Recipes for Thanksgiving Leftovers

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After the Thanksgiving dinner is over, you can create all sorts of tasty dishes with the leftovers.

It’s the morning after “the feast”; we’re all suffering from food hangovers and we deserve it. Not one of us behaved ourselves–three pieces of pie apiece (now really). Someone quietly uttered something about working it off with a mile-long jog, but we knocked him out vengefully with a drumstick.

Besides, some of us have an overwhelming pile of gravy-stained napkins and tablecloths staring us in the face. Aunt Sophie did wash the good china before departing for home last night, but why didn’t she bother returning it to the cabinet? Then there’s the “What do we do with the buzzard-picked turkey carcass?” dilemma. We could have a domestic attack and make homemade turkey soup or we could have the kids haul it out to the dumpster after a fight over the wishbone.

Aren’t we ecstatic that we shopped, cleaned, and cooked all week so we could have pounds and pounds of leftovers? (“Mom, why can’t I have a peanut butter sandwich?” “Because we have this delicious turkey and we only have it once a year, and you will be thankful for it.”) We must also rid ourselves of the 16 bags of frozen cranberries we bought in a frenzy after the local paper predicted a shortage. (What shortage?) What we all need are fast recipes to eliminate leftovers and get us out of the kitchen.

Let’s get back to that turkey carcass for a second. So despised is that old carcass that if our family spends Thanksgiving Day elsewhere, I usually end up requesting the carcass to bring home. While the host or hostess is all too happy to see the old bird go, they more often than not think I’m crazy. But why trash the remains when so much flavor and nutrients await in those bones?

Making soup from the carcass is really quite simple if you go about it strategically. After the Thanksgiving meal, right about the time your husband (or any male present) finishes his pie and coffee, plop down the turkey platter in front of him. For whatever reason, most men enjoy carving meat. Just make sure you schedule your meal so it’s completed long before the start of any major TV sports event. While Aunt Sophie does the dishes, you can be placing a picked-clean carcass in a soup pot. If you can’t face that carcass one more minute, put it in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator until after breakfast tomorrow. Otherwise, about two hours later you’ll have a delicious stock that can be frozen for soup or prepared the next day. Then you can throw out the carcass.

Turkey Soup

Last Thanksgiving I wrote about cooking a turkey on the grill. A smoked turkey carcass makes a great soup.

1 turkey carcass, broken into a few pieces
Any leftover pan juices or gravy
8 to 10 cups water (enough to cover the carcass)
I onion, quartered
2 large cloves garlic, whole but peeled and slightly smashed
1 carrot, cut into large pieces
4 to 5 stalks celery, with tops and leaves
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or a few fresh sprigs)
1/2 teaspoon dried sage (or a few fresh sprigs)
A few sprigs parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt teaspoon cayenne pepper
freshly ground pepper

In large pot, bring water to a boil while adding in all ingredients. Reduce heat to low simmer, cover, and simmer for two hours. Remove from heat. When cool enough, pick out meat that has fallen off bones to add later to soup. Strain, pour into a freezer container, and refrigerate. After cooled, freeze broth or keep refrigerated until you’re ready to make soup. (The fat will rise to top and form a seal. Remove when ready to make soup.)

If putting beans in soup, place dry beans in three cups water in covered saucepan. Simmer for one hour or until tender while broth is cooking.

Even if rutabagas or turnips aren’t family favorites, don’t omit them. They won’t be recognized in the soup but will add lots of flavor and nutritive value.

1 cup dried navy or northern (white) beans
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups carrots, sliced into thin circles
1 1/2 cups celery, diced
3 turnips or small rutabagas, halved and sliced thin
3 medium red- or white-skinned potatoes, quartered and sliced thin
2 to 3 cups leftover turkey, cut into bite size pieces
1 to 2 cups leftover cooked green beans or cauliflower (optional)
fresh parsley, finely chopped parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Every year the leftover lump of cranberry sauce sits in the refrigerator until someone finally throws it out. This year, you can turn it into a festive quick bread.

Prepare beans (above) if you haven’t already, or use canned beans — rinsed and drained. Using large pot, sauté onion in oil until limp. Pour in stock and rest of ingredients, with exception of leftover vegetables, parsley, and cheese. Add precooked navy beans. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Check to see if the vegetables are tender. Simmer longer if needed. When the soup is done, add leftover cooked vegetables and canned beans (if used). Top with a little grated cheese and chopped parsley.

Cranberry Quick Bread

1/4 cup mild oil, such as canola (to lower fat, use only 2 tablespoons)
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg or 2 egg whites
1/2 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons grated orange rind
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 cups sifted whole-wheat pastry flour or 1 cup sifted unbleached white flour and 1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, chopped
3 tablespoons sliced almonds or chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease bottom of a loaf pan or three mini-loaf pans. (No oil is needed for nonstick pans.) Chop cranberries, using a knife or food processor. Beat well all ingredients up to and including wheat germ. Add flour, baking powder, and baking soda into wet mixture and mix briefly. Stir in cranberries and pour evenly into loaf pan(s). Sprinkle sliced almonds (if used) on top. Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes for minipans, and 45 to 50 minutes for larger pan. Loaves are done when inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool on racks before removing from pans for slicing.

Turkey Hash

3 cups red- or white-skinned potatoes, cut into 1/2″ cubes (about 6 medium size)
1/2 cup turkey or chicken broth
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 stalks celery (approximately 1 cup), finely chopped
1 sweet red or poblano pepper, * chopped
2 cups cooked turkey, chopped into small pieces
1/8teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and freshly ground pepper
fresh paprika
parsley (optional), minced

Put chopped potatoes and broth in a 12″ skillet, preferably nonstick. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until broth has evaporated and potatoes are tender and lightly browned on one side. Add onion, celery, and garlic and saute for a few minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add rest of ingredients, with exception of paprika and parsley.

Let cook for a few minutes on one side and then flip over a section. Don’t over stir. Add a teaspoon of oil if pan is too dry. When celery is tender and hash is browned, serve sprinkled with parsley and paprika.

*Poblano peppers are sometimes wrongly marked “pasilla.”

Mashed Potato Pancakes

1 clove garlic, minced
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon jalapeno pepper, minced (or 1 teaspoon powdered cayenne pepper)mild oil, such as Canola
2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1 egg, beaten or 1 egg white

In nonstick skillet (10″ to 12″) saute garlic and hot pepper in a few drops of oil for a minute. Stir in green onions for a few seconds; remove from heat. In mixing bowl, stir together all ingredients. Heat a teaspoon of oil in skillet. Drop batter into pan by spoonful, making small 2″ cakes. Flatten with spatula, and fry on medium-high heat for approximately two minutes per side. Flip over when bottom is brown. Serve with low-fat sour cream or yogurt.

Cranberry Cobbler

Here’s an easy cobbler recipe to dispose of all of that leftover cranberry sauce. I prefer fresh sauce, but canned works fine.

1 1/2 cups homemade chunky-style cranberry sauce
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
1 large apple, cut into 1/2″ pieces
3/4 cup sifted whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
3 tablespoons frozen margarine or chilled butter, cut into 1/2″ slices.
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 400 F. Stir together cranberry sauce, orange juice, orange rind, and apple. Spoon into an eight-inch square or round cake pan. In food processor, or using a pastry blender, pulse or mix together flour, sugar, cardamom, and margarine until dough is in pea-size pieces. Add baking powder, egg, and milk; pulse or stir briefly until just blended.

Spoon nine heaping tablespoons of batter on cranberries, three in each row. (Cranberries will show in spots.) Bake for 25 minutes or so until topping is golden brown. Let cool at least 10 minutes. Serve with vanilla frozen yogurt.

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