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The Best Part of Thanksgiving: Family, Friends & Leftovers

Priya Hutner for The Tahoe Weekly

The yellowed leaves of the aspens flutter in the fall winds. Fields of dried mule ears crunch under foot and there is a chill in the morning air. Tahoe’s changing seasons are one of the reasons it is a premier destination location and autumn is a grand time to be here with an awe-inspiring array of colorful foliage that dress our community in a cloak of beautiful yellows and oranges. Fall is also synonymous with Thanksgiving and a time for family and friends to gather and be thankful.

Many of us know the best part of Thanksgiving is leftovers. The aroma of turkey roasting and pies baking create lasting memories for young and old alike. According to the National Turkey Federation, 46 million turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving. In addition 50 million pumpkin pies are consumed on this day. The average American consumes approximately a whopping 4,500 calories at a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. It takes about 10 hours to burn off this holiday meal. Some families eat an early afternoon dinner and come back to pick up where they left off after the tryptophan has worn off. It’s not necessarily the turkeys fault; that post-meal crash is most likely from carbohydrate-rich foods and alcohol consumption.

Turkey Sandwiches

One of my favorite day-after leftover meals is also a heartfelt memory. When I was young I’d wake up at my grandmother’s house and pad into her kitchen to make a stuffing sandwich: buttery bread stuffing sandwiched between two slices of white bread with a tad of warm gravy and a slice of turkey. It turns out I am not the only one who enjoys bread on bread. Truckee chiropractor Walter Lightner is also someone who loves the morning-after stuffing sandwich. He adds cranberry sauce and a bit of turkey on doughy white bread with a smear of mayonnaise.

Turkey Soup

Turkey soup is one of the ultimate uses for leftover turkey. Once the meat has been removed from the bird, throw the carcass in a large stockpot of water, add a large onion, carrots, celery, some spices and simmer to create a delicious turkey soup.

My friend Karen Barchas makes a fabulous kale, white bean and turkey soup, My favorite kitchen appliance that I can’t live without is the Instant Pot, which is what I use to make soup.

Turkey Tetrazzini

And who can resist a fresh-baked turkey pot pie? Turkey Tetrazzini is a delectable use of turkey leftovers, diced turkey swimming in a mushroom, butter cream and Parmesan sauce with a dash of wine or sherry and baked or served over pasta. Try the recipe at Click on Local Flavor.

Turkey Tortillas

Recently I struck up a conversation with an airport shuttle driver and she chirped out her day-after-Thanksgiving leftover favorite: “We make tortitas.” Her family version includes sliced turkey, layered in a tortilla with some shredded cheese and folded twice into a triangle, dipped in egg and fried in a pan with a touch of oil — although I think everything is better with butter. This will be on my list to experiment with.

Let us not forget leftover pie for breakfast as a morning appetizer while waiting for mashed potato cakes to fry up in butter. There are just so many creative things to do with Thanksgiving leftovers.

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