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One of the best parts of Thanksgiving dinner has to be the leftovers. Other than just doing a repeat of the dinner, there are many ways you can use the features of the menu in new ways.

Turkey sandwiches topped with cranberry sauce always are looked forward to, but you also can try combining chopped turkey with mayo, vegetables and shredded cheese to make a chicken salad, which you could enjoy as a salad or stuffed into pita breads. If you are looking for new ways to use your dinner leftovers, the following are some recipes you can select from. Remember to keep food safety in mind when taking care of leftovers and refrigerate meat and other potentially hazardous foods within 2 hours.

This Southwestern flavored pie was a winner for Harriet Mathis of Orlando, Florida, in the Pillsbury Bake-Off in 2000. After you taste the pie, you will understand why. I have made some changes in the original recipe, substituting cooked turkey for seasoned chicken strips, instant brown rice for white rice, and Mexican style cheese for Colby Jack cheese blend. Making use of the refrigerated pie crusts and canned beans and vegetables gives you a quick and easy dish to assemble. Serve with fresh fruit.

Southwestern Turkey Pie

Makes 6 servings


1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts

2 ½ cups cooked turkey, torn or cut into bite-sized pieces

½ cup instant brown or white rice

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained, rinsed

1 (11-ounce) can Mexicorn whole kernel, red and green peppers, drained

1 (2 ¼-ounce) can sliced ripe olives, drained

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 cup sour cream

1 cup thick and chunky salsa

8 ounces (2 cups) Mexican style shredded cheese blend

1 egg beaten

1-2 teaspoons fresh parsley


Heat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare pie crusts as directed on package for 2-crust pie, using a 9-inch pie pan. In large bowl combine all filling ingredients except beaten egg and parsley; mix well. Spoon into crust-lined pan. Top with second crust; seal edges and flute. Cut slits in several places in top crust. Brush top with beaten egg; sprinkle with parsley. Bake at 400 degrees 40 to 50 minutes or until golden brown. If necessary, cover edge of crust with strips of foil after 15 to 20 minutes to prevent excessive browning.

Source: Pillsbury Bake-Off Special Edition, 2004.

Your leftover turkey will take on a new look with this casserole dish that can be prepared in advance and then baked the next day. If you have leftover dinner rolls, those could be used in place of the French bread.

Swiss Turkey Strata

Makes 6 servings


6 cups French bread cut into ½-inch cubes

1 ½ cups shredded Swiss cheese, divided

1 ½ cup cooked turkey or chicken

¾ cup chopped red and/or green bell pepper

4 eggs, beaten

2 cups milk

¼ cup Dijon or country Dijon mustard


Layer 3 cups bread cubes, 1 cup cheese, turkey and pepper in greased 12-by-8-inch baking dish; top with remaining bread cubes. Whisk eggs, milk and mustard in a medium bowl until combined. Pour mixture over bread layer, being careful to moisten all of the bread. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup cheese. Cover; refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Garnish as desired.

Source: Kraft All-Time Favorite Recipes, 2001.

A traditional chicken a la king dish contains chicken or turkey in a rich cream sauce made with mushrooms, pimentos, green bell pepper and sherry, which is served over biscuits. This version is similar to a traditional shepherd’s pie, which is topped with mashed potatoes, giving you the opportunity to use more leftovers. If desired, add mushrooms and chopped bell pepper to your mixture, along with a little sherry.

Potato-Topped Turkey a la King

Makes 4 servings


2 tablespoons butter

¼ cup sliced green onions

⅓ cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

⅛ teaspoon black pepper

1 (14.5-ounce) can ready-to-serve chicken broth

½ cup milk

2 cups cubed cooked turkey or chicken

1 cup frozen baby sweet peas

4 cups left-over mashed potatoes

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons chopped green onions


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add ¼ cup green onions; cook and stir 1 minute. Add the flour, salt, and pepper and stir until blended. Gradually add broth and milk; cook until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Add turkey and peas; mix well. Spoon into ungreased 8-inch square or 2-quart baking dish. For topping, stir leftover mashed potatoes. Stir in beaten egg; if necessary add a little milk to make potatoes a spreading consistency. Spoon or pipe potatoes over chicken mixture in dish. Sprinkle chopped green onions on top along with paprika, if desired.

Source: Casseroles & One Dish Meals by Pillsbury, 1999.

If you have vegetable leftovers from dinner or a relish tray, try this recipe for vegetable patties to give them a second round at the table.

Vegetable Rounds

Makes about 20 rounds


1 cup Bisquick

¾ cup Parmesan cheese

¼ teaspoon pepper

4 slightly beaten eggs

4 cups shredded or chopped vegetables, such as Brussel sprouts, carrots, corn, zucchini, and/or onions

¼ cup butter


In a mixing bowl, stir Bisquick, cheese and pepper. Stir in eggs until mixture is moistened. Fold in shredded or chopped vegetables. Melt half of butter in 10-inch frying pan. Using 2 tablespoons batter for each round, cook over medium heat, about 3 minutes on each side. Add remaining butter for frying second half of rounds.

Source: Prizewinning Recipes by You, From The Bisquick Creations Recipe Contest.

Bernie Mason has written the Local Flavor column for the Billings Gazette for three years or so. She was Yellowstone County extension agent for 24 years. Mason grew up in Sidney in a family of German and Danish ancestry.


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