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Every year, we face the same question after large holiday dinners: What to do with all the leftovers?

Rita Held, culinary professional and creator of Holland House Cooking Wine recipes, knows that one of the rewards of holiday cooking is leftovers and all their possibilities. "If I'm too busy to make something at the time, my freezer comes in handy," says Held. "I slice up turkey, ham or roast beef and freeze in individual sandwich-size portions, or I dice it into small portions to use in scrambled eggs, omelets, or soups."

Don't let holiday leftovers go to waste. By planning ahead and being creative, you can reuse leftovers to create some truly memorable meals. This year, keep the party going with a few innovative tips and recipes from Held to take your holiday leftovers from dull to dazzling.

Storing leftovers. How leftovers are stored will determine how much you can use later. Make sure that food cools before sealing and storing it in the refrigerator, and use shallow containers to ensure freshness is locked in. While it's tempting to keep casseroles and sides wrapped in the serving dishes, it is best to store these in airtight containers as well.

Deliciously 'filled' appetizers. Create simple stuffed mushrooms by removing the stems and scooping leftover stuffing into the cap. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake until mushrooms are tender and the stuffing is golden. Make tasty turnovers by filling pastry dough with scoops of any meat and vegetable dishes and then bake until golden.

Extraordinary sandwiches. All that leftover turkey usually means sandwiches for a week. Break routine with the traditional turkey sandwich and make a warm Panini sandwich with a flavorful cheese and cranberry sauce, or a croque monsieur sandwich with sliced ham and Dijon mustard.

Savory pies. Use leftover mashed potatoes and vegetables to create a shepherd's pie. No more mashed potatoes? No problem! Create delicious potpies with leftover turkey for a simple meal the whole family will love.

Hearty soups. One of the easiest ways to use leftover meats and vegetables is by making soup. Laced with sherry cooking wine, this Wild Rice 'n Ham Soup is great way to use leftover ham and wild rice. Serve with a fresh spinach salad and a loaf of crusty French bread for an easy weeknight meal.

Wild Rice 'n Ham Soup
Makes 4 servings (about 7 cups)

4 T butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup Holland House Sherry Cooking Wine
2 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup diced cooked ham
1/2 cup shredded or julienned carrots
1 cup whole milk
2 T chopped parsley for garnish

Melt butter in a 6-quart pot. Add onion and mushrooms; cook until tender.

Stir in flour and gradually stir in 1 can chicken broth. Add remaining can of broth and sherry cooking wine. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil and thickens.

Add rice, ham and carrots; cook 10 minutes or until heated through. Reduce heat; stir in milk and simmer 1 minute or until heated through. Serve garnished with parsley.

-- Brandpoint

Tip of the Week: Holiday baking

To prevent cookies from becoming hard and tough, avoid adding more flour than necessary to the cookie dough or batter. Taking cookies out of the oven 1 to 2 minutes early may also help keep them soft after they cool.

-- Brandpoint

Easy recipe: Classic Hot Cocoa

Makes: 8 servings
Total time: 20 min
Prep time: 5 min

2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cups granulated sugar
8 cups milk, divided
1 cups semisweet chocolate chips

In a large saucepan, combine the cocoa powder and granulated sugar. Whisk in 1 1/2 cups milk until fully incorporated (mixture will be a thick paste).

Gradually whisk in the remaining 6 1/2 cups milk.

Stir in the chocolate chips. Stirring occasionally, bring to a gentle simmer.

-- Woman's Day/Delish.com

Did You Know?

According to a national survey by DiGiorno Pizza, nearly two-thirds of consumers (65 percent) prefer the convenience and quick-preparedness of frozen foods versus ordering out or having food delivered.

-- Family Features

Food Quiz

Which American fast-food chain was the first to serve hamburgers?

A. McDonald's

B. White Castle

C. Carl's Jr.

D. Burger King

Answer is at the bottom of the rail.

Wise to the Word: Mirin

Mirin, or rice wine, is a golden-colored Japanese cooking wine that was originally produced more than 400 years ago as a drinking wine but is now used as a condiment.

High in sugar and low in alcohol, it is made from sticky rice. A cousin of sake, it has a lower alcohol content (between 1 percent for Shin mirin and 14 percent for Hon mirin as opposed to 20 percent). With an assertive flavor, mirin adds a sweet note to marinades, sauces (including teriyaki), glazes for grilled fish and other dishes. It has a pleasant aroma that is notable for its ability to mask the  smell of fish.

-- CookThink.com

Number to Know

$20 billion: Annually, the amount Americans will spend on specialty food gifts, according to food industry experts.

-- Brandpoint

The Dish On ...

"The Incredible Slow Cooker Cookbook" by Catherine Reynolds

"The Incredible Slow Cooker Cookbook" is a slow cooker lover's dream. With over 57 recipes, this book is chock-full of tasty meals that are easy to prepare. This is sure to become your go-to resource time and time again.

-- Amazon.com

Food Quiz Answer

B. White Castle. By the early 1920s, this Wichita, Kan., restaurant was selling large numbers of its distinct small, square burgers, each of which is punched with five holes to ensure even cooking.

-- Delish.com