It's time to start chilling the bubbly for New Year's Eve. Today at Orlandosentinel.com/thedish I've posted my guide to great sparkling wines that cost less than $15 along with a selection of easy appetizers. In the meantime, let's dish:
Really, more leftovers? Just when you found the freezer free and clear of the Thanksgiving foods, here comes a whole new batch of bowls and tubs brimming with the remnants of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebrations.
Well, here's a heads up, chief cooks and bottle washers — the party season is still at full tilt. Kwanzaa feasts, New Year's Eve parties, bowl-game tailgates and Epiphany gatherings loom. Here are some of my favorite test kitchen tips for stretching the Christmas goods:
•That's the way the cookie crumbles: Toss leftover cookies in the work bowl of a food processor and pulse those gingerbread folks and sugary stars into itty bitty pieces. Put them in sealable bags and freeze for up to two months. Use the sugary mixtures to make a pie crusts, a base for bar cookies or toppings for cobblers.
•Cane do: Just like those cookies, you can pulverize candy canes and use the bits and peppermint dust to flavor ice cream treats for months to come. For adults, sprinkle the candy mixture on top of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt and drizzle with your favorite liqueur. For children, omit the potent libation and just swirl chocolate syrup on top.
•Save the nog: Use eggnog in place of milk or cream in French toast, pancake batter and other recipes.
•Meal makeovers: Cut the holiday ham into small pieces or cubes and use to make quick frittatas, omelets or stir-fries. If a turkey was the centerpiece at your Christmas table, shred the leftover meat and add to your favorite chili mixture. Freeze in containers that hold from 4 to 6 cups, and you'll have a quickie dinner to thaw and serve in January.
•Rolling, rolling, rolling: Those assorted brown and serve dinner rolls can be transformed into fancy crisps for parties later in the week. Slice them all very thin and brush lightly with olive oil. Season with garlic or dill and broil until crisp. Transfer to a sealable plastic bag and refrigerate for use later in the week. Serve with hummus or goat cheese.
•Spice is always nice: Break up cinnamon sticks that you used for table decorations and star anise that didn't make its way into recipes. The pieces can be added to potpourris throughout the house.
The Foodies are coming! It's time to vote for your favorite restaurants in the Orlando Sentinel's 15th annual Foodie Awards. The online ballot has more than 45 categories, including fine-dining, wine list, breakfast, brunch, power lunch, food trucks, coffeehouses and bars that serve exceptional food. The final results — along with my picks — will appear in the Calendar section on Friday, Jan. 25. All votes must be cast by midnight Monday. So put down that fork and vote today at OrlandoSentinel.com/foodies.
Heather McPherson can be reached at 407-420-5498, Twitter@OS_thedish and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow daily food news at OrlandoSentinel.com/thedish.
Get the dish
Check out the Morning Mix with Scott McKenzie recipe of the week, Honey-Thyme Pork Tenderloin, at OrlandoSentinel.com/thedish and Mix1051.com