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5 Uses for Leftover Mashed Potatoes

When you make mashed potatoes, leftovers are almost inevitable. See more pictures of comfort foods.
©iStockphoto.com/sakakawea7

Making a batch of mashed potatoes isn't as simple a proposition as it may seem. Not that they're complicated to whip up -- that part's actually pretty easy. The challenge lies in cooking just the right amount for the number of mouths you have to feed. Inevitably, you end up with too much, because it's hard to determine the quantity of mashed potatoes a certain number of spuds will create. So, what do you do with the overage?

Well, unlike many other foods, mashed potatoes don't always make great leftovers, because their consistency changes over time -- they're less creamy and smooth once they've been put in the fridge overnight and reheated. However, they work wonderfully as an ingredient in other dishes, from casseroles and meat pies to soups and stews. You can even put them in desserts such as cakes and candy.

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Once you get the hang of cooking with leftover mashed potatoes, you'll probably come up with all sorts of uses for them, including using a dollop as a kind of "topper" for other dishes, or as a thickening agent in soups. But to get you started, here are five simple dishes you can create with your day-old spuds.

Traditionally, potato pancakes are made using grated potatoes as the main ingredient. After finely grating the potatoes, you drain off excess liquid and then mix the spuds with an egg and flour, which bind everything together. Finally, you fry them in a pan. Many other ingredients, such as onions and spices, can make an appearance, too, but that's the general idea.

Leftover mashed potatoes make a great substitute for the grated potatoes in this dish, simply because they're all ready to go -- no peeling, grating or blotting up excess liquid. It can also be a tad easier to mix in additional ingredients, since the potatoes are mashed and not in small slices. And you're only limited by your imagination when it comes to what you can add to your mashed potato pancakes. Try some ginger, cinnamon, maple syrup and leeks for a sweet-and-savory taste. Or select your favorite herbs, plus some cheese, to create a breakfast-friendly alternative to home fries or hash browns.

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You can dress up a basic shepherd's pie recipe with your favorite spices.
You can dress up a basic shepherd's pie recipe with your favorite spices.
©iStockphoto.com/Chris_Elwell

Shepherd's pie is all about leftovers. Also known as cottage pie, it's a combination of what's sitting in your fridge, namely roasted meat and veggies, which you mix and spread into a pie dish lined with mashed potatoes. Freshly mashed potatoes or leftover smashed spuds work equally well. Once the dish is full, the entire top of the pie is covered with additional mashed potatoes, then baked.

Shepherd's pie began as an English dish, and lamb or mutton was the traditional meat used. In America, beef is more common. This is a great meal to dress up any way you'd like. Add zesty spices or more exotic veggies, or brush the top of the pie with a beaten egg for a little golden glaze. Omit the meat altogether to make a vegetarian meal.

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Pierogies are a Slavic type of dumpling. To create them, you make a simple dough from flour, water and egg, roll it out and then cut it into circles. Next, you place a spoonful of filling on each circle, fold it in half, crimp the edges with your fingers, then boil. Pierogies can also be fried in butter or baked in the oven.

Pierogi fillings vary widely, depending on a person's cultural background or personal taste. But some of the more common fillings are sauerkraut, cheese, prunes and, of course, mashed potatoes. When mashed potatoes are part of the mix, they're often combined with other ingredients before they're folded into the pierogies. Some good choices include cheese, onions, bacon, chives and fresh herbs.

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If the dough sounds like too much work, purchase pasta sheets in the grocery store, then cut them into circles using a drinking glass or small bowl.

Croquettes are typically best served hot and with a sauce.
Croquettes are typically best served hot and with a sauce.

"Croquette" is a general term that describes a sweet or savory mix of ingredients that's shaped into nuggets or cylindrical pieces, then coated in a breadcrumb mixture and fried in oil. Croquettes are served hot, and usually with a sauce. The classic French croquette contains minced meat, plus mushrooms, a type of sauce called Madeira, egg yolks and butter. Other common ingredients include potatoes, cheese and cod, although you can make almost anything into a croquette, including apricots, rice and chestnuts.

To create mashed potato croquettes, stir some finely-chopped meat or fish into the potatoes, or complementary foods like corn, bacon or onion. Add an egg to bind things, then roll into small balls, dip into a beaten egg, roll in bread crumbs and fry. To eat, first dip each corequette into the sauce of your choice: mustard, salsa, sour cream, soy sauce, catsup, etc.

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If you like mashed potatoes, there's a good chance you like other starchy foods, too. Well, you can take those leftover mashed potatoes and use them to make potato bread and potato rolls. Typical recipes include ingredients like milk, butter, flour, sugar, salt, yeast and eggs, and may even add some items like nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon peel to give the bread and rolls some sweet undertones.

Often, bread machine cookbooks contain recipes for mashed potato bread. Those instructions might suggest using instant mashed potatoes, but real mashed potatoes work just as well (and typically end up tasting better).

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