Turkey soup

Making turkey soup from your leftover Thanksgiving meal is easy and quick. Just add your favorite vegetables and bite-size pieces of turkey — it’s that simple.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, don’t let those leftovers from that big dinner go to waste. You can always stuff leftover turkey pieces in a sandwich topped with stuffing, cranberry sauce and a hint of horseradish sauce, but there are other ways to get another meal or two out of those leftovers as well.

Of course if your family is like mine, there’s not much left over because they scoop it up and take it home. However, I always manage to hold back enough for me to make turkey soup and a few sandwiches.

When I was a kid, I loved Thanksgiving, but hated some of the food that went along with the holiday, including stuffing. My mom would try to make me eat it, but I would close my mouth so tight you couldn’t even pry it open with a pry bar. I’m not sure what it was about it that I hated so much, but today I can’t get enough of it. Every chance I have to eat stuffing, I do.

Maybe it’s the added little touches I put in it, like water chestnuts or roasted chestnuts and hot zesty sausage. Not sure, but whatever it is, I sure do like my stuffing.

I guess it’s true what they say about getting older — our taste buds get more refined and we all of a sudden eat things we detested as children.

It wasn’t until I was much older and wiser that I grew to like the taste of avocados. I used to say they tasted “green.” Someone asked me what green tasted like and I just looked at them and said, “avocados.” It was shortly after that I tasted my first avocado and now I eat them regularly and find a way to include them in my holiday meals.

So, parents, don’t worry if your child refuses to try a certain food, because sooner or later they will try it and want it all the time, even if it’s leftovers.

There are so many dishes you can make with leftovers — soup, sandwiches, quesadillas, pot pie, quiche, and the list goes on and on. Or if you want to savor those flavors and have them a week or so later, freeze the leftovers.

People often ask what they can do with leftover mashed potatoes. Two things come to mind — potato pancakes and potato candy. Both recipes are yummy and a good way to utilize leftovers.

Turkey sandwiches are my absolute favorite of all the leftovers from our big meal. I stack my turkey (white meat only) on a bun or bread of choice and pile on the stuffing and cranberry sauce. I top this with horseradish sauce to give it that little bit of a kick and boost of flavor. Add a couple of slices of avocado to this and you will be in turkey heaven. Some like their sandwiches warm, but I like mine cold — yes, even the stuffing.

Another leftover recipe I utilize is turkey soup.

Leftover turkey soup

3 stalks of celery, sliced

1/2 bag of baby carrots sliced (add more if needed)

1 large white onion chopped

Cut up leftover turkey meat into bite-size pieces (approximately 3 cups or whatever you prefer)

In a large pan, place the turkey carcass and add water to cover. Season with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and a bay leaf. Boil; then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for approximately 2 hours, adding more water if needed.

Remove the bones and bay leaf from the broth, and skim off any residue that is on the surface. Remove any meat left on the bones and return the meat to the pan. Stir in the ingredients, including the turkey meat, and cook uncovered until all vegetables are tender.

I normally throw everything in my soup except the kitchen sink. The more vegetables, the better.

You can add any vegetable or other spices if you like. Some prefer to use corn, green peas or diced potatoes along with carrots, onion and celery. Some even use a blend of sage, thyme, marjoram, rosemary or nutmeg to lend a subtle savory note to the soup. Some even add noodles to the soup.

As many of you already know, I never measure anything, and I season my dishes as I go along with many different spices until I get the right taste for my palate. So as you are making these dishes, remember the measurements may not be exact. As I see it, you can’t mess up a good turkey soup.

Another great recipe is for turkey Waldorf salad. This is really yummy.

Turkey Waldorf salad

2 cup shredded leftover turkey meat

2 stalks celery sliced

1/2 cup celery leaves, coarsely chopped

1 crisp apple, such as Gala or Macintosh, cored and chopped

1 cup red seedless grapes, halved (like green grapes more)

1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

1/2 cup non-fat yogurt

2 Tbs. mayonnaise

1 tsp. honey

1/4 tsp. salt

Black pepper to taste

In a large bowl, gently toss the turkey, celery, celery leaves, apple, grapes and pecans.

In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mayonnaise, honey and salt until well combined. Add this to the turkey mixture, gently mix and season to taste.

Some think outside the box and slice celery root into slender pieces and toss this with the Waldorf salad.

If you’re looking for a lighter meal to help ward off those extra pounds of the holiday season, try making a garden salad with mixed greens, chopped carrots, celery, tomatoes, diced avocado, chopped boiled eggs, leftover turkey meat, chopped bacon and your favorite cheese topped with your favorite salad dressing.

For our Thanksgiving meal, we not only have turkey, but also honey-baked ham. I love Honey-Baked hams and wait patiently each year for them to appear in Kroger stores in the Lancaster and Columbus areas.

There are a lot of recipes for leftover ham. Ham and soup beans, ham sandwiches, ham and scalloped potatoes, ham casserole — well, I believe you get the message.

Leftover ham also is good warmed up or cold, but one of my favorites is to make a breakfast casserole the next morning with hash browns and eggs — delicious to say the least.

Cut the ham in bite-size pieces and put to the side. I cheat and buy frozen hash browns. Beat eggs with a little milk (I normally use a dozen eggs, depending on how many are coming for breakfast). Spray the bottom of your pan with cooking spray and put the hash browns followed by the ham in the pan and pour the eggs over the top. Top all of this with your favorite cheese such as shredded pepperjack or whatever kind suits your fancy. Bake at 350 degrees until eggs are cooked — check this by putting a knife in the center and if it comes out clean, the casserole is done.

I hope everyone had a great holiday and enjoy leftovers as much as the meal itself.

Until next time, happy cooking.

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