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Toi Degree: Leftover turkey is a great opportunity

Modern Holiday Cooking

Toi Degree

Toi Degree

For those of you still looking for holiday ideas that are a step outside of traditional holiday meals, join Danélle Cutting and me for “Modern Holiday Cooking,” where she and I will add a new spin on holiday favorites.

Join us on Friday, Dec. 16 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. for an entire meal, from appetizers to the main course and everything in between.  Registration is now open and will be until Dec. 9; the cost of the workshop is $20. Registration forms can be completed using this link:  https://www.go.ncsu.edu/modernholidaycooking

We must receive payment in our office to be placed on the official class roster.

By Toi Degree

Rowan Cooperative Extension

SALISBURY — Thanksgiving has come and gone. You are left with a huge turkey and not sure what to do with it.

This is a typical Friday-following-Thanksgiving-Day dilemma that many people have.  The good news is that it really isn’t that big a deal. There are many ways to prepare leftover turkey; with some imagination and a few quick and easy recipes, no one will ever know you didn’t just bake a fresh turkey.

Turkey is versatile and can be used just like chicken. You can use any your chicken recipes, substituting the chicken with turkey. Whether you choose to use it in a casserole, sandwich, soup or salad, you can make many meals from your leftover bird.

Let’s explore how:

Soup — There’s nothing better to warm you up on a cool fall evening than a cup of hot soup. There’s turkey noodle, cream of turkey, turkey vegetable, turkey rice, Black Bean ‘n’ Pumpkin Chili… and the list goes on. Get creative; you never know what you might come up with.

Casserole — Filling, warming and satisfying are all words that come to mind when you think of a casserole. Try a nice turkey tetrazzini, turkey spaghetti, or turkey fettuccine skillet; remember any recipe that calls for chicken will work.

Salad — The varieties are endless when it comes to salads. You can take diced turkey and cheese and make a chef salad.  Or, how would you like a turkey salad using finely diced turkey, mayo, chopped onion and celery? You could even add some curry to spice it up and add a twist. You could also add a splash of color by stuffing tomatoes with turkey salad to make a simple meal look fancy.

Sandwiches — There’s always the old standby turkey sandwich. But, if you’re like me, you get bored with the same old thing for three days after Thanksgiving. How about putting a new spin on a very old idea — try making your sandwich in a wrap with one of the great varieties of flavored wraps, or make your sandwich in pita bread with lettuce, tomato, a little sliced or shredded cheese, and some Caesar salad or Ranch dressing.

If none of the above sound interesting to you, how about turkey potpie…turkey a la king… turkey enchiladas… turkey gumbo…turkey shepherd’s pie or maybe even turkey quesadillas?

For these and other ideas, visit these websites:


Chilled Turkey Rice Salad

(Serves 4)

2 cups cooked turkey, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup cooked rice
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
4 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt to taste
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup mayonnaise

Combine rice, onion, curry, lemon juice and salt. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Add rest of ingredients, except lettuce, to chilled rice mixture. Serve on lettuce leaves.

Cook’s Tips:

  1. Save time by making extra rice and use the rest at a later date. See “Cook Once, Eat Twice” for more information on preparing, storing and using extra rice.
  2. Though your recipe will be less colorful, you could substitute about 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh onion or 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried, chopped onion for the green onion.
  3. You could use bottled lemon juice for this small amount. Or, buy a lemon and cut up the extra lemon for a touch of elegance by adding lemon wedges to the water glasses at your post-holiday meal.
  4. Frozen chopped green pepper could be substituted for the fresh pepper. Thaw it quickly by placing frozen chopped pepper in a strainer or colander and running cool water over it. Shake off excess water before use.
  5. A light or fat-free mayonnaise may be used. Or, try lowfat or nonfat yogurt or sour cream in place of the mayonnaise or a mixture of these and mayonnaise.

These links ofer numerous recipes for leftover turkey:



For more information, contact Toi N. Degree, family and consumer education agent, Rowan County Cooperative Extension Service, at 704-216-8970 or e-mail toi_degree@ncsu.edu



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