Stepping Out

Tasty ways to reinvent Thanksgiving leftovers

Transforming what's left of the holiday meal


We have been stirring and simmering and roasting our way to that most memorable of Thanksgiving meals. In fact, most everyone loves this time of year so much that we tend to throw every ounce of TLC we have into our favorite holiday recipes.

Not the least of which is our beloved star player, the turkey! We build our menu around it and anxiously hope for “oohs” and “ahhs” when the platter hits the table. But secretly, way down deep, we’re also looking forward to days and days of leftovers!

So after you polish off some of that holiday shopping this weekend, try some creative new approaches to those leftovers and keep Thanksgiving going just a bit longer.

Many of us grew up enjoying even the plain turkey sandwiches mom would packed into our lunchbox. But as we’ve grown, we’ve come to realize that there’s so much more to be done with your leftover bird! Home cook Brandi Kirkpatrick, for example, turns the notion of dry turkey sandwiches on end with her recipe for a juicy and delicious Hot Turkey version. “This was one of my first ever recipes,” recalls Kirkpatrick. “My college roommates loved it and it’s a great way to use up leftover turkey.” The magic of Kirkpatrick’s recipe really lies in her use of gravy as a sandwich topper. Cooked turkey and seasonal veggies laced with fresh thyme and topped with steaming gravy – it’s like placing the essence of Thanksgiving piled onto a hot buttered roll!

Thea Pappalardo has a favorite use for using leftover turkey as well, as she explained in a recent submission to the discussion group, “What’s Cookin’ Today.” “Tonight is one of our favorite leftover turkey meals. I’m making pasta with turkey sauce,” says Pappalardo. “My mother-in-law used to make this. It’s just a matter of mixing tomato paste and water with the leftover turkey gravy along with all the little bits of meat in the bottom of the pan. Add some salt and basil and put it in the oven to cook and thicken. When it’s good and thick, I mix it with cooked penne, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and chow down.” Those tasty bits in the bottom of your roasting pan are virtual flavor explosions, just bursting with richness. Incorporating them into a non-traditional tomato sauce takes ho-hum leftovers and gives them a come-and-get-me makeover.

And speaking of makeovers, how about turning your humble turkey into a super comforting take on shepherd’s pie? Marsha Gardner reaches casserole nirvana with her favorite turkey and tater mash-up. Start your own After Thanksgiving Turkey Casserole by filling a baking dish with cubed turkey and veggies sauteed in butter and olive oil. Top with your leftover mashed potatoes – sweet potatoes work too – and sprinkle with a dusting of bright red paprika. Once baked, you have a picture-perfect one-pot meal – a terrific way to spread the joy of the holiday throughout the entire week.

One-Dish Thanksgiving Casserole

Here’s another take on the After-Thanksgiving casserole. This tasty dish elevates leftovers to a whole new level. It takes only 10 minutes to put together, and it tastes just as good, if not better, than the Thanksgiving meal.

4 cups stuffing, prepared

2 cups cranberry sauce

1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (Regular or 98% Fat Free) or Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup (Regular or 98% Fat Free)

1/3 cup milk

4 cups cubed cooked turkey

1 can (2.8 ounces) French fried onions (1 1/3 cups)

1. Spoon the stuffing into a 3-quart shallow baking dish. Spoon the cranberry sauce over the stuffing.

2. Stir the soup, milk and turkey in a large bowl. Spoon the soup mixture over the cranberry sauce. Cover the baking dish.

3. Bake at 375° F. for 45 minutes or until the mixture is hot and bubbling.

4. Top with the onions. Bake for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden brown.

Aunt Wanda’s Turkey Carcass Soup

This recipe is meant to use up any leftover ingredients from the holiday meal. So be creative and add other veggies that you have.

1 carcass

3 large carrots, chopped

1 (15 ounce can) cut green beans, drained

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped cabbage

2 cups rice

1. Pick your Thanksgiving turkey nearly clean. Save the choice meat for turkey salad or pot pie, etc .

2. Dump the turkey carcass and of its debris, including the juices, into a large pot. Add green beans, celery, spinach, cabbage, and rice. Pour in enough water to cover everything.

3. Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour or so. Add more water as needed.

4. Remove all turkey bones and unwanted debris (skin, cartilage, etc.). Enjoy. Makes 8 servings.

Sweet Potato & Turkey Salad

Try this new take on the traditional turkey salad.

1 pound cooked turkey, cubed

2 pound sweet potatoes, cooked, peeled an d cubed

½ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup raisins

¼ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon orange juice

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1. Combine turkey, potatoes, cranberries, raisins and walnuts in a large bowl.

2. In a smaller bowl, combine all other ingredients and mix well. Fold into turkey mixture.

3. Cover and chill several hours.