Jazzing up Thanksgiving Leftovers

Who’s over their Thanksgiving leftovers? Tired of plates of Turkey, stuffing, greens and cranberry sauce? It’s cool, me too, and for the record there has never been a “part 6” of a series that wasn’t tired and at least a little disappointing. The following recipes are versions of Shepard’s Pie that are designed to use my Thanksgiving leftovers. I recommend not doing all of these, pick the leftovers you have the most of for this one and then do something completely different tomorrow night. Also? All of these can be frozen after assembled for about 3 to 4 months, so you can save these for February when you really like turkey again if you’d rather.

Option 1:

  1. Tear or dice cooked turkey (white or dark won’t matter) and place in bottom of medium-sized casserole dish.
  2. Add 1 can drained or 1 small bag frozen mixed veggies (soup mix or diced mix work best) to casserole dish.
  3. Top with enough turkey gravy to coat (about 1 to 2 cups, this is a preference thing) and stir.
  4. Create “top crust” with mashed potatoes. You want this layers to be between 1 1/2 and 3 inches deep, again depending on preference. Also, it’s a crust, do not stir.
  5. Sprinkle paprika and seasoned salt across the top.
  6. Bake in 350 degree oven until peaks of potatoes brown slightly, this will take about 20 minutes.
  7. Make sure dish is hot all the way through and serve!

Option 2:

  1. Repeat steps 1 through 3 from above.
  2. Top with “top crust” of stuffing (or dressing, whatever you call it). This layer should be about 2 to 3 inches thick. Do not stir.
  3. Sprinkle with paprika across the top.
  4. Bake in 350 degree oven until edges of stuffing become browned and crispy, about 20 minutes.
  5. Make sure dish is hot all the way through and serve!

Option 3:

  1. Repeat steps 1 through 3 from option 1.
  2. Crumble cornbread over top, creating a 2 inch minimum topping. (If you have no cornbread but want to try this: mix 1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin mix as directed on the box and pour over “filling”. Bake as directed on box)
  3. Add several (generous or about 2 Tbls) dollops of butter sporadically over the cornbread. Cover dish with lid.
  4. Bake in 350 degree oven until heated through and butter has melted, about 20 minutes.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Option 4:

  1. Repeat step 1 from option 1.
  2. Add any leftover veggies (ex: corn off cob, green beans, broccoli, spinach); or few spoonfuls of green bean casserole (now mushy onions and all); or broccoli casserole. whatever you add, stir it all together.
  3. Add about 2 cups (again preference thing here) of shredded cheddar or colby cheese. (If you are using broccoli casserole you should probably go with just one cup).
  4. Top with mashed potatoes, twice-baked potato casserole, or cornbread. (Depending on what you are topping with follow the appropriate instructions above, or just coat top with potato casserole about 2 inches thick).
  5. Bake about 20 minutes in a (you guessed it) 350 degree oven.
  6. Make sure it is heated through and serve!

Option 5: (the veggie-less option for the picky ones in your group)

  1. This works best with leftover ham torn into bits, but turkey and chicken also work. Layer leftover meat in bottom of medium-sized casserole dish.
  2. Add one can (drained) in its own juice chuncked or tidbit pineapple. (if you have leftover crushed or that’s what’s in your pantry, that’s fine, just use about 1/2 of the can (also drained).
  3. Top with leftover sweet potato casserole or any leftover cooked sweet potatoes (including just plain mashed or sliced). Sprinkle crushed pecans on top (if you like).
  4. Heat in microwave until heated through, or oven if you prefer (but put the lid on in the oven).
  5. Serve and enjoy!

So five casseroles to choose from. These use up some leftovers pretty quick (especially if you make one to freeze for later). Obviously all of these are still going to have a fall comfort food feel, so I like to alternate a leftover casserole with something like spaghetti or tacos, just to break things up. I hope these ideas help you jazz up some of your leftovers!


One Pot Chicken Fredo Cheat

As the name implies, this is not a recipe for Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo. It is however really easy and one uses 1 cooking pot. This is a great weeknight meal (or in our case it was Mother’s Day & Mama didn’t want to spend the day cooking) because it’s quick, fairly nutritious, easy (make & clean up), and very kid-friendly. A personal side benefit for me? This particular recipe leaves exactly 1 lunch portion for me to take with me to work later in the week & is just as good reheated. It should be noted that while I put broccoli in this dish, you can put most any frozen veggie in it, broccoli just holds up texture wise (super important to kids with SPD & it seems most kids in general). If you have anyone in your house doing the whole “I only eat things that are white” diet (if you’ve ever eaten with a 2-5 year old you probably know the faze I’m referring to) you can use frozen cauliflower & it’s still pretty good. We ate our with a side salad, just to up the veggie content, but you can eat this completely on its own.


You will need:

  • About 3 cups of medium egg noodles (you can also use Wacky Mac here if you would prefer, but this is a recipe where I do not recommend substituting wheat pasta, that whole texture thing gets messed up then)
  • 2 large boneless, skinless Chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces (don’t worry about them looking pretty , they will kinda disappear in the pasta, just get them close to uniform size for cooking more evenly)
  • 1 medium sized bag of frozen broccoli
  • 3 Tlbs of powdered garlic (no garlic press in the hotel 😦 )
  • 1 Tbls onion powder (Powder helps make this the picky texture kid friendly dish it is & then I don’t have to mince onions)
  • 2 dashes of salt
  • 2 cans reduced sodium/fat cream of chicken
  • 1/4 stick margarine
  • Skim milk (or whatever milk you keep at your house)
  • Olive oil
  • Water
  • Large cooking pot with a lid

    Put just enough Olive oil in pot to coat bottom. Add garlic, onion, and 1 dash of salt to oil as it heats. Before your oil starts to burn your seasoning, add chicken. Cook, stirring constantly, until chicken is white but done all the way through. Place cooked chicken on a plate for a little bit.

    In the same pot, add egg noodles and enough water to cover the egg noodles. Add the other dash of salt, and about a tablespoon of olive oil, bring to a boil. Boil until noodles are done, then drain. Reduce heat on stove to low.

    Return chicken to the pot. Add cream of chicken and margarine. Stir until margarine melts, then raise heat to medium and add milk at about 1/4  cup increments at a time until sauce looks like, well, sauce. This sauce should be a little thin and white in color at this point. (If you add too much milk, just let it cook a little longer to thicken)

    Once sauce starts to bubble add entire bag broccoli and fold it in. Place lid (vented slightly) on top, and reduce heat back to low. Let      simmer about 3 to 5 minutes, then stir. If broccoli is heated through and sauce looks slightly thicker, it’s done! Turn off the stove and serve! If not, put the lid back on and give it another 3 to 5 minutes. I have never seen this take longer than 10 minutes, but that will depend on your “eyeballing” the milk earlier.