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Leftovers

DEC 26

December 27, 2001

Another night of leftovers

Make fast, tasty and nutritious meals out of old feasts

By KEVIN CLAPP
kevinc@herald-mail.com


Recipes!In Monty Jones' family, holiday dinner was served at 1 p.m. So eating leftovers meant cozying up in the evening with a reheated plate of turkey, sweet potatoes and the like while football unfolded on television.

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Between same day seconds and divvying up dishes for family members to take home at the end of they day, rarely was there more than a slice of spare turkey or a dollop of stuffing. Never mind sustaining a week's worth of meals, the leftovers were gone in a flash.

One dish defying the odds, though, was the sweet potato, which opened a world of possibility for Jones, the owner of Always Catering in Williamsport.

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"There always seemed to be more of sweet potatoes, and there's a fantastic recipe for sweet potatoes," Jones says. "You make sweet potato biscuits, with apple butter and turkey for finger sandwiches. They were great, just awesome."

With the second tummy-busting holiday meal in a month now in the books, it could be easy to beg off Christmas leftovers. Reinventing holiday turkey or ham in different ways, though, will please the palate while emptying the fridge in record time.

Todd Reynolds, executive chef at Fountain Head Country Club in Hagerstown, is a fan of throwing leftover ham into breakfast foods, such as omelets or scrambled eggs. For dinnertime, a pot pie is a popular melting pot meal, while turkey with dumplings has many fans in the Fountain Head crowd.

"With all that stuff that's leftover, you can mix it up in one pot," he says.

Speaking of simmering a hodgepodge of ingredients in a stewpot, there's one menu item everyone agrees on to utilize leftovers: Soup.

Turkey soup, vegetable soup, turkey with vegetable soup, with rice, without rice, more vegetables, less - there are recipes for all appetites that are easy to make.

The hard part was making the original dish; now leftovers can be spruced up in a new way, easily frozen to reheat on a cold late December or early January evening.

"Be creative with the kinds of things you add and how much," says Lorelei DiSogra, director of the 5 A Day for Better Health program at the National Cancer Institute. "Soup is a meal that's very satisfying and it's warm, but you don't feel like you're overstuffing yourself."

The 5 A Day program was established to promote healthy eating by incorporating more fruits and vegetables into the diet, from five servings for young children to nine for men.

Recommendations call for older children and women to eat at least seven servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

Coinciding with the holiday season, 5 A Day has issued a series of soup recipes, including a Spiced Squash Soup and a Turkey Soup with Sweet Potatoes, Wild Rice, White Beans and Cranberries that utilizes Christmas leftovers.

When busy returning gifts, juggling work and home, and making last-minute New Year's plans, Di-Sogra says soup is an easy alternative to less nutritious meals.

"Everyone is so busy all the time, and soup is just a thousand times better for you than fast food," she says. "And it doesn't take any longer to make a large pot than a small pot. You can freeze some and can enjoy it for a long time."

The key with leftovers is resisting the urge to cover a plate with wax paper and nuke until warmed over.

Some food improves with age as various flavors meld into a fresh take on an old favorite. Soups, for instance, have a deeper flavor after ingredients sit together overnight.

Similarly, a sandwich isn't always a slab of turkey shoved between slices of wheat bread.

"If you are going to drag it out for a sandwich, take those sweet potatoes, mix 'em with Bisquick and put 'em in the oven," Monty Jones says. "Make something neat out of it."

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