12 Christmas Blogs #7: Christmas Leftover Recipes

Health Money Things To Do | by | 27th Dec 2016

Turkey for Christmas Leftover article

Welcome to the seventh of our 12 Christmas Blogs that will lead you through the festivities up to the 2nd of January. We will be looking at lots of different subjects including coping with the stresses of Christmas, recipe ideas, debt, savings and New Year’s resolutions. So come back each day to see what topic we’ll be discussing.

Welcome to blog number 7 of the 12 blogs of Christmas! I don’t know about you but Christmas is my most expensive time of year, and I always buy way too much food. This blog is all about using up all of the leftover food from Christmas.

I’m hoping it will inspire you to experiment with flavours and reduce food waste. Most importantly, this blog aims to help you save money by making the most of the ingredients you have hanging around.

Some of these recipes can be frozen if you don’t think you can eat any more just yet! I have also detailed some important information about food storage and when your leftover delights should be eaten by.

The basics

Before you have a snooze after gorging on Christmas dinner, make sure your turkey is chilled to room temp, covered and refrigerated. Your turkey can be stored in the fridge and eaten safely for 2 or 3 days. If you won’t eat it all before the end of the 28th, divide into portions and freeze it straight away. Use freezer bags or airtight containers and don’t forget to label and date it. I can’t begin to tell you how many mysterious unlabelled items I have lurking in my freezer! Turkey can be kept in the freezer for 6-8 months.

Leftover vegetables should be cooled and refrigerated and used within 3 or 4 days. Cooked vegetables don’t tend to freeze well unless they are in something like a stew or pie. I have focussed on the vegetable leftover recipe suggestions in this blog. You can freeze the meat and browse the list of Christmas leftover recipes at your leisure.

A few recommended vegetable leftover recipes


sprouts for leftover article

Love ‘em, hate ‘em, sprouts are here to stay. While researching I discovered there is far more to the sprout than boiled green mush. Who knew?

A friend of mine insists that creating a cauliflower cheese and including sprouts is delicious. Steam or boil the cauliflower and sprouts until they are cooked the way you like them. Drain off the excess water. Prepare a store bought or homemade cheese sauce, pour over the Caulisprouts… et voila! If you prefer, you can use an alternative to traditional cheddar cheese sauce. How about blue cheese, smoked cheese or chilli cheese? I imagine this recipe would be divine topped with smoked bacon or chorizo.

Chefs from the Food Network have developed these sprout recipes.

BBC Good Food have an interesting range of sprout recipes worth browsing. There are even sprout pizza, salad and stir fry recipes!


multicoloured carrots for leftover article

Did you know that the orange coloured carrots we are familiar with today are a relatively new species? Carrots were purple until the late 16th or 17th Century. A genetic mutation changed the colour of some carrots from purple to orange. Carrots still grow in a range of colours including black, white, yellow, orange and purple. The colour of the carrot depends on their variety and the environment in which they grow. Find out more bizarre carrot related Christmas trivia at the World Carrot Museum. Yes, you did read that correctly!

A popular recipe to use up leftover carrots is carrot and coriander soup. You can use some of your own turkey stock in this recipe if you have prepared it. It suggests chicken or vegetable stock, but turkey stock is a great substitute.

My favourite cake of all time is carrot cake. I love the warming spices, the texture of the carrots and the cream cheese topping. Watching your waistline? Delia Smith has created a low fat version of carrot cake. If you would rather indulge, perhaps try James Martin’s Carrot Cake with cinnamon frosting. If you don’t like cinnamon, you can leave it out and have plain frosting. Alternatively you could use a sprinkle of nutmeg or a little orange zest.


Cartoon Parsnip for leftover article

Crisps with a twist for New Year’s Eve visitors? Try baking your own parsnip crisps. Perfect for dipping into tomato salsa or enjoying on their own. You will need: 2 parsnips, vegetable or sunflower oil, runny honey, salt and pepper.

  1. Heat the oven to 130°C.
  2. Cut the top and bottom off the parsnips.
  3. Use a potato peeler to peel thin strips lengthways from the parsnips.
  4. Place parsnip strips in a bowl and slowly drizzle with oil and honey – not too much!
  5. With clean hands, mix the parsnips with the oil and honey mixture until evenly coated.
  6. Spread in a single layer on a baking tray (don’t worry about being neat) and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until crispy.
  7. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and enjoy.

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash for leftover article

As much as I love this vegetable, peeling and chopping them is a real pain. Always use a sharp knife and a firm surface. If you are struggling, microwave it whole for 10 minutes and try again once partially cooled. Alternatively, roast it whole and peel the skin away from the flesh once cooked and cooled.

Butternut squash is a particularly yummy veg when roasted. Leftovers are wonderful for adding to a mild coconut based curry or a creamy risotto. Here is a tasty butternut squash risotto recipe to try. If you don’t have sage or pinenuts, make it without, although they do add something special. You can use your homemade turkey stock in this recipe (see recipe below).

If you fancy a decadent tasting curry to wow your friends, this is a recipe well worth trying. It is called coconut and squash dhansak. When I made it, I used fresh onions. I didn’t have naan bread so I made some chapatis to have with it. Neither did I have any wholemeal flour, so I used 300g of plain flour and 150g of crushed Weetabix mixed together. I used melted butter as the oil in the recipe and it gave a beautiful flavour to the chapatis.

Recipes using stock

Any soup, chilli or stew will have a base of stock. Stock can be also be used in other dishes such as pastry fillings, pasta and rice dishes. I have looked through a number of recipes for stock and created this version which will be cheap, quick (relative to others) and tasty.

How to make turkey stock

I know it sounds gross, but simmering the turkey bones with a bunch of other stuff makes a delicious stock. Stock, sometimes called broth, can be used as a base in all sorts of recipes. Not only does it taste yummy, but it also contains a lot of health boosting vitamins. This stock recipe uses turkey bones but if you had bone-in beef, lamb, chicken or pork, they can be used instead!


  • Turkey carcass (all bones).
  • Giblets (if you kept them).
  • 2 medium onions.
  • A couple of celery sticks.
  • 2 carrots.
  • ½ bulb of garlic (about 6 individual cloves).
  • Water.
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon ground pepper (or 5-10 whole black peppercorns).
  • Optional: A few sprigs of thyme and rosemary, and a few sage leaves; or a bay leaf. If you don’t have any of these, it doesn’t matter! The stock will still be very tasty and wholesome.


Get a large pan – as large as you have available – and break the turkey bones so they fit into the pan. The squeamish bit is over now! Pour water over the bones until they are covered. Keep adding water until it is about 5cm above the top of the turkey in the pan. Place the pan over a medium to high heat.

Pop the ½ garlic bulb in the pan of water and bones. No need to peel or separate as we’ll take them out of the broth after cooking.

Next, chop each onion into 4 pieces and add to the pan. You don’t need to peel the onions either.

Cut the carrots and celery sticks into large chunks and add to the mixture.

Add the pepper or peppercorns and optional herbs if you are using them.

If you have kept the giblets and are going to use them in your stock, you will need to cook them first. Using a frying pan, heat a little oil over a medium flame and stir in the giblets until browned. They can now be added to the pan with the other ingredients.

Your big pan of stock ingredients is now ready to be brought to a boil. You can tell when the water is boiling because the bubbles are big and the water is leaping furiously. As soon as the pan begins to boil, you can reduce the heat so the water is simmering gently. Something is simmering gently when tiny bubbles occasionally disturb the water around the edge of the pan but the rest remains calm.

Boiling pan for leftover article

Don’t leave the pan unattended!

Now you play the waiting game for about 3-4 hours. You do not need to cover the pan, and will leave it simmering gently, checking regularly. Don’t leave the house! Don’t take a nap! You will need to check on the stock every hour or so. Set some alarms to remind you. Trust me when I say you do not want it to boil dry! As well as a lingering nasty smell, an unattended pan is a fire hazard. Every hour, check the stock is reducing in volume, but never close to drying out. You will notice that some foamy deposits will have formed on top of the stock. Use a large spoon or slotted spoon to remove as much of this as possible. You do not need to keep the foam.

After 3-4 hours (depending on the size of your pan and the turkey bones) the liquid in the pan will have reduced by half. This liquid is your versatile stock!

Separate the liquid from the lumps by putting it through a sieve or colander. Remember to collect the liquid in a large pot or dish below the sieve – don’t pour it away by accident! I may have had a few disasters over the years – live and learn! The remaining bones, veggies and herbs can go in the bin once cooled.

Cover your pot of sieved liquid stock and allow to cool to room temperature. Carefully pour stock into freezer bags, ice-cube trays or sealed plastic pots. Don’t use glass jars as they will crack. Label and date and place in the freezer. Stock will keep for 6-8 months.

Further recipes

At the bottom of this BBC webpage, there is a “cooking with…” ingredients section. This is useful for selecting a key leftover ingredient and identifying a range of interesting recipes.

Join us each day until 2nd January for more of our 12 Christmas Blogs


Want to find out about services available to you and your child in your area? Do you need advice or support on family matters? Then get in touch with the FamilyPoint Cymru helpline. We are open over the festive period, even on Christmas Day.

  • Phone: 0300 222 57 57
  • Text: 07860 052 905
  • Instant message (see below)

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