Thanksgiving Leftover Ideas…Because It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Ok, so if you are just joining us, here are some helpful past posts regarding my favorite holiday, specifically my Thanksgiving Planner (which is still my proverbial holiday bible of organization and recipes), the What I Wish I Knew post, and if you want to see a diatribe about the disappearing Thanksgiving, click here. Thanksgiving is my personal Superbowl, and I’ve cooked for crowds both large and small. I love it, but since I cook sooooo freaking much food, I really do need leftover ideas, because the Heathens will balk at eating the same meal for three days afterwards. My leftover approach is two-fold: have a selection of dishes that I make and freeze, then a selection of meal ideas to take us through the long weekend. After spending a small fortune on Thanksgiving, you can bet your behind I’m going to stretch those leftovers like crazy.

So, here’s some options:

Make and Freeze

  • Turkey Tetrazzini–I now use Pioneer Woman’s recipe which I love. I make several batches and freeze them for easy, weeknight meals. The bacon and peas add a great dimension to the turkey and it definitely is a taste profile that is approachable to all of us. I put it in foil pans, and wrap in both foil and plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn. Just be sure to remove the plastic before baking.
  • Turkey and/or Ham Pot Pies–I confess that this is the one post-Thanksgiving dish where I take ALL the shortcuts. I use refrigerated pie crusts, canned soups, canned veggies, and fresh herbs to feel better about myself. I assemble and freeze, then defrost and bake until golden and bubbly. If you are burnt out from cooking, these are a way to get something in the freezer in 10 minutes or less.
  • The ham bone (usually with a few scraps on it)–I freeze this by itself and make 15-bean soup later (crockpot or Instant Pot).
  • Stock–I simmer the turkey carcass with aromatics and freeze for later use.
  • Soups, chili, casseroles etc–These are viable options and pretty much any chicken soup or casserole you can freeze, just swap in the turkey.

Meals

  • The Thanksgiving Panini of Awesomeness–We use the gravy like mayo, then basically pile everything on it, including turkey, ham, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mac and cheese, sweet potatoes, and more. If it’s lying around, it can go in. Grab some French bread and panini all the leftovers into delicious submission.
  • Along those lines, we slap some ham and American cheese between two glazed donuts and panini those in the waffle maker…because it’s sinful and delicious, and waffling makes everything better.
  • These Monte Cristos, but instead of tomato chutney for garnish, I saut√© a little chopped (fresh) jalapeno in butter, then add leftover cranberry sauce, heating until it’s thinned down and sauce-like (think sweet and spicy). These sandwiches are much easier than a mess of the traditional frying.
  • “Funeral Sandwiches”–Google it, but ham has never been happier…except in that donut panini thing. Bear can put down a whole tray of these.
  • Similarly, mix up some turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce, fold into won-ton wrappers, and fry until golden. Wonton and egg roll wrappers offer plenty of options to mad-scientist your way through creative leftover mash-ups, just wrap the mess up and fry it!
  • Here’s some of my Food Network ideas: Stuffed Pork Chops (made these and love them),  I haven’t tried these Crispy Turkey Bites, but they are on the list, and this stuffing/mac and cheese mash-up looks so crazy, it may be good.

Overall, my best advice for leftover management is to be creative, but don’t wait until this week *cough, cough* to come up with a plan next for next year. I jot down ideas all year long as I see them, so that, come Friday, I have 10 different plans waiting in the wings so I stretch the most expensive meal of the year into endless adventures in decadence. I’ll see you at the gym come Monday.

 

Thanksgiving Menu–2017

Welp, I finalized the Thanksgiving menu. Overall, it’s all do-able, and I’ll make the mashed potatoes in the Instant Pot to free up burner space.¬† Otherwise, it’s going to be an adventure.

Best be hitting the gym now…

Yarnbox Versus Knitcrate–Which One I Like and Why

******UPDATE MARCH 2018*******

Hey Y’all. I am going to leave the below post as is, but I wanted to update and let you know that, unfortunately, I have become unhappy with the direction Yarnbox has taken over the past few months and am cancelling my subscription. There’s been a lot of changes in the company (under newer management), their practices, customer interactions, and Ravelry community culture. They also have consistent logistical problems with the site and shipping. I’m not going to go into particulars, but there is extensive discussions about these issues in a few Ravelry groups. My decision to cancel comes from the recent trend of populating new boxes with their overstock from previous months or their other subscriptions. I wanted to update you, because if you are researching a yarn club treat for yourself, I can no longer recommend Yarnbox at this time. I hope they get past the hiccups they are experiencing. In the meantime, I may reconsider giving Knitcrate another try, but if you have a yarn subscription you’d recommend, I’d love to hear about it. Remember, my opinions are my own, no one pays me or gives me free stuff, and I got no skin in the yarn business game. I just want to update you that, for now, me and Yarnbox are breaking up.

So, earlier this year, the husband and the Heathens gifted me a 3-month subscription to Yarnbox, which is a monthly box subscription for knitters/crocheters. I love yarn, and I love getting packages, so this was the absolute perfect gift. After my three months was up, I wanted to branch out and see if other subscriptions were just as satisfying, so I gave Knitcrate a try for a couple of months. Ultimately, I cancelled that one and went back to Yarnbox.

(Note, I subscribe to Yarnbox classic, and since cancelling my Knitcrate, they have changed their plans so my old subscription would now be considered the Artisan crate, which looks like it has come down in price since then.)

So, what’s the appeal of a yarn subscription? I get to try new yarns that are not typically at my LYS, and discover something new every month. However, before I go into why I favor the Yarnbox, here’s the points of comparison I started with because all of us fiber geeks are as diverse in preference as it gets:

The Yarn–I want to see quality and quantity for the price, and I think Yarnbox wins out (see below). I like variety as well. Yarnbox lets you set some preferences about colors, yarn weights, etc., so you can better tailor what you will get to your taste. For example, you can say “never send me brown yarn,” if you have a hate on for brown. To my knowledge, Knitcrate does not let you set any preferences, but this could have changed since I cancelled. I believe both boxes sell any leftovers so you can snag an extra hank if you love something and want a bigger project’s worth of yarn.

Patterns–Both boxes come with a couple of patterns. For some, this is part of the value, but not for me. I am super picky about patterns, and I don’t waste time knitting a pattern I’m lukewarm about. Ravelry is my playground when it comes to pattern hunting. If you place a big emphasis on the patterns that come in these boxes, you should check out their respective groups on Ravelry to get a feel for them.

Extras–Knitcrate Artisan came with a small extra or two each month. Yarnbox typically does not, though they did include a Soak sample (wool wash) in last month’s box.

Cost/Value–They are about the same (now, not when I had Knitcrate), though Yarnbox offers discounts for pre-purchased subscriptions, rather than month-to-month, but this is immaterial to me since I do month-to-month.

So, let’s take a look at some of my Yarnboxes:

These are just a few, but each month, I feel like I’m getting introduced to new yarns, new companies, and the quality and yardage for the cost is great. I’ve only been disappointed one month out of about seven, but that was more about my personal taste. Also, I get lots of colors but never anything I hate.

My first month of Knitcrate came with a cute keychain charm, a wooden llama needle gauge, and here was the yarn:

Don’t let the picture fool you, these are pretty small hanks, though they are of good quality, (for comparison, this Knitcrate provided 340 yards of sport weight yarn, while the above Yarnbox with the purple Sugar Bush Bliss was 525 yards of sport weight ). Also, they come from a very well-known company with wide distribution. The next month seemed more promising with two bigger hanks and…scissors. But dear lort, the color:

Trust me, it’s a lot brighter than the picture looks, and just not me. However, I was happy with the quality and discovering a new yarn brand that wasn’t such a big player, so it definitely was more of what I expected than the first month.

So, after a couple of months, I realized I was underwhelmed by my Knitcrates. I think the notions idea is cute, but in reality, it’s stuff I don’t need. I have 25 pairs of scissors and about 10 needle gauges (especially since all my interchangeable needles have one included). I’d rather put those dollars toward more yarn than on the chance of really redundant accessories.

Remember, patterns are not on my priority list, so both boxes are equal in that aspect. What sealed the deal was the chance that I would be paying for yarn that was just too far outside of my preferences. Also, at the time, my Knitcrate Artisan was about 10 bucks more a month than my Yarnbox, but I think they have since lowered the price, so take that for what it’s worth.

Ultimately, I think Yarnbox appeals to me because I feel like I get great new yarns, learn about new companies/indie operations, and I get to have some preferences while maintaining the surprise. So, take my opinion with a grain of salt, and I’m going to get back to my knitting.

***The usual disclaimer: Neither of these companies know me, because I’m just not that cool. My opinions here are all my own, and nobody gave me free stuff, or solicited my blog, or promised me a cameo in the next Kanye video. I just like talking about yarn…and food…and my abject hate for warm weather in November.***