Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Is It Time To Toss Those Leftovers

November 28, 2017

 

It is sad to even think about throwing away the delicious remains of your Thanksgiving meal, but if you still have leftovers lingering in your refrigerator, it’s time to bid them farewell. Yes, food safety trumps food waste every time.

Turkey lasts about 3-4 days well wrapped and refrigerated. Same for stuffing provided it has been removed from the turkey before it was stored. Gravy is good for only a day or two, but most cranberry sauces should last up to 2 weeks. Mashed potatoes and candied sweet potatoes should be good for about 3-5 days. Pumpkin pie lasts 3-4 days and apple should be refrigerated within 2 days if it has been cut.

Freezing certain items are an option but don’t freeze just for the sake of freezing. My freezer sometimes becomes a receptacle for things I don’t know what to do with and in the end, never get thawed and used. As unpopular an opinion as this is, if you don’t see yourself eating that cranberry sauce in the next several weeks, let it go.

Goodbye leftovers! We shall never speak of you again(until next time).

photo: Glasshouse Images

Visit our food site: indigo jones eats

 

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Leftover Madness: Unrecipe of the Week: Turkey and Biscuits

November 26, 2017

 

Working our way through all these leftovers is daunting, to say the least. Reliving the Thanksgiving feast just isn’t that appealing to us and with only three unenthusiastic eaters to work on it, too much is sadly going to waste. Last night, in an effort to create dinner from what I had on hand, I threw these together, to positive reviews. They only took about 10 minutes to prep and made a slight dent in the bountiful array of foods filling up my refrigerator.

Not the best photo, but it’s all I could get before they got devoured.

Turkey and Biscuits:
This is the ultimate unrecipe, designed to use what you have, so feel free to be flexible with ingredients.
Saute one finely diced shallot in butter. If you don’t have a shallot, use an onion. Add diced carrot, and celery if you have it, and keep cooking until the shallot is transparent and the carrots are softened. Mix in chunks of cooked turkey, and sprinkle it with cornstarch or flour. Toss until everything is coated, and the flour is no longer visible. Slowly add turkey stock, or chicken broth, bring to a slow boil and stir until thickened. Go easy here. If it isn’t thick enough, mix some of your cornstarch or flour with some hot broth and stir it in. If it gets gloppy, add more broth. At this point, I added some frozen peas. You can add whatever vegetables and herbs you have. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to an ovenproof dish. Bonus points if you made this part in an ovenproof skillet and don’t have to wash another dish! Place biscuits on top of the mixture. Mine were already lightly baked, and very high, so I sliced them in half and brushed them with melted butter and little Maldon sea salt, ’cause I’m fancy.
Place in the oven at 350 degrees and bake until the biscuits are hot and browned about 5 minutes. If you don’t have leftover biscuits, you can use the ones from the tube and bake according to directions.
No biscuits, no problem. This filling could go into a traditional pie with a top crust, or atop those frozen puffed pastry shells instead. Baking times will vary according to your pastry preference.
Enjoy!

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The Aftermath

November 24, 2017

Our soup from a previous year

Today is the morning after the feast. The dishes are technically done, but the house is still in disarray. Everyone is feeling lazy, especially the cook, but things need to be taken care of. Most “mornings after”, my mother would take the carcass of the turkey, and start a pot of soup. After all of this heavy, carb-laden food, there is nothing more soothing than a simple soup, made from the oft-wasted remains of the day. She isn’t here this year so the job has fallen on me to add the celery, carrots, and onions to the pot, prepare the turkey bones, and make the soup. I prefer to strain it like stock, and then add back any vegetables or chunks of meat afterward. And while turkey can be low in fat, all of the seasoning and added fat ( I make a roasted garlic and dijon mustard herb butter to rub on mine ) does make the broth a bit greasy, so it best served the next day when it has had time to cool and the layer of fat has been skimmed off.

Turkey Soup:

Place the carcass of the turkey into a large stockpot. You will probably need to cut it to fit.

Add onion, carrots, celery, parsley, a turnip or a parsnip, and any leftover herbs. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for several hours. Strain the broth through a sieve or strainer, and chill. Once cold, the fat will rise to the top and solidify, allowing it to be easily removed.

You can use this as a rich stock, a base for other soups, or you can add back in diced turkey meat, carrots, rice, barley or noodles or anything else that suits your fancy. Your overworked belly will thank you for the soothing treat.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Thanksgiving Countdown: Tip #9

November 19, 2017

Clean the oven.

This may sound counter-intuitive, but start the cooking marathon with a clean oven. Once the oven gets cranked up and is on for many hours at a time if there are drips and grease spatters, they will start to burn and smoke up the whole house. Even if it looks pretty clean, give it a good wipe to remove crumbs and any other debris that might cause an issue. Trust us, a blaring smoke alarm causes undue chaos with a house full of guests.

photo: Glasshouse Images

 related post: https://indigo-jones.com/2013/03/12/kitchen-tips-tuesday-non-toxic-oven-cleaner/

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Thanksgiving Countdown: Tip #8

November 19, 2017

Is your home ready for the holiday?

I am sure there are little chores that you’ve been neglecting that you will appreciate having done before your guests arrive. For example, we have extremely high ceilings in our dining room and kitchen. Twenty-three feet to be exact, making lightbulb changing a really big deal. My husband refuses to climb up there for one little dim bulb. By November, it’s starting to get dark in here. Enter, the annual pre-Thanksgiving lightbulb change. In preparation for the holiday, he drags out the super long ladder, climbs up there, and does the deed. If I’m lucky, he dusts the tops of the cabinets while he is up there. Likewise for organizing the cabinets, tightening the latches and dealing with other little projects that get ignored for the rest of the year. Before the weekend is over, deal with them. You will be so happy that you did.

FYI, that ladder is sitting on a pile of wooden crates. But it’s much brighter in here now!

 

photo: Glasshouse Images

 

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Thanksgiving Countdown Tip #7:

November 18, 2017

Go grocery shopping this weekend. Even sooner if possible.

There are many things that I won’t purchase until the last minute, such as fresh herbs, vegetables, and other highly perishable items. But for those things that will keep, go now! As we get closer to the holiday, the lines get crazy long, the shelves get emptied of all the Thanksgiving classics, like canned pumpkin, cinnamon, and cranberries, and the overall stress levels climb. For those of you in the ‘burbs, this might even reach the frenzy of a regular Saturday at a NYC Trader Joes. For us city folk, it’s off the charts.

Get it over with as soon as you can, and move on to the more compelling parts of preparing the feast.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Thanksgiving Countdown Tip #6:

November 16, 2017

One word: Tablescaping. Yes, it’s a thing.

Do you have a tablecloth and napkins? If the answer is yes, pull them out, check for stains and iron them now. If the answer is no, it’s time to shop or innovate.

Do you have something that can be used as a runner down the center of the table? How about a roll of brown kraft paper, that can be scattered with votive candles, and seasonal greens? There are tiny pumpkins around this time of year that are available in a creamy white or orange. I’m not sure how they taste, but they look great! You can get crafty and spray paint some with a metallic paint, or a color that works with your home decor. Herbs in tiny vases or scattered among greens, small vines or branches, or even eucalyptus feels seasonal. Lay a spring on each napkin for a festive touch. Cranberries, persimmons, and clementines in a bowl offer a shot of color that can be eaten later.

Not enough matching china or napkins? Mix it up! Rather than using a few ad hoc place settings to fill in, embrace the eclectic aspect and intermingle the different pieces. If you are only short a couple of settings, place them at the two ends of the table so it looks deliberate. I have lots of mismatched teacups that my grandmother collected that I serve soup in. It adds a uniqueness to the table that is a conversation starter.

Clean, (unstained) dishtowels make great napkins, and rarely need to be ironed. For a more rustic look, a pack of striped or checked kitchen towels is a great investment that you can repurpose for their original intent later.

Have fun creating the perfect decor to suit your style and level of formality!

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Thanksgiving Countdown Tip #5:

November 15, 2017

Now that you have figured out your cookware situation, do you have the tools to execute that meal?

If you don’t own a stand mixer, food processor or immersion blender, you might want to reconsider your recipe. Do you have a turkey baster or an amply sized carving board? We know you sharpened your knives! Now is the time to check and either shop, borrow or adjust your plan. Once you get started cooking, it’s too late.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Thanksgiving Countdown Tip #4:

November 14, 2017

Today is a good day to take stock of cookware and serving pieces while you still have time to shop, borrow or innovate.

Look at your recipes, and make sure that you have the proper pot, pan or ovenproof dish to make it in. You may be cooking in larger quantities than your kitchen is equipped for. For roasting pans and bakeware, there is a variety of disposable items available for very little money. You don’t have to worry about bringing them home if you are taking the food elsewhere, and although not the most environmentally sound choice, going disposable means you don’t have to wash it!

Once things are cooked, they need to be served. No judgment (ok, maybe a little) if you want to serve from the foil pans, but we prefer to plate things. Check for platters, bowls, and utensils for each dish you are making, and be prepared to have to transfer things that others are bringing, although a good guest will bring a serving dish too. (see above) Feel free to ask someone else to bring a serving piece or two that you can return, washed and dried at the end of the evening.

photo: Glasshouse Images

 

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Thanksgiving Countdown: Tip #3

November 13, 2017

Freeze it!

I have never been one to freeze things…I mean, if you make too much in advance, thaw and reheat it, you may as well just buy a TV dinner. That said, there are a few things that actually benefit from the deep chill. Pie crusts and biscuits to be precise. Go ahead and make your doughs now, roll them out and freeze them right in the pie or tart pan. If you are using a top crust, cut your lattice strips, decorative elements or full topper, and freeze it flat on a sheet pan. Just make sure that anything you freeze is well wrapped. Use plastic wrap and wrap in both directions to ensure that it is fully sealed and protected. Bottom crusts and biscuits can be baked frozen. Top crusts should be thawed just enough to be pliable. Frozen dough maintains its shape better and shrinks less during baking.  Brush it with a light egg wash to help it brown and you’re good to go.

It doesn’t take long to make crusts, so get them done now and save time and mess on the big day.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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