There are gobs of leftovers in refrigerators from sea to shining sea, awaiting a second chance. By today, most folks have worked off their gluttonous Thanksgiving meals via wrestling their neighbors to the death over the last $2 outdoor projector screen offered by Electronics and More Warehouse Superstores.

There are gobs of leftovers in refrigerators from sea to shining sea, awaiting a second chance. By today, most folks have worked off their gluttonous Thanksgiving meals via wrestling their neighbors to the death over the last $2 outdoor projector screen offered by Electronics and More Warehouse Superstores.


As weary shoppers start to awaken from their post-door-busting-sale coma and realize they have not eaten since Thanksgiving, they head to the kitchen. After the money they saved since the dishes were cleared on Thursday, they deserve more than plain old leftovers. They deserve creatively assembled reimagined cuisine.


Cranberry sauces and jellies are great for adding a little sweet and tart to your meals. Alone, the cranberry side dish can be a bit strong. Eating cranberry cuisine is the leading cause of pucker face as well as impossible-to-get-out stains on Aunt Alice’s lace table runner.


But for some reason, we feel it necessary to make gallons of cranberry sauces and salads for the holidays. Rather than leave the congealed leftover to grow fuzzies in the back of the fridge, top a toasted bagel with plain cream cheese and cranberry sauce to add a tangy zing to breakfast. And considering it is in the jelly family, it is perfectly acceptable to spread it on a sandwich in place of grape jam to liven up a boring PBJ.


The giant bowl of jiggly cranberry stuff seems to grow larger when divided into containers for post-meal storage. But I see that as a good thing. Leftover cranberry foodstuffs certainly add excitement to breakfast and lunch, but more importantly, they make Thanksgiving leftovers edible.


Nobody enjoys pasty, leftover mashed potatoes. However, they puff up nicely when baked. The top becomes slightly crispy and the innards become silky and delicious. Now, imagine a baked puff of leftover mashed potato with a gooey, tartly sweet middle. Your mouth is watering, admit it.


I like to spoon some cold leftover potato side dish into greased muffin cups. After filling the cups about two-thirds full, I push the back of a wooden spoon into the middle of the potato mush and make a crater. That’s where the chilled leftover cranberry goo is placed. Then, I top it off with more potato. I stop at the top of the cup and then smooth it out. Before I bake it, I grate Romano cheese over the top.


The cranberry-filled baked potato cupcakes make a great leftovers side dish. However, with just a few easy extra steps, you can really wow your loved ones. Even the ones who just came in from the woods after another attempt at slaying that elusive buck will be impressed.


First, squirt a swirly ketchup design on a fancy plate—you might even want to use the good China that is still sitting in the dish drainer. Carefully place the potato cupcake on the center of the plate on top of your ketchup swirl. Heat up a few slices of leftover turkey or ham. Fan the slices on top of the cupcake and dot the meat with a few drops of gravy.


A sprig of rosemary for garnish and you have a gourmet meal fit for royalty. Admittedly, it may take three or four fancy platefuls before your twenty-year-old feels satisfied enough to move on to dessert.


Before we move on, be advised the potato cupcake trick also works with leftover sweet potato soufflé. Although, if you are among those who top with marshmallows, the result will be sweet enough to be considered a dessert.


Now, typically, dessert is not something addressed when speaking of leftovers. However, this time of year, dessert leftovers can also become forgotten victims of mold in the dark corners of the fridge. They need to be reinvented as well, because our taste buds can tire of anything—even pumpkin pie.


I like to work through some of my holiday stress by violently dicing up leftover pies, cookies, and cakes. After scattering the chunks in a lasagna pan, I drop spoonfuls of cranberry sauce over the top. Then I bake the mess for about 30 minutes. As soon as it comes out of the oven, I sprinkle with chocolate chips, which then melt on top. Topped with whipped cream, a slab of this flavor-packed, diet busting dessert can turn around the worst of days.


If you really want to get fancy, though, and serve it after your upscale potato cupcake meal, scoop the heated confection into wine glasses before adding the chocolate chips and whipped cream. A strawberry garnish adds to the romance of this decadent after-meal indulgence.


Unfortunately, there are some who do not have leftover cranberry side dishes. Maybe all their cranberries were consumed on Thanksgiving. Maybe they were born into cranberry-less families. I’ve heard tales of such families, though I’ve never personally met any.


For those who haven’t any cranberry, I suggest borrowing a cup or two from your neighbors. I’m sure they would be happy to dip into their vat of chilled cranberry and share their wealth in the spirit of leftovers week.


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Micki Bare is a columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau and the Courier-Tribune in Asheboro, N.C., and the author of Thurston T. Turtle children’s books. She and her family live in North Carolina. Her e-mail address is mickibare@gmail.com.