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Frugal Food Friday: Revamp Your Holiday Leftovers

Christmas has come and gone, and in its wake remains an abundance of leftovers. Like a trail of breadcrumbs in the woods, these leftovers are leading me farther from my diet goals and closer to caloric ruin, bite by glorious bite.

Sigh…

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Alas, I can’t bring myself to throw anything away because, well, my Babci is watching me from heaven and my frugal nature simply won’t allow it. So instead, I have set out to give new life to my leftovers and to share them with others…you know, redistribute the calories. Plus, in doing so, I’ll save myself another trip to the grocery store and therefore spend less money on groceries. There’s no shortage of places to bring these revamped dishes. In my family, the holiday celebrations don’t end just because Christmas is over. We pretty much keep going through New Year’s Day.

So I took a long hard look at what I had in my fridge, did a quick Pinterest search for inspiration, and whipped up a few easy recipes. And I’m quite pleased with how they turned out.

Behold.

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Turkey Salad with Grapes & Pecans
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Cheesy Mashed Potato “Cups” (this photo doesn’t do justice to their crispy deliciousness)
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Meat and Cheese Frittata

Because you probably have similar items lurking in your fridge, I thought I’d share the “recipes” (a.k.a. little o’ this, little o’ that) I followed in case you are similarly motivated to fatten up your friends and family use up your leftovers.

What I started with:

  • turkey
  • mashed potatoes
  • hella cheese (blue, goat, Havarti dill, Gouda)
  • assorted dry-cured/cooked/smoked meats (salami, Serrano ham, prosciutto)

Other random odds and ends:

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  • eggs
  • spinach
  • grapes
  • pecans
  • fresh thyme
  • fresh sage
  • lemon

Much of our other leftover food was able to be frozen, but I only have so much freezer space and some of these things just don’t freeze well.

Turkey Salad

I started with my tried and true recipe for chicken salad, only this time the star of the show was my husband’s perfectly roasted turkey. Here’s what I used:

  • 2 cups turkey, chopped
  • 1 cup red grapes, halved
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup mayo, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

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  1. Add all ingredients to a large bowl
  2. Stir to combine.
  3. Eat on a sandwich or green salad (no dressing needed)!

Cheesy Mashed Potato “Cups”

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Cranberry Goat Cheese Mashed Potato “Cups”

I call these “cups” for lack of a better word. “Muffins” didn’t quite feel right, nor did “mounds of cheesy goodness”, though the latter was a close second. I could have used my one mini-muffin pan, but that would have taken a week with all the batches I made.

Instead, I used standard sized muffin pans for the majority of the mix and a single batch of minis just to see how they’d turn out. I will say that the mini “cups” (or “bites” if you will) turned out firmer and more finger-food friendly. However, the full sized “cups” were just as delicious and still crisped up nicely on the bottom and sides. I used the following ingredients:

  • 4 cups leftover mashed potatoes, as prepared
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup crumbled cheese (I actually made two batches, one with blue cheese and one with cranberry goat cheese – YUMMMM)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons mayo (for a little moisture and because I didn’t have sour cream)
  • pepper to taste (I didn’t add any additional salt because the mashed potatoes and cheese were already salty enough)
  • zest of 1 fresh lemon
  • cooking spray or butter to coat the muffin pans

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  1. Add all ingredients to a large bowl, reserving 2 tablespoons of crumbled cheese.
  2. Mix well with a fork.
  3. Spray or grease muffin pan. Distribute mix among 12 muffin cups (for smaller, firmer cups, make 2 batches of 12).
  4. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cover tops with tin foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until sides appear browned and crispy.
  6. Serve immediately or cool and refrigerate in an airtight container to eat later.

Meat and Cheese Frittata

This was so easy. Here’s what I used:

  • 1 ¼ cups block cheese, chopped (I used Havarti dill and Gouda because that’s what I had)
  • ¾ cup dry-cured/cooked/smoked meats, chopped
  • 12 large eggs
  • ½ cup half-and-half or milk
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
  • pepper to taste

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  1. Whisk together eggs, half-and-half, and pepper in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Place chopped meats, cheeses, spinach, and herbs in a 9×13 inch casserole dish. Mix all ingredients until evenly distributed over the bottom of the dish.
  3. Pour egg mixture over the top.
  4. Cook at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes or until eggs are mostly set and top is slightly browned.
  5. Cover top with tin foil. Bake an additional 15 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean.

And voila! Three simple and delicious recipes to share, all made with sad, sorry, little leftovers. I like to think that Babci is smiling down at me and nodding her head in approval.

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This small, conscious effort has not only allowed me to stay within budget (hello New Year’s resolutions!), but has reduced the food waste that is so hard to avoid around the holidays.

How do you reduce food waste/breathe new life into leftovers/stay within your food budget? Leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you.

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