The Best Part of Thanksgiving | Family, friends & leftovers

The yellowed leaves of the aspens flutter in the fall winds. Fields of dried mule ears crunch under foot and there is a chill in the morning air. Tahoe’s changing seasons are one of the reasons it is a premier destination location and autumn is a grand time to be here with an awe-inspiring array of colorful foliage that dress our community in a cloak of beautiful yellows and oranges. Fall is also synonymous with Thanksgiving and a time for family and friends to gather and be thankful.

 Check out Chef Smitty’s pumpkin pie recipe

Try more great recipes for Thanksgiving leftovers:
Making Turkey Stock
Turkey Asian Soup
Leftover Turkey Sandwiches
Turkey Pot Pie & Turkey Pinwheels

Many of us concur the best part of Thanksgiving is leftovers. The aroma of turkey roasting and pies baking create lasting memories for young and old alike. According to the National Turkey Federation, 46 million turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving. In addition 50 million pumpkin pies are consumed on this day (try Chef Smitty’s Pumpkin Pie recipe in this edition). The average American consumes approximately a whopping 4,500 calories at a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. It takes about 10 hours to burn off this holiday meal. Some families eat an early afternoon dinner and come back to pick up where they left off after the tryptophan has worn off. It’s not necessarily the turkeys fault; that post-meal crash is most likely from carbohydrate-rich foods and alcohol consumption.

Turkey Sandwiches

One of my favorite day-after leftover meals is also a heartfelt memory. When I was young I’d wake up at my grandmother’s house and pad into her kitchen to make a stuffing sandwich: buttery bread stuffing sandwiched between two slices of white bread with a tad of warm gravy and a slice of turkey. It turns out I am not the only one who enjoys bread on bread. Truckee chiropractor Walter Lightner is also someone who loves the morning-after stuffing sandwich. He adds cranberry sauce and a bit of turkey on doughy white bread with a smear of mayonnaise.

Turkey Soup

Turkey soup is one of the ultimate uses for leftover turkey. Once the meat has been removed from the bird, throw the carcass in a large stockpot of water, add a large onion, carrots, celery, some spices and simmer to create a delicious turkey soup.

My friend Karen Barchas makes a fabulous kale, white bean and turkey soup, My favorite kitchen appliance that I can’t live without is the Instant Pot, which is what I use to make soup.

Turkey Tetrazzini

And who can resist a fresh-baked turkey pot pie? Turkey Tetrazzini is a delectable use of turkey leftovers, diced turkey swimming in a mushroom, butter cream and Parmesan sauce with a dash of wine or sherry and baked or served over pasta. Try the recipe at Click on Local Flavor.

Turkey Tortillas

Recently I struck up a conversation with an airport shuttle driver and she chirped out her day-after-Thanksgiving leftover favorite: “We make tortitas.” Her family version includes sliced turkey, layered in a tortilla with some shredded cheese and folded twice into a triangle, dipped in egg and fried in a pan with a touch of oil — although I think everything is better with butter. This will be on my list to experiment with.

Let us not forget leftover pie for breakfast as a morning appetizer while waiting for mashed potato cakes to fry up in butter. There are just so many creative things to do with Thanksgiving leftovers. Enjoy the upcoming holiday and don’t forget to tag us and let us know what your favorite Thanksgiving leftover is.

Turkey, Kale and Bean Soup
From the kitchen for Karen Barchas

3 T olive oil
1 C onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
4 C broth chicken or vegetable
10 C kale, chopped stems removed
2-3 C leftover turkey, diced or shredded
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
2 15-oz. can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
1 15-oz. can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 t salt
1 t black pepper
1 t chopped fresh rosemary
1 T red wine vinegar

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot, medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots and celery, and sauté until tender. Stir in garlic, cook for 1 minute.

Add 3 cups of broth and kale and bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until kale is tender about 8-10 minutes.

Add 1 can of cannellini beans and remaining cup of broth into a blender and blend until smooth. Add pureed bean mixture, remaining cannellini beans and black beans to soup.

Bring to a boil reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add turkey, spices and vinegar and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve hot with warm sourdough.

Turkey Tetrazzini
From the kitchen of Priya Hutner

1 C mushrooms, sliced
6 T butter
¼ C all-purpose flour
1 package linguine
1½ C half and half
¼ C heavy cream
2 C turkey stock
½ C dry white wine
3 C turkey, chopped or diced
1 C frozen peas
1 C Parmesan cheese
1 C plain bread crumbs
Salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Fill a large pot with water and put it over high heat to boil. Butter a 9×13-inch casserole dish and set aside.

Melt 1 T of butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.

Melt 3 T of the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking occasionally, until the flour is slightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook to al dente.

Whisk the milk, cream, turkey stock and wine and pour into the butter and flour mixture. Simmer and reduce the heat until the sauce thickens. Drain the pasta. Add mushrooms, turkey and peas to the sauce in the skillet mixing together

Add half of the cheese. Add salt and pepper and pour the mixture into the casserole dish. Melt the 2 T remaining butter and toss together in a bowl with bread crumbs and the remaining cheese. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the casserole dish..

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until top is browned.

Gluten- & Dairy-Free versions

Substitute gluten-free pasta and bread crumbs. Add broccoli and spinach. Use organic cornstarch to thicken. Use non-dairy milk, unsweetened oat or coconut milk instead of cream and half and half. Use olive or coconut oil instead of butter, and nutritional yeast to give it a cheesy flavor.