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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