Judith Hausman
November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving turkey

Don’t let the joys of turkey end on Thanksgiving. Take cues from The Lefovers Queen (aka me), there are a lot more delicious meals ahead.

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There’s nothing The Leftovers Queen likes better than Thanksgiving. The secret is to think of those bowls, containers and wrapped bundles in the fridge as inspiration and to recombine them with a fresh slant to make a second, terrific seasonal meal. Only the pies shouldn’t be messed with if you even have any left over.

Turkey and Vegetables

Cranberry Sauce Muffins


  • 2 cups white flour, or a combination of whole wheat and white flour
  • 2½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup or more sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal (optional)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T. vegetable oil or cooled, melted butter
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup whole cranberry sauce or relish


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 12-muffin tin. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and sugar and cornmeal if using, in a medium bowl. Beat together the milk, egg, oil or butter, and cranberry sauce in another bowl or large measuring cup.

Pour this liquid mixture into the flour mixture. Mix quickly with a dozen thorough strokes, being careful not to over mix. A few dry places or lumps in the mix are fine. If very dry, add a few more tablespoons of milk. Spoon immediately into greased muffin cups to about two-thirds full. Bake 20 minutes. Cool briefly before removing from tin.

Yield: 12 muffins

I always throw the turkey carcass into a soup pot right away, and my family loves turkey sandwiches. But heritage-breed turkeys may not leave you as much white breast meat to slice.

Instead, add chopped turkey to chili, which is really easy and may make use also of random seasonal vegetables, such as carrots and last peppers. Sauté these with an onion and a couple of garlic cloves. You can proudly share the first quart of tomatoes you put up or just open and add a large can of stewed or diced tomatoes. That corn you froze is a good add, too. Simmer; add beans, chili powder, salt, hot pepper and cumin to taste.

Turkey hash is another fave. Sauté some chopped onion in butter, add leftover cooked potatoes of any style or even leftover bread stuffing to the pan, along with chopped leftover turkey, cooked Brussels sprouts, carrots and so on. Try to keep it as a mass so it cooks together like a cake. Patiently allow to brown and season well with plenty of pepper. Then you can fry an egg or two right next to the hash in the pan.

The most elaborate leftover dish I like is a turkey pot pie. Make a standard white sauce (you can add leftover gravy or creamy green bean casserole to it as it thickens). Then add cooked, diced everything: cauliflower, onions, turkey, whatever there is. To use random, leftover crudités, chop and sauté them to soften first. Fill a greased casserole, cover it and pop it into a 375 degree F oven. Meanwhile, mix up a recipe of simple biscuits (OK, cheat and use Bisquick) using any leftover sour cream or yogurt-based dips (onion, spinach, ranch) you have for the dairy product. You can add some grated cheese, too, if you like. Roll and cut out circles of the dough or just drop the dough in large spoonfuls onto the hot turkey mix. Bake until the biscuits brown. Yum!

Winter Squash

If your family does the marshmallow topping thing or adds crushed pineapple to squash or pumpkin purée, you can use the leftovers to make muffins, a quick bread (use your banana bread recipe and sub in the squash instead) or great pancakes.

If it’s not too sweet, however, go the soup route. Just thin the squash purée with broth and season either with curry, chili powder or crumbled sage, to taste. You can garnish the soup with a swirl of cream or sour cream and a few croutons, made from your leftover bread or dinner rolls. If local for you means using sweet potatoes instead of squash, follow the same rules. These seasonings work just as well with sweet potatoes.

Cranberry Sauce

For me, cranberries are conceivably local or at least regional, if you discount that Michigan now grows more of them than Massachusetts does. Sometimes I fill oatmeal jam bars with leftover whole cranberry sauce or I bake these easy muffins (recipe to the right) with it for a special holiday breakfast. Any homemade, canned or gourmet cranberry relish will do just fine, and you can add a bit more milk if the batter seems dry or sugar if your cranberry condiment isn’t too sweet. The quarter-cup of cornmeal added to the dry ingredients adds a bit of crunch.

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