Meal Planning Monday ~ Five-Star Thanksgiving Leftovers

             Happy Thanksgiving!!  In just a few days, we’ll all be lounging around the house – our bellies stuffed with turkey, watching football, hanging out with our loved ones…  And wondering what we are going to do with all of the Thanksgiving leftovers!  Whenever I cook for family gatherings, I seem to over-estimate the amount of food needed.  My philosophy is that I’d rather have too much food – and leftovers – than not have enough for everyone.

            Have you noticed that when people say the word, “leftovers,” it’s usually in a negative tone of voice?  Not at my house!  I’m a seasoned veteran at creatively re-purposing my leftovers into new culinary creations.  So let’s explore some interesting ways to use up those Thanksgiving leftovers!

  • Turkey ~ Of course you can make turkey sandwiches and turkey noodle soup with your leftover meat, but how about some Zesty Southwest Tacos?  (Recipe below.)  In less than 20 minutes, your family can have a fiesta that’s sure to please!  You could also shred the turkey and toss with BBQ sauce for sandwiches.  I also like to use my turkey meat in place of chicken in my Chicken and Wild Rice soup.  Really, any recipe that calls for shredded chicken can be made with turkey instead.
  • Mashed Potatoes ~ If you use sour cream in your mashed potatoes, they likely won’t freeze very well and no one wants watery mashed potato leftovers!  I found this great blog post with ten creative ways to use up those leftover mashed potatoes, including Shepherd’s pie, mashed potato soup, and salmon croquettes.
  • Pumpkin ~ If you’ve got leftover fresh or canned pumpkin puree, try adding it to baked goods, pancakes, smoothies, or oatmeal with some pumpkin pie spice.  I recently tried this awesome Pumpkin Bread recipe (Thanks Yvonne!), with a few alterations.  I substituted whole wheat flour and evaporated cane juice for the white flour and sugar, and added a scoop of vanilla protein powder for each loaf.  The bread was delicious and super-moist!  I made two loaves and froze one for later use.

Zesty Southwest Tacos  (From First for Women Magazine)

½ cup leftover cranberry sauce

1 small jalapeño pepper, minced

1 lime, zested and juiced

2 Tbs. canola oil

3 cups leftover cooked turkey, shredded

2 tsp. Southwest seasoning blend

12 taco shells, heated

1 ½ cups of shredded lettuce

1 ½ cups shredded red cabbage

1 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro


In a bowl, combine cranberry sauce, jalapeño, 2 tsp. line juice, ¼ tsp. lime zest.  Heat oil in skillet.  Add turkey, seasoning blend, and ¼ cup of water.  Cook 4 minutes or until water evaporates.  Divide turkey mixture among the taco shells.  Top with lettuce, cabbage, cilantro, and cranberry sauce mixture.

            Be sure and tell me if you have an interesting and delicious way to use up your Thanksgiving leftovers!