Throw a Leftover Party

November 27th 2009

dinnerwareturkey Throw a Leftover PartyChances are no matter where you were yesterday for Thanksgiving, you have leftovers. Even if you didn’t host dinner, you probably had a bag of leftovers packed up and sent with you. Relatives and friends alike love to think they’re helping us out. Especially when they are overwhelmed with leftovers themselves.

You could heat and eat the same old meal. Or you can think of each dish as a single ingredient and create some new dishes in a mini Iron Chef competition with yourself. By creating new dishes you’ll stretch your food budget, and surprise yourself with your creativity.

Have a pizza shell in the fridge or some dough in the freezer? Try making pizza with some of your leftovers. Try bbq turkey with shredded turkey, pre-made bbq sauce, chopped onions and bell pepper. Add some drained, canned pineapple if you’re feeling adventurous. You could also toss some turkey in pesto sauce spread over a crust, top it off with crumbled goat cheese and some leftover cranberry sauce. Make a vegetarian pizza with sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce on a crust covered in a garlic butter sauce.

Pasta is another great option. You could make a left over casserole with whole wheat ziti, turkey, leftover veggies, Use leftover gravy or a mushroom sauce to bind everything together. Toast leftover dressing and crumble over the top.

Turkey lasagna with a sweet potato cream sauce and spinach is another favorite. Or try egg noodles combined with turkey and green bean casserole – add a little milk to loosen it up if needed.

Have some leftover creamed corn? Try mixing it with diced pepperoncini peppers, and some turkey or grilled shrimp. Toss the mixture with angel hair pasta. Creamed corn is also the perfect base for a corn chowder. Just add milk, diced red peppers, cubed potatoes, more frozen corn if needed, and some fresh thyme. It’s my favorite cold weather soup.

If you made the turkey at your house this year, you can use the carcass to make turkey broth. It freezes great. You can put it in quart containers, or freeze in ice cube trays and store in Ziploc bags. It’s great to be able to take out a few cubes of stock at a time. Much better than opening a carton of stock for a few tablespoons worth.

Don’t forget the power of omelets. Any of the mixtures above would work great. Turkey and goat cheese is one of my favorites, but you can use any cheese you have on hand. Omelets are perfect for using up the tiniest leftovers.

Take these ideas and invite some of your friends over for a Thanksgiving leftover party. It just may be the least expensive party you’ve thrown all year!

Posted by Myriam under Fall Entertaining & Holiday Entertaining & Hostessing & Occasions & Recipes | No Comments »

Turkey Alternatives for Thanksgiving

November 17th 2009

dinnerware turkey Turkey Alternatives for Thanksgiving

Sometimes a tradition seems like a perfect fit, but it’s always ok to stretch your culinary muscles. Some families do ham instead of turkey, but I want to get you thinking about a few main dishes that are less ordinary. In fact, they’re so delicious you’ll want to serve them all year round.

One reason to skip the turkey this year is to avoid all the leftovers. If you are just a couple or small family, you’ve probably had enough of turkey sandwiches and tetrazzini to last a lifetime. While you can always freeze turkey for another time, you could choose something less expensive and put that money towards holiday presents.

You could stick close to the usual theme and cook up some turkey cutlets. Rachel Ray cooks up some Turkey Cutlets with Corn, Sage and Prosciutto Stuffing. Or try Bon Appétit’s Turkey Cutlets with Brussels Sprouts and Dried Cranberries to pack all the flavors of the holidays into one dish.

Make a vegetarian traditional dish, stuffed winter squash. You could use your favorite stuffing, add your favorite sausage (meaty or veggie), apples, and celery in butternut or acorn squash. Take a look at this recipe to get a few ideas, Acorn Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice, Hazelnuts and Dried Cranberries.

Pot pie is an American favorite. You can fill it with minced poultry meat or leave it just veggies. Add in a cream sauce, cheese, or mushroom gravy to top your filling and sandwich it in 2 pie crusts. Meat loaf is another cheap and easy option. This Turkey Meatloaf with Mushrooms and Herbs is a step above the everyday meatloaf.

Make a stew in a pumpkin, a seasonal risotto, or try a pumpkin lasagna out. You don’t have to be without gravy for your mashed potatoes. You can even buy organic turkey gravy in the soup section of Whole Foods, and you can make mushroom gravy with no meat drippings. Why not try some stuffing muffins to go under all that tasty gravy? You can eat a couple and then freeze the rest for another meal.

Don’t forget your side dishes. If you do lasagna or pot pie, you will need to skip the mashed potatoes. But you can still make an assortment of vegetables, and without spending all that time on the turkey you’ll have time to make some new favorites. Add a spinach salad, cooked greens, Brussels sprouts to the traditional sweet potatoes and green beans. It’s your Thanksgiving. Start some of your family’s traditions this year.

Posted by Myriam under Holiday Entertaining & Seasonal Entertaining & Thanksgiving | No Comments »

Plan Your Way to an Easier Thanksgiving

November 13th 2009

dinnerware pumpkin with autumn corn Plan Your Way to an Easier Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is coming up fast, so you need to start thinking about it now. No matter how busy you are now, it will only seem worse the closer to turkey day that you begin. Making a plan isn’t doing all the work at one time. You will be making a chore list to make your life easier.

The first order of business is to order a turkey if you want a fresh one. You can try local farmers to see if they still have any organic ones. They may cost more, but the taste is worth it. If you’re not interested in a fresh turkey, go ahead and buy a frozen one. Don’t wait too long, or you may find yourself without a turkey on the big day!

Make a menu plan for the big day. If you are having guests bring something, make sure that they tell you what they want to bring now. This way you can fill in any holes yourself. A typical menu would look something like this:

  • wine – I suggest a mix of red, white and rose to give everyone something they’ll like.
  • soda, sparking water, juice
  • slow cooker pear delicata squash soup or other winter squash soup
  • field green salad with chopped apple and dried cranberries
  • turkey
  • cranberry sauce
  • stuffing
  • mashed potatoes
  • green bean (regular or in casserole form)
  • sweet potato (baked or in casserole form)
  • creamed corn
  • dinner rolls
  • pumpkin pie, pecan pie, or another of your favorite desserts

Make a shopping list so you don’t find yourself running out to the store at the last minute. Include baking supplies, seasonal vegetables, stuffing mix, and add some Indian corn and mini pumpkins to decorate your table with. Order the list by each store you need to go to make it easier.

Make a list of anything you may need to rent or borrow from friends. I always borrow a few extra chairs and a card table myself. Think about silverware, serving platters, and dinnerware too, are you sure you have enough? Now is a perfect time to bring out you best Noritake plates, and your best silver.

The day before give the bathroom a thorough cleaning and vacuum and mop all the floors. Go ahead and make your pie(s) and soup if it will reheat well. You can even begin to set your table if you don’t have cats that are likely to nap on your clean pressed linens. Take your frozen turkey out of the freezer and put in the fridge for the night. Chill the white and rose wines.

You can setup to have a separate kids table, like the one we all knew growing up. If you do it separate or together cover the tables with matching tablecloths to add some extra ambiance to your dinner. Make a center piece by scattering the Indian corn and mini pumpkins on various places on your table. Go ahead and put wine glasses and coffee cups on the table, so you have less running around to do during your dinner party.

The morning of Thanksgiving cook the Turkey, stuffing, and other dishes that need to be made the day you eat them. Set the table early if you didn’t set it the night before. Open the red wine to breathe. Go ahead and open the chilled wines as well and put them in an ice chest to keep it cool.

Most importantly take a half hour before your guest arrive and enjoy the feeling of having everything ready before the last minute!

Posted by Myriam under Decorations & Holiday Entertaining & Hostessing & Seasonal Entertaining & Thanksgiving | No Comments »