This is the time of year when turkey finds its way to many dinner tables. Some people eat turkey as the Thanksgiving fare and then dine on leftovers for weeks. Others eat turkey on Thanksgiving, dine on leftovers for weeks, and then repeat the process when Christmas comes along.

Not only is turkey affordable, but for me it is one of the easiest meats to prepare. It you do not put dressing in the middle of the turkey, you can get one ready to cook in less than five minutes. Cooking doesn’t get much easier than that! Once you have had the initial turkey dinner, you will still have lots of delicious meat to prepare some of the following dishes.

You will also enjoy some of these side dishes that can be prepared ahead of time. It cuts the stress out of the day when I know that food is ready almost the minute I get home. This last Saturday, I prepared three delicious soups — some to freeze and several to enjoy this week.

After you take the turkey off the bones, do not forget to put the bones in a pot covered with water. Add some onion, diced celery, and carrot and wait for the best smell that will last as long as you boil the bone. Strain off the bone and vegetable, and you have the base for a delicious soup.

Here are other ideas for turkey leftovers:

Snow White Turkey Salad

  • 4 cups diced cooked turkey
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 1 cup minced green pepper
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ to ¾ cup low fat mayonnaise
  • 1 t. chicken bouillon granules
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/8 t. pepper
  • Lettuce, shredded
  • Garnishes of your choice

Combine turkey, celery, green pepper and onion in a bowl. Set aside. In another bowl combine mayonnaise, whipped cream, bouillon granules, salt and pepper. Mix well. Fold into turkey-vegetable mixture. Refrigerate until serving time. Mound turkey salad on crisp lettuce and circle with desired garnishes. Delicious garnishes might include toasted almonds, sliced apples, grapes, pineapple chunks, avocado slices or hard-cooked eggs. Serves 6 to 8.

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Turkey, Gravy and Dressing Ring

Prepare your favorite turkey dressing. Press the dressing into a greased ring-shaped mold and bake at 350ºF for 45 minutes until the dressing turns a light golden brown. Invert the dressing onto a plate. Now prepare the food for the center by cubing up leftover turkey and warming it with the gravy. Pour into the center of the ring and serve for a second Thanksgiving dinner. For those who are cranberry lovers, you can also make a dressing ring and put cranberries in the center.

Turkey Divan

This divine dish is so classy no one will think of it as leftovers!

  • 1 (10 ounce) package of frozen broccoli (fresh is great, too)
  • 6 or 8 slices of leftover turkey
  • 1 (10-1/2 ounce) can condensed Cheddar cheese soup
  • 1 T. milk
  • ½ cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1-1/2 t. lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 cup slivered almonds (chopped almonds work just as well)

Preheat oven at 350ºF. Lightly spray a 2-quart casserole dish with vegetable spray. Arrange the broccoli over the bottom of the dish. Add a layer of sliced turkey. In a medium bowl, combine soup, milk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and curry powder. Pour over the top of the turkey and sprinkle with slivered almonds. Bake the casserole 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with rice. Serves 4.

Individual Leftover Portions

If you are moving fast as most of us do, you many want to freeze the leftover and then pull them out of the freezer when you find yourself going so fast you do not have time to prepare a proper meal.

Leftover Gravy: Pour leftover gravy into muffin tins and freeze. Pop out of muffin tins and put into a heavy zip-sealing bag.

Leftover Dressing: Scoop leftover stuffing with an ice cream scoop onto a cookie sheet and quick-freeze. Place serving-size portions in heavy zip-sealing bag.