Bless Your Spoon: Heat up those leftovers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 1, 2022

By Stephanie Williams Dean

After recovering from a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, I crave a sandwich piled high with sliced turkey. But it’s not that simple – as I start with two hearty and grainy bread slices, a thick spread of mayo added and then topped with fresh cranberry relish and a leafy green.

By the end of the week, I’m pulling meaty remnants from the bones and disappointed when picked clean. And pickles are necessary on the side — the kind that Momma always made during the holiday. The thick, crunchy, sweet and sour pickles — no turkey sandwich is quite the same without them. One bite of savory, salty roasted turkey combined with the taste of something sweet makes your eyes roll backward.

But moving beyond that delicious turkey bundle, here are a few more great Southern meals that will help you gobble down leftover turkey and ham.  I’ve included a few favorite entrées — pair one with a complementary vegetable side and sweet addition. Having had cranberries garner all the attention on Thanksgiving, now’s the time for other fruits to show out. I still love a good holiday congealed fruit salad — these Southern roots of mine run deep.

One of the best parts of cooking a big meal is what’s left over. We Southerners love our leftovers, don’t we? They’re often the best part of any meal, heated up and served hot the following day.   

So let’s take that leftover holiday turkey and heat that bird up.

Creamed Turkey on Pastry Shells

• ¼ cup salted butter

• 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

• 1½ cups turkey or chicken broth

• 1½ cups whole milk

• ½ tsp. salt

• 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 1 tsp. poultry seasoning

• 2 cups cooked, diced turkey or chicken

• 3 peeled, chopped, hard-boiled eggs

• 1 Tbsp. chopped pimento

• 6 slices toast, biscuits, or individual pastry shells

• Parsley sprigs

In a skillet, melt butter, blend in flour while stirring to make a paste. Stir in broth, and milk, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Cook until thickens. Stir in cooked, chopped turkey. Continue to cook and thicken. When thickened, add chopped eggs and pimentos. Serve hot on warm toast, biscuits, or pastry. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Turkey Fruit and Nut Salad

• 3 cups diced turkey or chicken

• 1½ cups diced celery

• 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

• 1½ cups seedless purple grapes

• ¾ cup toasted slivered almonds


• 1 cup premium mayonnaise

• ¼ cup light cream or pineapple juice

• Salt and pepper taste

In a mixer bowl, combine chicken, celery and lemon juice. Fold in grapes and almonds and set aside. Refrigerate. For the dressing, in a mixer bowl, combine mayonnaise and light cream or juice. Mix well. Chill for at least 1 hour. Fold dressing into the turkey mixture. Salt and pepper to taste.

Turkey Casserole

• 2 Tbsp. salted butter

• ¼ cup chopped onion

• 2 Tbsp. chopped green pepper

• 1 jar old English cheese spread

• 2/3 cup turkey broth

• 4 cups bite-sized turkey pieces

• 1 cup cooked spaghetti

• 10 stuffed olives

• Grated cheddar cheese

In a skillet, sauté the chopped onion and green pepper in butter until onion is translucent. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Add turkey stock and stir until mixed well. Stir in the cooked turkey, cooked spaghetti and pimento-stuffed olives. Mix well. Pour into a butter-greased casserole dish and evenly cover top with grated cheddar cheese. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven until heated thoroughly and cheese is melted.

Turkey Bundles

• 2 Tbsp. salted butter

• 4 heaping Tbsp. all-purpose flour

• 2 cups whipping cream

• 1 tsp. salt

• ½ tsp. celery salt

• White pepper to taste

• Pinch cayenne pepper

• Pinch of ground nutmeg

• 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

• 1 tsp. minced parsley

• 1 egg

• 2 cups cooked, chopped turkey or chicken

• 2 cups minced cracker crumbs

• Wesson vegetable oil

In a skillet, make a thicken white sauce by melting butter. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add cream and whisk until sauce is smooth and thick. Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, celery salt, white pepper, cayenne, nutmeg, lemon juice and parsley. Mix well. Beat egg and fold egg into the flour mixture. Mix well. Fold in cooked chicken and mix well. Allow to cool until easy to handle. Spoon into croquettes and dredge in the cracker crumbs. Heat 1 inch of vegetable oil in a heavy skillet and heat until medium-hot. Fry croquettes until golden brown on both sides. Serve with turkey gravy.

Ham Alfredo Casserole

• 5 oz. noodles

• 1 cup chopped celery

• ½ cup chopped green pepper

• 2 Tbsp. salted butter

• 8 oz. softened cream cheese

• ¾ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

• 1 cup whole milk

• 2 crushed garlic cloves

• 2 cups cubed ham

• 1½ Tbsp. salted butter

Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain well. In a saucepan, cook celery and green pepper with butter for 5 minutes or until tender-crisp. Drain well. In a mixer bowl, mix softened cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, milk, and garlic until smooth. Gently stir in the noodles, celery, green pepper and ham. Pour into a greased 2-quart casserole dish. Dot with butter and cover with foil. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 35 minutes.

Ham Casserole

• 2 beaten eggs

• 1 Tbsp. vinegar

• 1 cup milk

• 2 cups diced cooked ham

1• cup grated Swiss or cheddar cheese

• 1 Tbsp. grated onion

• ½ cup chopped mushrooms

• 2 cups cooked pasta noodles

• ½ cup cooked peas

• Salt and pepper, to taste

• ¾ cup buttered bread crumbs

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. In a small bowl, stir vinegar into milk and allow to stand for a few minutes. To the beaten eggs, add vinegar/milk mixture, diced ham, grated cheese, grated onion and chopped mushrooms. Gently fold in the cooked pasta noodles and cooked peas. Gently mix well. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a butter-greased casserole dish. Evenly cover top with buttered bread crumbs. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 35 minutes.

Leftover Ham Sandwich Spread

• 3 oz. softened cream cheese

• ¼ cup chopped, cooked ham

• 1 Tbsp. sweet pickle relish

• ¼ tsp. Worcestershire sauce

• ¼ tsp. dry mustard

• ½ tsp. finely chopped onion

In a mixer bowl, combine the softened cream cheese with the ham, relish, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard and chopped onion and mix well. Cover and keep chilled in the refrigerator.

Broccoli with Rice

• 1 pkg. frozen chopped broccoli

• ¾ cup uncooked rice

• ½ chopped medium onion

• ¾ stick butter

• 1 can condensed cream mushroom soup

• ½ can whole milk

• 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese

• Salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan, cook broccoli and drain well. Cook rice as per pkg. instructions. In a skillet, sauté onion in butter. In a bowl, combine cooked chopped broccoli, uncooked rice, sautéed onion and butter, mushroom soup, milk and cheddar cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.

Fresh Broccoli with Lemon Butter

• 1 bunch fresh broccoli

• 1 tsp. salt

• ¼ cup melted, salted butter

• 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Trim off large leaves of broccoli. Remove tough ends of lower stalks. Wash broccoli and separate into spears. In a pot, cook broccoli spears in a small amount of boiling water with salt until fork-tender. Drain well and place spears on warmed platter. In a saucepan, combine butter and lemon juice. Drizzle over broccoli. Serve warm.

Overnight Veggie Mix

• 20 oz. drained peas

• 20 oz. drained French-style green beans

• 20 oz. drained whole kernel corn

• 2 oz. cut up pimentos

• 1 diced medium onion

• 1 cup diced celery

• ½ cup diced green pepper

• Salt and pepper to taste

• 1½ cup sugar

• 1 cup vinegar

• ½ cup olive or salad oil

• 2 tsp. water

• ½ tsp. paprika

In a bowl, combine peas, green beans, corn, onion, celery, green pepper, salt and pepper. Mix well. In another bowl, combine sugar, vinegar, oil, water and paprika. Mix until sugar is dissolved. Gently fold sugar mixture into vegetables. Chill 24 hours.

Bing Cherry Salad

• 1 can drained black cherries, juice reserved

• 1 medium can drained crushed pineapple, juice reserved

• 6 oz. raspberry gelatin

• 2 cups liquid

• ½ cup chopped pecans

Prepare gelatin according to package directions using fruit juices to make up the 2 cups liquid. When gelatin has fully dissolved in the juice, fold in the black cherries, crushed pineapple and pecans. Chill until firm. Top with a dollop of a mixture of cream cheese, sour cream, whipped cream and sugar.

Hot Mixed Fruit

• 28 oz. sliced peaches

• 28 oz. sliced pears

• 28 oz. pineapple chunks

• 1 large can pitted black cherries

• 1 cup fresh strawberries

• 1 large sliced bananas

• 1/3 cup salted butter

• ¾ cup light brown sugar

• 16 oz. applesauce

• ½ cup slivered almonds

• 3 tbsp. sugar

Drain all fruits very well. Place all drained fruit except bananas in bottom of a bowl. In a saucepan, bring butter and sugar to a boil. Add the applesauce to the sugar mixture. Pour mixture over the fruit. Refrigerate mixture overnight. The next day, add sliced bananas to the fruit mixture. Turn mixture into a buttered 2-quart casserole dish. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45 minutes.

Cranberry Bread

• 1 egg beaten

• ¾ cup sugar

• 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

• 1½ tsp. baking powder

• ½ tsp. soda

• 1 tsp. salt

• ¾ cup fresh orange juice

• 2 Tbsp. Wesson vegetable oil

• 1 cup coarsely cut cranberries

• ½ cup chopped walnuts

• 1 tsp. grated orange peel

In a mixer bowl, beat egg. Add sugar and mix well. Add sifted flour, baking powder, soda and salt while alternating with orange juice and oil. Mix well. Fold in cranberries, nuts and orange peel. Stir just until all is moistened. Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan 9 x 5 x 3 inches. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until tests done. Remove from pan and allow to cool on a rack. Freezes well.

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice Cake

• 2 beaten eggs

• 2 cups sugar

• 2 cups sifted, all-purpose flour

• 2 tsp. each ground cinnamon, nutmeg

• 2 tsp. soda

• 1½ tsp. salt

• ½ pound melted, salted butter

• 2¼ cups applesauce

• 1¼ cup chopped pecans


• 1 cup brown sugar

• 1 cup whipping cream

• Whipped cream and cherry, garnish

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar and mix well. Beat in sifted flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, soda and salt while alternating with melted butter and applesauce. Mix well. Fold in nuts and mix well. Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 12 baking pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 25 minutes or until tests done. For the topping, in a saucepan, combine brown sugar and whipping cream. Bring to a boil and pour over hot cake while cake is still warm. When serving, dollop with whipped cream and a cherry on top.

Triple-Layer Jam Cake

• 1 cup softened, salted butter

• 2 cups sugar

• 6 eggs

• 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour

• 3 tsp. soda

• 1 tsp. each cinnamon, allspice, cloves

• 1 cup buttermilk

• 2 cups blackberry or other jam

• 1 peeled, grated apple

• 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add sifted flour, soda, and spices while alternating with buttermilk. Mix well. Fold in jam, apple and nuts. Mix well. Evenly pour batter into 3 well-greased and floured round cake pans. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 25-35 minutes or more until tests done when knife is inserted. Frost with caramel icing.

Caramel Icing

• 3 cups light brown sugar

• ¾ cup salted butter

• ¾ cup whole or evaporated milk

• ½ -1 cup or more confectioners’ sugar

In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter and milk. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Remove from stove and allow to cool slightly. Beat in confectioner’s sugar until smooth enough to spread.

Coconut Pound Cake

• 2 sticks softened, salted butter

• ½ cup Crisco shortening

• 3 cups sugar

• 6 eggs

• 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

• ¼ tsp. salt

• 1 cup whole milk

• ½ tsp. almond extract

• ½ tsp. vanilla extract

• 8 oz. flaked coconut

In a mixer bowl, cream butter, shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and salt while alternating with milk. Mix well. Stir in almond and vanilla extracts. Mix well. Fold in coconut. Mix well. Bake in a well-greased and floured tube pan. Bake in a preheated 300-degree oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes.