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Tips to make your Thanksgiving turkey leftovers work for you

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By Norm Harding, Reporter

So now what? Thanksgiving has come and went and you are still left with a ton of food, and by now the thought of eating another turkey sandwich doesn’t sound too appealing.

So what are you going to do with all those leftovers?

You bought and prepared a 22-pound turkey (you have no idea why), and 21 pounds are still left.

The cranberry salad was barely touched. You made some sort of fruit salad with apples that you forgot to serve in all the commotion. The mashed potatoes—what were you thinking?

First, let’s look at the post-Thanksgiving items most likely to still be around a day or two after the big dinner.

The meats: ham and/or turkey, some of the vegetable side dishes such as sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes, perhaps some homemade macaroni and cheese. All of these things can be turned into other delicious meals that do not include sandwiches and the microwave.

If there is not going to be the time or desire, freezing is the first thing that should be considered. You can freeze meal size portions to use later.

It could be that would be the first thing to consider if there are no other ideas. With these recipes, your family will be eating some delicious meals that won’t even be recognized as leftovers.

Easy Fixin’s

Enchiladas or tacos: Warm up the meat, spice it up with a little taco seasoning, fill tortillas with it, and you can add taco or enchilada sauce and bake it. Use a bunch of cheese, avocado, sour cream, lettuce and tomatoes.

Chili cornbread: Prepare a package of cornbread and pour the mixture over the turkey meat, mixed with a can of chili. Bake it until the cornbread is ready.

Turkey Alfredo pasta: Cook the pasta (whichever you like), warm up the turkey with a jar of Alfredo sauce, and mix it up.

Turkey shepherd’s pie: Heat mashed potatoes; mix them with the turkey, a can of corn, and a can of seasoned tomato sauce. Pour grated cheddar cheese over the mixture and bake it until the cheese melts.

Quiches: Cut pie pastry in little circles and cover the baskets of a muffing pat with them. Fill the pastry muffin cups with turkey meat, Swiss cheese and sour cream. Bake it until the mixture feels firm.

Cranberry salad: Use the cranberry salad you made for Thanksgiving Day and put it on top of your favorite lettuce instead of using dressing. If you haven’t already added oranges to your cranberry salad, add it to this recipe. Mandarin oranges are a great choice.

Cordon Bleu Casserole

4 cups cooked turkey breast meat, cubed

3 cups ham, cubed

12 oz. frozen vegetables, Italian blend or equiv.

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded, divided

1 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chicken broth

1/3 cup flour

2 cups skim milk

1-1/2 tsp. dill weed, divided

1/8 tsp. dry mustard

1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 cup dry breadcrumbs

2 Tbsps. margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9x13-inch pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine turkey, ham, vegetables and 3/4 cup of the cheese; set aside.

In a saucepan, sauté onion in broth until tender. Add flour to form a paste. Gradually add skim milk, stirring constantly. Simmer until thickened, approximately one minute. Add the mustard, nutmeg and 1 teaspoon of the dill weed; mix well.

Remove from heat and pour over meat mixture, mixing well. Pour into prepared pan. Toss breadcrumbs, melted butter and the remaining 1/2-teaspoon dill weed.

Stir in remaining 1/4-cup cheese. Sprinkle over casserole. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Makes 6-8 servings.

Turkey Wellington

1 small onion, diced

16 oz. mushrooms, sliced

2 Tbsps. olive oil

4 sheets pre-made puff pastry squares (4x4-inch)

1 cup turkey stuffing (leftover)

1 lb. turkey meat (leftover)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup milk

Gravy (leftover)

Cranberry sauce (leftover)

Saute onions and mushrooms in olive oil 4 to 5 minutes; set aside. Place 1/4 cup turkey stuffing in the center of two puff pastry squares.

Top the stuffing with 4 oz. turkey pieces. Top turkey with sautéed mushrooms and onions; add salt and pepper to taste.

Beat together egg and milk. Place remaining two puff pastry squares over filling and seal with the milk and egg wash. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with heated gravy on top with cranberry sauce and your favorite vegetable.

Turkey Soup with Egg Noodles and Vegetables

2 tsps. olive oil

2 leeks, cleaned and chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 stalk celery, chopped

3-4 cups cooked turkey, shredded

2-3 bay leaves

2 tsps. dried thyme

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

8 cups chicken broth

6 oz. egg noodles, uncooked

1 cup frozen green peas

2 Tbsps. fresh parsley leaves, chopped

Heat oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks, carrots, garlic and celery; saute 4 minutes, or until soft. Add turkey, bay leaves, thyme, salt and black pepper; stir to mix well. Add chicken broth and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Return mixture to a boil and add egg noodles. Cook 10 minutes, until egg noodles are just tender. Stir in peas and cook until peas are just heated through, about 1 minute.

Remove from heat, discard bay leaves and stir in parsley. Makes 4-6 servings.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to use your Thanksgiving turkey leftovers!

Norm Harding is a cooking columnist for the Beacon. To send him recipes, e-mail him at nharding@brunswickbeacon.com.