Memories . . . light the corners of my mind. - Barbra Streisand

Memories, darken the corners of my fridge. - From the diary of Jean the Food Doyeen

Tired of turkey? Ham hangover? At this time of year, we all seem to get plenty of those traditional dishes. In fact, it wouldn't be the holidays without them.

But when you get tired of plain meats, there are some creative, comforting ways to whip up some dishes that will get you into the new year.

Don't let those leftovers cower in the back of the fridge until they kaleidoscope into colorful works of art.

Remember - "leftover" is another way of saying "plenty" - an affirmation that you've had bounty to share with your loved ones.

And look at it this way - you're prolonging the celebration (in fact, with a little flair you can stretch the goodness of the holidays well into the dark days of January).

So what to do with those plastic-covered bowls and tin-foiled tidbits?

We've found among our files a few "old friends" - recipes that incorporate previously cooked rice and pasta as well as leftover ham, chicken and turkey .

Leftover honey-baked ham, honey? Try fun-to-eat-and-say "Hoppin' John." This traditional dish, made with leftover rice, chicken or ham, is found on most Southern sideboards. Kind of like Jell-O salads are to us Westerners.

"Planned-overs" seem even more appealing now that precooked pastas are showing up in supermarket frozen food sections.

One savvy food marketer, The T. Marzetti Company, has recently introduced a new pasta that will help creative cooks use meat and veggies from previous meals.

The new noodles, Reames Lasagna Sheets, are preboiled and frozen. This means no boiling and draining before layering the lasagna with those leftovers.

No need for extra liquids with the preboiled noodles. Simply snap apart the frozen sheets as they come right from the box. Layer them, still frozen, with lasagna ingredients (leftovers are great here!).

Interestingly enough, leftovers are a sought-after commodity these days.

John Mooney, spokesman for City Harvest, an agency which picks up unused food and distributes it to agencies that feed the New York needy, agrees.

"We expected truckloads of turkey our first year," he said. "Boy, were we surprised! We get calls to pick up food left over from large parties every day of the week."

"People hang on to holiday leftovers. They don't donate them. They don't throw them out. They eat them."

Then there's the Brooklyn restaurant owner, Peter Aschkenazy, who says that the search for leftovers begins the weekend after Thanksgiving.

"People come in looking for specials on leftovers," he notes.

Maybe an "after-the-fact frugality" kicks in after the Thanksgiving feast, prompting a waste-not, want-not attitude.

"The New York Cookbook" writer Molly O'Neill says that we should label leftovers with a word from Webster's - REDUX: Brought back; used positively. Another good word for the '90s, like "synergism" and "closure."

Example: When placing one's leftover ham in one's Tupperware, one must have "closure."

Here might be a future restaurant conversation:

Q: Garcon! Why is there no Turkey Redux on the menu?

A: Excusez-moi monsieur, but if you will come back tomorrow . . .then it will be REDUX. Today, we call it Turkey.




1 ounce zucchini, medium shredded

1 ounce carrots, medium shredded

Dash of Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon non-fat Italian dressing

6-inch pita

2 sliced tomatoes, 1/4 inch thick

2 ounces thinly sliced turkey

1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Combine the first four ingredients and allow to marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour. Drain if necessary.

Cut pita in half. Gently open each half to form a pocket.

In each pita half, place 1 ounce turkey, 1 tomato slice and 1 ounce zucchini mixture in pita. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon Italian seasoning. Makes one serving.

- One serving (two halves) contain 279 calories, 5 g fat, 42 g carb, 557 mg sodium, 39 mg cholesterol.

- From Marriott Management Services.


1 5-ounce package Rice-A-Roni Chicken & Mushroom Flavor

3 eggs

2 cups chopped, cooked turkey

1 cup milk

1/2 cup sliced green onions

1 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves or dried basil

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Prepare Rice-A-Roni mix as package directs. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Grease 9-inch square glass baking dish.

In large bowl, beat eggs. Add chicken, milk, green onions, seasonings and prepared rice; mix well.

Pour into prepared baking dish. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 4.

- Each serving contains 380 calories, 17 g fat, 28 g carb, 850 mg sodium, 220 mg cholesterol.

- From The Golden Grain Co.


1 6.9-ounce package Rice-A-Roni Chicken Flavor

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon dried thyme or marjoram

1 16-ounce can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained

2 cups chopped, cooked chicken or ham

1 cup red or green bell pepper strips

1/2 cup sliced green onions

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (optional)

Prepare Rice-A-Roni mix as package directs, substituting 1 tablespoon oil for margarine and stirring in thyme with water and contents of seasoning packet. Cool 10 minutes.

In large bowl, combine prepared Rice-A-Roni, black-eyed peas, chicken or ham, red pepper, green onion, lemon juice and hot pepper sauce with remaining 5 tablespoons oil.

Chill 4 hours or overnight. Stir before serving.

Serves 4.

- Each serving (as prepared with chicken) contains 570 calories, 28 g fat, 50 g carb, 900 mg sodium, 65 mg cholesterol.

- From The Golden Grain Co.


1 pound 11 ounces grapefruit sections, drained

1 pound 5 ounces orange sections, drained

24 apple wedges, 1/2 inch thick

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 1/4 quart fresh spinach leaves, washed

12 ounce turkey, 1/2 inch diced


3/4 cup reduced calorie mayonnaise

1 tablespoon honey

1 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1 1/2 teaspoon paprika

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger

Blend together the dressing ingredients. Refrigerate until ready for use.

Drain fruit if necessary; discard juice.

Dip apples in lemon juice to prevent brown discoloration; drain.

Place spinach on plate.

In spokelike fashion, alternately place grapefruit and orange sections with apple wedges around the plate.

Place turkey in center of plate. Serve with 2 tablespoons dressing in small bowl or ramekin.

Serves 6.

- Each serving contains 311 calories, 12 g fat, 44 g carbs, 725 mg sodium, 39 mg cholesterol.

- From Marriott Management Services.


1 package (16 ounces) uncooked linguini

2 tablespoons margarine

3 cups (approximately 8 ounces) sliced fresh mushrooms

1 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup flour

1 cup milk

1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

21/2 cups chopped cooked turkey or ham

1/2 cup (4 ounce jar) sliced pimento, drained and chopped

2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Meanwhile, in large saucepan, melt margarine.

Add mushrooms; cook just until tender.

Blend broth and flour; gradually stir into mushrooms.

Stir in milk; cook, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens.

Add cheeses; continue heating, stirring constantly, until cheese melts.

Stir in remaining ingredients until thoroughly heated. Serve over hot pasta.

Serves 6 to 8.

- Each serving contains 475 calories, 11 g fat, 59 g carb, 283 mg sodium, 123 mg cholesterol.

- From Ronzoni Pasta Co.

- Note: For a lighter version, use reduced calorie margarine, skim milk and low fat Swiss cheese.


1 (12 ounce) package Reames Frozen Egg Noodles

5 slices bacon

1 cup diced ham

1 cup diced, cooked turkey

6 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halves

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt

1 cup Bacon Ranch Dressing

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs

Lettuce leaves

Cook Frozen Egg Noodles in boiling water for 30 minutes. Rinse with cold water and drain well.

While noodles are cooking, fry bacon until crisp. Drain bacon and snip into bite-size pieces.

Toss noodles, ham, bacon, turkey and cheese together in a medium-sized bowl.

Blend yogurt and Bacon Ranch Dressing. Pour over noodle mixture and toss to coat.

Gently toss in cherry tomatoes. Chill for at least 2 hours to blend flavors.

To serve, line bowl with leaf lettuce. Place salad in the bowl and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Serve immediately.

Serves 8.

- Each 3/4 cup serving contains 767 calories, 49 g fat, 40 g carb, 1072 mg sodium, 160 mg chol.

- From T. Marzetti Co.


6 English muffins, split, lightly toasted and cubed

2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

1 can artichoke bottoms, drained and chopped

1/2 cup ham, cut into julienne strips

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

3 eggs

1 cup half-and-half

Sweet Pepper Cream:

2 medium yellow or red bell peppers

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 cup heavy cream

To make strata:

Arrange half of toasted muffin pieces in buttered 9X12-inch glass baking dish.

Sprinkle with half of the Swiss cheese, then artichokes and ham.

Top with remaining muffin pieces.

In medium bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Blend in half-and-half and pour over layers in pan. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Cover lightly with foil; let stand at least 30 minutes.

Bake 20 minutes in a preheated 375 degree oven; uncover and continue baking 15-20 minutes or until set.

Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Serve with Sweet Pepper Cream.

To make Sweet Pepper Cream:

Cut peppers in half; remove stem, seeds and veins. Place skin side up on broiler pan. Broil until evenly charred on outside. Place in loosely closed paper bag several minutes, then rub away charred skins.

Puree in blender or food processor until smooth. Let cool.

Whip cream until soft peaks form.

View Comments

Blend salt, pepper and mustard into pepper puree then fold puree into whipped cream and serve with the strata.

Serves 6.

- Each serving contains 714 calories, 49 g fat, 41 g carb, 1042 mg sodium, 259 cholesterol.

- Adapted from Bays English Muffins.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.