How to Resurrect Thanksgiving Leftovers

It’s been a while since I wrote a “Thrifty Friday” post, so I thought I’d post this as something relevant I recently learned…

Feeding people good food makes me abnormally happy. (I seriously have to will myself not to don a 50s apron and wear a stupid grin and hum show tunes under my breath.) And so, I was very pleased after prepping/enjoying a “Squad Pre-Thanksgiving” with these ladies here:

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Food and fellowship was sweet. But THEN it was time to pack it all up to take leftovers to my brother-in-law’s the following day. I needed the food to still be edible . What’s a girl to do?

Here are some straight forward tips to recreate Thanksgiving dinner a day or two later WITHOUT making Thanksgiving casserole. (Does anyone actually look forward to that?)

  1. Don’t use the microwave if you can help it. It’s tempting, but it does the weirdest things to food texture and in all likelihood won’t heat it all the way through.
  2. Turkey reheats very well on the stove top in a pan. Put just a little chicken or turkey broth in the bottom, cover with a lid, and heat on low for 10-15 minutes. Gloriously moist and tender as it was coming off the bone.
  3. Mashed potatoes are the best in a double boiler, either of your making or otherwise. This magic was something new to me, but your potatoes actually taste fresh. Bonus points if you add a little more butter, because when has that made anything worse? Depending on how much mashed potato you’re reheating, it’ll take between 20-30 minutes.
  4. Stuffing is tricky. If you don’t want it to wind up soggy, I’d definitely recommend putting it in a baking dish and covering it with foil. Pop it in the oven at 350 for 15-20 minutes and viola, stuffing is good as new. (Full disclosure, as per popular vote I did not use the stuffing that we brought because there weren’t that many of us and we had rolls and sweet potato casserole and pie.)
  5. Sweet potato casserole/candied yams should get the same treatment as the stuffing. However, this is also one of the few dishes I wouldn’t freak out about putting into the microwave with a wet paper towel draped over the container to keep things moist.
  6. Gravy can be reheated on a small pan in the stove top or in the microwave without serious damage to the molecular structure thereof.
  7. Pie is best served cold for breakfast, with whipped cream. No need to complicate things.

If nothing else, consider freezing your leftovers in Ziploc bags until you can stand the sight of them again, but don’t waste that food! Anyone else have any tips for breathing new life into Thanksgiving fixings?

Thrifty Friday: Tenant Farming & Garden Minestrone

OK, disclaimer, I’m not ACTUALLY a tenant farmer. I do, however, happen to be a town dwelling gardener with no piece of dirt to call my own. Thankfully, my gracious in-laws have soil to spare and offered to do a joint garden with me if I’d lend my limited experience to the cause. (Note: I think I’ve mentioned some of my previous gardens here, so you’ll know that I am by NO means an expert, and I DID warn them…) The vegetables are now happily established–we are working to ensure that the weeds are less so. I’ve also got several container vegetables at home, which I will expect to produce a little later in the season.

What has this to do with thrift? It turns out, if you’re willing to provide the labor, in the long term it’s cheaper to plant from seed and preserve what grows. Start up cost doesn’t have to be much of anything if you’re wiling to compost and build up the soil. Gardening primarily takes time, secondarily takes work… but of course, God brings the increase. I also like gardening myself because I believe it’s important to cultivate self-sufficiency skill sets. I don’t intend to move off grid any time soon, but I can definitely cut our grocery budget in the coming months.
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Thrifty Friday — Cooking With Dry Beans (Copycat Vigo Black Beans & Rice)

Hello my friends, I have returned after a sabbatical. I know, you were waiting with bated breath for this very moment. I am both humbled and honored, etc etc. Hold the applause, please. And onto more useful things…

I have recently cultivated a habit of cooking with dry beans. This is partially in the name of frugality, and partially because it’s healthier–less salt, more fiber. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to soak your beans overnight, but that does mean it takes 4-6 hours worth of cook time on the stove or in the crockpot. I personally like to leave my beans in the crockpot with a few chunks of onion, a little salt, and enough water to cover them. I can forget about them completely until dinnertime. Additionally, I discovered this great resource regarding dry bean yields: Bean Yield Chart. (Skip to recipe for Copycat Vigo Black Beans and Rice.)
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Thrifty Friday — Pasta e Fagioli

Welcome back to Thrifty Friday! Earlier this week, I had a chat with one of my girlfriends. We were foodie buddies in college, and now that we’re both married we do our best to swap relevant information as we navigate this whole young-and-newly-wed-and-trying-to-be-responsible thing. During the conversation, I expressed to her my surprise that certain meals I cooked left me feeling very satisfied, while my poor husband needed triple helpings to fill up. She replied, “I know! My husband is always telling me, ‘I need meat!'” (Skip to recipe for Pasta e Fagioli.)
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What’s for Dinner? — Thrifty Friday

I’ve posted articles here and there before including recipes, but that was before cooking became an integral part of my day. Since embarking on married life on January 3rd of this year, I have transferred my efforts from cooking-for-fun to cooking-to-feed-my-husband-and-myself-on-a-budget. I’ve determined there are three primary goals I strive for when cooking a meal. It must be thrifty, tasty, and healthy. Two out of three is fairly simple to accomplish, but the trifecta? That is a prize worthy of pursuit. (Aside: Satisfying is another important component, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves…) (Skip to recipe for Banana Cinnamon Bagels…)

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New Brunswick

So I thought I had drafted a post more recently, but it seems that has been lost to mankind forever. It had something to do with canning and pickles and jam–that much is certain–though I can’t remember much else. I suppose forgettable writing is the mark of material that oughtn’t to be published in the first place, so it’s probably for the best. Meanwhile–it’s September again. I’ve begun wedding dress shopping in preparation for our special day on January 10th of next year. [Edit: It ended up being January 3rd, for anyone who noticed the wrong date and feels confused.] It is exciting, though most of my outward forms of excitement look like panic. Don’t be fooled–my soul is shiny-eyed and smiling.

The garden… well, I almost hate to report on the garden.

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On the Local Flora and Fauna

I love everything about walking down our country road. (I must insert here that is with the singular exception of Chrysops niger, the deer fly, my arch nemesis.) I spotted a whole family of Dryocopus pileatus (the Pileated Woodpecker), crow-sized omnivorous birds with striking scarlet crests. These were largely unbothered by my presence as long as I was still. I also came upon two perching birds that seemed to be some type of flycatchers and less tolerant of my company.

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