Food for Thought: Transforming Stuffing into Bite-Size Goodness

bites

So we have all survived (I mean enjoyed) Thanksgiving. The holiday season has begun and many of us have transitioned to gift buying, holiday cards, and if we are lucky…vacation planning for year-end.

The one challenge for anyone who has hosted a Thanksgiving meal now is: WHAT THE HECK DO I DO WITH THE LEFTOVERS???? We all get sick of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and more very quickly. So how do you work your way through the food without eating the same old thing? How do you transform something basic into something new and different?

I call it Leftover-palloza. Well, not really because that just sounds dumb, but I have managed to pull together a list of go-to recipes that help me take Thanksgiving leftovers into something exciting, tasty and fun, and even sometimes freezable.

One of my favorite recipes takes five minutes to prepare and makes leftover stuffing into a simply, hand-held appetizer – Homemade Stuffing Bites.

I stole this recipe idea from AllRecipes.com – one of my favorite recipe sites. You can learn how to make these great snacks from scratch here, but I will admit that I’ve never made them from scratch.  For me, the recipe is simple:

stuffing bite ingredients

  • Leftover Stuffing: about 4 cups of whatever you have on hand
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8th of a cup of melted butter or olive oil

My stuffing has pork sausage, celery, onion and chopped apples. It’s a decent combination of savory and sweet. I mix the stuffing with the eggs and butter, than simply roll the dough into balls. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 minutes and serve with turkey gravy or cranberry sauce.

stuffing bites prebake

Simple, easy and super tasty. Enjoy your leftovers!

Thanks for the memories

Today is a day of food, football, family and friends.  My entire house is quiet, enjoying a late start and a holiday weekend.  I made the mistake of getting up to start the coffee and turkey and came back to this scene…

family sleep

Needless to say, I wasn’t going to fit back in the bed again today.  What to do when the turkey is on and you don’t actually have to be anywhere or do anything for another hour? Well, write for a few minutes, of course!

When I woke up this morning, my mind was replaying Thanksgivings of the past.

Meals when I was 8 or 10 at my Aunt Gaby’s, my first experience with fancy matching plates, glasses for water and “wine” or sparkling cider for the kids.  We dressed up in fancy clothes, and my hair actually had to be combed.  It was that classic Thanksgiving dinner you see in the movies, some family drama included, but completely surrounded in love.

In high school, I remember the wonderful chaos of Leza family Thanksgivings at Abuela’s house in Texas! 150 people or more eating in shifts at her two-bedroom house as various tias (aunts) carried in multiple turkeys, mashed potatoes, green bean and corn casseroles, Mexican rice, beans and more. Someone always made the candied yams with marshmallows – which I never ate because they were BRIGHT orange.  It was loud and lovely, with people laughing and yelling and singing (because the mariachi music always starting playing by the end of the night).

Then, we move to college Thanksgivings. For some of us, we couldn’t afford to get home for Thanksgiving. And in those moments, I learned how friends really become family too.  My freshman year, a collection of us stranded students attempted Thanksgiving, it was a fantastic disaster in the dorm common room but amazing at the same time. As the years went on, my best friend and roommate started to let me tag along with her to off-holidays (Thanksgiving/Easter). We’d make the trek to northern Minnesota from South Bend, IN – smoking cigarettes, watching for cops in Wisconsin because they are all about getting the out-of-state drivers for speeding, and singing at the top of our lungs to everything from Smashing Pumpkins and Cake (my picks) to Rage Against the Machine and Marilyn Manson (her pick).

Now, as a married mother of three, I start to think of my own Thanksgiving traditions.  Because even though I don’t feel grown up, my 6- and 8-year old will start to remember these days as they grow older. Our traditions will be different – they will be a mix of the amazing history of traditions that both Craig and I experienced. They’ll be good, with a little bad (as I will likely yell/scream at some point trying to get the house ready for the in-laws). But they will be loving.

Love

The key about Thanksgiving is it’s not about how pretty your table is, or if the turkey is perfect. It’s about FAMILY. And family, regardless of how they came to be, is love and really “all you need is love…”

Enjoy your day today, even if it isn’t perfect. Be kind! Give someone a hug! Call someone you love, even if you wouldn’t normally do it.

I am eternally grateful for my families. I grew up and still live surrounded by love, and I am blessed.  On this day of thanks, I am thankful for you – all of you who have been there for me when I needed it most. I send my love across the miles to my friends and family scattered around the world.

Happy Thanksgiving!