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.


My grandfather recently came to me with a very special present wrapped in a brown paper bag. “I brought you some cardoons,” he said in a proud voice, knowing I’d been waiting for them all month. I didn’t ask where they came from, because I knew better. For some reason which I never fully understood, the locals (my family members included) that know about the savory salty deliciousness of cardoons are very secretive about cardoons and take great care not reveal the secret places that they grow. (Hint: the side of the road?)
Another reason why people in NEPA are so secretive about “cardoons” is because they’re NOT really cardoons. We just call them that.  It is almost impossible to find REAL cardoons in Northeastern Pennsylvania so technically we use Burdock (it’s a root vegetable interchangeable with cardoons). These “cardoons” can be found here in late spring to early summer. 
Cardoons (pronounced “kahr-DOON”) look like celery stalks but are very salty and taste almost like an artichoke. Famed Italian Chef Mario Batali calls cardoons, or “cardoni” in Italian, one of his favorite vegetables and has included a cardoon recipe in “The Babbo Cookbook.”  He also has a few cardoon recipes on the FoodNetwork.com.  But cardoons aren’t just an Italian speciality – they are also popular in France and Spain.  Cardoons grow like giant bunches of celery and look almost like weeds but they do flower. See a photo of them on Wikipedia.com.  When picking cardoons, look for stalks that are firm and have a silver-greenish color. (See photo below.)  When I was a little girl, I was afraid to eat them.  But rest assured, they taste MUCH better than they look! 
When cooking with cardoons, you use only the inner stalks of the plant.  The outer layer needs to be peeled and flowers removed. It is important to rinse them thoroughly before using. Many people soak cardoons in acidulated water to prevent them from browning. According to the Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion, acidulated water is water in which a small amount of vinegar, lemon or lime juice has been added to prevent discoloration of some fruits and vegetables that darken quickly when their cut surfaces are exposed to air.  If you ever wanted to keep your apples from browning before making an apple tart, etc., it is best to soak them in this water. You can prepare acidulated water by adding 1.5 tablespoons of vinegar OR 3 tablespoons of lemon juice OR 1/2 cup of white wine to a quart of water. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. For more on preparing cardoons, see this video from Saveur magazine.

Cardoons can be cooking in many different ways.  They can be steamed, roasted, stewed, pan fryed, boiled.  They can be buttered and broiled, used in sauces or gratins. I have typically seen them pan fried or served in a quiche or a frittata. (They are really great with eggs!)  Below I have included an easy rustic recipe for pan frying these unique vegetables.  This dish would make a great appetizer and I highly recommend trying it! 🙂

Fairytale Feasts’ Fried Cardoons 

1 bunch (about 2 lbs) of cardoons
3 eggs
2 cups of breadcrumbs
1 cup of parmesean cheese
Dried Mint
1/2 cup of olive oil
Salt + pepper

Be sure to clean your cardoons thoroughly and boil them in boiling water before using.

In a small bowl, crack three eggs and lightly beat with a fork to mix. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper. In large separate pan or bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, parmesean cheese, and dried mint. Gently dip the cardoon stalk in the egg mixture.  Then repeat in with the breadcrumb mixture.  


Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet. Using tongs, gently place the breaded cardoon mixture into the frying pan. Brown on both sides. Cardoons should be somewhat crisp and crunchy. Remove to a paper towel lined pan or dish. Season with salt. Serve immediately.