Thanksgiving Quesadillas

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Still have leftovers taking up precious space in your fridge? I know my fridge is bursting to the seams since we made a full Thanksgiving dinner for just two of us. So lots of leftovers, and some complaints from the peanut gallery that they need something other than Thanksgiving food.

Enter quesadillas. Now, I am a #1 fan of the Thanksgiving sandwich, and you definitely need to make sure to eat one to several of those in the days after Thanksgiving. But this quesadilla is a nice way to mix up the traditional Thanksgiving flavors to make it feel like you are eating something different. You can also mix and match what you want to put inside the quesadillas for any picky eaters complaining about the leftovers…

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THANKSGIVING QUESADILLAS

INGREDIENTS

Leftover turkey (dark meat reigns supreme here)
Cranberry sauce*
Pepper jack cheese, shredded
Chopped onion
Salsa*
Gravy
Tortillas
Butter

DIRECTIONS

Place desired amounts of turkey, cranberry sauce, pepper jack cheese, onion, and salsa on on tortilla. Season with salt and pepper (especially the turkey).

Heat pan to medium heat. Melt butter and rotate pan to coat. Place tortilla with filling down and top with another tortilla on top. Press down. Cook until golden brown, for approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook until cheese is melted and tortilla is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Slice quesadilla and top with gravy and additional salsa.

*Use the well gelled sections/whole cranberries from your cranberry sauce. If you use cranberry sauce that is too runny, your tortillas can get soggy. Same for salsa, chunkier salsa works better in this.

Thanksgiving Nachos

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Most people know exactly what they are going to make for their Thanksgiving meal. There are the must-haves of turkey, stuffing, and cranberries, and people have their own traditional or family recipes to include too. So why bother sharing more recipes for the day-of when likely 1) you literally can’t add any more dishes because of time, dishes, and space or 2) you have traditions to follow. But if that’s what you need you can look here.

Instead lets focus on leftovers. Now, the main Thanksgiving meal is great and wonderful. But leftovers are really where it’s at. The days after Thanksgiving are full of some of the best turkey sandwiches ever. But let me tempt you to try using your leftovers a new way: on nachos.

If you love to combine all your Thanksgiving food on your plate, this is for you. These nachos do just that but add a crunchy, salty tortilla chip and some salty cheese on top.

Now I do not advocate nachos and no turkey sandwiches, but think about these nachos when you are tired of eating your leftovers the same way day after day.

THANKSGIVING NACHOS
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS:

Tortilla chips
Cojita cheese, crumbled
Turkey, shredded
Cranberry sauce
Stuffing, optional
Gravy, warmed

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350.

Line baking sheet with tortilla chips. Top with turkey, cheese, and stuffing. Cook in oven for 3-8 minutes, until warmed and browned. Drizzle cranberry sauce and gravy on top.

Turkish Red Lentil Balls

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Time to go back to real life.  Teaching, working, cleaning, grocery shopping, picking up the mail, showering within a socially appropriate interval, wearing real pants – Yuck.

What isn’t yucky?  These lentil balls.  This recipe comes from the Turkish cooking classes I have been taking (and one thing I am actually looking forward to starting up again now that vacation is over), and I served them at our Around the World New Year’s Dinner.   They also are an excellent way to keep up any health related new years resolutions.

They may look a little strange, but they are little bites of lentil-y, tomato-y, pepper-y heaven.   The taste is not super exotic if you are afraid of trying new foods, but it it just a little bit different than the food we tend to eat, a little special.   And I love ’em.  They serve perfectly as a side dish for dinner or as an appetizer for you vegetarian (they may actually even be vegan too- my first vegan recipe!) friends at parties.

TURKISH RED LENTIL BALLS
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

1 cup red lentils
3 cups water
2 cups extra fine bulgur
1 onion, minced
15 ounces tomato sauce
7 scallions, chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons pepper paste*
1/2 cup olive oil
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons red pepper (aloppa pepper)*
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses*
1 bunch parsley, minced

DIRECTIONS

In a saucepan combine lentils and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine uncooked bulgur, onion, tomato sauce, and scallion. Mix lentils and remaining water in bulgur mixture. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, pepper paste, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, red pepper, black pepper, and pomegranate molasses. Let stand until cooled. Mix in parsley. Shape into balls by hand.  Serve with lettuce, tomato slices, pickles, and lemon juice.

Makes approximately 30-40 lentil balls, can serve 8-10 as a side dish.

*These ingredients may be difficult to find but I found most in the specialty aisle of my grocery store. You can always substitute as needed

Turkey, Apple, Almond Butter Sandwich

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These days have been some great ones recently.

I have forbidden myself from doing any work, so I have gotten in some good relaxation time.  And on top of that, I have been in hog heaven (or turkey heaven?) with all of my Thanksgiving leftovers.  Turkeys need to be roasted more often just for the sake of leftovers.

If you are looking for some ways to use up your leftovers, you have come to the right place.  I have been doing some experimentation with my leftovers, but I always find myself gravitating back toward the sandwich.  There are so many possibilities with sandwiches.

Stuffing? Sandwich.  Cranberry sauce? Sandwich.  Green bean casserole? Sandwich. If you have a question about what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers, the answer should always be: put it on a sandwich.  So many choices, yet leftovers always seem to run out before I can get to make all my concoctions.

If you are looking for a sandwich that uses turkey but with a less Thanksgiving twist, here is a great sandwich for you.  You get juicy turkey, crisp apples, melty cheese, and rich almond butter.  It is wonderful.

TURKEY, APPLE, ALMOND BUTTER SANDWICH
Adapted from Bev Cooks

INGREDIENTS

4 slices multigrain bread
1 granny smith apple, thinly sliced
Turkey
Salt and pepper
Almond butter
Sliced cheddar cheese, optional

DIRECTIONS

Preheat broiler.

Spread almond butter on all slices of bread. Layer turkey on two pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Top with apple slices and cheddar cheese.  Broil until warmed through and cheese is melted, about 3-6 minutes.

Makes 2 sandwiches.

Turkey Sliders with Mustard Poppy Seed Sauce

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Are you still full?

I hope not because you need to start making room in your stomach for all of those left overs you (hopefully) have.  Having leftovers after Thanksgiving is like having another holiday celebration right after- I love them.

I love the classic turkey sandwich with turkey, maybe a little mayo, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.  I will be definitely having a few of those, but I have so many ideas for leftover recipes that I may need to roast another turkey (just FYI mom).

These turkey sliders are a great way to use up your leftover turkey.  I made these back at my Half Christmas celebration in June- they are also great party food for people.  Take your turkey & gravy, stick it on a slider roll, top with a mustard poppy seed sauce, and bake away.  Delicious.

If in the past few weeks it hasn’t been obvious, I love Thanksgiving.  And Christmas as well, so prepare yourself for the next month.  For anyone who sees me in person, there is a 99% chance I will have some baked good to pass along.

TURKEY SLIDERS WITH MUSTARD POPPY SEED SAUCE
Adapted from Perfecting the Pairing

INGREDIENTS

12 Hawaiian dinner rolls
Shredded turkey
Gravy, optional
Salt and pepper
Provolone cheese, sliced
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Slice rolls in half.  Combine turkey and gravy if desired.  Season with salt and pepper.  Divide turkey filling between bottom buns.  Top with provolone cheese and transfer to rimmed baking pan.  Place top bun on top.

In a small bowl mix together melted butter, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.  Pour and brush sauce on top of rolls.  Sprinkle poppy seeds on top.  Bake until cheese is melted and turkey is warmed through, about 10 minutes.

Makes 12 sliders.

Turkey Gravy & Mom’s Stuffing

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Yep, here we go again with some more stuffing. And I got one more coming for you before T-Day.  But today you get a bonus with your stuffing: some gravy.

This stuffing is mom’s traditional Thanksgiving stuffing- we have had it every Thanksgiving I can remember.  Mom always makes two versionS: dry stuffing and wet stuffing.  You see, our family is firmly divided between stuffing texture.  We have some who prefer stuffing to be pretty “wet” or “moist” (such appetizing words right there), and we have others who want it dry as the dessert and crunchy.

I am an intermediary, as I like both types.  So in my role as a diplomat, I always help myself to both kinds.  However, I tend to lean a little more toward the wet side.  <- What a wonderful sentence there.

My new favorite take on Mom’s stuffing is to make my own turkey stock, using Alton Brown’s method.  So, today we are going to talk about getting all up in our turkey bird’s business and use his giblets and other body parts to make us a good turkey stock.

Wetness, giblets, and turkey parts. Yum.  This post if filled with such delicious ways of discussing food.

TURKEY STOCK
Slightly Adapted from Alton Brown

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 turkey neck (and backbone if available)
1 set of giblets
1 red onion, quartered
1 medium carrot, quartered (optional)
2-3 celery stalk tops
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

DIRECTIONS

Heat canola oil in a stockpot over medium heat until shimmering. Add neck (and backbone if available) and sauté 5-6 minutes, until browned. Add giblets, onion, carrot, celery, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 4-5 minutes. Add water, bay leaf, and black peppercorns.

Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Uncover, reduce heat to low. Let simmer for 1-1 ½ hours until stock has reduced.

Strain stock and discard solids. Reserve giblets if desired.

For Stuffing: Use this turkey stock instead of normal chicken stock to make your stuffing.  My mom’s recipe can be found here.  And it is delcious

For Gravy: Use in place of normal stock.  Here is Alton Brown’s recipe.

Turkey, Pickle, and Almond Butter Sandwich

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First things first: No pregnancy here.  I feel like any strange food combo that includes pickles needs this disclaimer.  I still don’t know how to interact with children and lack any real motivation to learn how. But for those of you who are pregnant, forget pickles and ice cream.  Nut butter and pickles is where it is all at.

Yeah, you are probably making a face at this combination, but I promise the sweet and salty pickles works so well with the creamy peanut butter. Crunchy, creamy, and wonderful. I made my sandwich with my dad’s home-smoked turkey, and I loved the extra smokey flavor with the toppings.  G

You know what this sandwich also goes great with?  Watching The Newsroom.  Great transition, right? I should be a newscaster.

I love Aaron Sorkin’s writing and fast talking shows (Gilmore Girls, anyone?), but I only just started watching The Newsroom yet.  And a few days later, I have seen all episodes.  And am sad that my cable does not include HBO.  And I am 50% considering making a career change to be a journalist.  But that’ll change as soon as I watch a Law and Order episode on Netflix.  Then I will want to be a lawyer.

So to sum up this post: Make this sandwich and go watch The Newsroom.  I promise I do more than eat and watch TV.  Those are just my two most important activities.

Good night and good luck.

TURKEY, PICKLE, AND ALMOND BUTTER SANDWICH
Inspired by Joy the Baker

INGREDIENTS

Roast turkey
Almond butter (or any nut butter)
Pickles slices
Bread (sliced seed bread works best)

DIRECTIONS

Toast bread.  Spread almond butter on both sides.  Top with turkey and pickle slices.

French Toast Monte Cristo

I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas.  We have a few days to recuperate (and shop some more sales) before New Year’s Eve.  For our Christmas celebrations, we had our traditional dinner of Singapore Noodles, ham & sausage, and dumplings at my aunt and uncle’s house.  We then came back home with full bellys and rested up a little bit for the big day.  And then on Christmas Day we made our traditional Sausage Cups for brunch/lunch (look out for the recipe soon, they would work great for a New Year’s Eve party).

We have no set tradition for Christmas dinner, having tried many different variations of roasted chicken, turkey dinner, and more.  This year I wanted to try a new food tradition for dinner: a Monte Cristo.  For those of you who have not been lucky to enough to have eaten a Monte Cristo, it is a turkey, ham, and Swiss sandwich that is then completely deep fried.  It is then sprinkled with powdered sugar and served wit raspberry preserves.  It is glorious, my friends.

Well you may have noticed that the picture of my sandwich is not deep fried.  Well, we had some deep frying issues.  I had a good batter and hot oil, but when I dipped my bread in the batter, it became soggy, and it was difficult to completely cover the sandwich, meaning oil soaked in during frying.  The sandwiches we got tasted good, but the oil lurking inside was likely to give us a holiday stomach ache   Not fun, especially when we had so many desserts waiting to be eaten.  Instead, we had a Monte Cristo alternative: Challah French toast with griddled turkey/ham and melted Swiss in between.  Topped with powdered sugar and maple syrup, with raspberry preserves on the side.  Yes, my friends, make this.

A short disclaimer: this sandwich will in no way help you take revenge on people who caused you to be falsely imprisoned.

FRENCH TOAST MONTE CRISTO
From Cinnamon Freud
INGREDIENTS

6 slices Challah bread
3 eggs
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
6-8 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Nonstick Spray
Roasted Turkey and/or Ham, thinly sliced
Swiss cheese, grated
Powdered sugar
Maple Syrup
Raspberry preserves

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk sugar, vanilla, and salt together.  Heat a griddle over medium high heat.  Spray with nonstick spray.  On one side, layer you lunch meat of choice and top with a slice of Swiss cheese.  Cook for 2-5 minutes, covering with lid if needed, until cheese begins to melt.

Quickly dip two slices of challah bread into the egg mixture.  On the other side of the griddle*, cook the bread for 1-3 minutes per side, until golden brown.  Transfer meat and cheese onto one slice of your French toast.  Place the other French toast on top and slightly compress together.  Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.  Transfer to broiler if you need to melt cheese further.  Repeat for the remaining two sandwiches, spraying the pan with nonstick spray in between.

Top with sprinkling of powdered sugar.  Dip into maple syrup or raspberry preserves.  Sandwich can be eaten by hand or with knife and fork, depending on the amount of toppings.

Makes 3 sandwiches.

*You can make all three sandwiches at once if you have a large enough griddle.  If you do not have a griddle pan large enough to cook both the meat and French toast, you can use two separate pans to cook each at the same time.