Take it easy

Adrienne Freeman/Contributing Writer Published November 28, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
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Adrienne Freeman/Contributing Photographer

Thanksgiving’s favorite dressing is cut into bites, coated in crispy breadcrumbs, fried and served with a spicy cranberry spread — an innovative way to use leftovers and a great snack for family football watch parties.

Whether you choose to spend the day after Turkey Day in a recliner enjoying family and football or participating in the free-for-all at the mall, enjoying Thanksgiving leftovers is almost as much of a tradition as the big day itself. Providing the cook with a little kitchen cover, minor tweaks can turn yesterday’s leftovers into today’s treats.

Although the traditional sandwich with turkey, tangy cranberry sauce and savory stuffing or dressing is a staple, here are some new ways to transform that refrigerator full of foil-wrapped packages into a whole new day of delicious fare.

Simple Second Day Soup can be prepared with frozen “soup starter” vegetables and left in a slow cooker on warm to satisfy the varied schedules of families and guests. The aforementioned sandwiches can be prepared while cleaning up the night before, wrapped and refrigerated until time to be grilled in a skillet or on a panini press later.

Dressing is a dish that some wait 365 days for — turning the leftovers into a crispy fried appetizer suitable for a sports-watching snack will help lessen the disappointment if a favorite football team fails. Soft, sagey dressing rolled in a crisp panko coating and fried is served piping hot with a zippy cranberry spread that has a delightfully sweet and spicy kick.

FRIED DRESSING BITES WITH TANGY CRANBERRY SPREAD

Ingredients:

Leftover dressing

2 eggs

2 teaspoons milk

Panko bread crumbs

Oil, for frying

Directions:

Preheat oil to 350 degrees.

Cut leftover dressing into bite-sized cubes and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk eggs and milk. Coat each dressing bite in the egg wash; then dredge in the bread crumbs until fully coated; set aside.

Fry each dressing cube until golden brown on all sides, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve with spicy cranberry dipping spread.

SPICY CRANBERRY SPREAD

Ingredients:

1 (16-ounce) can whole-berry cranberry sauce

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

1 tablespoon orange juice (or orange marmalade to make a sweeter spread)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl; stir well.

Cook’s tip: This will work with any kind of leftover cranberry sauce — canned or fresh. Sauce made with fresh cranberries can be pulsed in the food processor until desired consistency.

SUPER-SIMPLE SECOND-DAY SOUP

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 large yellow or white onion, diced*

2 green onions, sliced (white and green parts)*

3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces*

1 large bell pepper, red or green, cut into 1/2-inch pieces*

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

5 cups chicken broth, homemade or low sodium

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

Leftover turkey (or deli-roasted chicken)

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 small bunch kale, center ribs removed, leaves coarsely chopped

Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, all white parts and 1/2 of green onions (reserve 1/2 green parts for garnish,) carrots and bell pepper and sauté, stirring frequently, until vegetables begin to brown and soften, about 5 minutes.

Add broth, poultry seasoning and diced tomatoes; bring to a boil. Stir in prepared kale; reduce to medium-low heat. Stir in turkey and rice; season with salt and the black pepper. Cover and simmer until all ingredients are heated through, about 15 minutes.

Garnish with reserved green-onion parts.

*Cook’s tip: To make this even easier, replace fresh vegetables with 1 bag frozen “soup starter” vegetables.

BREAD PUDDING WITH RUM DRIZZLE

Ingredients:

4 to 6 leftover dinner rolls

2 cups milk or combination milk and cream

4 eggs

1/2 cup raisins

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

3 tablespoons butter, softened

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a casserole dish with butter; set aside.

Rough cut leftover dinner rolls into 1-inch cubes. Toss with raisins and place in buttered casserole.

Combine milk, eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well. Pour custard over the dinner-roll cubes. Dot the top with butter.

Bake for 45 minutes until the center is set and the top is golden brown. Top with rum drizzle.

RUM DRIZZLE

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

3 tablespoons milk

1/2 teaspoon rum extract

Directions:

Stir milk and extract into sugar. Drizzle over warm bread pudding.

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