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JOAN DRAKE, Times Staff Writer

Do you dread opening the refrigerator door today and having to face the remains of yesterday’s feast? That terrific meal has now deteriorated into a half-carved bird, a heap of dressing, a soggy salad or sour-cream cucumbers, cranberry sauce and umpteen containers of cold potatoes and vegetables. Don’t make the mistake, however, of looking at these foods as just a bunch of leftovers. Actually they’re valuable ingredients, ready to be transformed into soups, breads and even desserts. For instance, that dab of mashed potatoes will probably be enough to combine with a few other items to make a batch of fudge for gift giving. The same goes for the last of the cranberry sauce. A 1984 My Best recipe from Sylvia Vicuna of Oxnard shows how to turn it into a delicious quick bread that is bound to come in handy for holiday entertaining. Leftover peas--or any vegetable for that matter--can be used for soup. So can soggy salad or that old Midwestern favorite, sour-cream cucumbers. (We’ve included the original recipe for the cucumbers in case they aren’t a family tradition in your house.) Baked sweet potatoes become the flavoring for muffins or cookies. Potatoes that have been candied will be trickier to use--you’ll need to reduce the amount of butter and brown sugar in the “leftover” recipe, so we recommend this only for cooks who enjoy adventure and are willing to take a bit of a risk.

As for the turkey, use the carcass to make a big pot of stock--an especially good idea for those trying to control the fat and salt in their diet. It can be frozen in small amounts and used over the next few months.

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The turkey meat is probably the least of your worries. It makes wonderful omelets, salads, sandwiches and casseroles. We’ve included several recipes for lighter entrees, which so many people are interested in these days. If you have more turkey than you can use in three or four days, package the meat in small amounts and freeze it.

That leaves the stuffing and gravy. There’s always the classic strata--where stuffing, cranberry sauce and sliced turkey are layered, then topped with gravy and reheated. You might also use the dressing to stuff pork chops or flank steak, or just form it into balls and freeze for later as an accompaniment to other poultry and meats. Use the gravy for stews or sauces, being certain to bring it to a rolling boil before serving. It also freezes well for storage up to a month.

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With a little creative thinking, you’ll clean out that refrigerator in no time at all, and hardly anyone will even be aware they’re enjoying a recycled feast.

Food Styling by Minnie Bernardino and Donna Deane

TURKEY STOCK

1 cooked turkey carcass

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2 quarts water

1 medium onion, sliced

1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped

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3 parsley sprigs

2 cloves garlic

1 bay leaf

12 peppercorns

Break up turkey carcass to fit into large stockpot. Add water, onion, carrot, celery, parsley, garlic, bay leaf and peppercorns.

Cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 2 hours. Strain broth and discard bones and vegetables. Use immediately or refrigerate up to 2 days. For longer storage, freeze. Makes about 2 quarts.

NOTE: Fat may be skimmed off top of stock after cooling. Add salt, if desired.

TURKEY-PAPAYA-AVOCADO SALAD

1 cup light sour cream

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1/3 cup sliced green onions

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1 large clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 medium avocado, diced

2 cups diced cooked white turkey

2 cups diced cooked dark turkey

1/2 papaya, diced

Diced roasted almonds

Lettuce

1/2 papaya, sliced

Combine light sour cream, thyme, green onions, salt, white pepper, garlic, hot pepper sauce and lemon juice in medium bowl. Fold in avocado.

Place turkey, diced papaya and 1/2 cup almonds in large bowl. Fold in dressing mixture. Serve on lettuce, sprinkled with additional almonds and garnished with sliced papaya. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

TURKEY-CHILE-JACK OMELET

2 eggs

1 tablespoon water

Salt, pepper

1/4 cup chopped cooked turkey

Chopped green chiles

1 tablespoon canned, sliced mushrooms

Shredded Jack cheese

Sliced green onion

Beat eggs with water and salt and pepper to taste. Spray 6- or 8-inch skillet with nonstick vegetable spray. Heat skillet and add egg mixture. Cook over medium heat, lifting edges as eggs set and allowing uncooked portion to flow underneath.

When eggs are almost set, sprinkle turkey, chiles to taste, mushrooms and 1/4 cup cheese over 1/2 omelet. Fold other side over filling and sprinkle with additional shredded cheese and green onion. Allow to cook 1 to 2 minutes to warm filling and melt cheese. Slide omelet onto warm plate. Makes 1 serving.

NOTE: If desired, milk may be substituted for water and small amount of butter for non-stick vegetable spray.

CREAM-OF-LEFTOVER-PEA SOUP

1/4 cup minced onion

1/4 cup butter or margarine

2 cups turkey stock

1 cup cooked peas

1 cup half and half

Salt, pepper

Basil or chervil

Saute onion in butter in saucepan until tender and transparent. Add turkey stock and peas. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 to 10 minutes.

Pour vegetable mixture into blender or food processor container and puree or process until almost smooth. Pour back into saucepan, stir in half and half and season to taste with salt, pepper and basil. Heat through. Makes 4 servings.

SALAD GAZPACHO

2 to 3 cups left-over tossed green salad

2 (12-ounce) cans cocktail vegetable juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons prepared mustard

1 tablespoon garlic flavor wine vinegar

1 tablespoon oil

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup chopped pared cucumber

1/4 cup chopped celery

2 tablespoons chopped green pepper

2 cups shredded Iceberg lettuce

Place leftover salad in blender container. Add 1 can vegetable juice, salt, pepper, mustard, vinegar and oil. Blend until smooth. Add remaining can vegetable juice, cover and chill.

To serve, pour blended mixture into bowls. Combine onion, cucumber, celery and green pepper and use to garnish soup along with shredded lettuce. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

NOTE: Salad containing lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber and cheese, with Italian or French-style dressing, may be used in recipe.

SOUR-CREAM CUCUMBER SOUP

1 cup Sour-Cream Cucumbers

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon fresh dill

Combine Sour-Cream Cucumbers, buttermilk and dill in blender. Process until smooth. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Sour-Cream Cucumbers

1 cup sour cream

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon prepared mustard

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

2 cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced

Combine sour cream, sugar, vinegar, salt and mustard in medium bowl. Add onion and cucumbers. Blend well. Refrigerate overnight to blend flavors. Makes about 3 cups.

SWEET-POTATO MUFFINS

1 3/4 cups sifted flour

2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup milk

1 1/4 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes

1/4 cup melted butter or margarine

Ground cinnamon

Granulated sugar

Sift together flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in walnuts. Combine eggs, milk, sweet potatoes and butter, mixing well. Add sweet-potato mixture to dry ingredients, mixing only until moistened.

Fill greased 2-inch muffin pans 2/3 full. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon and granulated sugar. Bake at 425 degrees 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 16 to 18 muffins.

CRANBERRY BREAD

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup orange juice

1 cup chopped apples

1 cup canned whole-berry cranberry sauce

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients alternately with orange juice to egg mixture, beating just until blended.

Fold in apples, cranberry sauce and walnuts. Turn into greased and floured 9x5-inch loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees about 1 hour, or until wood pick inserted in center comes out clean. Makes 1 loaf.

MASHED POTATO FUDGE

1/4 cup hot mashed potatoes

1 teaspoon butter or margarine

2 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Dash salt

1 1/3 cups shredded coconut

2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted

Macadamia nut halves

Combine potatoes and butter in bowl. Add sugar gradually and beat until well blended. Stir in vanilla, salt, coconut and chocolate.

Pack mixture into greased 8x4-inch loaf pan. Chill until firm. Cut into squares and garnish each with macadamia nut half. Makes 1 1/4 pounds.

SWEET-POTATO SPICE COOKIES

1 3/4 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 eggs

2 3/4 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped nuts

Brown Butter Glaze

Beat sweet potatoes, sugar, butter and eggs together until smooth. Sift flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt together. Stir into sweet-potato mixture. Stir in nuts.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 400 degrees about 10 minutes. Remove cookies from baking sheet and cool on wire rack. Spread with Brown Butter Glaze while still warm. Makes about 5 dozen.

Brown Butter Glaze

3/4 cup butter or margarine

3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

6 tablespoons milk

Heat butter in saucepan, stirring until browned but not burned. Stir in sugar. Blend in vanilla and enough milk to make glaze.


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