What to do with Thanksgiving leftovers?

Well, it’s the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and if you’re anything like my family, today is the day where you look in the refrigerator (having fully recovered from a day of shopping) and think, “Well, hell. I don’t even like turkey/my kids are sick of turkey/how can I get this out of my house before it gets moldy/can I even use gravy on anything else?” After two days of turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, you probably don’t even want to think about eating another Thanksgiving dinner for lunch.

Fear not. There are plenty of ways to use leftovers.

Breakfast burritos

By far the easiest and quickest, breakfast burritos are made from microwaved eggs and  leftover stuffing.

  1. Crack 2 eggs into a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Add milk (roughly 1/4 cup, but it takes some practice to be able to eyeball effectively). Note: the milk won’t sit on top. It will sink and flow in strange ways. Don’t worry, this is normal.
  3. If desired, add salt and pepper.
  4. Beat with fork until yolks are broken and mixed with whites.
  5. Microwave for about one minute. Stir with fork.
  6. Microwave another minute. Stir with fork. Your eggs should be starting to clump.
  7. Microwave at 30-second intervals, beating each time, until eggs are fully cooked.
  8. Mix in leftover stuffing. I use sausage stuffing, because cornbread stuffing is fairly bland.
  9. Spoon into tortilla, top with cheese if desired, and microwave for 30 seconds.
  10. Fold, serve, and enjoy.


We have no other name for this.

  1. Take whatever leftovers you have – turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole (but not cranberry sauce. DO NOT EVER TRY THIS WITH CRANBERRY SAUCE IT IS DISGUSTING) – and throw into a pot. Remember to add gravy and possibly a little bit of water.
  2. Heat, stirring occasionally.
  3. Enjoy.

That’s literally it. Just throw everything into a big pot and heat it up.

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Dressing Up Soup

If you’re like me, cream-based soup and bread make up a staple area of comfort food. Also if you’re like me, you don’t always have time (or refrigerator room) to make a big batch of soup and store it for when you’re in need.

This is where canned soup comes in, but canned soup has its own problems. Some of them are bland. Some are overspiced. Most are salty. Some, like the can I pulled out today, has the distinct honor of being able to be all three.

At once.

Chipotle Chicken and Corn Chowder sounds innocuous enough. It’s mass-marketed, so it won’t be too spicy. It’s not Campbell’s, so it shouldn’t be too salty. It’s cream-based, so it’s good for comfort food.

But then – then I opened up the can, dumped it into a pot, and swiped a finger through the residue on the can. It was like somebody had pepper-sprayed my throat – but then, I”m mildly allergic to capsaicin (the active ‘heat’ ingredient in peppers and pepper spray), so I’m a bit more sensitive than most.

The other problem with canned soup: it’s WAY too liquidy for my taste. Cream-based soups should be distinctly thicker than water-based soups. If your onion soup and your chowder flow exactly the same way, then I’m sorry, but you’ve screwed the pooch big time.

My original plan was to heat it up and dump it over rice so it wouldn’t be so liquidy, but then I opened up the cupboard and found that we HAD no quick rice. It would take a half-hour, at the minimum, to make a single serving. So what’s a girl to do?

Find breadcrumbs, oatmeal, and cheese, then throw in a toasted English muffin for good measure.

Get the soup nice and hot. Toss in a handful of bread crumbs and a handful of oatmeal and let cook for about five minutes – just long enough to make the oatmeal lose its crunch. When the soup looks thick enough for you, add a handful of cheddar cheese and stir to melt. Drop half of an English muffin in the bottom of the bowl, pour in soup, and stick the other half in the side of the bowl.

It ends up looking something like this


And tasting like an enchilada on a buttermilk biscuit – which, I promise, is better than it sounds. The texture of the English muffin means that the piece on the bottom doesn’t get soggy, even after sitting in soup for twenty minutes.

The best part? The can of soup has a total of 360 calories, the oatmeal has ~15, the breadcrumbs are sitting pretty at 10, and the cheese adds roughly 30. Without the English muffins, the soup comes out to 415 calories – not bad for a quick winter lunch. With the English muffin, the whole bowl is 535. A little heavier, but certainly not a deal-breaker. Especially since I’m not prone to snacking or eating breakfast.

Go forth, experiment, and stay golden, my friends.

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Green Bean Casserole

We all know the basic green-bean casserole – throw some green beans and bacon in a pan, cover in crunchy onions, cook until it looks done.

But there’s a better way.

What you’ll need

  • 2 cans condensed cream of ___ soup (we used cream of chicken)
  • 3 lbs. green beans (we used frozen and just thawed them out; it’s much cheaper than buying fresh)
  • 1 lb. bacon, cooked (the ‘odds and ends’ you find at the store for cheaper than sliced bacon is okay to use, as are bacon bits, which are actually vegan)
  • 1 bag curly fries, cooked
  • 1 container crunchy onions/French fried onions/you all know exactly what I mean
  • Cheddar cheese, shredded
  1. Mix green beans, bacon, and condensed soup. Layer half into bottom of 9×13
  2. Layer cooked curly fries
  3. Spoon rest of green bean mixture into pan
  4. Crunchy onion it up
  5. Top with cheddar
  6. Bake 15-20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is golden brown. (Depending on your oven, you may need to use your broiler.)

Serves…a lot. We made this yesterday; there was about half of it left, so 8 dinner-sized portions or so.

Again, this is easily made vegetarian by making use of bacon bits instead of real bacon, and vegan by both omitting cheese (or using vegan cheese) and using bacon bits.

Stay golden, everyone!

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Kitchen experiment: Potato soup

My mother asked me to make potato soup. I looked up some recipes, but they all seemed to use things we don’t have, like chicken broth. (Speaking of which, did you know that if you opened a can of it three years after it expires, it’s congealed? Shocking!)

So this is my attempt to make potato soup with a basic recipe outline and a vague idea of what my mother wants.

2 quarts broth, any kind (or 3 tbsp bouillon + 2 quarts [8 cups] water); I used turkey because it’s what we had

4 large potatoes, chopped (6-ish cups, maybe?)

1 yellow onion, diced

1 red pepper, chopped

4 stalks celery, sliced

~1 1/2 tbsp. minced garlic

6-ish tbsp. butter

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Melt butter in large pot on medium-low heat
  1. Mix vegetables, potato, salt, pepper, and garlic in large bowl.
  2. Cook potato mix, stirring occasionally, until onions are clear. (This may need to be done in two batches, depending on the size of your pot.)
  3. Add broth; cover and simmer on low heat until potatoes are soft.
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Ear cuff

By following this tutorial, I created an ear cuff! My mother’s birthday is coming up, and she’s repeatedly told us that she really likes ear cuffs. So it was only natural for me to swing by Wal-Mart and pick up post earrings.

On the left side is the completed ear cuff. On the right is the necklace I picked up from the clearance section at Charmin’ Charlies for about $5 – a fantastic deal for the amount of beads and chain I got.

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Chicken-Rice Bake

This is an old family favorite. It takes about an hour and a half to make from start to finish.


  • 6 cups cooked rice
  • Chicken breasts (I used 3 here, but they were pretty gigantic. Use one chicken breast for each serving.)
  • 1 can Cream of Celery soup
  • 1 tomato OR 1 can diced tomato
  • Cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp. butter or margarine
  • Handful breadcrumbs
  • 9×13 pan
  1. Cook 6 cups rice
  2. While rice is cooking, trim chicken breasts. If the chicken is extremely thick, butterfly it.
  3. Slice tomato, if not using canned
  4. Slice cheese into thin strips
  5. When rice is done, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Spread rice in bottom of pan
  7. Top with chicken. (Image 1 above)
  8. Cover chicken with tomato.
  9. Spread cream of celery soup over tomato
  10. Put on sliced cheese.
  11. Melt 1 tbsp. butter or margarine in microwave
  12. Add handful of breadcrumbs to butter and mix until crumbly
  13. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture on top
  14. Bake in oven for 30-45 minutes or until chicken is cooked.

Et voila! Easy chicken dinner.

The great thing about this is how easy it is to customize. You can use any cream of X soup you’d like; you may even be able to use a bisque, though I’ve never tried. You can change the type of cheese used. You can marinate the chicken overnight to add more flavor.

Experiment! As always, let me know what you come up with.

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Homemade Tomato Sauce

My father absolutely hates pre-made tomato sauce, so he’s taught me to make it from scratch. I much prefer it to the canned stuff.

You will need:

  • 2 large cans crushed tomato (I like Tuttorosso with basil)
  • 1 small can diced tomato
  • 1 green pepper, diced fine
  • 1-2 onions, diced fine
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic (suggested, but I personally like 2 full heads)
  • Brown sugar
  • Oil
  • Basil, oregano, Italian seasonings
  • 1 lb. ground meat (optional, but if you decide to make a meat sauce, I would advise going with medium or hot sausage instead of beef; hot Italian sausage, cooked and de-cased, is wonderful. Just make sure it isn’t breakfast sausage!)
  1. Put diced pepper, garlic, and onion in a large saucepan and add basil, oregano, and Italian seasoning to taste. 
  2. Sweat on medium-high heat until soft.
  3. While the peppers and onions are sweating, brown meat. Drain.
  4. Add diced and crushed tomato. Fill one large can with water and add slowly, stirring. Allow sauce to come to a slow boil.
  5. Reduce heat and add a small handful of brown sugar.
  6. Let simmer until cooked down, stirring occasionally.
  7. Add browned meat and let simmer for 10-20 minutes.

The brown sugar cuts the bitterness of canned tomatoes and helps to neutralize some of the acidity. If you (or someone you’re cooking for) has acid reflux or anything along those lines, adding brown sugar helps.

The nice thing about this recipe is that you can adjust the recipe to taste however you want it. Bare-bones tomato sauce, you throw together some diced and crushed tomatoes with a bit of water and simmer. Everything else is trim to make it taste better.

Any leftover can be refrigerated for up to a month or frozen basically forever.

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