If you mark out every passing day on your calendar, you will notice there is not much left to mark out. The year 2016 is coming to a close and what a year this has been. In the culinary world, Sous Vide cooking is becoming mainstream and affordable for home preparation. Southern Cuisine is still popular and has the attention of the up and coming chefs trying to put their mark in the restaurant world. Putting attention on making dishes healthier and using locally source products. This is my third December to write the article Southern Cuisine for the Alabama Gazette. Hopefully, I have had a positive influence in your cooking, menu choices and shopping habits. Oh, there was an election! Comments about the outcome and influence this election will have on the country have been about everything except how it is going to change the eating habits of Americans!
Since this is not a political op-ed article, I'll stick with the culinary topics. Even though I majored in Political Science, I get more satisfaction using my skills from my Chef's training and working for hotels with large banquet kitchens then I do watching a bunch of talking heads on TV talking over each other. I look forward to the food commercials!
It seems the topics of the commercials, cooking magazines, TV cooking channels and specialty cooking programs now showing are what to do with the leftovers from Thanksgiving, what to prepare for Christmas dinner and how to feed all the friends and relatives that are in your home between those two meals. My first reaction is to feed everyone the leftovers from Thanksgiving, but that won't make it all the way to Christmas. If it does, you made too much food in the first place also the leftovers would not be fit to eat if they were in the refrigerator for that long.
There is some enjoyment waiting for the leftover meals, for most people! I know friends and relatives that refuse to eat leftovers. My first reaction is "Alright, more for everyone else" But then, I think they are already bored eating the same food again. So maybe if we could "re-purpose" the food. I'm not sure if this is using the word correctly, but if the food was originally made for dinner, re-purpose it for breakfast. Not just cutting up and adding turkey to your eggs in the morning or making tacos, my favorite, out of all the leftovers. An example I have made and received good reviews is turning dressing into waffles. Waffles can be breakfast, brunch or even dinner and if you still get resistance about serving "dressing" again, freeze the waffles for another day.
The waffles won't be the "Belgium" waffle type with lots of syrup and whipped cream and fruit. These will be savory and the waffles could replace the English muffins in Eggs Benedict and replace the toast in a Texas Breakfast Sandwich or replace the biscuits for a Sausage Gravy Waffle. If you froze the waffles for later use, they would be perfect for Chicken and Waffles.
The original recipe I used came from justataste.com. The waffle is crispy and moist and tender. The original recipe is named Leftover Stuffing Waffles, but we don't serve stuffing below the Mason-Dixon Line.
LEFTOVER DRESSING EGG BENEDICT WAFFLES
4+ cups crumbled leftover dressing Notes: works best with a basic dressing, with no large chunks of vegetables or sausage, remove large pieces before cooking. And it will take longer to cook than regular waffles
2 large eggs for mix, Chicken stock as needed, 4 poached eggs, 4 slices of leftover ham, heated, Hollandaise Sauce as needed
Preparation time: 10 minutes - Cook time: about 5 minutes - Yield: 4 waffles (I used a square 4 waffle iron)
1. Preheat waffle iron and coat with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl mix room temperature dressing, eggs and 1/3 cup stock.
3. Keep mixing and adding stock until you end up with well-moistened mix that you should be able to spread over waffle iron in an even and thin layer. The mixture will not spread out like a batter.
4. Close lid and bake until golden brown and crispy.
5. Break waffle into four pieces and place on 4 plates.
6. Top the waffle with warmed ham, then a poached egg and top with Hollandaise.
I have a recipe for Hollandaise Sauce in the December 2015 issue of the Alabama Gazette, from The Pioneer Woman.
When I was growing up, the family would sit down for dinner and we ate what our mother fixed. Even if the meal was "must go", everything in the refrigerator must go! There was no," I don't like this, will you fix me something else?" There was no option that I could eat mac and cheese every meal.
My extent of complaining about meals was limited to things like; there wasn't any meat in my mac and cheese, or "Vanilla ice cream again, if Baskin Robbins can have 37 flavors why can't I?" I do eat vanilla ice cream but only after I add chocolate syrup, nuts, jam, powered coffee, molasses, peanut butter or anything else I could find in the refrigerator or cupboard and then mix it all up until the ice cream has melted. And why can't I put those same ingredients in my bowl of oatmeal. And why ruin a bowl of cut up fresh fruit by putting whipped cream on it. Why can't I have a peanut butter, mayonnaise, cheese, lettuce, dill pickle, tomato, and mustard and jalapeno sandwich? I guess that is why I can mix foods that normally would not be served together.
And why can't I have leftover Thanksgiving Sweet Potatoes for breakfast?
SWEET POTATO BREAKFAST BOWL
As much leftover Thanksgiving sweet potatoes you want.
1/2 banana, 1/4 cup milk, Dash cinnamon, Toppings of your choice
Preparation: 5 minutes - Cook time: 1-2 minutes
1. Take leftover sweet potato and mash it up in a microwavable bowl. If you have mashed sweet potato leftovers skip the mashing.
2. Heat for 1 to 2 minutes depending on amount and power of your microwave oven.
3. In your serving bowl, mash up banana and add enough milk to make it extra mushy.
4. Add heated sweet potato and mix.
5. Top with nuts, peanut butter, berries, coconut flakes, granola, syrup or any combination and amount you want.
Other ways to use up sweet potatoes is to whip them up into a pancake batter.
Of course there is the sandwich. A way to eat pretty much anything you want all at once. In a sandwich I can eat my least favorite part of the turkey, the breast. The breast to me needs lots of help to eat as a leftover. You really have to think outside the box.
There is no wrong way to make a sandwich, so you can take these ingredients and put them between two slices of sourdough bread anyway you want to. I do it this way:
Spread a thin coat of Italian salad dressing on a slice of bread. Add slices of turkey breast. Make a mixture of half grape jelly and half steak sauce and spread on top of turkey. Add slices of Swiss cheese and then a layer of potato chips. Then top with the other slice of bread.
One thing that is leftover and usually thrown away but can be utilized for future meals is the turkey carcass itself. Put the carcass, some thyme and a little garlic, and half an onion in a big pot add some water and bring to a boil and then turn to a simmer for as long as you want to reduce the liquid and concentrate the flavor. Let cool and put in zip lock bags and lay flat in freezer to use next time you need a stock for a soup or sauce.
To show you are not trying to pass off nothing but leftovers and you want to introduce something new, try our favorite, Lemon Pie in a Jar! Besides the friends and family that love this, my colleagues at work are hooked! Simple to make, no baking, just the right size and easily transported.
There are many recipes for pie in a jar, some you bake, some you pre-cook the ingredients. This recipe is mix, make and chill.
ANNE'S MASON JAR LEMON PIE
8 ounce package cream cheese
Can sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
1/3 to 1/2 cup lemon juice (how much lemon flavor do you want)
Box Graham Cracker Crumbs
One stick melted butter
1. Clean seven ½ pint mason jars and lids.
2. In a mixing bowl combine two tablespoons brown sugar to 2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs.
3. Add melted butter (one stick) and mix well.
4. Place ¼ cup of the mixed crumbs at bottom of each jar and tamp down to make smooth bottom crust.
5. In a separate mixing bowl, place cream cheese and beat until smooth.
6. Add condensed milk and continue until well mixed.
7. Add egg yolks and continue mixing.
8. Add vanilla and lemon juice and mix until smooth.
9. Then add about ½ cup of lemon mix over the crumb bottom of each jar.
10. Fill about to the bottom rind at neck.
11. Top the jars with Cool-Whip and place lid and ring on jars
12. Refrigerate at least 5 hours to set lemon filling.
Have a Merry Christmas!