Countdown to Turkey Day 2011: Leftovers and the Great Thanksgiving Postmortem


Heather says:

First here’s a table of recipes to use up your Thanksgiving turkey leftovers:

Leftover Turkey Recipes
Turkey Pot Pie Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup
Turkey Bog Enchiladas
Turkey Soup Pilau
Turkey Salad Jambalaya

Leftover Guidelines

    • Turkey should be frozen or used within 2 – 6 days.
    • Frozen cooked turkey should be used within 2 months and should be cooked thoroughly, immediately after thawing.
    • If you have gravy or leftover mashed potatoes they should have been used within 1 – 2 days after Thanksgiving.
    • Leftover gravy is an excellent addition to “Mustgo Soup,” mashed potatoes are, too. Both thicken and add flavor.
    • Cranberry sauce can be stirred into yogurt, served over ice cream, or it makes a nice accompaniment to pork chops, ham, chicken, or fish. It should be used within 7 days. (The sugar acts as a preservative.)

After big events or projects, a lot of companies like to get together and do what they call the postmortem. It’s a way to figure out what went well, what didn’t, and what you should do differently next time.

You could do this privately and save it for yourself, but what’s the fun in that?

I and other home eccers would like to know:

What was your favorite part of the meal? Will you make it again?

What will you never make again?

How were your estimates, did you have the right amount of food or was there too much or little of an item?

And of course,

Were there any disasters?


  1. LeahinTexas on December 28, 2011 at 2:16 am

    Your series is helpful. I make the same dinner for Christmas and Thanksgiving and have been making it for every year of our marriage (18), plus a number of years before that. So I have lots of experience….

    But I got too comfortable (or lazy) and didn’t do enough prep ahead of time. Christmas was crazy with me in the kitchen almost continually until dinner was served (an hour later than we wanted).

    I just read through the series to remind me of what I should do better next time.

    Love your blog!

  2. Charlotte74 on November 27, 2011 at 2:24 am

    The Great Thanksgiving Postmortem – you sure have a way with catchy phrases.

    • HeatherSolos on November 27, 2011 at 8:51 am

      @Charlotte74 Thank you. Home Ec is often a sort of dry subject, so I entertain myself. I figure a few of you may get a chuckle out of it, too. 🙂

  3. SophieSpence on November 26, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    We divvied up our Thanksgiving dinner so no one had to do too much. My mother-in-law hosted and she made the turkey, stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce. I made calabacitas, a spinach casserole, and deviled eggs. Sister-in-law #1 made sweet potatoes. Sister-in-law #2 made roasted asparagus, tossed salad, and Jell-o salad. Sister-in-law #3 made mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and chocolate mousse. Granddaughters made a fruit-and-cheese plate for pre-dinner nibbling and seven-layer bars for dessert. In my husband’s family, the men don’t cook but one brother brought the wine and another brother-in-law brought the beer. It was a lovely dinner.

  4. deneicer1 on November 26, 2011 at 11:01 am

    I will never freeze broccoli again! I made a broccoli casserole and it looked and smelled delicious….tasted: not so good. I had a large bag of broccoli florets that were not going to be eaten so I tossed the bag in the freezer. I planned to use the frozen broccoli in casseroles and soups. YUCK! I literally asked everyone not to eat it and tossed it out!

    I really love my dressing. I hated dressing for years and it took me forever to find a combination I like. I cheat. I use Jiffy cornbread mix and make a large skillet of cornbread. I add the crumbled cornbread to a package of Pepperidge Farms dressing mix. I use onion, celery, garlic, butter, eggs, and broth to prepare the crumbs. We like ours baked in a separate pan because we like it a little crunchy on the top. YUM!

    I knew I would have too much food. We had a small group of 4 adults and one child who eats next to nothing. I thought about purchasing a turkey breast but then I would miss out on all the fabulous leftovers….so I went with a whole bird. It turned out great! I put a celery heart, half and onion and a quartered apple inside the bird. I bake mine in an oven bag with the breast side down. YUM!

    So…..overall it was a lovely day and the meal was easy-peasy because I made the side dishes the day before and let Marie Calendar assemble the pies…LOL!

  5. KeterMagick on November 25, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Since it is just two of us, I kept the menu simple and the quantities low to avoid massive leftovers.

    Challenge: Make everything from scratch – nothing canned or commercially prepared, and the big obstacle to that was making the pumpkin pie, which requires sweetened condensed milk… and a pie crust. Pie crusts and I are old enemies. I’m not entirely sure if it was the recipe or the fact that I made it in a food processor rather than by hand that made the difference, but I got a perfect crust.

    Zen moment: I reduced one half gallon organic milk into homemade sweetened condensed milk for the pumpkin pie. This took 2 hours to complete, all of which time it required stirring…my husband was long asleep and it was just me, my dog, and his rawhide chew with just the light over the stove on. I pulled a stool into the kitchen and drank wine and listened to late night (Coast to Coast) talk radio!

    Innovation: A half-pound of cranberries made into sauce (based on this recipe: I couldn’t get my hands on decent fresh or candied ginger, so I substituted with an outstanding result…check my comment on the recipe.

    EEK! moment: I left baking the green bean casserole for last, as I’m not a fan of it unless it is very fresh. I had my timing all worked out, but the turkey turned out to need another 40 minutes beyond what the charts say, and I didn’t have room in the oven for both. So I improvised and made it in a skillet on the stove. It was like Weird Science (minus the bras on the head) but it worked and looked/tasted the same on the plate. Saved by a roux, what can I say?

    Takeaways: Homemade condensed milk is utterly delicious (I hate the taste of the canned stuff and only used it in a few legacy recipes). I’m going to set aside another zen night and this time I’ll put up several gallons (sweet and unsweet) in jars for pantry stock. And that cranberry dressing is to die for; my husband wants more of it and also wants me to devise a pie that uses it…now that he knows I’ve got the crust issue whooped, I believe I’ve created a monster…a pie-eating monster…

  6. VeraThomasHannaford on November 25, 2011 at 8:09 am

    I loved how the apple, cranberry, and sage stuffing turned out. Used pre packaged stuffing and chicken broth instead of bread cubes and turkey stock, but it was a hit with the in laws.

  7. HeatherSolos on November 25, 2011 at 7:54 am

    I got off light for Thanksgiving Day. I only had to make and bring the shrimp and andouille cornbread dressing. My stepfather and I take turns hosting holidays. He hosted yesterday and it was wonderful. Although I have a couple of turkeys I’ll be cooking to load up our freezer.

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