Laura Vitale is the host of Laura in the Kitchen, one of the most popular cooking shows on YouTube.
If you asked me what my favorite part about Thanksgiving is, I would tell you that without a doubt, it’s the leftovers! I know many people who hate having leftovers after a holiday meal, but really, for me, that’s the best part! I love knowing that at any time I can open my fridge and find something delicious to eat or munch on.
However, as much as I adore being able to grab a few pieces of cold leftover turkey, my favorite thing to do with leftovers is to turn them into something totally different and give them a whole new identity. Whether I have a big crowd over or just a few people, I always make a big ol’ roasted turkey—so there are always plenty of leftovers to work with!
Black Rice & Turkey Salad - One of my favorite recipes to make with leftover turkey is my black rice and turkey salad with an Asian-inspired dressing. The nuttiness from the rice and the warm meaty pieces of turkey make the perfect blanket for this flavorful dressing. Studded with tiny pieces of red bell pepper, it’s the perfect Black Friday lunch! One of the things I really enjoy about this salad is that the flavors are completely different from the traditional flavors of a roasted turkey. Oftentimes I hear people complaining that they can’t stand eating another piece of roasted turkey after the usual Thanksgiving overindulgence. This salad is a great alternative to a boring turkey sandwich the day after.
Potato Croquettes – Mashed potatoes are one of the very few dishes that I cannot eat reheated as-is. In my opinion, mashed potatoes should be eaten right away the day they are made. No matter how much milk you add to them when you try to reheat them, to me they never taste the same and end up having a glue-like texture when you try to mess with them too much. Instead of eating something that reminds me of wallpaper glue, I make little croquettes out of them. So incredibly easy to do but unbeatable when you make them right. They should be super crispy on the outside and cheesy, soft, and creamy on the inside. I like eating them alone or with a green salad with a vinegary dressing (I love the sharp tang of the vinegar against the creamy richness of the croquette). If you make a big batch of mashed potatoes for Christmas, you can make these for your NYE get-together. Everyone will love them!
Cranberry Sauce Muffins – Finally, I had to add a little something sweet to this list, and one of the things I make every year without fail is my cranberry sauce muffins. I always make homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving and I usually add some apples, pears, or dried cherries to it for an extra touch of something special. There always seems to be a little cranberry sauce lying around the day after Thanksgiving and usually no one ends up eating it, so to insure that every bit gets eaten (no waste around here!) I transform it into a warm treat for my overnight guests to wake up to. Spiced up with a touch of cinnamon and orange or clementine zest, these muffins will leave your kitchen smelling like the holidays!