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Transformations for Thanksgiving Leftovers

Looking at a fridge full of Tupperware filled to the brim? Thanksgiving dinner was lovely, but there's no need to have the same meal for the next week straight. Instead, try a twist on the

Sweet Potato Pot Stickers


These little parcels merge the technique of preparing traditional Asian dumplings with the sweet and savory characteristics of all-American candied sweet potatoes or roasted squash. The recipe is easy, as it relies on leftovers and ready-made wonton wrappers. The addition of caramelized onions, as well as a very quick nutty and herbaceous brown butter-sage sauce, contributes depth of flavor, as well as another layer of complex, comforting sweetness.


Makes 16 Pot Stickers

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into thin slices
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • Generous pinch of curry powder
  • 1 cup mashed leftover candied sweet potatoes (or roasted sweet potatoes or roasted butternut or acorn squash)
  • 16 square or round wonton wrappers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 large fresh sage leaves, chopped


Melt the butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly caramelized. Stir in the curry powder and cook for about 1 minute. Add the mashed candied sweet potatoes, season with additional salt and pepper, as needed, and stir until well combined. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.



To assemble the pot stickers, using one wonton wrapper at a time, place about 1 tablespoon of the sweet potato filling in the center of the wrapper. Brush the edges with water and fold in half (into a triangle or half-moon shape), pressing the edges to seal. Repeat with the remaining filling and wonton wrappers and set aside.



To cook the pot stickers, heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Place the pot stickers in the pan and cook until light golden brown on the undersides, about 3 minutes. Add the water, tilting the pan to evenly distribute it under all the wontons. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the water is evaporated and the bottoms of the pot stickers are golden and crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer the pot stickers to a serving dish, cover lightly with aluminum foil, and set aside briefly.


Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat, cooking until it is lightly browned and has a fragrant nutty aroma. Stir in the sage leaves and cook for another 30 seconds or so.
Pour the browned butter over the pot stickers and serve immediately.


Stuffing and Vegetable Strata


Bread puddings are terrific dishes for using leftovers, and this strata (a savory bread pudding) is no exception. Based on leftover stuffing as the flavorful bread component, it gains even more delicious complexity with the addition of leftover vegetables, fresh herbs, and nutty cheese, if you choose. This pudding or casserole is quick, delicious, and comforting’€”just the kind of thing we want to eat on the days following the big feast.


Serves 6 to 8

  • 2 cups milk (or 1 1/2 cups milk and 1/2 cup half-and-half)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • About 5 cups leftover bread stuffing
  • 1 cup chopped leftover roasted/cooked vegetables, such as carrots, Brussels sprouts, squash, mushrooms, and/or peas
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, or sage
  • 3/4 cup grated Comté or Gruyère cheese (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter an 11-by-7-by-2 or 8-by-8-by-2-inch baking dish.
Whisk together the milk, eggs, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Fold in the stuffing, vegetables, and herbs and pour into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the cheese, if using, evenly over the top, set on a large baking sheet, and bake until puffed and golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes.
Serve hot or at room temperature.


Turkey Pot Pies

With their tender top crusts and hot saucy fillings, pot pies are not only the perfect one-dish meals for cold weather months, but also delicious ways to use bits of flavor-packed leftovers. The following recipe calls for making a quick cream cheese and butter pastry, an easy sauce, and a filling that comes together in no time with a handful of leftover vegetables, turkey from your Thanksgiving bird, and the addition of fresh herbs.



You can prepare all the elements of this dish ahead, or assemble the pies and store them in the refrigerator for a day or so before baking. Make six pies as suggested here, or assemble several more substantial servings or one large pie, if you prefer.


Makes 6 pies

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white or cider vinegar



  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, peeled and sliced
  • About 2 cups chopped leftover roasted/cooked vegetables, such as carrots, Brussels sprouts, squash, potatoes, and/or mushrooms
  • 1 heaping teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas (or leftover cooked peas)
  • About 2 cups boned roasted turkey pieces, cut into about 1-inch chunks



  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups leftover turkey stock, broth, or jus (or chicken broth or stock)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Egg wash, prepared with 1 large egg and 1 tablespoon milk or cream


To make the crust, combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade attachment and process for about 15 seconds just to combine. Add the butter, cream cheese, and vinegar and process until the dough is moist and begins to form a mass. The dough will be much more smooth and supple than a traditional pie dough. Turn out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap, shape it into a disc, and set in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour.


To make the filling, heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and lightly caramelized, about 7 minutes. Toss in the roasted/cooked vegetables, thyme, and rosemary and cook until warmed, about 3 minutes. Pour in the wine and simmer until reduced by half.  Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl, toss with the peas and turkey, and set aside.



To make the sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and salt and cook, whisking frequently, for about 2 minutes. Pour in the milk and stock, whisking until combined, and simmer until thickened to the consistency of very thick cream, about 3 minutes.



Pour the sauce over the turkey mixture, stir gently to combine, and season with black pepper and additional salt, as needed. If the filling seems too thick, stir in water or milk, as needed. Preheat the oven to 350°F.



To assemble the pies, divide the filling among six 1-cup ovenproof round ramekins and set aside. Divide the dough into 6 pieces and roll on a lightly floured work surface into discs a little less than 1/4 inch thick and about 2 inches in diameter larger than the openings of the ramekins. Set one disc of pastry on each ramekin, pressing the sides to stick to the dish and crimping the edges, if desired. Cut leftover pastry into decorative shapes and, using water, attach to the tops of the pies, if desired. Set in the refrigerator to chill for about 15 minutes. Arrange the pies on a large baking sheet, brush with egg wash, and cut several slits in the tops using a sharp knife. Bake until the pastry is golden brown, about 45 minutes.
Serve the pies hot.


Photo by Sarah Bond



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