The key to a great food experience around the holidays is extending it as long as possible.
Whether it is a HoneyBaked ham, turkey, prime rib, cookies or just about anything other than a fruit cake, enjoying the leftovers, for some, is even better than the original meal.
When it comes to ham and turkey there are three items needed to keep the holiday cheer going for days.
A good loaf of white, preferably Italian, bread, a ripe tomato and Italian salad dressing (Wishbone brand is essential).
This combination is the real deal. My grandma used to make an extra turkey specifically for leftovers and this very lunch meal. If it was big enough, we’d have it every day until New Year’s Day.
Everyone has different holiday traditions involving the family meal, but one thing is usually true regardless of culture — we all make too much food and then the refrigerator is full for days.
The key is repurposing those meals.
Turkey, for example, can be turned into a turkey club pizza. Combine 1/3 cup of mayonnaise, a 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil and thyme leaves, a pinch of pepper and 2 cups of the turkey (cubed). Spread on pizza dough, cover with shredded Muenster, some bacon, tomatoes and maybe some Swiss and Parmesan cheese.
Leftover rolls or bread can become French toast or bread pudding.
The remaining veggies from that mostly picked vegetable tray can be turned into a quiche or added to a can of vegetable soup (along with some additional beef/chicken broth) to make a super soup.
When it comes to the leftover meat, if the above turkey/ham sandwich didn’t do it for you (trust me, try it), there are plenty of other options.
Take the leftover vegetables, any of the meats, and throw them into a wok with some soy sauce, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots to make a top-notch stir fry.
Or throw the meat, along with your favorite condiments (Wisbone Italian dressing), into a wrap or a pita and enjoy a more carb friendly version of the greatest sandwich ever.
Fajitas are always a good way to repurpose both the vegetables and meat. Fajita seasoning is readily available, or you can make your own with a base of chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, cumin and paprika to taste.
Carne asada (garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, kosher salt, pepper, white vinegar and olive oil) is another way to go with some leftover prime rib.
Turkey gumbo is another nice option. There are plenty of recipe options online that will bring this one to the table. A true gumbo takes a couple hours with a roux as the base, but there are shortcuts for an easier but still tasty meal.
There are plenty of options to clear out that fridge in the days after the holidays.
Done right and it can be similar to another Christmas tradition where a toddler plays with the box the toy came in rather than the toy itself.
Before you know it, those meals in the days following the big spread will be more enjoyable than the initial feast.
• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.