By Linda Larsen
The week between Christmas and New Year's is filled with bargain hunting at after-Christmas sales, gift exchanges and returns, parties - and leftovers! Most of us have turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, roast beef, or cranberry sauce sitting in the refrigerator, covered with foil and plastic wrap. And lots of candy canes on the tree.
Big chunks of meat are too good to waste, and boring if not treated with imagination. Casseroles, soups, stratas, and stuffed pastas are some of my favorite ways to transform meats into delicious meals. And leftovers should be used quickly, for food safety reasons. Turkey should be eaten within two or three days. Ham lasts a little longer - four or five days. Roast beef should also be used within a few days. Freezing these ingredients will keep them safe and delicious for about a month.
You don't have to spend this week making ham or turkey sandwiches. Cranberry sauce is a wonderful dessert ingredient. Mashed potatoes can be an elegant filling for beef rolls. And ham is delicious in pasta, soups, and a crispy, savory filo roll. I love turkey in a rich cheese sauce, layered over toasted english muffins and broiled until bubbly. Roast beef is excellent in manicotti, and in a delicious spinach salad. And leftover Christmas cookies aren't leftover - they're meant to be eaten!
Try these delicious recipes using the remains of your Christmas feast to make wonderful meals and treats. They are, of course, good enough to serve to company. But also treat your family to a warm, comforting meal on one of the cold and crisp days after Christmas.
Ham Stuffed Manicotti
14 manicotti pasta shells
Cook manicotti as directed on package. Drain, rinse in cool water and set aside. Meanwhile, cook onion, garlic, and green bell pepper in 4 Tbsp. butter or olive oil until tender. Add ham and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup butter or olive oil
3 cups cooked cubed ham
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
6 Tbsp. flour
3 cups milk
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.
In another heavy saucepan, cook 6 Tbsp. butter or olive oil until foamy. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture bubbles, about 3 minutes. Add milk, and cook, whisking constantly, until sauce thickens. Stir in cheese. Mix 1/4 of cheese sauce with ham mixture.
Fill manicotti shells with ham mixture (your fingers work best for this; it's messy, but most efficient). Spread about 1/2 cup cheese sauce in greased 13x9" glass baking dish and arrange filled shells over sauce. If there is any leftover stuffing, just sprinkle it over the filled shells. Pour remaining cheese sauce over filled manicotti. At this point the casserole can be cooled in the refrigerator, then wrapped and frozen up to 3 months. To thaw and reheat, thaw casserole overnight in refrigerator, then uncover, sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and bake at 350 degrees F for 40-50 minutes. If not freezing casserole, sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until bubbly. Serves 8.
Cranberry Grilled Chicken
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
Combine onion, ketchup, brown sugar, and cranberry sauce in medium saucepan and cook over low heat until mixture is combined and sauce is melted.
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
8 oz. can jellied cranberry sauce
3 lb. frying chicken, cut up
Grill chicken 4-6" from coals for 40-60 minutes, until chicken is thoroughly cooked and juices run clear.
Brush with cranberry glaze during last 15 minutes of cooking time.
Heat remaining glaze to a boil after chicken is cooked and boil for 3 minutes; serve glaze with chicken. 4 servings.
1/4 cup butter
Heat butter in heavy saucepan. Add onion and cook and stir until tender. Sprinkle in flour and cook, stirring, until mixture bubbles. Cook for 1 minute. Add chicken broth and cream and stir well with wire whisk.
1 onion, finely chopped
3 Tbsp. flour
1 cup chicken broth or turkey broth
1/2 cup cream
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 cup shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups cooked turkey or chicken, sliced
4 English muffins, split with fork and toasted
Bring to boiling and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir a small amount of sauce into the egg yolks to heat and temper. Stir tempered egg yolk mixture into the rest of the sauce and return saucepan to heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly. remove from heat and stir in cheeses. Stir until smooth and melted.
Place sliced turkey or chicken on each split, toasted English muffin and pour sauce over each. Sprinkle with more cheese, if desired, and broil 2-3 minutes until lightly browned and bubbly. Watch this carefully while broiling! 4 servings.
Join the Cook'n Club!
An unbeatable value with exclusive benefits for members only.
Enjoy articles like this and many other benefits when you join the Cook'n Club.