You cooked for an army, and you feasted like a battle victor. Even so, if you’re like most families, your refrigerator is now packed tight with leftover food. 

click to enlarge Homemade Leftover Thanksgiving Dinner Turkey Sandwich with Cranberries and Stuffing - BIGSTOCK
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  • Homemade Leftover Thanksgiving Dinner Turkey Sandwich with Cranberries and Stuffing

You cooked for an army, and you feasted like a battle victor. Even so, if you’re like most families, your refrigerator is now packed tight with leftover food.

With a little imagination and guidance — and these recipes — what you create won’t be called leftovers. They’ll be meals (and cocktails).

Not Your Grandma’s Turkey Sandwich

First, let’s address that ubiquitous staple of post-holiday fare with a version of the turkey sandwich that’s a little more than turkey on bread. This recipe makes two sandwiches and has a prep time of 10-20 minutes.

Ingredients 4 slices of hearty bread — your choice; we recommend a hearty levain or whole grain 4 tablespoons of cranberry sauce (You knew it must be good for something, right?) 4 ounces of sliced turkey 2 ounces of Brie, cut into pieces 4 pieces of crisped bacon 1/2 cup baby spinach, arugula or a salad mix that includes your favorite baby greens

Directions Place 2 slices of bread on a baking sheet and top with Brie pieces, sliced turkey, cranberry sauce and bacon. Broil for about 1-2 minutes, until cheese is melted. Top with greens and the remaining slices of bread.

click to enlarge Nana’s Quick and Easy Ham and Bean Soup
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  • Nana’s Quick and Easy Ham and Bean Soup

Nana’s Quick and Easy Ham and Bean Soup

For many, the romance of the post-feast ham sandwich quickly wears thinner than deli-shaved prosciutto. Here’s a quick and easy soup that’s sure to warm you up faster than it fills you up. It cooks almost as quickly as the time it takes to read the recipe. For an all-day, come-and-go get-together at your house, toss this in a Crock-Pot set on warm and serve with fresh corn bread.

Ingredients 2 medium carrots, sliced 2 stalks of celery, roughly chopped 1/2 cup chopped white onion 2 tablespoons salted butter 4 15.5-ounce cans of great northern beans 4 cups chicken broth 2 cups fully cooked cubed ham 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced 1 teaspoon chili powder 1/4 teaspoon pepper 1 bay leaf (optional)

Directions Saute carrots, celery and onion in butter in a large pot until tender and onions become slightly translucent. Stir in all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low or low, depending on your stove. Your goal is a mild simmer. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, until heated through. For those who prefer a little more time in the kitchen, here’s an easy cornbread recipe, too.

Cornbread Ingredients 1 cup cornmeal 1 cup all-purpose flour 5 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 cup white sugar 1 pinch salt 2 eggs, beaten 1 cup milk 1/2 cup butter, melted

Directions Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9-inch baking dish. Mix cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add the eggs, milk and butter. Combine thoroughly and pour into prepared baking dish. Bake on center rack for 25-35 minutes, until fork inserted in center comes out clean and sides pull away from the pan.

Savory hand pies with chicken and vegetables - BIGSTOCK
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  • Savory hand pies with chicken and vegetables

Handy Turkey Casserole Potpies

This is more of a fun concept than a strict recipe, and it’s easy enough to get younger cooks involved, too. The recipe is primarily improvisation, and the ingredients are left to the whim of the maker. The Handy Turkey Casserole Potpie is essentially a portable casserole using whatever leftover holiday ingredients you wish. One pre-made piecrust will yield approximately 2-3 piecrusts depending on the size. If you wish to make your own piecrust, follow the easy recipe below.

Directions Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roll out piecrust to approx. 9 inches in diameter. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a biscuit cutter, cut as many 5-to-6-inch circles as possible out of the piecrust. Use the remaining crust to make one more by rolling it out to a similar thickness. Make sure there is an equal number of rounds. Separate them into two groups — these will be the bottoms and tops. Lay the bottoms out on the baking sheet. Put your fillings like turkey, ham, dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, or other items in the center. For this recipe, we limit it to what you likely have on hand in regard to leftovers. In general, you can make these savory or sweet with whatever fillings you can dream up. Place the remaining rounds on top of each mini pie, pressing the edges together, first with your fingers and then with the tines of a fork. Bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, turning once while cooking, until golden brown.

Pie crust Ingredients 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon sugar 10 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

Directions Combine flour, salt and sugar into main bowl of food processor. Pulse to combine. While the processor is on, add butter pieces and spoonfuls of shortening until the entire mixture is a course meal. Slowly add ice water while mixing until dough forms a ball. This will happen fast, so shut off food processor immediately. Transfer to a floured surface with floured hands. Cut roughly in half, making two balls of dough. Press the dough balls into a disc shape between pieces of wax paper and wrap in plastic wrap or seal in plastic bag. Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or until ready to roll out. If dough has been in the refrigerator for longer than 30 minutes, you might need to let sit at room temp for 10 minutes or so to make rolling easier. Roll out on a floured surface into a rough circle.

click to enlarge Use all those cranberries to liven spirits in this cranberry mojito.
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  • Use all those cranberries to liven spirits in this cranberry mojito.

Cranberry Mojito

This is a grown-up holiday treat with a healthy dose of vitamin C as a bonus. It’s also guaranteed to be the hit of any holiday party. The recipe is adapted from a well-worn copy of Southern Living we found in our aunt’s basement.

First, you must make the cranberry reduction at least an hour prior to party time. Then mix as you go. If Auntie Gemma can whip these up from scratch after she has had a few, we don’t anticipate you having any problems.

While testing these foods and drinks, we found this cocktail goes exceptionally well with the Not Your Grandma’s Turkey Sandwich.

Part one: cranberry reduction (Makes enough for about two dozen cocktails.)

Ingredients 2 cups of cranberry juice (Remember all those whole cranberries you have? Mash them up and strain the juice from them, or put that fancy new juicer to good use.) 1/2 cup jellied cranberry sauce 1/4 cup sugar 4 dashes of bitters 1 rosemary sprig (approximately 3 inches)

Directions Boil the cranberry juice, cranberry sauce, sugar and bitters in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat, stirring consistently for five minutes or until smooth. Reduce heat to low and simmer while stirring occasionally until half of the original amount of liquid remains — about 20 minutes. Add rosemary, cover and let stand five minutes. Remove rosemary and cool for 30 minutes. Cover and chill for at least one hour. This can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Part two: the magic concoction Ingredients 3 mint leaves 1 tablespoon cranberry reduction 1 1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice 1 1/2 ounces rum (or more) (We recommend locally made Scissortail Distillery’s Oklahoma Landrum.) Lemon-lime soft drink of choice.

Directions Muddle mint leaves, cranberry reduction and fresh lime juice against the sides of a glass or shaker. Muddling is easiest when you use the right tool: a muddler. They’re available just about anywhere bar and cookware is sold. Add ice cubes and rum and give it a rough shake until thoroughly chilled. Strain into a 10-12-ounce glass filled with ice cubes. Top with soft drink and garnish with mint leaves and a lime. Note: Although making a pitcher at a time is possible, best results come when made individually.

Bon appetit, and congratulations on surviving another holiday season!

Print headline: Holiday remix, Using little more than the leftovers from your holiday meal, you can create everything from cocktails to tasty deli-style sandwiches.

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