10 Things to Do With Your Leftovers

Leftovers Whether you spend the holiday with family or opt for a Friendsgiving instead, it’s impossible not to have a ton of leftovers after turkey day.

Leftovers

 

So, what do you do with all those leftovers? Sure, you can enjoy another traditional Thanksgiving feast. But there are plenty of other recipes out there that’ll put a unique twist on the classics. Here are 10 things to do with your leftover Thanksgiving food.

1. Turkey pot pies

The rich, buttery flavors of Thanksgiving food are what make this once-a-year meal so appealing. If you’re looking to make another comfort meal, repurpose your leftover turkey, green beans and vegetables and make a large turkey pot pie.

Made with leftover Thanksgiving food, this is the perfect winter meal. In under 90 minutes, you’ll have a delicious dinner ready to serve, and the best part is that it was made entirely from leftover food!

2. Turkey roll-ups

If you’re looking for a quick and easy meal, turkey roll-ups are your go-to option. All you’ll need is leftover stuffing, turkey and gravy and you’ve got a complete dinner.

Simply take pieces of turkey and put a portion of stuffing in the center. Then, roll the turkey like a wrap, bake until hot and drizzle with gravy. This leftover meal can be served with any side dish.

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3. Monte Cristo sandwiches

If you’re looking for a way to spice up the traditional leftover turkey sandwich, the Monte Cristo is your answer. A scrumptious mix of sweet and savory, this sandwich is grilled and layered with turkey and brie cheese then sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with cranberry sauce on the side for dipping.

And for those vegetarians out there, you can skip the turkey but still enjoy this not-so-classic grilled cheese.

4. Loaded mashed potato bites

Mashed potatoes are a classic Thanksgiving menu item, but there are so many additional ways to use those leftovers. Try making deep-fried loaded mashed potato bites accompanied with all your favorite mixings (think bacon, chives, sour cream, cheese).

Host a small dinner party and serve this finger food as an appetizer while your guests mingle.

5. Turkey fried rice

Thanksgiving weekend is made for eating, napping, shopping and watching football. If you’re looking for an easy meal to make while lounging around, turkey fried rice is a great option.

Simply add turkey, vegetables, fried egg and rice or cauliflower rice to a pan, stir fry and voila, you’ve got yourself a yummy meal.

6. Sweet potato bisque

There’s nothing quite like hot soup on a cold winter day. If you’re looking for an easy slow-cooker recipe, consider making sweet potato bisque with your leftover sweet potatoes.

All you’ll need is sweet potatoes and some seasonings and you’ve got yourself a delicious meal.

7. Turkey stock

Thanksgiving dinner can be expensive, but if you’re strategic with your leftover food, you can get a lot out of it. You may think that the turkey bones and leftover vegetables are garbage, but they can all be used to make homemade turkey stock.

Then, the turkey stock can be used for future meals to enrich the flavor. Now, you’ve even made use of the scraps.

8. Pie milkshakes

Everyone likes pie a la mode, right? Well, this idea combines them both.

Simply take a piece of apple or pumpkin pie, add some vanilla ice cream and blend them together. You’ll be left with a creamy, sugary treat.

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9. Cranberry oatmeal

Cranberries at Thanksgiving are like the cherry on top of an ice cream sundae. They’re subtle but essential. With this leftover Thanksgiving recipe, cranberries take center stage.

Take any oatmeal recipe but add a dollop of cranberry sauce to it. You’ll enjoy a sweet and delicious breakfast with the tangy taste of cranberries mixed in.

10. Dog treats

Now that you’ve enjoyed a variety of leftover Thanksgiving food, let’s look at some pet-friendly options for your furry friend.

Made with leftover turkey, veggies, potatoes and flour, you can give Fido a homemade Thanksgiving bone.

Keep these expiration dates for leftover Thanksgiving food in mind

While we all want to savor the flavor of Thanksgiving food, we don’t want to get food poisoning from old food. All of your leftovers should be refrigerated or frozen within two hours of coming out of the oven.

Here are some quick guidelines to keep in mind when preparing leftovers to stay safe and healthy.

  • Turkey can last four days in the fridge and four months in the freezer
  • Veggies can last three to four days in the fridge and a couple of months in the freezer
  • Pies can last three to four days in the fridge and a couple of months in the freezer

The 10 Best Vegan Restaurants in Chicago

We’re not talking about just restaurants serving vegetarian and vegan options on the menu. We’re talking about straight-up only-vegan-fare served at these restaurants so no need to grill the waiters about what’s in each dish.

Vegan

Whether you’re in the mood for Korean or Thai, or good old American comfort food, here are 10 restaurants in Chicago with menus that offer 100 percent vegan fare. We couldn’t pick our favorite (they’re all great), so we listed them in alphabetical order.

1. Amitabul

Interested in a side of zen with your Spicy Kimchi Bi Bim Bop? Amitabul is located on the far northwest side might deter some people from trekking to this Korean restaurant filled with Buddha statues, bamboo plants and calming chants usually reserved for yoga studios.

Chef Bill is always on-hand to both greet customers as they walk into his modest restaurant and offer recommendations based on food preferences. The vegan, organic Korean menu offers many noodle soups, tofu and bi bim bop dishes but also all-vegan pizza and pancakes.

For those nursing a cold, flu or hangover, a popular recommendation is Dr. K’s Cure All Noodle Soup, a spicy noodle soup filled with vegetables, seaweed and tofu and served with wheat or rice noodles.

2. B’Gabs

Located on 57th Street and kitty-corner from Powell’s Books, B’Gabs offers Hyde Park residents soy-free, gluten-free, raw and cooked vegan breakfast and lunch, as well as juices and smoothies.

For those with a peanut allergy, there are peanut-free desserts made from scratch. The rotating menu changes by the season but staples include a breakfast burrito bowl and Marley’s Love, a specialty salad. Baked goods include muffins and baked hand pies, while raw treats include energy bites, lemon squares and uncheese cake.

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3. Chicago Diner

Most vegans in Chicago have their favorites but Chicago Diner is often recommended because it’s Lincoln Park location on Halsted, complete with its old-time diner atmosphere, has been around for nearly four decades.

A second, and bigger location that can serve larger parties, now serves the Logan Square neighborhood and offers a full bar with nine beers on tap. Save room for their award-winning shakes, scooped by hand and blended to order, which include options such as cookie dough peanut butter, mint chocolate chip and carrot cake (that’s not a typo).

4. Chicago Raw

As the name implies, it’s all raw at Chicago Raw at both their West Loop and Gold Coast locations. Stop by and enjoy fully uncooked, 100 percent plant-based dishes or grab some to go since they offer take-out options, too.

Menu options include cinnamon rolls, fresh spinach lasagna and even Chicago-style pizza.

5. Ground Control

Colorful walls and an upbeat atmosphere set the mood at Ground Control in Logan Square. A full-service bar offers a rotating menu of draught beers and cocktails while pinball machines keep things fun.

To be fair, several of the items on this mostly-vegan menu are vegetarian but with the exception of one (the mac and cheese, which is served with smoked gouda), all can be made vegan by request. Options change regularly but the well-curated menu includes appetizers, salads and sandwiches.

6. Kitchen 17

Whether you’re in the mood for a Philly cheesesteak, gyro burger or pizza, Kitchen 17 in Lakeview specializes in these popular comfort foods and more. It offers up a variety of house-made “meats,” as well as cheeses and desserts, and available for either dine-in or carry out.

Check out the bakery’s dish deep cookie pie, 12-inch “pies” with cookie flavors, such as smores, sugar cookies and cherry crisp.

7. Majani

Majani is Swahili for “green” and a fitting name for Chef Nasya and Tsadakeeyah’s South Shore restaurant featuring vegan cuisine. Fans can’t get enough of the BBQ cauliflower and jerk tofu taco and brunch enthusiasts know they need to arrive early to get a seat on Sunday mornings.

The restaurant strives to use the freshest ingredients, often from local gardens and farms. The vegan restaurant is conveniently located near the South Shore Metra stop but it also offers online ordering for those who need their vegan fix.

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8. The Original Soul Vegetarian Restaurant and The Eternity Juice Bar

The Original Soul Vegetarian Restaurant’s mantra for the past three decades it’s been in business has been to serve comfort food as medicine. It does so by serving everything from appetizers and salads to sandwiches to its Chatham neighborhood residents and those who trek from all over the city for its one-of-a-kind 100 percent plant-based, animal and chemical-free dishes.

A rotating menu offers lasagna, mac-n-cheese and corn bread. The Eternity Bar next door, also owned by the same family, offers guests juices, elixirs, deli-style salads and some grab-and-go vegan grocery staples.

9. Upton’s Naturals Breakroom

Make note of the address at this West Town fast-casual restaurant because it’s not really located on a heavy-pedestrian trafficked locale, even if it’s on busy Grand Avenue. Part of the reason is that it was originally designed to provide a free, vegan lunch to employees who worked at Upton’s Naturals seitan production facility.

Seitan production has since moved to the Austin neighborhood but the Upton’s Naturals Breakroom remains, still serving light vegan comfort good, including “Chicago-Style” Italian and friend bacon mac, as well as its famous soy-based soft serve to customers.

10. Vegan Plate

Vegan Plate in Lincoln Park features traditional vegan Thai dishes such as gyoza and pad see-ew in their cozy restaurant or for delivery. Their extensive menu allows guests to try new dishes every time they visit.

Surprisingly, free street parking is available during the week, except from 4-6 p.m., and all day on weekends. Whether you’ll actually find a parking spot is a different story, however.

8 Dinner You Can Easily Make at Home

Can You probably have all, or most, of what you need to whip up a few simple social distancing dinners that require just four or five ingredients each.

Dinner

Stock up for your social distancing dinners

If you’ve made a stop at the grocery store any time recently, you know everyone is stocking up. Without shoving, and while obeying all applicable distancing requirements, make sure you have what you need to be flexible in your home cooking. You can’t go wrong by picking up a few of the following:

  • Produce: Versatile, filling and nutritious
  • Canned Goods: These will last as long as you need them to and come in handy surprisingly often
  • Dry Ingredients: Think flour, sugar, baking powder, rice, etc.
  • Oils: You’ll want some olive oil, butter and a more neutral oil with a higher smoke point like canola
  • Spices: Salt and pepper are not the only spices. Get creative.
  • Bases: Here we’re thinking the protein of your choice. Meats if you can find them, plant-based proteins if not.

1. Garlic spaghetti squash

Spaghetti squash is a fantastic choice during social distancing because it isn’t usually everybody else’s first item to grab, and it’s both nutrient-rich and filling. Feel free to dress it up as you’d like but find a delicious start here. You can always omit or change the veggies. All you really need is the squash, oil, garlic and salt.

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2. Black bean-corn quesadillas

This one feels both indulgent and simple. You can throw it together in about 20 minutes and don’t have to charge yourself extra for guac. You need corn, beans, tortillas and cheese. And then add salsa and taco seasoning to your tastes. Doctor it with grilled onions or diced tomatoes if you’d like.

3. Egg fried rice

This one tastes like a night out and serves as the perfect start to a night in (mandatory or otherwise). If you prefer a more substantial course, pan fry some diced chicken before cooking the eggs but otherwise, eggs, rice, oil and soy sauce will make it delicious.

4. Panko chicken nuggets

Kids at home? Just feeling a little nostalgic? Don’t feel like you have to spend all night standing over a pot of hot oil to enjoy decadent “fried” chicken.

The best part: Once you’ve collected these ingredients (chicken, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and butter), you can use the same method on almost anything for a delicious and crispy result.

5. Baked zucchini “fries”

Remember when we said you could replicate the frying process with almost anything? Fried zucchini is an amazing and guilt-free alternative to potato fries, and if you’ve already made the chicken above, you already have everything you need: Panko, Parmesan, flour and eggs.

6. Easy Southwestern soup

This comes with the flexibility of a vegetarian or meat-inclusive option using almost exclusively canned or frozen items! The broth, seasoning, corn and salsa are required. The chicken (or beef or pork) is up to you!

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7. World’s best pancakes

Just woke up? Craving your local pancake joint? Fear not, you almost definitely have what you need to recreate the experience. Additional sugar is optional, but mix things up with chocolate chips, cinnamon, peanut butter or whatever hits the spot.

8. No-hassle beef stew

Fresh beef may be scarce, but many of the prepared, refrigerated options are still available! For a satisfying and well-needed dose of comfort food, check out this quick and easy stew. The puff pastry is fun but unnecessary and you can doctor this with whatever veggies you desire.

Don’t let the distance bring you down

Make sure you’re still making time to put yourself first, especially in the kitchen. More often than not, we don’t even know what we have stored in the back of the pantry or fridge until we take a good hard look. You may need to stop off to pick up a few things in these recipes, but they should be more or less frictionless and allow you to nourish the body so you can nourish the mind!