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Five ideas for turning Thanksgiving leftovers into new meals

Get your protein and veggies with Leftover Turkey Frittata.


Get your protein and veggies with Leftover Turkey Frittata.

For some people, Thanksgiving dinner is merely the preface to a week of hearty leftovers. In my house this year, we're buying a bigger turkey than we really need, specifically so we'll have extra meat on hand. I recommend you do the same, if only to work the leftover poultry into the recipes below. Here are five ideas for turning excess mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, turkey and more into new dinnertime gems. If you can't use leftovers up within four days of putting them in the refrigerator, freeze them (for up to three months), defrost them and then use them as directed.

Michelle Stark, Times food editor

Turkey-Pumpkin Enchiladas

These enchiladas offer an unexpected flavor profile for Thanksgiving leftovers. This helps use up leftover turkey, pumpkin puree and corn. Start by preheating an oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a bowl, mix 3 cups chopped cooked turkey, 1 (15-ounce) can refried beans, 1 (29-ounce) can pure pumpkin puree and ¼ cup taco seasoning mix. In another bowl, mash 1 chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce with 1 (29-ounce) can tomato sauce and season generously with salt. Now it's time to build the enchiladas. Lay a whole wheat tortilla flat on a cutting board and spoon the turkey mixture into the middle; shape it into a line. Fold the tortilla closed and lay it, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with 8 tortillas total, or until all of the filling is used, then pour the tomato sauce over the tortillas. Sprinkle with 8 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese and bake for about 35 to 45 minutes. Recipe adapted from

Cheesy Mashed Potato Pancakes

Of all the Thanksgiving leftovers, we always seem to have the most extra mashed potatoes in my house. That's where these potato pancakes come in handy. Start with 3 cups chilled leftover mashed potatoes in a bowl, then add ⅔ cup shredded cheddar cheese, 2 tablespoons chopped scallions, 1 lightly beaten egg and 3 tablespoons flour. Mix well, then use your hands to portion out 12 balls. Roll each ball then flatten it into a pancake; aim for about ½ inch thickness. In a shallow dish, add ½ cup flour and dredge each pancake in the flour. Fry pancakes in batches in 3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil heated over medium heat in a large pan. Cook each one for 3 to 4 minutes, until they are crispy on both sides; place them on a paper towel-lined plate when finished and salt immediately. Add more oil as needed. Serve with sour cream and more chopped scallions. Recipe adapted from

Stuffing Waffles With Cranberry Sauce

These waffles combine leftover turkey, stuffing and cranberries for a compact morning or lunchtime treat. Warm up some leftover turkey, about 1 cup, in a pan with a bit of chicken broth. Mix 2 cups stuffing with a couple of splashes of chicken broth to moisten, then scoop out ½ cup of stuffing and place in a hot waffle iron sprayed with cooking spray. Cook as long as you would cook a regular waffle, then remove and transfer to a plate. Repeat with ½ cup mixture at a time until you have 4 waffles. In a small bowl, mix a dollop of leftover cranberry sauce with a dollop of sour cream. Prepare 4 fried eggs in a nonstick skillet. Top waffles with a bit of turkey and 1 egg each, and finish with some of the cranberry-sour cream sauce.

Leftover Turkey Frittata

Frittatas are able to absorb a lot of ingredients, which makes them ideal for using up leftover food. This one helps get rid of leftover turkey, green beans and Brussels sprouts. In a bowl, beat 8 eggs until foamy, then season with salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 12-inch skillet, then add 1 thinly sliced shallot and 1 deseeded and diced jalapeno. Cook until softened, 2 or 3 minutes. Add 2 cups shredded Brussels sprouts, 1 cup green beans cut into 1-inch pieces and cook until they begin to crisp up, another 2 or 3 minutes. Add about 2 cups shredded cooked turkey and let that warm through. Spread everything evenly over the bottom of the pan, then add the 8 beaten eggs to the pan and shake to make sure everything is evenly covered. Turn the heat down to medium and cook until the eggs are almost set, 8 to 10 minutes. Place under a hot broiler for another minute or two just to set the top of the frittata. Sprinkle with ½ cup fresh chopped parsley. Recipe adapted from

Turkey Cobb Salad

We could use something slightly healthy after the big feast, and that's where this Cobb salad using turkey comes in. But first, we need to crisp up some bacon. (Okay, maybe not so healthy after all.) In a skillet, cook 4 slices bacon over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Once cool, cut into ½-inch pieces. Now it's time to make the dressing. In a large bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and some salt and pepper to taste. Keep whisking and drizzle in additional olive oil until the mixture has thickened. Add shredded romaine lettuce, about 1 large head's worth, and toss to coat. Place dressed salad on plates or one large serving platter and arrange the following on the platter as well: 2 cups diced cooked turkey breast, 1 thinly sliced avocado, ¾ cup crumbled blue cheese, 2 hard-boiled eggs cut into wedges and 2 diced plum tomatoes. Serves 4. Recipe adapted from Everyday Food.

Five ideas for turning Thanksgiving leftovers into new meals 11/23/15 [Last modified: Monday, November 23, 2015 11:07am]
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