College Kitchen: Leftover love

Reinvent the piles of Thanksgiving foods occupying your fridge.

Thanksgivings cranberry sauce leftovers make up one ingredient of these Orange Cranberry-Surprise Muffins.

Image by Bridget Bennett

Thanksgiving’s cranberry sauce leftovers make up one ingredient of these Orange Cranberry-Surprise Muffins.

by Lucy Nieboer

After a short holiday interlude, students return to campus from Turkey Day break with freshly rested faces, bags of clean laundry and stacks of bursting Tupperware.

We oft look to leftovers as a welcome reprieve from cooking, but when burdened with large quantities, the task of constantly innovating as to not bore youthful palates becomes a huge ordeal. Follow these recipes to create a totally new meal out of Thanksgiving surplus.


Turkey Soup

There are only so many cold turkey and mustard sandwiches that one person can handle before turning into an old bachelor whose definition of cooking outside the box is using Dijon. Break the pattern with a bowl of piping hot soup. Freeze in single portions and reheat in the microwave for a fast take-along lunch.


1 leftover turkey carcass

1 onion

2 carrots

2 stalks celery

2 teaspoons sage

1 bay leaf

2 potatoes

1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns

1 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)

1/4 teaspoon turmeric


In a large pot, cover the old turkey bones (meat removed and set aside). Add one stalk of celery, half the onion and 1 carrot. For a more flavorful stock, don’t peel or cut the vegetables. Add the peppercorns, salt, turmeric, sage and bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer, and cook for one to two hours. Carefully pour the pot over a strainer or cheesecloth into another pot. After dicing the remaining vegetables, add them to the stock. Add remaining small pieces of turkey meat. Cook for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Salt to taste.


Potato Pierogies

Mashed potatoes are easier to dress up and take out to dinner than Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman.” With a few simple ingredients this starchy staple is transformed into a hardworking member of Team Dumpling.


1 cup flour

1 egg



3 strips bacon

1/2 an onion

1 cup leftover mashed potatoes

1 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese

2 tablespoons plain yogurt


In a large bowl, create a well in a pile of flour. Crack the egg into this small pocket, and beat it with a fork. After the egg is beaten, start to fold in bits of flour. The egg and flour will form a stiff dough. Using your hands, form this mixture into a firm ball. Let the dough ball rest for one hour.

Place the bacon into a hot skillet. Dice the onion. After the bacon has reached a crisp peak, remove it from the pan and chop it into small bits. Return it and the diced onion to the grease. Cook until the edges of the onion have started to brown and blacken.

In another bowl mix the potatoes, cheese and yogurt. After the dough has rested, roll it out as thinly as possible on a floured surface. To keep the dough from sticking, keep your rolling pin and hands well-floured. Cut out circles of dough with a large glass or a round cookie cutter. Place a dollop of potato mixture into one circle at a time. With a dab of water, pinch the edges closed. Drop the pierogies into a salted pot of boiling water. When they float to the surface, remove and place them on a plate with a generous scoop of bacon and onions.



Orange Cranberry-Surprise Muffins

The cranberry sauce that seemed so festive on Thanksgiving seems out of place for a regular weekday meal. Slip the remnants of the sauce into these sweet muffins for a unique post-holiday treat.


1 3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/3 cup melted butter

1 tablespoon finely grated orange peel

1/2 cup orange juice

1/3 cup milk

1/2 cup cranberry sauce

1 handful craisins

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl beat the eggs. Add milk, butter, juice and orange peel. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Add the craisins. Mix until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Batter should be lumpy. Spoon half the batter into 12 greased muffin cups. Create a small well in the batter in each cup. Place a spoon of cranberry sauce in each well. Cover with remaining batter. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

  • Adapted from a “Taste Of Home” jam-filled muffins recipe.


Warding off a doting grandmother’s fear of her kin’s starvation, you willingly accepted several months’ worth of leftovers without any idea about how to use them. Thankfully, with only a few pantry staples, your Thanksgiving feast can just keep on giving.