Give Your Holiday Leftovers a Lift

Your leftovers don't have to be a reheated repeat of last night's dinner. You can take your leftovers in a whole new direction by thinking about them in a whole new way. It's a challenge to arrange your leftovers into a main course without getting bored, but it can be done. Let's take a look at how to serve up a follow-up meal with as much excitement as the first time around. Spicy Moves Trying to remake your leftovers into a main dish can seem pretty overwhelming at first. But, just like cooking a dish the first time, often the end result depends on the spices and seasonings. Take a look in your spice cabinet and you'll probably see a dozen or more ways to perk things up again. Open your refrigerator and look at the different mustard, salsas, hot sauces, vinegars, and other ingredients that can add new life to your leftovers. Leftover green bean casserole can be given a new Asian inspired direction. Heat with teriyaki, soy sauce, and maybe a little sesame oil, toss with bean sprouts and chopped water chestnuts and wrap in wontons or serve over cooked rice. Instead of just using your leftover turkey in another casserole remake classic, marinade cut up chunks Cajun style in a little cumin, cayenne pepper, thyme, hot sauce, smoked paprika and a bit of oil and vinegar and you have a faux-andouille sausage that you can add to gumbo or jambalaya. Think of the seasonings you like in other meals and take your leftovers for a trip to that side of the taste palate. Put On a Fresh Face Leftovers are often unappreciated as a replayed main course because the dishes just don't have the pizazz they did the night before. One of the reasons is that chilled foods can lose their color, aroma, or texture. It is important, if you want to successfully use your leftovers as a main course, to recreate the appeal in new ways. If mashed potatoes are on the menu two days in a row, using the leftovers the second night takes some planning. The first night you may want to have smashed potatoes instead. Just light smash the potatoes with a hand-held masher with butter, salt and pepper and serve. These rustic potatoes are very appealing the first night, but boring the second. For the repeat, throw the potatoes in a bowl, add room temperature cream cheese, a touch of sour cream, more butter, and even some chopped chives, then whip with an electric mixer until fluffy. Blending in fresh herbs with leftovers that have lost their appeal overnight in the refrigerator is often all it takes to bring back the excitement of your favorite dishes. Costume Change Time It is believed that almost 80% of a dish's enjoyment comes from senses other than taste, like aroma and look. If you take the time to make your dish look appealing and smell divine, it will usually taste better, too. This is especially important for leftovers since you have already experienced the flavors and your palate could get bored if repeated. When you dish up that leftover piece of turkey, is there a pleasing aroma that makes you anxious to enjoy it? The sage, onion, and garlic from the first night's dinner has probably faded in the refrigerator. A blend of these seasonings will make the turkey taste better, or try a totally different blend of aromas. Does a slice of turkey laying flat on a plate look tasty? Maybe not. But, that same turkey could look scrumptious in thin strips tossed in a salad with cheese, fruit, nuts, and crunchy greens. The turkey might in fact have the exact same flavor as it did the first time it was served, but the appearance makes it taste better to you. A variety of color, textures, heights, and aromas can, and does, make your leftovers taste better the second time around. There are lots of ways to turn your leftovers into a great main course the second, third, or even fourth time around. It takes imaginative seasoning, creative construction, an eye for style, and a nose for all the fabulous aromas that cooking has to offer. Does that sound like a tall order? It really isn't, all it takes is experimenting with what you already know to find the talent waiting in the wings!


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