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ALABAMA A&M UNIVERSITY, Ala.—It’s the day after Thanksgiving and you have a refrigerator full of leftovers. Don’t worry—reimagine Thanksgiving leftovers with a little creativity and by using practical food safety tips.

Practicing Food Safety

“Refrigerated leftovers can be used for three to four days if it was handled properly,” said Andrea Morris, an Alabama Extension health and nutrition specialist.

Follow these practical food safety tips when cooking leftover food.

  • Wash hands with soap and warm water 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • Cook foods to safe internal temperatures. Poultry should be cooked to 165°F.
  • Do not leave food out for more than two hours after serving meals.
  • Place leftovers in air-tight containers and refrigerate immediately.
  • Reheat leftovers to 165°F. Gravies, sauces or soups should reach a rolling boil while reheating.

“Remember, food safety is important before, during and after preparing food,” Morris said.

Prepare Leftovers with Creativity

  • Leftover turkey can be chopped and used in casseroles, soups or even quesadillas.
  • Use leftover cranberry sauce to jazz up pancakes or waffles by adding ½ cup to your batter. Cranberry sauce can also be used as a topping.
  • Make savory waffles. Spray a waffle maker with non-stick spray. Fill the waffle maker with stuffing and lower the lid. Serve with cranberry sauce, or use the bread for a turkey sandwich.
  • Leftover vegetables can be combined to make a nice soup. Make a vegetable frittata or quiche by adding eggs and cheese.
  • Sweet or mashed potatoes can be reimagined into crispy potato cakes. It is also easy to add a cup of mashed sweet potatoes to a favorite cake or cookie recipe for additional moisture and flavor.

“Whether it’s mashed or sweet potatoes, Thanksgiving leftovers are ideal to use in numerous recipes,” said Terence Martin, Urban EFNEP coordinator. “Try a simple quiche recipe to get you started.”

More Information

For more information and healthy eating tips, visit Alabama Extension online. A recipe for Basic Quiche can be found on the USDA’s Choose MyPlate website.

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