If your family is anything like mine, you’ll have a TON of food leftover from Thanksgiving because you went overboard just to make sure you have enough food. (We always have enough.) 
Here are some great things you can do with leftovers. I often see amazing recipes for leftover Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, potatoes, etc. but they require so much work – and who wants to spend all day in the kitchen after preparing a Thanksgiving dinner? Not me! I’d rather be drinking and watching movies, or getting ready to line up somewhere at 5 AM to cash in on the Black Friday craziness. So, here are some easy recipes that will give you something to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers. 

This spicy panini is just like my favorite turkey sandwich I used to have while I was in law school. The Pace cafeteria surprisingly made some amazing sandwiches, and my favorite was turkey breast on multigrain bread with bacon, cheddar or pepperjack cheese, and spicy chipotle mayo. Here is my recipe for the recreation:


(Serves 4)

2 cups leftover turkey breast
4 slices of pepperjack (or cheddar) cheese
8 slices of center cut turkey bacon
8 slices of thick multigrain bread
Chipotle Mayo

Chipotle Mayo Ingredients:
1 cup of reduced fat olive oil
2 chipotle peppers canned in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon of the adobo sauce
Lime or lemon wedge

First, make the chipotle mayo. Blend 1 cup of mayonaise with two chipotle peppers and a teaspoon of adobo sauce. Squirt some lime juice and stir. This sauce is also delicious on burgers or with seafood like crab cakes.

Next, spray a panini machine with PAM non-stick cooking spray. Spray two slices of bread with the spray. Spread some chipotle mayo on a slice of bread. Layer with bacon, spinach, turkey and pepperjack cheese. Cook in panini press until golden brown and crispy. Enjoy!

 Variation: If you don’t like spicy food (or your stomach still hasn’t recovered from Thanksgiving), try substituting a handful of fresh basil for the chipotle peppers when making the sauce and mozzarella cheese for the pepperjack.

(Serves 4-6)

2 tablespoons of olive oil
2-3 cups of shredded turkey breast
3 peeled and sliced carrots
2 stalks of sliced celery
1 cup of sliced mushrooms
1 cup of frozen pearl onions
1 cup of frozen corn
2 tablespoons of chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped dill
1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
4 cups of chicken broth
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the carrots, celery and mushrooms and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the pearl onions and corn in for the last minute. Add parsley and dill. Stir in the flour and mix to coat all the vegetables. Add the chicken broth and whisk to make sure it is all blended. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer and stir until it reduces and thickens. (Note: because this is a slimmed down recipe, don’t expect the mixture to be THAT thick.)

Lay out 4 sheets of phyllo dough and spray with nonstick cooking spray to flavor. Cut into 4 pieces to fill the tops of the ramekins. Fill four ramekins with the mixture. Top with the phyllo dough. Sprinkle paprika on the phyllo dough. Bake at 350 until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

These pot pies are also great leftover. Just heat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. The phyllo dough will remain crispy!

Alternative: Instead of using phyllo dough, you can use Pillsbury Pie Crusts.


The concept of cooking a Thanksgiving meal can be very intimidating. During the past few years, I’ve been attempting to teach myself to cook through trial and error, and I promised myself that this would be the year that I finally made my favorite component of the Thanksgiving meal myself: a pumpkin roll. I’ve also been craving a REAL turkey sandwich (blog with recipe to follow), so I figured I would conquer another fear: roasting a whole fresh turkey. And I had to make mashed potatoes to go along with it! Gravy would’ve been pushing it – that will be next year. So here we go …

Whenever I have a question about the proper way to do something, I usually ask my family, do some Google research and I turn to two cooking bibles that have really helped me through a lot. The first is Martha Stewart’s Cooking School, a book which details through instructions and step by step photographs how to do everything from roasting a turkey, making a pie crust, preparing a souffle, etc. The second is a book which was a gift from my grandfather, called James Beard’s Theory and Practice of Good Cooking. He is a chef and swears by this book, so I don’t take his advice lightly. And you can’t go wrong with James Beard.

For Thanksgiving disasters, the New York Times also has a wonderful column called the Help Line where you can submit your own questions. http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/17/whats-a-good-entree-for-a-veganvegetarian-thanksgiving/?ref=dining So basically, this meal is a pretty big deal. And I wanted to prove I could do it.

So after I did some research, I began the process of roasting my first turkey. Right from the start, it was almost a near disaster. Holding a fresh fifteen pound turkey in my hands made me so uncomfortable, and I almost quit before I even got started. I genuinely felt sad for the turkey and I briefly contemplated becoming a vegetarian. (Removing the frozen neck from the “cavity” really put me over the edge. Why include the neck of the animal? I know they include the giblets, etc to make turkey stock and gravy but the NECK? I nearly gagged.)

The good news is that if you can get through the cleaning step, and maneuvering the little turkey legs so that it is in the proper position for roasting, the rest of the process is pretty simple. My advice is to just suck it up, do it, and move on. The way the house smelled while the turkey was roasting was amazing and how I imagine Donna Reed’s home smelled everyday. Plus, the leftover turkey I had to make sandwiches made it all so worth it. I was so happy I did it!

One slight problem: while the flavor was delicious, it was slightly dry because I left it in too long. Why? Because I followed the package instructions instead of trusting my gut!The package instructions on my turkey said to take it out at 170 degrees and other recipes I consulted said 180, so I went with 170. It was still too long. I should have taken the turkey out at 160!  So remember to keep checking your turkey, use a thermometer and KNOW your oven.


13-15 lb fresh turkey
2 tbl poultry seasoning
1 tbl salt
1 tbl pepper
2-3 large lemons, halved (plus more for garnish)
A few springs of fresh rosemary (plus more for garnish)
1 stick of melted butter
2-3 cups of chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the giblet package (and neck) from the turkey. Rinse the turkey with cold water. Pat dry. Tuck in the turkey legs under the turkey so they don’t stick up. (There’s a great illustration on how to do this in Martha Stewart’s Cooking School.) Combine the poultry seasoning, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the turkey. Put the lemons and sprigs of rosemary in the cavity of the turkey. Pour the melted butter over the whole turkey. Add the chicken broth to the pan.

Cook the turkey, uncovered for an hour at 400 degrees until it is browned. Then lower the temperature to 325 degrees and cover with a sheet of tin foil for the remainder of the cooking time. Roast for about three more hours, or until the temperature reaches between 160-170 degrees. (You can baste with the chicken broth every hour, but experts from the NYT swear that the best way to roast a turkey does NOT include basting. So, baste at your own risk!)

Let the turkey sit in it’s juices for at least 30 minutes before carving. Serve!

I am not a fan of making mashed potatoes, but I am a fan of eating them. They are so simple to make yet so easy to mess up. No one wants lumpy or goey or cold mashed potatoes, but it happens. I’m not going to pretend I am the guru of mashed potatoes, I’m not, or that I know how to solve these problems (yet). Still, I fumbled my way through making them a handful of times and this recipe seems to work for me. I like to add Parmesan cheese instead of salt to give the potatoes a kick. The leftovers are also great for making potato pancakes. (Dredge lightly in flour and fry in oil and voila, potato pancakes!)

2 lbs of Yukon gold potatoes
1 cup of light sour cream
1 stick of light butter
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup of reserved liquid
1 tbl of chopped fresh dill
1 tbl of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (plus more for garnish)

Peel the potatoes and boil them until you can stick a fork through them easily. Drain the potatoes, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Let cool slightly. Return the potatoes to the pot and add the butter, sour cream, and cheese. Mix well. Add the reserved cooking liquid as needed to bring the potatoes to your desired consistency. Mash by hand or use an electric mixer to puree the potato mixture. Lastly, stir in the dill and parsley. Garnish with more flat leaf parsley. Serve.


The Pumpkin Roll is the Pippa of Thanksgiving, stealing the spotlight from the traditional, beloved pumpkin pie. The Pumpkin Roll is superb in every way and perfection. Yes, you can buy a pumpkin roll in the supermarket – but they’re EXPENSIVE! And the store bought ones will never compare to the fresh, homemade roll. My Aunt Phyllis made me my first pumpkin roll and it was love at first bite. For years, I was too afraid to make one myself and instead enlisted a friend to graciously give me one of hers! I always envisioned a disaster at the point where you roll the cake up. But surprisingly, it’s easy if you just follow the instructions and the cake doesn’t crumble, if you’re careful. I promise! Follow this traditional Libby’s recipe, and you will have a hit dessert at your Thanksgiving dinner, courtesy of Libby’s Pure Pumpkin!
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup LIBBY’S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)*
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (optional)

*I substitued chopped pecans for the walnuts because they’re my favorite and I think they are perfect for this recipe.


  1. PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle towel with powdered sugar.
  2. COMBINE flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts.
  3. BAKE for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.
  4. BEAT cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake; remove towel. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

Enjoy! But be warned – this pumpkin roll is addictive.
Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂 
“For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful.”
Thanksgiving, also known as “Turkey Day,” is one of the most important “food” holidays of the year.  Thanksgiving, a harvest holiday celebrated in the United States and Canada, has traditionally been a day of giving thinks to God for all material possessions and mostly, for a bountiful harvest. Most modern Thanksgiving traditions originated with the first Thanksgiving dinner which took place in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621.  This Thanksgiving dinner was modeled after traditional harvest festivals which took place in Europe at the time.  There is evidence that the harvest for the first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days, providing food for over 50 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans.  This first Thanksgiving feast included: seafood such as cod, eel and bass; shellfish (clams, lobster, mussels); wild fowl (ducks, geese, swans, and TURKEY); venison; berries and other fruits; vegetables (peas, beetroot, possibly onions); harvest grains; beans; corn; and lastly, squash.
There were irregular Thanksgiving feasts after the first Thanksgiving, with an even larger one occurring in 1623 after a great drought. Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony described this Thanksgiving in his journal which was published as Plymouth Plantation, writing,

And afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. For which mercy, in time convenient, they also set apart a day of thanksgiving… By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine now God gave them plenty … for which they blessed God. And the effect of their particular planting was well seen, for all had … pretty well … so as any general want or famine had not been amongst them since to this day.[16]

William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation
Today, Thanksgiving is still celebrated every year in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November. It was originally celebrated as a religious holiday but it is also celebrated as a secular holiday and has been a National Holiday since 1863.  Though the modern Thanksgiving dinner varies by region and culture, a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner will typically include a roasted turkey, some kind of stuffing, mashed potato, vegetable, and pumpkin or apple pie.
The thought of making a real Thanksgiving dinner intimidates me and I know I am not alone.  There’s a reason why more and more restaurants are staying open on this holiday and offering complete takeout Thanksgiving faux home-cooking dinners. Making a Thanksgiving dinner can be costly, time consuming, and scary! But it doesn’t have to be. And this year I made sure that I was going to take on the challenge to prove to myself and my readers that not only is it possible for even an amateur chef to prepare an entire traditional Thanksgiving meal that tastes good, but it’s also fun!
Here is an elegant menu that I used for my first home-cooked Thanksgiving.

My Thanksgiving Fairytale Feast

Fairytale Feasts Thanksgiving Menu

First Course

Second Course 
Stuffed Turkey Roulade
Cranberry Fig Sausage Stuffing
Potato and Turnip Gratin
Oven Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
Orange Cranberry Sauce

Third Course
Chocolate Pecan Tart
Traditional Pumpkin Pie (Store Bought)


 I made the Fairytale Pumpkin and Acorn Squash Soup ahead of time and the rest of the dinner took me a few hours, but the entire meal can be made in a day.


1 Day Ahead:  

1) Prepare Pumpkin and Acorn Squash Soup. 
2) Prepare Stuffing for Turkey Roulade.
3) Prepare the Potato Turnip Gratin. You have the option of baking it in the oven and reheating next day. OR you can just prepare it and let it sit in refrigerator and bake it the following day.
4) Set the table.

Thanksgiving Day:
1) Prepare the Turkey Roulade.
2) Roast turkey and excess stuffing.
3) Prepare the chocolate pecan tart and bake in over after turkey and stuffing are done.
4) Heat the Potato Turnip Gratin in the Oven. 
5) Prepare the Orange Cranberry Sauce.
6) Prepare and bake the Chocolate Pecan Tart.
7) Roast the Parsnips and Carrots.


Thanksgiving Day:  
1) Prepare the Pumpkin Soup. 
2) Prepare the Turkey Roulade Stuffing. 
3) Assemble the Turkey Roulade. 
4) Roast turkey and excess stuffing.  
5) Prepare Potato and Turnip Gratin. Set aside.
6) When Turkey Roulade and Stuffing are finished, bake the Potato and Turnip Gratin.
7) While Turnip Gratin is baking, prepare the Chocolate Pecan Tart. 
8) Bake the Chocolate Pecan Tart. 
9) Prepare the Cranberry Orange Sauce. 
10) Prepare and roast the Parsnips and Carrots.

If you are looking for an easier, less time consuming take on this traditional Thanksgiving staple, try this elegant recipe for a stuffed turkey roulade. The roulade itself is so pretty and elegant to serve, not only on Thanksgiving, but on other holidays or special occasions.  I adopted from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.  You can view her original recipe here.

Fairytale Stuffed Turkey Roulade
(Serves 8)

3/4 cup figs
1 cup cranberries
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups of chopped sweet cooking onion
1 lb uncased sweet Italian sausage
1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary
3-4 cups of seasoned stuffing mix
1 1/2 cups of chicken stock
1 large egg
1 large turkey breast (or 2-3 halves of the white meat), deboned and butterflied (about 4-5 lbs)
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter (to pour over turkey)
Fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish

Add the figs, cranberries, orange juice and water to a small sauce pan and bring mixture to a boil.  Simmer for two minutes and set aside.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium high heat and add in the onions and celery. Saute until softened. Add the sausauge and crumble into small pieces, sauteeing for about 10 minutes until all the pieces are browned. Add the figs and cranberries (with the liquid) to the sausage vegetable mixture. Add the chopped rosemary and mix well.

Place the stuffing mix in a large bowl.  Add the sausage vegetable mixture, chicken stock, egg, and salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Lay the butterflied turkey breast down on a tray or cutting board (if skin, skin side down). Place saran wrap over the turkey and pound together with a mallet until flat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread the stuffing over the turkey, creating about a 1/2 inch layer. Be careful not to put in too much stuffing! Now roll the turkey over into a cylinder and tuck in all the stuffing that falls out. Use kitchen twine to secure the turkey roll’s shape.

Place the excess stuffing in a buttered gratin dish and bake for about 40 minutes. Place the turkey on a sheet pan  or in a roasting pan.  Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven until the turkey reads 150 degrees in the center.  In a regular oven, this will take about 1 1/2 – 2 hours depending on the size and width of your turkey.  Using a convection bake oven, this takes about an 1 hour.  Baste the turkey roll with the juice from the pan while it is cooking.

Cover the turkey roulade with foil and let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.  Serve sliced on a platter and garnish with fresh rosemary. Serve the leftover stuffing in the gratin dish.

And remember, if all else fails and your Thanksgiving Fairytale turns into a Thanksgiving nightmare, “It isn’t so much what’s on the table that matters as what’s on the chairs.” ~ W.S. Gilbert.