New Life for Leftovers

This week is a good time to create a new life for leftovers. In general I don’t mind leftovers, but I have my limits. Once I’m tired of eating a particular holiday menu item, I like to repurpose it to make it palatable again. If I don’t, I’ll be tempted to throw away perfectly good food.

Leftover plans have to be flexible because I never know exactly what will be eaten, what will be taken home by my family, and what will stay in my refrigerator. When incorporating leftovers into other dishes, I just work from a general framework and make things up as I go.

Turkey quickly becomes a turkey/avocado/bacon wrap using gluten-free tortillas or paleo wraps. Sometimes I go full turkey club by adding tomato, lettuce, and cheese to the wrap.

If you have leftover turkey and gravy, it’s easy to make creamed turkey on toast. It’s the same idea as chipped beef on toast and has that same retro feel of grandma’s kitchen.
This year I ended up with lots of corn. I’m going to use it in Mexican cornbread, but I could make corn/potato chowder or corn casserole. I could also include it along with other veggies in a frittata. Frittatas are always an easy, delicious, gluten-free way to repurpose cooked vegetables.

If you have too much stuffing, consider turning it into a bottom crust for shepherd’s pie. If you have them, the filling can be made with leftover turkey, vegetables, and gravy. If you don’t, create a filling using breakfast sausage, green peas, and a little sour cream. Top off either version with mashed potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes before baking.

Winter weather often accompanies the holidays making warm, cozy soup an appealing option. Mashed potatoes and gravy can become the base for a thick, creamy soup. Corn and green beans can be incorporated into vegetable soup.

Fresh cranberry/orange relish makes the perfect topping for an almond torte. We always have extra relish. We all love it, but it’s not something you want to eat in large servings and it’s such a strong, tart flavor that it doesn’t always pair well with other strong flavors. On the other hand, its strong flavor enhances the mild flavor of the torte.

Last year, I used a leftover sweet potato to create a topping for panna cotta. It was so good everyone asked for it again this year! Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it:

Sweet Potato Topping

1/2 cup cooked sweet potato
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 1/2 tbsp salted butter
1 tbsp heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp honey
Pinch of salt

Place sweet potato and maple syrup in food chopper or blender and purée until smooth. In medium skillet, melt butter. Add puréed sweet potato. Whisk in cream and honey and sprinkle with salt. Cook for a minute or two. Allow to cool.

I’m not sure why I thought to turn that sweet potato into topping, but I’m glad I did. That’s the great thing about creating new life for leftovers; you can end up with unexpectedly good food that would never have been thought of otherwise.

Top Ten Sauces to Avoid When Living Gluten-Free

GravyIf you’re not big on asking questions in a restaurant to determine if the food is gluten-free, here’s a list of the top ten sauces to avoid because, more often than not in a commercial setting, they contain wheat or barley. Of course there may be exceptions to the rule, but if you don’t want to ask, then take the safe route and leave these off your list of options:

Creole Sauce
Créme Sauce
Gravy (All versions – Brown, White, Sausage, etc.)
Soy Sauce
Red or White Wine Sauce or Reduction
Tomato Sauce

Without the sauce, an entrée can be naturally gluten-free. For instance, a hamburger steak with only grilled onions may be a good choice of protein. A grilled pork chop, or fillet mignon sans demi-glace can be a delicious option. Avoid dipping your sushi roll in soy sauce for a lighter, gluten-free main course (choose rolls made without other sauces).

While some restaurants offer a substitution of gluten-free pasta, they may not consider that the thickening used in the sauce for that pasta contains wheat flour. Unless you are extremely familiar with the restaurant and they with your requirements, it is best to have a conversation before ordering a pasta dish.

Of course there is a slight risk of gluten exposure any time you consume food away from your home. That risk is always minimized with good communication. Each of us must weigh this risk against the joy of socializing with our friends and colleagues.

I choose playing with friends! If you do too, use this list and our Cooking2Thrive Server Cards to make the process safe and easy.

Let’s get out there and have a good time! I know I’m going to.

Server card ad