Melissa's Easy Leftovers

Melissa d'Arabian, host of Ten Dollar Dinners, makes the most of Thanksgiving leftovers.



Busy mom turned Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian goes to her husband for help with lots of things -- but not Turkey Day. "He's French, so I'm the boss of all things Thanksgiving," she says. After the feast with Philippe and their four daughters, Melissa always has leftovers, and her frugal instincts won't let her waste any of them. She turns out turkey noodles, cranberry crostini, sweet-potato muffins, you name it. "You have to fool your palate into thinking you're eating something new." she says.

Use Up Your Turkey

Sweet-and-Spicy Pitas Toast 1 1/4 teaspoons curry powder in a skillet 20 seconds; let cool. Mix with 2 tablespoons cranberry sauce and 1/2 cup plain yogurt in a bowl. Add 2 cups chopped leftover turkey and 1/4 cup each chopped celery and scallions. Season with salt and add some toasted walnuts, if desired. Stuff into pitas lined with lettuce.

Asian Ginger Salad Combine 2 cups chopped leftover turkey with 1/2 cup mandarin oranges, a handful of slivered almonds and half of a thinly sliced red onion in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk 2 teaspoons grated ginger, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar and 1 teaspoon each red pepper flakes, sugar and sesame oil. Whisk in 1/4 cup vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the turkey salad and toss.

BBQ Sandwiches Mix 4 cups chopped leftover turkey, 1 cup barbecue sauce, 2 minced garlic cloves and the juice of 2 limes in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 2 to 4 hours. Shred with a fork, then add cider vinegar and salt to taste. Serve on soft buns.

Nutty Noodles Microwave 2 tablespoons chunky peanut butter 20 seconds. Stir in 1/4 cup salsa, 1 tablespoon each mirin and soy sauce, and a splash of water. Toss with 2 cups cold chopped leftover turkey, 2 cups cold cooked spaghetti and 1 chopped scallion.

Use Up Your Cranberry Sauce

Quick Crumble
Mix 1 cup cranberry sauce, 2 pounds sliced peeled apples, 2 tablespoons each flour and granulated sugar, a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in a buttered baking dish. Dot with 2 tablespoons butter. Mix 1 stick softened butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup each flour and chopped pecans, and a pinch each of cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Crumble over the fruit and bake at 375 degrees F until browned, 40 to 45 minutes.

5-Minute Appetizer
Toast baguette slices under the broiler. Top with cream cheese or goat cheese and dollop with cranberry sauce.

Simple Sundaes
Heat 1 cup cranberry sauce in a saucepan. Spoon over scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Festive Cocktails Stir a dab of cranberry sauce into a glass of seltzer, or mix with sparkling wine for a kir royale.

DIY Fruit Yogurt Spread a 1/2-inch layer of cranberry sauce in an empty yogurt container or shallow cup; top with plain Greek yogurt to make your own fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt.

Use Up Your Mashed Potatoes

Sweet Spread
Mash a stick of softened butter with 1/2 cup mashed sweet potatoes and 1 tablespoon brown sugar or maple syrup (skip this if your potatoes were already sweetened). Chill until firm, then spread on scones or waffles.

Stuffed Peppers Cut off the top inch of 4 green bell peppers; scoop out the seeds. Mix 3 cups mashed potatoes, 8 slices crumbled cooked bacon and 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese in a bowl; stuff into the peppers. Top with more cheese, then replace the pepper tops. Arrange in a baking dish, cover with foil and bake about 45 minutes at 375 degrees F.

Potato Pockets Combine 1/2 cup mashed sweet potatoes, 3 ounces softened cream cheese and 2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar. Dollop in the center of wonton wrappers, moisten the edges with water and fold into triangles, pressing to seal. Fry in hot vegetable oil and dust with confectioners' sugar.

Magic Muffins
Mix 1/2 cup each sugar and unsweetened applesauce, 2 beaten eggs, 3/4 cup mashed sweet potatoes and 1/3 cup vegetable oil in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk 1 cup all-purpose flour with 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon each baking soda and salt, and 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. Mix the potato mixture into the flour mixture, then stir in some mini chocolate chips. Spoon into greased mini muffin cups. Bake 12 to 13 minutes at 375 degrees F.

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