The feast doesn’t end with Thanksgiving

By Angela Shelf Medearis

If you store your leftovers safely and properly, you can enjoy them in a variety of ways for several days. (Depositphotos)

Ah, Thanksgiving — cleaning, shopping, cooking and entertaining guests for hours! While Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, I’ve embraced the day after the holiday as my time to feast in peace.

My traditional after-Thanksgiving breakfast consists of a cereal bowl full of warm leftover turkey, ham, corn and dressing with cranberry sauce. One of my favorite after-feast lunches is a turkey and ham sandwich with cranberry sauce and any other leftovers I can fit between two slices of toasted bread!

In my opinion, Thanksgiving leftovers are a national treasure. If you store your leftovers safely and properly, you can enjoy them in a variety of ways for several days.

During mealtime, do not let the turkey sit out for more than two hours after it has been cooked. For safe storage, remove the stuffing and de-bone the turkey. Store the turkey in shallow containers in the refrigerator, because shallow containers allow the turkey to cool faster, preventing the growth of harmful bacteria.

Unless you freeze the leftovers, be sure to use the turkey and stuffing within 3-4 days. Leftover gravy should be used within 1-2 days. Other cooked dishes can be stored up to 4 days.

Frozen leftovers should be stored at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below and used within 3-4 months. Turkey in gravy or broth, or other cooked turkey dishes can be frozen for 4-6 months. Stuffing and gravy can keep up to one month in the freezer. Marking your leftovers with the date and name of the item will help you keep better track of them.

Here are a few ideas for using the leftovers from your Turkey Day feast:




4 pieces of turkey (about 3-4 ounces)

1 tablespoon light mayonnaise

4 slices cooked bacon

2 flour tortillas (whole wheat, flour or flavored)

1/2 cup shredded lettuce

2 to 4 slices of tomato

2 to 4 slices avocado

1/2 red onion, sliced thinly, vertically

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper


Spread each tortilla lightly with mayonnaise. Divide turkey and put half on each tortilla. Add two slices of bacon, and evenly divide the lettuce, tomato and/or avocado slices and onion to each tortilla. Sprinkle each wrap with salt and pepper. Wrap tightly and serve. Serves 2.




This retro casserole is a great way to use leftover turkey, ham and cooked vegetables.


1 cup cooked turkey or ham (or a mixture of both)

1 cup cooked white or sweet potatoes, chopped, or 1/2 pound frozen hash brown potatoes

1 cup cooked vegetables

1 (10 ounce) can cream of broccoli, chicken or mushroom soup. or 1 1/2 cups leftover gravy

1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

1 small onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Cooking oil spray


Heat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, combine all ingredients, leaving out 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese. Pour into an 8 by 8 pan sprayed with oil. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Cover and bake 40 minutes. Uncover and bake another 20 minutes until the cheese on top is browned and bubbly. Serves 4 to 6.




This is a great dish for a cold day. If you prefer to prepare this in a slow cooker, omit the cooking oil and the recipe step where you cook the spices and vegetables in a pan on the stovetop. You can place everything except for the cooking oil in a slow cooker, mix well, and then cook on low for 4 hours if desired.


2 teaspoons cooking oil

1/4 cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons chili powder

1/2 tablespoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/3 cup chopped celery

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed

12 ounces fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes, chopped

1 (11-ounce) can white corn, drained

1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies

2 cups cubed, cooked turkey

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Heat the oil in a heavy, deep pot over medium heat. Add the onions, chili powder, cumin, tomato paste, celery and garlic. Cook until onions are clear. Pour 1 can of the drained and rinsed beans into the pot. Using a large spoon or a potato masher, mash the beans to break them down and thicken the chili. Add the remaining can of beans and the rest of the ingredients to the pot and stir well. Cover and simmer, stirring after 10 minutes, cook 15-20 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.


Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her latest cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her website is To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.


© 2020 King Features Syndicate and Angela Shelf Medearis



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