Monday, November 21, 2011

Don't Throw that Out: A Thanksgiving Tale

Last Saturday night we had a Thanksgiving-ish meal since my parents were in town and the kids were with us.  Since all of us would be eating another Thanksgiving meal, and because we like to get creative in the food department, we decided to put a little twist on the traditional meal.

The Menu

Pumpkin Soup 
(I did NOT actually serve it in it's own shell. I cooked the pumpkin first and then made the soup.)
Glazed Ham with Pecan Crust
Scalloped Potatoes
Zwieback Rolls
Cranberry Apple Crisp

The pumpkin soup was not such a hit with the kids, but Ben and I liked it.  Everything else was a definite hit. And I have finally fulfilled my responsibility to the family heritage by making Zwiebacks.

The Leftovers

Of course Thanksgiving always brings to mind leftovers and endless days of eating leftover turkey sandwiches.  Which is an option.  We don't often buy lunch meat because the better options are EXPENSIVE, so some of the ham will be used for sandwiches as a treat.  (Side note: I remember turning up my nose at sandwiches made with leftover turkey as a kid because I was accustomed to slimy packaged lunch meat!) However, my favorite way to use up leftovers is to turn them into a "new" meal.  For example, the leftover scalloped potatoes and some of the ham became part of this morning's Farmer's Breakfast casserole.  

We don't often eat ham, so I am in the process of finding some decently healthy recipes for the leftovers to be spaced out over the next couple of months.  I searched for freezer meals, but a lot of the recipes I found don't really fit into our eating habits.  Also, my preference is to cut up the meat and freeze it in about two-cup portions to be added to recipes rather than pre-make the entire meal.

These are my initial findings in the recipe department:

Lentils with Ham and Rosemary
Southwestern Bean Pot
Split Pea Soup
Ham and Scalloped Potatoes
Cut up ham to add to homemade pizza, breakfast burritos, etc.

(Not a very long list, I'd love to hear any recipe ideas!)

The leftover pumpkin soup I froze in two-cup portions.  I often freeze the leftovers from soup or beans in smaller portions to be used in the future as quick-and-easy lunches or dinner.  Cheaper and healthier than Lean Cuisine, just add a salad, raw veggies, bread, or piece of fruit to round out the meal.

Other Ways to Save Food

I also spent a little time this morning taking care of fruit that was on its way out.  Pears that were getting overripe are sitting in my crock pot with apples and ginger about to become Apple and Pear Sauce with Ginger.  Grapes are flash-freezing on a cookie sheet in the freezer to be added to future smoothies.  Overripe bananas also go great in smoothies, banana bread or muffins, and pancakes.  Old (not moldy) bread can be frozen for use as bread crumbs or turned into croutons.

Yes, this does take a little time in the kitchen, but the alternative is throwing out the food and going to the grocery store to buy more food (think time, gas, and food money).  Saving the food you already have costs little-to-no money.  Plus, it probably doesn't take as much time as you'd think.  I spent about a half hour getting the food started this morning and then walked away to do other things.

Note: Several of the recipes I mentioned can be found in Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook, my favorite slow cooker cookbook.  I checked it out at my local library before buying a copy for myself.

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