Leftover Thanksgiving Meal Turnovers

Happy day after Thanksgiving! I hope each and every one of you had a GREAT Thanksgiving. Do you have a lot of Thanksgiving leftovers!? I was asked by “The Courier-Times” to develop a recipe for something unique using the leftovers of a Thanksgiving meal, and what I created may very well be BETTER than the original meal! (And I am not kidding…)

I made this several times, in testing the recipe, and all of my taste testers FLIPPED! I was asked by several people to make these, INSTEAD of the Thanksgiving meal! I highly recommend you pick up a copy of “The Courier-Times” TODAY, or check out their online e-edition, and let me know what you think! Email me – blaisethebaker@gmail.com

Thanksgiving Leftover Pockets Blaise Doubman

Leftover Thanksgiving Meal Turnovers

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, November 27th 2015 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Savory Thanksgiving turnovers may be better than the main meal…
Blaise Doubman

I used to joke that my family Thanksgiving was like a zoo. Everyone talking loudly over one another, rooms full of people, children playing and knocking over lamps and anything else that wasn’t tied down, timers going off in the kitchen, people leaving in and out of the front and back doors, car horns honking, plates clattering, football games blaring in the background and just when you thought you had heard every possible sound there was to make…the smoke alarm would start going off in the background. Sounds like a zoo to me, doesn’t it you? But memories and times like these are what I remember most from my family Holiday get-togethers. (For the longest time I told anyone and everyone I knew that I needed reality show cameras to follow me around during family functions and Holidays. I’m still waiting for Ryan Seacrest to call me back.)

I wouldn’t trade these times and memories for anything in the world. I look back and fondly remember times like this as it seems the Holidays around here are changing. There’s not many “little kids” running around anymore, and everyone seems to have their respectable table manners down to a science. There’s less talk about babies and school playground problems, and more talks about politics and the job market. The nature of our family get-togethers may be maturing and changing, but one thing that has stayed the same is my love for the day after Thanksgiving.

I love the day after Thanksgiving – and not because of the sales. It’s because the “main meal” of Thanksgiving is over, most usually everyone has returned home and is plotting their sale attacks and plans for the weekend, and everything (in my house anyways) always seem quite and serene. I can relax after spending countless hours in the kitchen feeding countless hungry mouths of family and friends, and I get to enjoy the best part of the meal once everyone is gone…the leftovers! One rule when coming to one of my family food functions? Eat all you want – but don’t take the leftovers. Those are mine!

It sounds selfish, but hear me out on this. After the meal is prepared, and everyone is happy, satisfied and full, your treat (as the cook) is to eat the leftovers the next day, while everyone is away. Experimenting with leftovers is a favorite Holiday tradition of mine. And, honestly, I like the leftovers better than the main meal! The turkey is more moist and tender, the cornbread stuffing has allowed itself to gain maximum flavor and the green bean casserole is always better because the beans are soft and tender.

I’ve tried all kinds of things with the leftovers – and even with the leftover desserts! One popular way of enjoying Thanksgiving leftovers is to make a sandwich! Pile it high with turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce and even some of the green been casserole and enjoy! One year I made a similar sandwich and placed it in a buttered Panini maker. Delicious! It was grilled, buttery, crisp and perfect. One year I literally scrapped everything together in a bowl, added some turkey seasoning that was leftover from the turkey rub, placed it in a 9×13-inch baking pan and placed on top spoonfuls of homemade biscuit dough. When baked in the oven, the biscuits baked and the casserole underneath became bubbly and flavorful and it was so good! There’s so many combinations that I’ve experimented with, and thought about, for day after Thanksgiving food…I could probably write a book on the subject. My mind goes wild thinking of all the combinations I could try.

Even desserts can be remade into day after Thanksgiving treats! Cakes have been cut up and layered into a pretty dish with sweetened whipped cream between each layer, and topped with fresh fruit and the same goes for leftover pies! This year I’m going to see about making a leftover pumpkin pie milkshake! Sounds pretty delicious, don’t you think? We will wait and see what develops on that…

Leftover chocolate chip cookies are always saved, because I like crumbling them up and placing them in fresh chocolate chip cookie dough and baking them off in a “double baked cookie” way. I first read about this method in one of my favorite cookbooks by Elinor Klivans. Talk about a genius way of using up leftover cookies! It sounds a little off putting at first, but once you taste the finished product, you’ll taste how delicious!

Throughout all my years of Thanksgiving-leftover experimentation, I think the recipe I’m sharing here may very well be my very favorite recipe! I have a love for puff pastry and love homemade pizza made with the dough, in place of normal pizza dough, and love homemade apple, cherry and blueberry turnovers. My mind immediately thought “Thanksgiving savory” and filling the puff pastry turnovers with all of the deliciousness that’s left behind! I tried, I ate and I conquered. I loved them, and all of my recipe testers loved them. Some members of my family even said they would rather have these for Thanksgiving this year instead of the day after! Fill them with whatever combination you like, but the taste of turkey, gravy, cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and peas is just about the perfect combination. The sharp cheddar sprinkled on top really brings the flavors together, and the crunch of the puff pastry is mouthwatering.

Leftover Thanksgiving Meal Turnovers

The measurements for this recipe are really just to give you an idea of how much of each ingredient you really need to have on hand. This recipe is very flexible and can be made with what I used to stuff my turnovers with, or a variety of other things such as leftover corn, green bean casserole or even sweet potato casserole. Use your imagination and taste combinations before stuffing the turnovers. The shredded sharp cheddar cheese that’s sprinkled over the top can be left off, or even substituted with another type of cheese, or lightly sprinkled with course sea salt. Leftover turnovers can be stored in the refrigerator for two days, and warmed up in the oven at 200 degrees F for about 10 minutes.

Package of Puff Pastry sheets, thawed
2 cups turkey meat, sliced
2 cups cornbread stuffing
½ cup cranberry sauce
¼ cup green peas
¼ cup mashed potatoes with gravy

1 large egg mixed with tablespoon milk (egg wash)
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (topping)

Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F and prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine what you have left over and want to add. In this case, add the sliced turkey, cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce, peas and mashed potatoes and gravy. You need to add more turkey and cornbread stuffing that the other ingredients because the final result you’re looking for, is a thicker mixture.

Cut both sheets of thawed puff pastry into four equal pieces, leaving you with eight total squares. Lay out each square on the prepared baking sheet, and place about two heaping tablespoons of the leftover Thanksgiving mixture in the center of each.

Fold each of them like you would a turnover. Take the top left corner, and pull it over and down to meet the bottom right corner. Press the remaining two corners together firmly, and be sure the turnover is pretty well sealed. If the sides let a little of the filling spill out, that is perfectly fine. You just really want the first fold to hold its shape.

Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of each turnover before sprinkling on the shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

Place in preheated oven for 20 minutes until the turnovers are puffed and golden.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before enjoying.

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Chew This! Giant Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

So many people have written to me asking for a great recipe for chocolate chip cookies. I have tried several recipes, experimented with hundreds of different types and probably eaten even more… and nothing really fit what I was looking for. I was looking for a cookie that was gooey inside, crisp outside and bigger in size than most. Finally, after recipe testing for months, I have found the perfect recipe… and the GIANT version is right here! I am so excited to share this with everyone! I hope you enjoy!!! And please, as usual, I welcome your questions, comments and feedback at blaisethebaker@gmail.com

Giant Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies Chew This Blaise Doubman

Giant Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, November 15th 2015 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Giant Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies are big in size and flavor…
Blaise Doubman

Ever since I was old enough to understand what a chocolate chip cookie was, I have been their biggest fan. Stirring them up and making them whenever I can. I have fond memories of growing up making cookies with my family and friends. I have found that chocolate chip cookies have healing properties! Well, at least in my opinion. Whenever I start to smell the warm cookies baking in the oven, I immediately start feeling better. And when I bite into one? All my troubles melt away. Am I alone here!? I can’t imagine. For a few years now, I’ve been researching chocolate chip cookies and learning about their history, and the thousands of recipes for them all across the globe.

I assume everyone knows the story of how these were invented originally? Toll House Inn owner, Ruth Wakefield wanted to make a chocolate version of her famous butter cookie, and decided she would chop up a chocolate bar to melt into the cookie, turning them into chocolate cookies. The chopped up chocolate didn’t melt, but instead turned the butter cookie into chocolate-studded cookies – thus inventing the chocolate chip cookie! When developing my own recipe, I decided I would make a few changes to some of the recipes I had seen and just not been happy with. I used butter for flavor, and shortening for the texture. I also wanted to use both white and brown sugar and an extra dose of pure vanilla extract. I have several cookie recipes on my blog, but this recipe is not only my favorite, but the recipe that people ask me for the most.

Giant Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

As with everything else in baking, make sure that all ingredients are at room temperature before starting. It’s very essential to allow this dough to chill in the refrigerator for at least 24-hours. You can stir this up ahead of time, pop it into the refrigerator and a day later, you have dough for cookies anytime. The dough shouldn’t be kept in the refrigerator for any longer than four days. If you want smaller cookies than the larger ones I make, adjust the cooking time, but not the temperature of the oven.

1 ½ sticks (6 oz. total) unsalted butter
2/3 cups solid vegetable shortening
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups white all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (mixed with a heaping tablespoon of white all-purpose flour to prevent the chips from sinking to the bottom of the cookie.)

In a large bowl, combine the unsalted butter, solid vegetable shortening, white granulated sugar and light brown sugar and beat together until everything is light and fluffy.

Next, beat in the large eggs, one at a time, until combined. Once combined, add in the pure vanilla extract and blend well.

Finally, add in the white all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt all at once, and stir until everything is just combined – being careful not to over mix.

Gently fold in the white all-purpose flour covered semi-sweet chocolate chips. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and prepare your baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper.

Place ¼ cup size amounts of dough onto the parchment paper, leaving plenty of room for the cookies to breathe. Each baking sheet will hold about nine large cookies.

Place baking sheets in oven, one sheet at a time, for exactly 18 minutes, turning the baking sheet one time, half-way through baking for even browning.

When finished baking, remove from oven and allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheets. Once moderately cooled, remove and enjoy.

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Pat Bogue’s Homemade Caramels 

The Holiday season is fast approaching and I can not think of anything that would be as perfect of a gift as my friend Pat Bogue’s homemade caramels! I have made these before and they are by far superior to anything you can buy in the stores. Make these and give them out as gifts this Holiday season – but be sure to save enough for you! Special shoutout and thanks to my friend Pat Bogue for allowing me to share her “famous” recipe. Thanks again Pat! 

Pat Bogue’s Homemade Caramels 

2 sticks (8 oz.) butter
1 one pound box brown sugar
1 cup Karo light syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 can Eagle-brand milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Start by greasing a 9×13-inch baking pan with butter. 

In a heavy saucepan melt and combine 2 sticks butter, brown sugar, light syrup and salt. 

Pour in Eagle-brand milk and stir to combine. Stir this mixture constantly over medium heat until the mixture reaches 245 degrees F. 

Remove from heat and add in pure vanilla extract.

Pour mixture into prepared pan. 

Allow to cool at room temperature. Cut the caramels to the desired size and wrap individually in wax paper. If cut into bite-size pieces this recipe makes between 120 and 130 pieces. 

Share and enjoy!

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Photo by: Pat Bogue 

A note on the brown sugar: A pound of brown sugar – contains about 3 1/2 cups when loose and about 2 1/4 cups when packed. 

Chew This! Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust

This is THE perfect dessert for the upcoming Holiday season! The pumpkin cheesecake is not “overly sweet”, and the gingersnap crust is the perfect pairing with the flavors of the smooth cheesecake and pumpkin spice. This recipe is the only pumpkin cheesecake recipe you will ever need – and every time you make it…people will go crazy! Shout out and special thanks to my friend Mallory Ashton Lee Shavender who is one of my best “foodie friends” and who is the most talented cheesecake-maker’s I know. Thanks Mallory!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Chew This Blaise Doubman

Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, November 1st 2015 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Friends share love of food, memories and cheesecake…
Blaise Doubman

I’ve always had a love of food. For as far back as I remember, some of my earliest thoughts, and let’s be honest here, most frequent, always revolved around food, eating, recipes, and ingredients. I remember sitting in my Kindergarten class, with Mrs. Sweigart (still one of my favorite teachers), and thinking about milk break and wondering who was going to bring in cookies and what kind they would be. It continued well into my high school years, when the main conversation in Mrs. Child’s Biology class wasn’t the study of life and living organisms, but instead – food. My friend Mallory and I would get the whole class involved in what we had currently tried to make in our kitchens, how it turned out, what to try differently the next time and promising to bring samples in for everyone in the class. It may have been the first “Biology / Food Class” ever.

Years passed, and Mallory and I lost touch. It wasn’t until just a couple of years ago we found each other again on Facebook. Immediately it was like we had never spent a minute apart. The conversation went right back to food, and sharing our love of unique recipes and seasonal ingredients. Mallory lives in North Carolina now, with a beautiful life and family and continues her love of food by whipping up cheesecakes for family and friends. We call ourselves “foodie friends” and occasionally send each other packages full of homemade food goodies. About a year ago she sent me some of the best homemade jams and jellies I think I’ve ever had! Recently though, I asked if she would share a seasonal cheesecake recipe with me. She was more than delighted and agreed to create something for me, and exclusively for this column. Within a couple of weeks, she sent to me a recipe and photo for “Pumpkin Cheesecake”. I’ve tried it a few times, and let me tell you – this is what I’m recommending everyone to make this Holiday season! It’s a delicious “show stopping” dessert that people will absolutely go crazy over!

Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust

This recipe was provided and inspired by my friend Mallory Ashton Lee Shavender. I added the addition of white granulated sugar in the crust as well as salt. I also added a little salt in the cheesecake base. I found that topping the cheesecake with whipped cream and candied pecans really brought together the flavors. To make homemade whipped cream beat 2 cups heavy whipping cream until peaks form and gently stir in one tablespoon each pure vanilla extract and white granulated sugar. Before starting, make sure that all ingredients are at solid room temperature.

For the crust…

1 box (16 oz.) gingersnap cookies
1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt

For the cheesecake…

4 8oz. packages cream cheese (32 oz. total)
2 cups light brown sugar, lightly packed
½ cup sour cream
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 ½ tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
2 heaping tablespoons white all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon salt

Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a springform pan by wrapping the bottom and sides with aluminum foil. Lightly spray the inside of the pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl with a wooden spoon (or food processor) crush the gingersnap cookies until fine, and add in the melted butter, light brown sugar, white granulated sugar and salt. Thoroughly combine this mixture and pour into prepared pan. Lightly press and form the crust into the bottom of the pan, and up the sides. Place this in preheated oven for 8 minutes. Once baked, remove and set aside.

In a large bowl with a wooden spoon (or stand mixer) combine the cream cheese and light brown sugar well before beating in the sour cream, pumpkin puree, pure vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice and white all-purpose flour. Once combined, add in the large eggs one at a time until well blended, adding in the large egg yolk last. Finally, stir in the salt and combine everything thoroughly.

Place the crust filled springform pan into a large roasting pan, and pour the filling into the crust. Next, fill the roasting pan with hot boiling water, until the water reaches about the middle of the springform pan. This is essential in creating a “water bath” for the cheesecake. Carefully place into preheated oven for 80 minutes. You will be able to tell when it’s done by seeing that the middle is still a little wobbly, but about an inch from the sides will be firm to the touch. Once it’s finished baking, turn the oven off and crack the door. Allow to sit in the oven like this for one hour, before removing from the oven. Take the cheesecake out of the water bath, and remove the foil. Allow to sit on the counter for another hour before placing in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

After allowing to bake, rest and chill carefully remove the springform pan from the cheesecake, leaving the cheesecake on the base and moving it to a plate. Finished! Store in refrigerator, but when ready to serve, bring to room temperature. Top, if desired, with whipped cream, candied pecans and a dusting of cinnamon for taste and flavor.

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