The turkey is picked to the bone. The pie plate has been all but licked clean. The dishes are drying one the rack and you are fully enjoying your stretchy pants and the well deserved afternoon snooze that always follows that delicious victory which is Thanksgiving dinner. You did it. You officially made it through the greatest food holiday of the year.
“Now what?” you say….
Well if you are anything like my family, chances are you’ll probably be into the Thanksgiving leftovers a couple of hours later. There is something about a microwaved plate of leftover mashed potatoes, stuffing, broccoli cheese casserole and a hot turkey sandwich on a homemade bun that tastes like childhood. For my family, feasting on Thanksgiving leftovers while watching White Christmas and decorating the ole pine tree seem to be just as big a part of the holiday tradition as the actual meal itself.
My mom, who grew up in Fergus Falls, MN with 4 other siblings, has always been accustomed to cooking for an army. As she and her siblings grew up, married and had children of their own, their hungry holiday army continued to grow bigger and bigger, and of course, so did the meals. Now that we are all older, many of our families have split off to begin new holiday traditions, so our gatherings today are slightly smaller than I remember growing up. Regardless of this fact, my mom still cooks holiday meals like she is cooking for a serious crowd. People always know that if there is someone out there on a holiday who needs a place to go, they can come to Dorie’s house and count on being well fed. This works out just fine for me because more food for holiday dinners means more leftovers to go around. And I love me some good leftovers.
One of my favorite things to do with leftover Thanksgiving dishes (other than just heating them up and chowing down) has been to find ways to use them to make new dishes. Turkey, broccoli, corn and carrots become a savory turkey pot pie. Mashed potatoes become breakfast potato pancakes. Even leftover gravy is used to make a rich and flavorful stock for soup.
This year, my focus was on using up leftover stuffing. Because Vanessa’s grandma’s stuffing recipe was ridiculously amazing (seriously, it was a huge hit at my house) we made an extra large batch which meant lots of leftovers. This stuffing was awesome to reuse because it was already so flavorful, I didn’t need to add much to it in order to reboot it into some really delicious dishes. It’s also really versatile because it’s not an overly herby stuffing, so it worked really well with eggs in a stratta as well as mixed with Italian sausage and leftover wild rice, stuffed into acorn squash. And just because I had extra gravy, I made stuffing dumplings too and dropped those into turkey soup.
Keep in mind that all of these recipes are meant to use up leftover Thanksgiving ingredients. Depending on your Thanksgiving menu, you may or may not need to pick up a few things from the store, but hopefully many of the ingredients will be things you already have on hand in your cupboard or refrigerator. Hope you enjoy these recipes and continue to find different and delicious ways to use up holiday leftovers to create new and interesting meals for your family!
Thanksgiving Breakfast Strata
2 c. Leftover Stuffing (broken into smaller pieces)
1 c. Diced Onions
1 1/2 c. Sliced Mushrooms
1 Diced Kielbasa Sausage (ring)
1 1/2 c. Half and Half
Dash of Hot Sauce (I use Sriracha)
2 tsp. Sugar
2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper
3 c. Shredded Cheese (I used Marble Jack, but any shredded cheese will do)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Over medium heat, saute diced kielbasa sausage and diced onions in a splash of olive oil until brown. While sausage and onion are browning, scatter stuffing pieces into the bottom of a greased 9×13 inch baking dish. Remove sausage and onions from heat and layer on top of stuffing in your baking dish . In the same pan you used to brown the sausage, saute mushrooms in a splash of olive oil. Be sure to use a spatula to scrape up all the brown, meaty goodness that is left in the pan from the sausage. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. When the mushrooms are slightly brown, remove from heat and layer in baking dish on top of sausage. Sprinkle 2 cups of cheese over the sausage mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, hot sauce (more if you like more kick), sugar, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over the stuffing mixture and top with remaining cheddar cheese. Bake covered for 35 minutes. Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes to brown the top. Strata is done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to rest a few minutes before cutting. Serve with some hot sauce and fried potatoes or hashbrowns.
Italian Sausage and Wild Rice Stuffed Squash
2 c. Leftover Stuffing (broken into smaller pieces)
1 lb. Italian Sausage
1/2 c. Diced Onion
1 c. Cooked Wild Rice
3/4 c. Shredded Parmesan Cheese (any sharp cheese will do)
1/4 c. Milk
3 Small Squash (I used delicata, but this would be delicious in buttercup, sweet dumpling, kabocha or any sweeter squash)
Salt and Pepper
Heat oven to 350. Clean squash by cutting in half and scooping out the seeds. Season the inside of the squash with a pinch of salt and pepper. Place squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet and roast for 20- 30 minutes until soft. Remove from oven, turn over and set aside. Over medium heat, brown Italian sausage with onion, breaking up large chunks with a spatula. In a bowl, combine stuffing, sausage mixture, wild rice and 1/2 c. parmesan and set aside. Whisk together eggs and milk and add to stuffing mixture. This will help stuffing stick together when cooked inside the squash. Scoop stuffing mixture into the squash until heaping. Bake for 20-30 minutes until brown and bubbling. Top with remaining parmesan cheese. Serve hot. I recommend pouring yourself a nice glass of Pinot Noir and eating this directly out of the shell.
Turkey Soup with Stuffing Dumplings
2 c. Leftover Stuffing
1 c. Leftover Turkey (loosely shredded into pieces)
2 c. Leftover Gravy
2 Chopped Carrots
2 Ribs Chopped Celery
1/2 c. (or one small) Chopped Onion
1 Clove Minced Garlic
4 c. Water
3 tbs. Flour
Salt and Pepper
Heat a few splashes of olive oil in a large soup kettle over medium to medium-high heat. Saute carrots, celery, onion and garlic until soft and fragrant (I usually add in the garlic about half way through to avoid browning it too much). Add leftover gravy, water and turkey and let simmer over medium heat. At this point I check the broth and adjust seasonings to taste. We like a saltier broth in my house, so I will usually add some sea salt and fresh pepper. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, flour and a few twists of fresh pepper. Add stuffing to egg mixture. Wash your hands and dig in. Combine ingredients until a thick dough forms. It will be sticky, just enjoy the messiness. You may need to add a little more flour if dough is too wet. Drop dumplings by the spoonful into hot bubbling soup. Dumplings will be done when they float to the top. Serve soup hot with some fresh, crusty bread for dunking.