On the eve of Thanksgiving Day, many refrigerators are bulging with items-in-waiting.  Pies are either baking in the oven or set out for cooling.  A turkey might be thawing in the fridge, or if someone is like me and forgot to take it out of the freezer soon enough, it might be in a basin of cold water (which is changed frequently) to hurry the procedure.  Kitchens are busy places on the day before this holiday.

Now let’s fast-forward a bit.  Thanksgiving dinner is over, and we sit around wondering why we ate so much.  Those of us who prepared the feast are now faced with the dreaded question, “What am I going to do with all the leftovers?”  Although I do have a few answers to that query, I cannot help but think back to the days I listened to my mother asking that question, and remembering some of the less-than-stellar times she cooked a turkey.

One particular year, Mom could not seem to get the turkey to finish cooking.  It was way past dinner time, and the bird was still not to the proper temperature on the inside.  She finally pulled it out of the oven, cut fully-cooked slices from the outside, covered the rest with foil, and returned it to its cave in the stove to complete the baking process.

My dad kept reminding Mom of this calamity when she was readying the turkey for the next Thanksgiving.  That’s when the turkey got burned.  I will not repeat the words my father used after that happened, as it was laced with “fowl” language!

Even though she had difficulties baking the turkey, Mom still faced the question of what to do with all the leftovers.  We had turkey sandwiches, turkey Manhattans, turkey this and turkey that.  Sometimes she made one of our favorites – turkey tamales.  There was no real recipe for these; I do know that she seasoned the chopped meat with a specific brand of chili powder (Mexene®) and garlic powder.  My brother has fond memories of those tamales Mom created, and he wishes that she had written down directions on how to make them.

Reminiscing aside, I have ideas for leftover turkey.  My sister Terri visited recently; she brought me a cookbook from Tennessee.  While thumbing through it, I discovered a couple of recipes I wanted to try.  Actually, it was more like several recipes; however, the others don’t fit this week’s theme.  Of course, I didn’t leave the recipes alone; I tweaked them to my liking.  Deep-Dish Cranberry Turkey Pie and Turkey Broccoli Casserole both turned out quite well, so I am sharing the recipes as altered.  Although I do not care for mushrooms, I know that there are those who do, so I left them as an option for the pie.

Since some folks eat ham instead of turkey on Thanksgiving, I am also including recipes to help use its leftovers.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving; don’t forget to do what the name of the holiday implies – give thanks to the Lord for His abundant care.


Deep-Dish Cranberry Turkey Pie

2 cups chicken stock or broth

1 cup fresh cranberries

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cups light cream

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon browning sauce (such as Kitchen Bouquet)

Salt and pepper to taste

4 cups chopped cooked turkey (or chicken)

1 (12-ounce) package frozen green peas, thawed

1-1/2 cups sliced carrots, steamed

1 (4-ounce) can sliced mushrooms drained (optional)

Pie pastry

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine stock or broth, cranberries, and onion in saucepan.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat.  Simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.  Press cranberry mixture through a sieve into a bowl.  Discard anything that remains in sieve.  Stir cream into mixture.

Heat butter in saucepan until melted.  Add flour, stirring until blended.  Gradually add cranberry mixture; mix well.  Stir in browning sauce.  Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring constantly.  Season with salt and pepper ( I used 1/4 teaspoon of each).

Combine turkey, peas, carrots, and mushrooms (if desired – I didn’t) in a bowl; mix gently.  Spoon into a 3-quart baking dish.  Spoon cranberry mixture over turkey mixture.

Roll pastry into shape that is 1 inch larger than top of baking dish.  Place pastry over filling, seal edges, and cut slits for vents.  Bake 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.  Yields 6-8 servings.


Turkey-Broccoli Casserole

1 (16-ounce) package frozen broccoli cuts, or 3 cups fresh broccoli, chopped and slightly cooked

3 cups diced cooked turkey

1 (0-3/4 ounce) can cream of chicken soup

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon curry powder (may use Worcestershire sauce instead)

1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

3 slices of toast, buttered and crumbled

In 8-by-8-inch baking dish, put layer of broccoli and turkey.  Prepare sauce by mixing soup, milk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and curry.  Pour sauce over broccoli and turkey.  Top with cheese and toast crumbles.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Serves 6-8.


Ham -Vegetable Chowder

2 cups water

4 medium potatoes, cubed

1 cup sliced celery

1 cup sliced carrot

1/2 cup diced onion

1-1/4 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3 cups milk

2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

2 cups cubed cooked ham

Hot sauce, if desired

Bring water to a boil in a Dutch oven; add vegetables, salt, and pepper.  Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are done.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat; add flour, stirring until smooth.  Cook 1 minute stirring constantly.  Gradually add milk; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly.  Add cheese and stir until melted.

Stir cheese mixture into vegetables.  Add ham and hot sauce (if desired) to taste, stirring well.  Heat thoroughly but do not boil.


Ham Pecan Salad

1 cup diced fully cooked ham

1 hard-cooked egg, chopped (optional)

1/2 cups shredded medium (or sharp) cheddar cheese

1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans

2/3 cup sour cream (may use low-fat or non-fat)

1 teaspoon onion powder

Combine all ingredients.  Chill for at least 2 hours to blend flavors.