The trash cans are bursting with shredded holiday wrapping paper. The family room is filled with precariously stacked now-empty boxes. And the kitchen is packed with bits and pieces from days of holiday eating.
Ham and turkey leftovers aren’t really a problem. Make sandwiches, casseroles, soups and salad. If you went upscale and made roast beef, leg of lamb or duck for your Christmas dinner, shred or cube the meat and toss with chili powder and cumin then use for tacos.
The leftovers that give cook pause, however, are things like fruitcake, now-stale cookies, chips and crackers, and that assortment of cheeses from various dishes and cheese trays. But you can actually use any and all of those in various ways.
Fruitcake can be cut into cubes, then tossed with butter and toasted in a 350 degree oven until slightly crunchy. Layer it with vanilla yogurt into a post-holiday parfait.
Grind up the holiday cookies in a food processor. Use them as a topping for ice cream.
What about the partial bags of potato chips, pretzels, tortilla chips and crackers? Pulse them in a food processor, too. Toss the crumbs with a little butter and use as a topping on your favorite casserole from macaroni and cheese to turkey-noodle. Or use them in place of bread for meatballs or meat loaf.
Give those cheese leftovers new life, too. Grind, shred or crumble any combination you have from cheddar cubes to brie wedges. Mix with a little white wine, then spread on toasted baguette slices. Pop them under the broiler until the cheese mix gets bubbly. These are fancy enough to serve to some post-Christmas unexpected guests.