There are many options when it comes to Thanksgiving leftover ideas. Some can be incredibly complex, involving many steps. Sure, using a turkey carcass to create a homemade turkey broth is a very healthy, tasty soup base. But it takes a lot of work, time, and storage space for such a large project. Here are my top 4. All of these require 10 minutes of preparation time while the last two require around 30 minutes for baking.
It doesn’t have to be a slab of turkey on white bread. Try using a little garlic mayo or butter with garlic, spread lightly over a leftover dinner role. Add a few sprigs of lettuce and a generous portion of leftover turkey. Then, add a few slices of leftover brie from your cheese platter (if you don’t usually have a cheese platter, here’s a good reason to add one!) with a thinly spread layer of leftover cranberry sauce and voila! You’ve got a deli-worthy turkey-cranberry-brie sandwich that’ll make your mouth water.
This is perfect as a sandwich, plain, or mixed with noodles. Depending on the availability of various ingredients, you can really dress your turkey up. Chop into cubes several pieces of leftover turkey. Mix with mayonnaise (regular or nonfat work fine) and chopped up pieces of cocktail pickles. Add salt and pepper and garlic powder to taste, and maybe a dash of cayenne for a little spice. Spread onto a leftover dinner roll for a tasty snack. If you have these items lying around, toss them in as well! Slivered almonds, red grapes leftover from your fruit salad, sprouts, chopped celery, and chopped onion all go wonderfully in a turkey salad. Save any extra salad mixture for more sandwiches, or add a bit of pasta for a dressed up pasta salad.
Cheesy Turkey Casserole
If you have a lot of turkey and a lot of stuffing and you’re not sure what to do with them, make a casserole! Chop turkey into cubes and break stuffing up into small, bite sized pieces. In a casserole baking dish, mix one can of condensed cream-based soup with milk (any variety is fine, just think about the flavor that you’ll be adding). Add turkey and stuffing to cover the pan in a single layer and toss with the soup mixture. Top with shredded cheese and bake at 350 until golden brown and bubbly. This recipe is super-versitile because you can change the flavor and genre just by changing the soup and adding some seasoning. For a flair of Mexican flavor, use a cheese soup, add a can of diced tomatoes (Ro*tel, for example), a few jalepenos, and a good dash of chili powder. Top with shredded cheddar and a few green onions. For a creamy, savory taste, add a few spoonfuls of sour cream to a cream of celery soup, mixed with milk. Season with rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, and top with mozzarella. Also, if you have turkey but no stuffing, this recipe can be made with rice, noodles, or even croutons. Adjust it to what you have on hand.
Sweet Potato Cheese Bake.
This is a recipe designed for use with butternut squash, but which can easily be used with leftover sweet potatoes or yams. Simply heat your leftovers up and whip until creamy smooth. You may want to remove any mini-marshmallows you may have used. Once whipped, spread a thin layer across the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Add a light layer of tomato sauce (or meatless spaghetti sauce). On top of this you can add a layer of ricotta cheese, a sprinkling of shredded mozzarella cheese, or both. Repeat until your pan is full, or your sweet potatoes are gone, and top with shredded mozzarella and bake at 350 until golden and bubbly. This recipe can also be used with lasagna noodles…simply add them to the layering process. This can be premade and frozen for later use as well, really stretching those leftovers! This recipe is great because it’s a very different taste from most Thanksgiving food. Although it only utilizes sweet potatoes, the rest of the ingredients are pantry staples. You may need to buy cheese, but this is a hearty meal that’s super budget-friendly. If you have left over rolls, cut them in half, butter and garlic them, toss them in the oven and toast until golden for a delicious garlic bread accompaniment.
Of course, you can always fall back on simply reheating your turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and gravy but now you’ve got a few more options to test drive.