Seasonal Cooking – Turkey Dinner

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As the Holidays roll around, turkey makes its way up the list of popular family meals.  What brings back more festive memories than a classic turkey dinner with all the trimmings: stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans, etc?  Another turkey classic is the amount of leftover meat after a big family meal.

Whenever I see turkey on sale at 1$/lb, I can’t help but bring one home.  I love the of the turkey roasting in the oven and the holiday memories that come along with it!  Unfortunately, even the smallest turkey is way too much meat for the two of us to eat for dinner.  Since I hate wasting food, we need to get creative to come up with ways to use the leftover turkey for meals for the rest of the week.  Here are a few recipes to use that left over turkey which are as good as the turkey dinner itself!

Frozen Turkey

Living in a small condo with limited kitchen space, I don’t have the luxury of having space to keep a turkey in the fridge or freezer.  When I do buy turkey, I need to cook it the same day.  Because of this, we’ve perfected a recipe to cook any turkey from frozen.  Yes, you read that right, any turkey, not only those fancy cook from frozen turkeys!

Instructions:

Heat the oven to 325F with the rack in the bottom third of the oven.

Unwrap and place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan.

Roast for 2 ½ hours.

Remove from the oven to check the temperature (it should be around 100F).

Tip the turkey over to drain liquid into the roasting pan.

Carefully remove the neck and giblets, without burning yourself!

Season the turkey with salt & pepper (or your seasoning of choice) both inside and outside.

Continue cooking and check the temperature every hour until it reaches 165F everywhere.  Drain the juices each time.

Let the turkey rest 30mins, covering lightly with foil.

Approximate total cooking times (will vary, check regularly):

8-12lbs –> 3 ½ – 4 ½ hours

12-14 lbs –> 4 ½ – 5 ¾ hours

14-18 lbs –> 5 ¾ – 6 ¼ hours

18-20 lbs –> 6 ¼ – 6 ¾ hours

20-24 lbs –> 6 ¾ – 7 ½ hours

Turkey Wraps

Although turkey sandwiches are a simple way to use left-over turkey, I find that wraps spice things up!  These wraps use up any vegetables you may have lying around the fridge.  I also like to make a batch of caramelized onions to use for the wraps and the pizzas below!

Here is what a turkey wrap might contain:

  • 1 tortilla (feel free to use any flavor tortilla!)
  • Pesto (made from my garden in the summer and frozen) or hummus
  • Cubed or shredded turkey
  • Caramelized onions
  • Lettuce
  • Other vegetables (peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes/sun-dried tomatoes)

Turkey Caramelized Onion Pizza

Who doesn’t like pizza?  Pizza as a way of camouflage is a great way to get even the pickiest of eaters to be excited for leftovers.  Although you can use nearly any combination of toppings and make a delicious pizza, I have a weak spot for caramelized onions on my pizzas.  As mentioned earlier, I made a batch of these beauties for use on both pizzas and in wraps or sandwiches.

Pizzas are ideal for a quick week night meal.  I simply buy pita bread, pizza sauce (usually less than 1$/can) and use up any ingredients lying around the kitchen along with the turkey, such as peppers, olives, mushrooms, tomatoes, bacon, sausage, onions (plain or caramelized!), etc. Add cheese and you’re good to go!

Creamy Vegetable Fettuccini with Turkey

A turkey pasta dish is a nice way to slip in some turkey without even noticing it!  This recipe is a great way to empty out more than the leftover turkey.

Ingredients:

  • Fettuccini
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 ½ cups total chopped vegetables (mushrooms, peppers, celery, broccoli, etc.)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 2 cups milk
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • ½ cup cream or half & half
  • 1/3 cup parmesan
  • 3 cups chopped or shredded turkey breast
  • ¾ cup shredded mozzarella

Instructions:

Cook fettuccini according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large oiled oven-proof skillet, sauté the onions and garlic until tender and golden.  Add in vegetables and stir until tender (you may need to stagger the vegetables based on cooking time, i.e. celery first).

Stir in the milk, herbs, and salt.  Bring to a boil.

Combine the cornstarch and cream until smooth; add to skillet.  Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly.

Stir in the parmesan cheese and turkey.

Drain the pasta and stir in the sauce.  Let it heat up and sprinkle with mozzarella.

Broil in the oven until the cheese is melted and starts to golden.

Turkey Enchilada

If you still have leftover turkey and need a change of taste, this easy Mexican inspired dish will help with some of that leftover turkey!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups shredded turkey
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¾ tsp chili powder
  • 1 jar tomato sauce
  • 4 sticks of celery finely chopped
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8 small tortillas

Instructions:

Add turkey, celery and sour cream to a sauté pan on medium heat until it starts to heat and blend (2-3 minutes).

Add chili powder and 1/3 jar of tomato sauce and stir.

Turn off the heat and add ¾ cup of cheddar.

Add some of he mixture to each tortilla and wrap.

Line a pyrex dish with the tortillas.

Add remaining sauce to cover the tortillas.

Cover with remaining cheddar.

Bake at 350F for approx. 15 minutes until the cheese melts and sauce heats.

 

These are just of few recipes to use up all that leftover turkey.  Buying turkey on sale and using it for meals all week is a great way to save money while getting into the Holiday spirit!

What is your leftover turkey secret? Share your meal ideas and recipes below!

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