Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: Thanksgiving meal is a labour of love

Thanksgiving feast is hours of work but worth it for the taste that can't be purchased in a store

The Thanksgiving feast is over, and I wonder how many non-cookers out there even have a clue how much time goes into making this fabulous meal?

Just so you’ll have an idea and a better appreciation, I timed my own efforts. From the planning, shopping, making my cherry and pumpkin pies, cabbage rolls, making stuffing for the turkey, stuffing it, tying it, and getting it into its greased paper bag, the preparation of the vegetables, (Brussels sprouts, turnip, peas and carrots, sweet potato, and mashed potatoes), without counting the cooking times or the mashing, plating times, it still took me more than seven hours to do this! Now add on preparing the table with all its odds and sods, and getting this meal served, we see it’s a major effort.

Of course, one can buy almost everything already prepared (yuck) or eat out, which just isn’t the same somehow. And that is why I love any turkey dinner even more when/if I’m not the one preparing the whole thing.

Having said that, the one thing I really miss if I don’t prepare the meal, is the leftovers. There’s nothing like that thick turkey sandwich and at least one meal with no effort. After that, though, most of us would like a new idea for getting rid of the rest of the leftovers. Today I offer two good recipes for just that.  The first is a tasty pot pie and the second recipe is a casserole that uses up turkey and mashed potatoes.


Sam’s Leftover

Turkey Pot Pie

2 cups frozen peas and carrots (or leftovers)

2 cups frozen green beans or leftovers if you have some

1 cup sliced celery

2/3 cup butter

2/3 cup chopped onion

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1-3/4 cups chicken broth

1-1/3 cups milk

4 cups cubed cooked turkey meat, light and dark meat mixed

4 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

Place the raw peas and carrots, green beans and celery into a saucepan; cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer over medium-low heat until the celery is tender, about 8 minutes. Drain the vegetables in a colander set in the sink, and set aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and cook the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2/3 cup of flour, salt, black pepper, celery seed, onion powder and Italian seasoning; slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk until the mixture comes to a simmer and thickens.

Remove from heat; stir the cooked vegetables and turkey meat into the filling until well-combined.

Fit 2 pie crusts into the bottom of two 9-inch pie dishes. Spoon half the filling into each pie crust, then top each pie with another crust. Pinch and roll the top and bottom crusts together at the edge of each pie to seal, and cut several small slits into the top of the pies with a sharp knife to release steam.  Bake in the preheated oven until the crusts are golden brown and the filling is bubbly, 30 to 35 minutes. If the crusts are browning too quickly, cover the pies with aluminum foil after about 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Note: You may replace some of the chicken broth with leftover gravy, and leftover stuffing can line the bottom of the pastry if desired.

Turkey Potato


1 pound cooked turkey meat, shredded

1 onion, chopped

1 (14.5 ounce) can green beans, drained

1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup

8 ounces cubed Cheddar cheese

8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese

4 cups prepared mashed potatoes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

Place turkey in an even layer on the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Top with a layer of onion and a layer of green beans so that the turkey is no longer visible.

Pour the condensed soup over the onion layer, then sprinkle with shredded cheese.

Stir together the cubed cheese and mashed potatoes; spoon over the top of the casserole, and spread to cover.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, until heated through.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every Wednesday and one Sunday per month.