For many people, the best thing about any holiday meal is looking forward to all the delicious leftovers that keep everyone coming back to the kitchen for several days. You may feel like you are buying way too much for one day -- and the average shopper does spend anywhere from 50 to 100 dollars on a single family meal -- but the key to serving great turkey leftovers begins with your pre-holiday shopping trip. Think ahead and purchase extra potatoes, mixed vegetables and even frozen piecrusts before the big day and you'll have ingredients for some simple yet delicious post-holiday get-togethers.
Most people enjoy grabbing a cold turkey sandwich for lunch, but chilly autumn and winter evenings call for hot comfort food at dinner. For example, making turkey pot pie from Thanksgiving or Christmas leftovers is a no-brainer, says Whitney Cornish, a community college culinary instructor and restaurant manager.
"You probably already have cooked vegetables and gravy in your refrigerator," she says. "If you think ahead, you can even save a few cooked potatoes out from those you mash for the big meal -- just stash them in the fridge with all the rest of the food." If you don't plan ahead, you can cheat and throw in some previously sliced or diced canned potatoes.
For turkey pot pie, simply fill up a pie crust with about 2 cups of shredded roasted turkey, add leftover mixed vegetables, potatoes and at least 1/2 cup of gravy -- more if you want it extra moist -- and add salt and pepper to taste. Cover with another pie crust, pierce the crust in a few spots and bake at 425 degrees oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown; let it sit five minutes and serve with leftover holiday rolls and honey butter.
Another warm and traditional dinner is even easier. Fill an oiled cooking dish with leftover dressing, cover with shredded turkey and top with a little gravy. Warm it up in a 300-degree oven and serve it up with leftover cranberry relish and warmed-over mashed potatoes and gravy, along with some of your other delicious Thanksgiving side dishes.
A third post-holiday dish might require a quick trip to the grocery store, but it definitely worth it, says Cornish. "My mother makes a great chicken spaghetti that can be made with turkey, too. It might even make you forget that you are eating turkey again!"
Here's the recipe:
Cook 12 ounces of spaghetti according to box directions.
Mix together two cans of cream of chicken soup, 16 ounces of sour cream, a stick of softened butter, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese and season with 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning and salt and pepper. Add a few cups of cut-up roasted turkey (or chicken!) and mix well with the cooked spaghetti in an oiled baking casserole dish.
Cover with 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese and bake for 45 to 60 minutes in a 350-degree oven.
"The best thing about this spaghetti is that it tastes better the second day -- and it freezes well," Cornish says. Serve it with Italian bread sticks and a lettuce salad and you have an easy dinner.
Remember that leftover turkey should be kept refrigerated and should be used or frozen within three or four days -- and turkey gravy only keeps for about 48 hours in the refrigerator.
"You know, we waste a great deal of food in this country and Americans spend a lot of cash on big holiday meals," Cornish says. "I was raised in a big family, with four brothers, and learned from my mother. We are all for creatively using up everything by preparing simple and delicious dishes from those leftovers."