Holiday Leftover Reruns

Reinvent rather than resurface, just take a little time and add some imagination to create new dishes from your holiday leftover. You will be able to present sensational soups or salads and create new casseroles. No one will notice that it is a repeat meal. Even potatoes can reveal unsuspected talent and you can go behind the scenes with this holiday leftover.

Holiday Leftover Reruns Go Incognito

Having leftovers after the big holiday meal is not always a bad thing. As a matter of fact, many families actually look forward to these repeat performances. What you don't want is to have to settle for the same old holiday leftover sandwich. With a little bit of prep time and some imagination, you can create new ways to enjoy your holiday favorites. Let's take a look at some creative ideas to re-purpose your holiday leftovers.

Soup Sensations

Start your reinvention by creating a soup stock out of the turkey carcass. Once you have your stock, you have the beginnings for meals that don't resemble a sandwich in the least. Make a simple turkey soup by dicing up some of the leftover turkey, then add to the stock with vegetables and noodles or rice for a hearty meal. Don't forget to include other leftovers in your turkey soup ideas. Sweet potatoes, processed until they're smooth, then thinned with turkey stock makes a wonderful smooth and satisfying soup.

You can make other familiar soups, as well. If you have leftover ham and a ham bone, for instance, you can make a wonderful minestrone soup. With leftover corn or crudite, you've got a good start. Your ham can also be the start to a classic pea soup. Consider using up a few leftovers at the same time. Make your ham stock and stir in leftover mashed potatoes for an wonderful potato and ham chowder. And, don't stop there. Consider the ingredients in green bean casserole; green beans, dairy, mayonnaise, soup, onions; if you puree this particular leftover and add to some stock you have a creamy vegetable soup that can be the base for any chowder.

Salad Without Limits

Simply cutting up leftover turkey, ham, or other meat and topping a big lettuce salad can be a treat. Now look at your other leftovers. Are there still radishes, carrot sticks, celery stalks, olives, and cheese left from the holiday meal? Throw them on the green salad. And don't stop there. Are those nuts I see on the buffet? Perfect topping for your salad. You can even whisk together a little leftover cranberry sauce or cranberry and orange relish with balsamic vinegar and create a unique dressing for your turkey and greens salad.

Of course, you can expand your salad beyond the lettuce with topping style. Cut up your leftover meats and mix in a vinaigrette or salad dressing, stir in leftover corn, celery, radishes, onion, carrots, or even fruit and nuts. Serve in a bowl or over a bed of crunchy lettuce or cabbage. Don't limit yourself to one temperature, either. Go ahead and serve heated or roasted leftover meat or vegetables over greens. Drizzle with olive oil and vinaigrette for a nice combination of hot and cold, sweet and tangy. Toss in leftover cranberry sauce, too, hot or cold.

Casserole Creations

These one dish meals are already a hodgepodge of ingredients mixed together to form an easy to make meal, so why not make a holiday casserole full of your favorite ingredients? Stack the mashed potatoes and stuffing and turkey to make a super simple holiday version of shepherd's pie. Want to stretch your creation a little more? Roast any leftover vegetables from your crudite tray and put in a casserole dish, then top with slices of turkey. Then spread the leftover cranberry sauce or relish over the turkey, cover and bake. You have a turkey vegetable casserole that has the tangy surprise of the cranberries.

Leftover green bean casserole is always a fun challenge. Yes, you can reheat and serve it up again as a side dish. Or you could incorporate it into a big, beautiful scalloped ham and potato dish. The flavors and textures are perfect when you put them all together. Green bean casserole is also the perfect addition to a pot pie or shepherd's pie. Leftover mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and sweet potatoes are also perfectly suited to use in casseroles, either as the bottom or top, or to thicken liquid ingredients. And don't forget the buffet snacks. If you have nuts, cheese, olives, or other goodies leftover, try to incorporate them, too.

Bread Gets a Boost

A fun substitution to try is using mashed white potatoes instead of flour in a quick bread. Try using about one cup of mashed white potatoes as a substitute for two cups of flour in your recipe and get a dough that is more moist and has more flavor than your typical homemade dough.

Another bread boost is using leftover sweet potato casserole, especially the sweetened recipe type, in a quick bread that normally calls for another moist ingredient, like zucchini or apple. If you've got the cinnamon-marshmallow casserole already, the bread turns out very delicious and fun. You can also add leftover vegetables to any quick bread recipe to add color and nutrition. And don't forget leftover cheese or nuts.

Sauces Get a Second Audition

Gravy and cranberry sauce are two versatile ingredients that may go overlooked if you're overwhelmed with turkey, potatoes, and stuffing. After a holiday dinner, chances are you will have a few sauces left over. Gravy seems to grow in the bowl, so start by rethinking beyond the potato topping sauce. Of course you can use the gravy to pour over sliced turkey in a casserole. You can also use the gravy to make hot shredding turkey sandwiches. But, the gravy is also basically a thickening agent, making it a perfect addition in creating thick, dark stews and casseroles.

Your leftover cranberry sauce is a natural choice to make muffins or quick breads. Cranberry orange relish makes a sweet and tangy salad dressing when whisked with a little vinegar and olive oil. You can also use this sweet relish in baking cookies. Pair cranberry orange relish with a soft cheese for a great appetizer. Cranberry sauce, without or without the oranges, makes an excellent glaze for grilled pork, too. You will definitely want to plan for leftover cranberry sauce after all these ideas.

You don't have to be satisfied with eating the same holiday meal over and over again until your leftovers are gone. Be creative and unique. Use your leftover ingredients to make something new that your family will love – and won't recognize!

Potatoes Have Hidden Talents

Leftover mashed potatoes are often the last thing you want to face for days or weeks after the big feast over the holidays. Everything else gets used up, but there's that bowl of mashed potatoes, still sitting there. Finding creative ways to use mashed potatoes in repeat performances is easier than you think. Let's take a look at a few ways to reuse your leftover potatoes so you will never again be faced with a bowl of spoiled potatoes in your refrigerator.


Believe it or not, potatoes actually make an amazing flour substitute. If you ever find yourself running low on flour, but have a plethora of mashed potatoes, you are still in luck. One cup of mashed potatoes is proportional to two cups of flour when it comes to baking. This is where potato rolls or potato bread typically come from. Sure, your bread will be a little denser than you might be accustomed to, but it will have a unique flavor that just can't be beat. You can also use potatoes in addition to using flour to purposely create a heavier, starchier bread.


It always seems like pancake batter never quite makes as many pancakes as the box calls for. Here is another great place where potatoes can come in and save the day. You can use mashed potatoes in your pancake batter to help extend the batter. Just mix in two cups of mashed potatoes in place of one cup of pancake batter and your family and friends will rave about your homemade pancakes. You can also add potatoes along with the regular batter recipe to create more of a side dish pancake, a potato pancake. Include savory ingredients like onions and thyme to serve alongside a main dish like grilled pork tenderloin, chicken, or steak.

Cakes and Cookies

Just like with breads, cakes and cookies can also take the potato substitute for flour. Of course, your cake and pastries will be a little more dense and rich to the palate, but you will be surprised at how great the recipe turns out. A mixture of potatoes and applesauce, for instance produces a moist, heavy pound cake, meant to be served sliced with a heavy syrup or topping like a compote. Drop cookies benefit from the addition or substitution of potatoes because they hold the shape nicely and have a sturdy look and texture.


When making your favorite casserole recipes with cans of cream soup, consider instead using potatoes as a substitute for the soup. Generally speaking, once you get the casserole main ingredients together, all you need is a binding agent, something to bring it all together and give it a creamy texture. Mashed potatoes can do that. The starch in potatoes is often used to help thicken dishes, so you can use this same technique in casseroles. Dilute your mashed potatoes in a bit of chicken or turkey broth, mix in a food processor until smooth, season as needed, then add to you casserole recipe. The potatoes will not only replace the canned soup in the casserole, but they will also add a new level of flavor and nutrition to the dish. This is one starchy carb that gives you something back in fiber.


Yes, of course you can make potato soup out of leftover mashed potatoes, but as with the casserole trick, you can use potatoes simply as a soup thickener. For instance, if you're making a creamy broccoli cheese soup that just seems too thin, don't panic. Put some leftover mashed potatoes in the food processor and blend until smooth, thinning to blend with a bit of milk or broth. When smooth and thick, stir into the soup. Without adding any flour or cornstarch you have a thicker, creamier soup. Use this trick any time you cook a cream soup or chowder. The added bonus is if you mashed your potatoes with cream cheese, sour cream, or just some milk, that just improves the soup even more. And, don't stop there. If you're cooking a stew that doesn't seem to be making that nice thick stick-to-the-spoon sauce, use the same smoothly whipped potatoes and thicken it up.

Having a nice supply of leftover mashed potatoes may not be such a bad thing after all. Once you've made your fill of Shepherd's Pie, Potato Ham Chowder, and Potato Patties, put your leftover mashed potatoes to work for you behind the scenes!