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The holiday party season should be well under way by now. That means a lot of buffet food. has provided a list of 5 food safety rules that should apply year-round, but with all of the partying occurring during the holidays, it’s a good idea to refresh/remind ourselves about them now.

It starts with the 2-hour rule: Keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold slows spoilage, so it’s safest to refrigerate, freeze, or thoroughly reheat any food that has been sitting out at room temperature for up to two hours.

The smaller-is-better rule: Before storing leftovers, slice up any big hunks of meat, remove stuffing from the bird, and divvy up large quantities among several shallow airtight containers or zip- top bags. This allows food to chill faster and evenly, won’t overheat your fridge, and lets you take out only as much as you need for those midnight sandwiches.

The three-day/four-month rule: Most leftovers will keep three or four days in the fridge or up to four months in the freezer. Many foods lose flavor, moisture, and texture after the first few months in the freezer, but freezing turkey with gravy will help it retain moisture.

The “leftover leftovers” rule: If you nuked a little too much turkey or you just couldn’t eat all of the enchiladas you made with those leftovers, not to worry. Stick leftover leftovers back in the fridge or freezer within two hours of their last thorough heating. They can be reheated and re-chilled as many times as you’d like within four days of their initial cooking, but will lose moisture with each hot/cold cycle.

The reheat-it-right rule: Reheat in shallow covered baking dishes in a 350-degree oven or in covered pans over medium heat on the stovetop. Stir occasionally and add a little broth or water to remoisten as needed. Or zap leftovers in a covered dish in the microwave, rotating the dish and stirring occasionally, until heated. Whichever method you choose, you’re going for a steamy 165 degrees.

Some of us old-timers tend to poo-poo the rules. One of my favorite things to say to folks these days is “You never would have survived the ‘50s.” Somehow, operating under a completely different set of safety rules back then seems to have provided us with a kind of immunity. And cast-iron stomachs.

As I write this, the world is abuzz with news of Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s engagement. The hubbub about her being divorced surprises me, since if Charles ascends the throne, both the king and his wife will have been divorced. However, unless Charles is willing to really create a stir in the seemingly unflappable Brits, Camilla won’t be queen.

You can bet at Harry and Megan’s expected spring nuptials there will be no “repurposed” food, but not having the royal food budget, we need to look for creative new ways to use up leftovers. So that is the path we walk again this week, starting with monkey bread stuffed with Thanksgiving goodies. The recipe was submitted to by sunnydaysnora, who calls it “An easy and delicious way to use up Thanksgiving leftovers. Serve with gravy or cranberry sauce!”

The next recipe is for turkey and pasta with a basil cream sauce. The recipe calls for linguine, but I would use penne or radiatori. Either would hold the sauce nicely and be a little easier to eat than linguine. I have never mastered the art of rolling long pastas neatly around a fork. This recipe also came from, courtesy of Rachel Popa.

It looks like all of today’s recipes have com from It just goes to show what a great recipe resource that website is. The turkey-Parmesan Stromboli is rather an atypical vehicle for using Thanksgiving leftovers, but it is certain to be different from the customary post-Thanksgiving fare. It would most likely be very good stuffed with dressing, vegetables and gravy, rather than going the Italian route with it. This recipe was shared with by Tess Pauline.

In recent weeks I have received a number of recipe requests, including “Instant Pot” recipes for my daughter Traci Lecheler, who discovered this cooking marvel while visiting her uncle in Tucson. Apparently, this is the next “the next big thing.” It is a combination electric pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice maker and yogurt maker, that gives you sous vide capability. It allows fast cooking or a more leisurely pace. Instant Pot is available at Kohl’s, Target, Amazon and Best Buy, and probably many other popular outlets.

An anonymous reader is looking for “scratch recipes for lemon cookies, bread, scones, muffins and such in which the flavor does not bake out. The lemon bakes out of the recipes I have, and they have almost no lemon flavor.”

Also in the lemony vein, Sue Bialecki has requested a recipe from her childhood, saying “When I was a kid, my favorite nonchocolate dessert was Jell-O lemon chiffon pie filling on a graham cracker crust. Jell-O stopped making this product years ago. The texture was light, fluffy and ‘bubbly,’ not like pudding or custard (no sweetened condensed milk!)” She hopes readers can help her “replicate this dessert.”

And Al Swift hopes someone has the recipe for potato skins like those served at Michael’s Cerise, many years ago.

Thanksgiving Leftovers Monkey Bread

2 pounds frozen bread dough, thawed

1 cup chopped cooked turkey

1 cup prepared stuffing

1 cup prepared mashed potatoes

½ cup mixed vegetables

½ cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-x13-inch baking dish. Break off 2-inch pieces of dough; flatten each piece as thin as possible without using a rolling pin. Spoon about 1 teaspoon turkey, 1 teaspoon stuffing, 1 teaspoon mashed potatoes, and 1 teaspoon vegetables onto each piece of flattened dough. Gently close dough around filling, sealing edges together and forming a ball. Arrange filled dough balls in the prepared baking dish; sprinkle with Cheddar cheese. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until dough balls are cooked through, and browned. Invert monkey bread onto a serving dish. (sunnydaysnora;

Turkey Pasta in Basil Cream Sauce

2 medium tomatoes

1 teaspoon butter

2 teaspoons flour

1½ cups heavy cream

1 cup turkey, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup fresh basil, shredded

1 pound linguine or pasta of choice

Cut tomatoes in half; remove seeds and chop. In a skillet, melt butter and add flour. Add cream and bring to boil; reduce heat and let simmer until sauce has thickened, about 1 minute. Add turkey; season with salt and pepper; add garlic and basil. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta 8 to 10 minutes; drain. Add pasta to sauce; toss to coat. Add tomatoes; garnish with Parmesan cheese and serve. (rachelpopa;

Turkey Parmesan Stromboli

1 pound cooked turkey, shredded or diced

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cups mozzarella cheese

2 cups spaghetti sauce

1 cup Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 pound dough

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine shredded chicken with mozzarella, ½ cup pasta sauce, Parmesan cheese, and parsley in a bowl; set aside. Roll dough into a rectangle on a flat, floured surface. Add meat mixture down the middle of the dough; fold edges inward and pinch to seal. Pinch and seal the ends as well. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet; bake 35 minutes or until golden. Cut into slices and serve. (tesspauline;

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Liven up your Thursday mornings by tuning in to Coulee Region Cooks from 10 to 11 a.m. on WIZM-AM radio, 1410 on the dial. Spend an hour with Mike Hayes and a different guest(s) each week in his studio kitchen, sharing recipes and cooking tips, along with a generous serving of fun.

Send requests, recipes and/or cooking tips and techniques to Alice P. Clark at: Reader Exchange, c/o La Crosse Tribune, 401 N. Third St., La Crosse, Wis. 54601; e-mail:; or send a fax to 608.782.9723, attn: Reader Exchange.


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