Skip to main content


Five Thanksgiving Leftovers Recipes



It’s the day before Thanksgiving and I am already thinking about the leftovers.

I will not be participating in Black Friday.  Unless it takes place in my refrigerator, I will be staying far, far away from any post-thanksgiving debauchery. Besides, I plan to make most of my Christmas gifts, but more on that later.

Here are my favorite uses for Thanksgiving leftovers:

1. Empanadas. A simple dough (or even store bough pie dough) can transform your leftover food into adorable and portable mini savory pies. Also handy to take along on those epic shopping ventures, for those of you who participate in that sort of thing.

My favorite combos: Turkey & Mashed Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, Candied Yam, Stuffing & Cranberry

More directions on making Thanksgiving Leftover Empanadas Here.


2. Turkey Galette. Use a standard dough, or a store bought pie crust. Roll it out, add your leftovers, fold the edges in and bake at 400 until the dough is cooked, about 35 minutes. Top with some fresh greens and you are good to go.


3. Salad. Seriously, we all need some detox right about now.


Cook 1 cup quinoa (use these directions to cook the quinoa, the package directions make it soggy)

Add 2 cups chopped kale

1/2 cup chopped cooked turkey

2 tbs dried cranberries

2 tbs chopped black olives

1 chopped yam, cooked

3 tbs balsamic & 1 tbs honey, mixed together


Toss everything in a bowl. Makes about 4 servings.



4. Turkey Grilled Cheese.

Not a lot to explain here. Just load some bread up with turkey, lots of cheese and pan fry until gooey, melty and amazing.


5. Turkey Sliders

Split open on of those left over rolls (or maybe the biscuits from breakfast) load it up with left overs and you just made yourself a cute little sandwich.

Or toss some leftover turkey in some BBQ sauce, fill a dinner roll and it’s like a brand new food.


Vanilla Bourbon Cranberry Sauce & 3 Ways to Use the Leftovers

Of all the Thanksgiving foods that I am asking you to make from scratch, and not out of a can, cranberry sauce is by far the fastest and easiest. It takes almost as much time to try and slop that phallic shaped, hideously ridges gelatinous mass onto a crystal serving dish as it does to throw a few ingredients in a pot and let it simmer. You have no excuse. Put down your reservations, and your can opener and give it a try. You can do it. I believe in you. 

As for those leftovers, that best part of that Black Friday, you have so many options. Cranberry sauce is the one thing that freezes super well, so you can put it in tupperware and save it for a week when you aren’t so double stuffed. Maybe there is a Christmas/Hanukkah party coming up and you signed up to bring the cupcakes? You are in luck. Freeze the leftover sauce, make the Cranberry Cream Cheese frosting below and you will have a cupcake hit on your hands. 

First, we’ll start with the recipe that gets us to these fine leftovers fit for transformations.

Vanilla Bourbon Cranberry Sauce

1/2 vanilla bean

4 cups of fresh cranberries

3/4 cup of water

2 tbs bourbon (good quality)

1 tsp real vanilla extract

1 cup of sugar

Slice the vanilla bean down the center the long way and scrape out the insides with the back of a knife. Place the vanilla scrapings, and the rest of the ingredients in a pot over medium/high heat. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until thickened. The longer you allow the sauce to cook, the thicker it will become.  

*all the alcohol burns off once heated, so this is safe to serve to minors. 

As I said before, cranberry sauce freezes well. You can save your leftovers for future use. 

Cranberry Cream Cheese Frosting

2 3/4 cups cream cheese (softened)

1 1/4 cups butter (softened)

1/2 cup cranberry sauce

3/4 cup powdered sugar

Cream cheese frosting is super, super easy to make and about a billion times better than that crap in a plastic can, as long as you follow the rules. Seriously, if you try to cheat this you will end up with a mixing bowl full of lumps that give your frosting the consistency of ground beef. The biggest rule: everything needs to be room temperature. Sounds wrong, but it’s true. Leave your butter and cream cheese on the counter for a few hours to let them soften. Here are a few acceptable shortcuts to get your ingredients to room temperature, since you may have patience issues, or lack of time issues, like I do.

1. If you are baking and the oven is on, place your sticks of butter and cream cheese (still wrapped) on top of the warm oven. That is, if you have an oven that gets warm. Turn them every 8-10 minutes to warm all sides. In about 30 minutes, they should be softened. 

2. Microwave. The problem with this is that you really don’t want anything melted, and since cream cheese is almost always wrapped in foil, this just works for butter. Put your wrapped butter on a microwave safe plate and microwave on high for 8 seconds. Turn one quarter turn and then repeat. do this until it is softened, but not melted. 

3. Cut everything into cubes and leave at room temp for about 30 minutes, should do the trick, unless your house is freezing cold. 

Put your softened cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high for about 3 minutes. This will allow it to blend with the butter better and prevent any clumps. Add the softened butter and beat on high until well combined. Add the cranberry sauce and mix again until well combined. Turn off the mixer and add the powdered sugar. I don’t like my frosting super sweet, but if you do, add more powdered sugar. Mix on low speed until the powdered sugar is mixed into the cream cheese mixture. 

Cranberry Walnut Muffins

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup sour cream

1 cup cranberry sauce

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup walnuts, chopped

Makes 12

Preheat oven to 400.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, then the vanilla; mix well between each addition. While the mixer is on low, add the sour cream and then the cranberry sauce, mixing until well combined. In a separate bowl, Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. With the mixer still on a low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the cranberry mixture. Mix until just combined, don’t over beat. Stir in the walnuts. Add cupcake papers to a muffin tins.  Fill each paper until about 2/3 full.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched.

Allow to cool. 

Cranberry Pancake Syrup

1 cup cranberry sauce

1/4 cup maple syrup

Put both in a bowl, stir well, heat in the microwave for 20 seconds. Serve over pancakes.


Take a second to like my Facebook Page to receive info about new post in your feed.

How To Use Thanksgiving Leftovers: Candied Yam Empanadas

Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday because gratefulness is such an underrated personality trait. I wish people admired that quality in others like they admire shoes and jewelry and waist size.

"She is SO grateful! I wish I had that." 

We should start the day that like. Before we ever get out of bed, list the things you are thankful for.

If you aren’t feelin' in a Thankful kinda mood right now, this’ll do it:

I’ve know quite a few survivors of the Nazi Holocaust. Most of whom are in their 90’s now. I know a man who was in Auschwitz concentration camp and went to the gas chamber. Twice. Both times, something was broken, and the entire chamber full of terrified, naked, sobbing Jewish men, women and children where told to go back to their cells. To this day, when something goes wrong, a toilet breaks, his phone service is down, his car needs work, he will always say, "Thank God for things that break! Broken pipes saved my life!" Nothing like a concentration camp story to put your life in perspective, right?!

No matter what you are facing, what is wrong, or what is hard to deal with. Take some time to think about what is right in your world. Hold the good closer than you hold the bad. I have so much to be thankful for, and I hope a day never comes that I stop thinking that. 

Every Thursday, not just the 4th Thursday in November, we should take some time and to list the things we are thankful for, no matter how long or short that list is. 

Oh, yeah, food. That’s why you’re here. These little guys are pretty fantastic. Plus, you don’t just have to limit them to your leftover candied yams, fill these with what ever you have. Other great empanada combos:

Turkey (chopped), mashed potatoes & gravy

Stuffing & cranberry sauce

Mac & Cheese

But, even if you didn’t make yams, or you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving and want to make these, I’ll give you an easy candied yam mash recipe that will be perfect for the filling.  

Thanksgiving Leftover Empanadas: Candied Yams

For The Dough:

2 1/4 cup flour

1 tsp salt

10 tbs butter, cold, cut into cubes

1 egg

1/3 cup ice water

For the Filling:

2 cups leftover candied yams, Mashed


2 large yams, peeled and chopped (about 4 cups)

1/2 stick butter (4 tbs), chopped into cubes

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 cup pecans


1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 tsp salt

Put 1 1/2 cups of flour and the salt in a food processor, pulse for a second to combine. Add the butter and process until combined. Add the remaining flour and process again. Move to a bowl. In a small bowl, beat the egg and water together until well combined then add the egg/water to the dough with a wooden spoon. If you add the water and egg with the food processor, your dough will turn out crispy and cracker like.

Form into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400.

If you are using leftovers you can skip this next paragraph.

Place your chopped yams in a large loaf pan, sprinkle the top with cubes of butter. Drizzle with the maple syrup and then top with the brown sugar. 

Bake, uncovered at 400 for about 40 minutes or until the yams are fork tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit. Drain off most of the liquid (leaving about 2 tbs in the bottom of the pan). Mash with a potato masher until mixture until creamy, add the pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg and stir. 

Once your dough is chilled, roll it out to an even thickness on a flowered surface. Cut out 4 inch circles. I don’t have a 4 inch circle cutter, so I used a margarita glass. 

Brush the edges of each circle with water. Put about 2 tbs of filling in the middle, leaving the sides clear. Fold the circle over and press the edges together well to make a secure seal. Put three small slits on the top of the empanadas to allow steam to escape. Place on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray (or covered with parchment paper). Brush the top with maple syrup, sprinkle with a small amount of salt. 

Bake at 400 for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown. Eat, smile, be thankful. 

Take a second to like Domestic Fits Facebook Page to receive info about new post in your feed.