Janet's Notebook
Spreading the Joy: Fun Ways to Reinvent Thanksgiving Leftovers

Day After Thanksgiving Casserole

Is everyone ready with your holiday eats? We have been stirring and simmering and roasting our way to what we hope is a most memorable of Thanksgiving meals!

In fact, we love 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!

I grew up enjoying even the plain turkey sandwiches my mom packed into my lunch pail. But as I've grown, I'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 Brandi. "My college roommates loved it and it's a great way to use up leftover turkey!!!"

In our view, the magic of Brandi'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!

New Yorker Thea Pappalardo has a favorite use for using leftover turkey as well, as she explained in a recent submission to the Just A Pinch discussion group, "What's Cookin' Today."

"Tonight is one of our favorite leftover turkey meals. I'm making pasta with turkey sauce," says Thea. "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."

We love this idea! 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!

Thanksgiving is a time for coming together and celebrating the bounty of our lives. What better reason for a special meal shared with our loved ones? We hope that you carry that sense of fulfillment and gratitude with you throughout the year. For every day is really a thanks-giving when we have food on our table and someone special to share it with.

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Dee Stillwell - Nov 24, 2012
This is one of my favorite dishes for leftover turkey or chicken. If I am not too energetic, I make it into a layered casserole instead if rolling the enchiladas.
Lighter Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas
For TG, I made Stuffing Balls / Bread Stuffing .I'm thinking if u have alot of stuffing and gravy leftovers, u could remoisten it and make these. Otherwise..save the recipe to make next time u are making stuffing. U won't be disappointed..They were so good.

Hey Thea g/f..very cool to be in Janet's notebook.
Lynda Wade - Nov 22, 2012
Hey Everyone, thanks for all the tips. I live in Canada and our Thanksgiving was last month but I will be sure to use some of your great tips with my turkey leftovers at Christmas. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Melanie B - Nov 22, 2012
Our family fav is Enchilada Casserole MMB YUMMY!!!
Jenya Elkin - Nov 22, 2012
Thank you!!!!!!!!
sallye bates - Nov 21, 2012
Did any of you see THE CHEW Monday? Carla made croutons from her leftover stuffing...formed the stuffing into about 1" balls and baked them until firm. They looked really good. I may try that if I have any leftover stuffing.
Vanessa Godfrey - Nov 21, 2012
I make Turkey Muffins, use the large muffin pans, put some stuffing in a piece of turkey on top, a bit of potatoes, and more stuffing to seal it in. Bake till done. Freezes great. I heat up some cranberry sauce, and pour it over two of these and dinner is served.
Marcia Layden - Nov 21, 2012
Shirley, My mom used to make the stuffing the night before. The key to it is to let the stuffing cool down to room temp. before putting it in the fridge. I am assuming that you use hot water/broth to moisten the stuffing along with sauteed onions and celery.
sallye bates - Nov 21, 2012
My sons and grandsons and their friends are such chow hounds, we hardly ever have much in the way of leftovers. We eat main meal around 1 PM and then snack the rest of the day into the evening while watching the 'Boys and the 'Horns football games, so we eat most of the food.

A funny story...the first time my son-in-law (who was then just the boyfriend) came to our house for Thanksgiving dinner, I cleaned up the kitchen and threw away what leftover dressing we had (I had and still do have paranoia about food poisoning). About halfway through the evening football game, my daughter came and asked me "Where is the leftover dressing?" I told her I threw it away, why was she asking? She informed me that Mike wanted to make a dressing and cranberry sauce sandwich. Well, I don't throw away the left over dressing anymore, but I do promptly put it in the fridge as soon as we are finished eating.
shirley maroska - Nov 21, 2012
Hi, I need to know if I can make stuffing the night before and keep in frig until time to bake? Thank you.
Marcia Layden - Nov 21, 2012
Robin, try freezing your gravy to drape over the slices of pie. I think you'd like it. And, Carol, turkey quiche sounds luscious!!! I think I will just have to try it. Anyother hints to making a super quiche?
Deborah Farley - Nov 21, 2012
Your suggestions are wonderful! I will use some of the recipes this week end !

Thank you !
Carol Martin - Nov 21, 2012
One of my favorite leftover dishes is to make a Turkey Quiche. I use the leftover stuffing for the pie crust on the bottom and then just make a regular quiche using turkey, leftover creamed onions, leftover broccoli or whatever you want. I especially like using Swiss Cheese in the quiche.
Robin Coleman - Nov 20, 2012
Our family favorite is turkey pie - Much like Yvonne I put in stuffing, mashed potatoes, any and all vegies and leftover gravy. Homemade pie crust makes this fantastic (and I use Alton Brown's trick, mixing the crust in my food processor). I usually save the turkey bones and boil them, the broth from which I use as the base for turkey soup.
Rebecca Stosser - Nov 20, 2012
My left over recipe is Turkey Tetrazzini. It has become a staple for the last 20 years. I love it because even though it is a lot of work, it makes a ton of food that can be frozen in meal sized portions. My kids EXPECT to get their own frozen container to take home every year and I love to do it for them!
Betty Cloyd - Nov 20, 2012
I forgot to say add salt and pepper to taste.