickiest monster happy.

Mummies and Garbage Dip

The Mummies are hot dogs wrapped with crescent roll dough that is sliced into strips. (Make sure to wrap haphazardly so that it looks like mummy wrappings, also kids can do this part, if they want to help) Bake as directed on crescent roll package. When cooled enough to eat give your mummies ketchup (or mustard) eyes. Garbage Dip is Ranch veggie dip (get a kind that has chunks of veggies in it) with cut up veggies spread all around on a serving platter. The trick is you need 5 baby carrots arranged in the dip as though they are a hand reaching up out of the dip. Try adding to this “illusion” by putting a plastic spider ring on the ring ‘finger”. Mmmmm…

These are the easiest, I’ve seen others, but the whole point is quick and easy, right? Save the Spider Web Pancakes for breakfast, not between school and candy time Trick-or-Treating.

 

 

 

 

 

Have a fun (and safe) time!

A Seasonal Romance

Fall! Yup, cold at night and not ever hot during the day. Fall is totally here in the south. You all know that summer is my favorite, but that doesn’t mean I plan to be a whiny mope the rest of the year (unless I’m sick, duh). The beginning of Fall rekindles my yearly romance with the pumpkin. RedBird and I start buying up all the pumpkin flavored foods as soon as they hit the shelves. We go crazy, then by Thanksgiving we are all, ugh, pie? *shudder*. It’s definitely one of those flash in the pan, hot and heavy romances, that’s comes on too strong to last. But, it’s been a whole year so it’s totally time for crazy amounts of pumpkin related stuff. Yay! I already made Pumpkin Bread, and when I was drinking my pumpkin coffee this morning while eating my pumpkin bagel I realized this might be an obession others could benefit from. I mean, if it exists, I have at least tried it (as far as pumpkin goes). So I’m going to try to remember as many pumpkin successes as I can (and as many failures, I can think of at least 2, and I know there are more) and post them here, well, until I get over pumpkin for the year. Do you have any suggestions or recipes you’d like to see? Like, are you searching for a pumpkin cookie that has an entire serving of veggies in it, but is okay for a diabetic to eat? I have one for that. Comment below, or email me at mamaskitchentable@gmail.com with any requests, I will try to fill them all. Enjoy the pumpkin love!!!

Pumpkin Bread

Braided Pumpkin Bread Wreath

Harvest Pancakes

Spider Web Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin Spice Bars

Pumpkin Soup

Easy Make Ahead Hashbrown Casserole

This is from the collection of excellent back to school make ahead breakfasts I mentioned before. This is great for making and freezing, like the French Toast Casserole and can be a school day breakfast or a brunch dish that can travel frozen to an out-of-town thing or be ready when the holidays and all their visitors are invading your home. I have a picture of the one I made the first week of school, somewhere… If I can find it I will add it to this recipe. This casserole is best when served with a side of citrus fruit, you know, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, pineapple, something like that.

What you will need:

1 bag (medium-sized) frozen hashbrowns

1 medium-sized casserole dish (think 8 x 10 or so)

Leftover sausage

1/3 cup Heart Healthy Bisquick

7 medium eggs

6 oz Cheddar or Colby Shredded ( you can use more, but this ratio is a nice balance)

1 Tablespoon Seasoned Salt

2 Tablespoons Onion Powder

Black Pepper (to taste)

Cooking Spray (I recommend Butter for this one)

To make:

In a bowl combine eggs, salt, onion, pepper, bisquick, sausage, and cheese.

Spray casserole dish.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place 1/2 of hashbrowns in bottom of dish.

Pour all of egg mixture on top.

Place remaining hashbrowns firmly over everything.

Cover with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes.

*If you are going to freeze this: Once it is cooled wrap with a layer of Saran Wrap and then another of tin foil, label and place in your freezer. When ready to cook unwrap and follow below directions straight out of the freezer. Keep in mind frozen solid to done will take about twice as long as 1/2 cooked to done, so some planning ahead will be required.*

Remove foil. Return to oven until hashbrowns are crisp looking on top and there is no runny egg mixture. (this will take about 20 minutes)

Serve in squares with fruit and glasses of milk for a hearty breakfast.

Crockpot Chicken n’ Dumplin’s

No those are not type-os, that’s exactly how you should say Chicken n’ dumplin’s. With everybody sick off their rears still and the weather starting to turn all Fall on us (go figure) it seemed like Chicken n’ Dumplin’s was the way to go. Again this recipe is easy and perfect for those of us who have to work all day especially when we are sick.

What you will need:

Crockpot that holds at least 6 quarts

3 Medium (or 2 large) Boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts ( you can use on the bone, but you will need 1 additional breast, and prior to putting in the dumplings you will need to fish out any bone/cartilage/skin/fat chunks)

1/4 cup dried minced onion (which is about 1/2 fresh onion)

4 Tablespoons Paprika

3 Tablespoons Seasoned Salt

4 Tablespoons Dried Rosemary

2 cans Cream of Chicken Soup

1 Can Cream of Celery Soup (If you have people for whom this will be a deal-breaker ingredient, use 3 cans Cream of Chicken instead)

Water

4 small cans biscuits (the kind that often come with soda can style plastic rings around sets of 4)

Black Pepper (to taste)

To Begin: (start Crockpot the night before or in the morning of the day you plan to eat this for supper, either is fine. Just add 3 additional cups of water if you start this the night before)

Place in Crockpot Chicken and seasonings.

*Make sure to crush Rosemary*

Add all Cream of Soups

Fill each empty Cream of can with water twice (use spatula to get everything out of cans) and add to Crockpot.

Place lid on Crockpot and set to cook on low setting.

To Finish: (This part will take about 30 minutes to cook after it is all in the crockpot)

Use a slotted cooking spoon, remove Chicken Breasts and place them on cutting Bord.

Chicken will be fall apart tender and completely cooked at this time. Use two forks or a fork and a knife to make pieces of chicken very small (bite sized or smaller). Return chicken to Crockpot.

On a clean (and cool/room temp, so as not to start “cooking” the canned biscuits) cutting board open all 4 cans of biscuits.

Cut each biscuit in half.

Remove lid from Crockpot and add each 1/2 biscuit to pot, making sure each 1/2 is dunked at least once in broth.

*This part needs to be done very quickly. The biscuits will immediately start to swell and if you stir them too much they will just turn to mush, instead of fluffy dumplings. Use the slotted spoon from before to quickly drop them in one at a time while holding other dumplings out-of-the-way*

Replace lid. Turn setting to high. DO NOT stir for at least 10 minutes!

Now is when you get out plates/bowls/silverware and some raw carrots or some other veggie to go with this comfort dish.

After about 10 minutes, remove lid and, still not actually stirring, use slotted serving spoon to push dumplings down into crockpot (and break up ones that have fused into giant scary mass dumplings) and alow chicken pieces and broth to cover them.

* Make sure to get any stuck to sides off, they will burn if you leave them there.*

Replace lid and allow to finish cooking/thickening. This should take about 20 minutes.

*Dumplings are done when if you poke into one it looks like a pale cooked biscuit inside.*

Once Dumplings are done cut setting to warm (or off if you do not have a warm) and serve. Once everybody has gotten a serving, cut Crockpot off and allow to cool before placing leftovers in fridge.

Who here is psychic and knows that we are gonna be jazzing up these leftovers later in the week? Mmm Chicken Stew…

Anyway, enjoy both the soup and the dumplin’s and read this , when your  eyes aren’t watering, about why both of these recipes are great (but especially the soup) for sick folks.

Hope y’all stay well & we demolish the September Crud soon!