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Leftover Food Tips

Useful, economical and clever tips for putting leftover foods to good use.

For great recipe ideas for leftover turkey, explore our After Thanksgiving Day Leftover-Makeover Recipes.

To heat leftover tortillas, grease a skillet lightly with oil and place over medium heat. Dip tortillas in water and quickly steam-sauté them on both sides.

One way to freshen stale rolls is to seal them in a brown paper bag, sprinkle the outside with water, then heat 10 to 15 minutes in a 350°F (175°C) oven.

Crumble leftover biscuits and freeze for use later as a quick cobbler topping, or to add to stuffings.

Combine leftover mashed potatoes with chopped onion and shredded cheese, then bake. Tastes like twice-baked potatoes without the work!

Leftover spaghetti noodles? Add diced raw vegetables and enough bottled Italian dressing to coat for an easy and refreshing salad! Or they make a great addition to stir-fry. Stir-fry noodles in 2 tablespoons hot oil for a few minutes; remove and set aside. Prepare your stir-fry and stir in the "fried" noodles last and you've got instant chow mein!

Form balls of leftover mashed potatoes around cubes of cheese, roll in Parmesan cheese or crumbs and broil until golden brown. Yummy!

Keep special carafes handy for red and white wines left over from the dinner table. When you've collected enough, use in sauces and salad dressings.

Cool leftover homemade French toast, pancakes or waffles, then freeze in single layers. Once frozen, store in self-sealing plastic bags. Pop in your toaster to reheat.

You can use potato cooking water as the liquid in making bread — it's a great flavor enhancer.

Speaking of potato water, mashed potatoes have a lighter and fluffier texture when the drained cooking water is used in place of milk. Adds less calories, too.

Use celery tops to flavor meats, stews, soups, salads, sandwich spreads and stuffings.

To make leftover fruit pie taste "just-baked," wrap in foil and warm 10 minutes in a 350°F (180°C) oven.

To use leftover egg yolks, poach yolks until firm, cool completely and press through a sieve. Use as a garnish in salads and soups.

Use the liquid from canned vegetables in soups, sauces, stews and casseroles.

Leftover veggies from a relish tray can be used in soups, stews or salads. Or, slice and sauté until tender to fill an omelet or use as a filler for meat loaf.

If you're making fudge and the batch doesn't harden, refrigerate and crumble into pieces. Store in the freezer. Use the chilled pieces in cookie dough or brownies as you would chocolate chunks or chips.

Don't discard those end pieces of cheese. Grate them and freeze in a zipper-style freezer bag. Use in any recipe calling for the addition of shredded cheese before cooking or baking.

Use leftover beef, chicken or pork to make an easy pot pie, stir-fry, a chef's salad, chopped sandwich salad/spread, skillet hash or fajita-style tortilla wraps.

Add leftover crumbled sausage meat to buttermilk pancake or waffle batter, or corn muffin batter.

To extend a little leftover meat into another meal, combine with cooked rice, macaroni or pasta, a can of creamed soup, half a can of milk or water, a sprinkling of garlic and/or onion powder and place in a greased casserole, sprinkle with shredded cheese and heat uncovered in a 350°F (175°C) oven until hot and cheese is melted and lightly browned.

Freeze leftover breads and rolls to use for homemade croutons, crumbs or stuffing at a later date.

Don't pour out leftover coffee. Freeze it into coffee ice cubes for iced coffee or other iced drinks. The same goes for tea.

Save those meat drippings! Defat and store in the refrigerator or freezer. Use as a flavor enhancer in casseroles, sauces, gravies and such.

How-To's & Tips Index