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Test Kitchen

Leftover Genius

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Eco or cuckoo? Efficient or lazy? Resourceful or just plain cheap?  Given my family's distaste for leftovers, my near inability to make "just enough" and the rate at which my fridge gets emptied, I found myself tossing way too much moldy, rotten food in the trash. I'm now on a mission at home to waste as little as possible, especially in the kitchen.  

Sure, broccoli stems, rotisserie chicken bones and carrot butts all do double duty; I store them in Ziplock bags that date back to the '90s and use them for things like slaws and stocks.  But I'm always looking for more inventive dishes. Not to mention dishes that completely obscure the fact that they are made with leftovers. From Thanksgiving alone, I found several creative uses for mashed potatoes, stuffing, turkey and gravy.  Here are some of my discoveries.

Mashed potatoes: Whip mashed potatoes and grated cheddar into hot stock for a creamy, thick soup.

Stuffing: Moisten stuffing with egg and milk and knead it into ground meat for meatloaf  (a real revelation, as this eliminates the need to season, sauté onions or chop herbs!!).

Turkey and gravy: Whisk gravy into hot water or canned chicken broth for a soup base, then stir in diced turkey.

The Full Monty (mashed potatoes, stuffing, turkey, etc.): Finely dice everything together, stir in some grated extra-sharp cheddar and use as a stuffing for empanadas (meat-filled pastries).

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