Holiday leftovers become family traditions

by | Dec 23, 2021

Timberlake’s Restaurant at Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock

Matt Rivers, Executive Chef at Timberlake’s Restaurant at the Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock, grew up in Kinston where he developed his love of cooking and culinary talents from his mother. He worked for a variety of chefs across the High Country before taking his current position at Timberlake’s Restaurant. He prides himself on creating beautiful and delicious dishes that use as many local ingredients as possible.

Like many families across North Carolina, Matt and his family get tired of cooking by the end of the holidays. One recipe that started as a simple way to clean out the fridge and feed hungry bellies, has turned into a holiday tradition that Matt and his family simply cannot live without. “I have been infatuated with bread pudding ever since the first time I made it,” Matt said, “the way it satisfies both my sweet tooth and pastry craving in one dish is incredible.”

Bread pudding is often referred to as a southern comfort food and is sure to take you back to your childhood days at grandmas dinner table. “This recipe is easy to throw together after the holiday craziness has settled a little and you need a break to clear out the fridge,” he said. “Using all the leftovers and a few ingredients from the fridge or pantry, this recipe is one of my favorites to use up the leftovers as quickly as possible or after you’ve had your fill of turkey sandwiches.”

One of the best things about this recipe is how versatile it is! Use your own creative instincts in the kitchen and make it yours by changing, adding or removing the ingredients that you want. “Always remember that recipes are a guideline and there is room for creativity. This recipe can be adjusted to meet dietary restrictions or just the picky eater,” Matt said. “I encourage you to play with this recipe! Make it your own by adding whatever you think will make it different or special for your family and hopefully it becomes a family tradition, the same way it has been in my family for generations.”

In fact, Matt and his family put a twist on the recipe that they enjoy better than the original recipe itself! “In my family, we never have any leftover bread,” he joked, “so, we started using biscuits or crescent rolls and discovered we actually liked that best.” Matt has also tried this dish by simply dumping all the ingredients in a casserole dish and baking it, as well as in a breakfast casserole by simply doubling the amount of eggs.

No matter how you choose to enjoy the dish this holiday season, remember to “always be kind and eat good food!”

Savory Bread Pudding


  • 2 pounds of turkey or ham (or both!)
  • 2 cups of sausage stuffing (regular stuffing works too)
  • 1 cup cranberry sauce
  • 1.5 cups gravy
  • 2 cups vegetables (ie: green beans, brussel sprouts, yams, carrots or whatever you have)
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes (or roasted potatoes)
  • 6 deviled eggs, chopped up (optional)
  • 1.5 cups leftover yeast rolls, biscuits or bread (ripped, torn or chopped up)
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups heavy cream (half and half or milk work too)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (colby-jack works great too)
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Siracha or hot sauce of your choice
  • 2 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup of sliced scallions for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat eggs, cream or milk, cream cheese, hot sauce, salt and pepper together.
  3. Add bread pieces and cheddar cheese. Toss to coat and set aside.
  4. Layer the ingredients in a 9×13 casserole dish starting with half the gravy on the bottom.
  5. Add stuffing, then vegetables, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, turkey/ham, rest of gravy, deviled eggs (if using) and finish with egg coated bread mixture.
  6. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes or until everything is hot and the bread mix on top is getting crispy.
  7. Let sit for about 10 to 15 minutes before diving in.
  8. Top with scallions.
  9. Enjoy!
Chef Matt Rivers