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After the Turkey's Gone - What to do with the Leftovers

The turkey isn't really gone - there's plenty left for a few more meals. What will you do?

Once the big meal is over on Thanksgiving Day, it's time to break down the carcass and get things into the refrigerator. Remember to pack things up in small quantities, so they will cool faster. If not, you're asking for bacteria and some health issues. Also, be sure that the food does not sit at room temperature longer than two hours. For the bird, that timer starts when it comes out of the oven to rest on the counter before carving.

Tricky, yes, but you should be in charge of your kitchen as if it was a restaurant. Once everything is packed away, you have about 3-4 days to eat it or freeze it. By this point, all the nibbling should be satisfied. You can freeze turkey for 3-4 months without any great loss of quality. It will do much better in a deep freezer, however, as opposed to a refrigerator/freezer compartment.

There are a few tricks to making tempting and tasty dishes with leftover turkey. You do not have to resort to sandwiches for days on end. In fact, there are plenty of recipes available that will help you turn that bird into many gourmet delights.

Here are my favorite tips:
-Make it something it's not. That means mixing it with chicken, typically, for a blended taste that won't be as strong - and will deliver less reminders of turkey overload. Add sauces, cheese, rice, and pasta to create favorite dishes - with just a touch of turkey thrown in. Shred it and mix with pork for a Sloppy Joe-style meal. Layer it with cranberries and create a delightful lunch.

-Give turkey international flair. Spice it up with chili powder, cumin, and any number of other spices and turn it into an ethnic treat. Pair it with pizza or heat it up in a wok.

-Take advantage of the diet side. Turkey is, by nature, a healthy food. It is low in fat, cholesterol, and carbohydrates. Add it to your favorite low-calorie recipes or make a soup with the stock that will be good for your arteries and your heart.

With a little imagination, there are plenty of post-Thanksgiving meal treats you can create with turkey.



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