What can I do with Thanksgiving leftovers?

If you and your family do not eat leftovers, send the rest home with someone else because there are people like me, who can eat Thanksgiving leftovers every day. Seriously. Every single day, every meal, I can eat turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, squash and cranberry sauce for the week following Thanksgiving. But for many (MOST) that gets boring. So, here are some ideas to hide it so your family doesn’t even know its leftovers! And as always, it’s good food that happens to be gluten free.


Changing the flavor profile is the easiest way to disguise the leftovers. You can shred some of the turkey and mix it with your favorite barbecue sauce and serve on leftover rolls or with cornbread stuffing. Add the turkey to jarred Tikka Masala sauce and serve with rice. You can make Asian rice noodles, Italian pasta, Quesadillas or Chili. Using the leftover turkey, squash or vegetables from the veggie tray you can make any of the dishes in my recent Super Easy Pasta Night3 Easy 10 Minute Meal , Taco Tuesday – Step Outside the Taco Shell and Crowd Pleasing Chili posts.

There are so many options! With the ideas and recipe links above you can make your own takeout! Save the money for the holidays 🙂

Happy planning, cooking and try not to stress. Send me your questions for Thanksgiving or for what to do with leftovers! or tell us your leftover ideas! Comment here or send me an email to mammascooking@gmail.com.



Butter, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme: How to make a compound butter

Yes, I am spending an entire post writing about butter. Butter is an essential part of Thanksgiving. You rub it all over the turkey, spread it on warm rolls just out of the oven, put butter in the stuffing, melt it on top of roasted squash, cream together in the mashed potatoes and use it to finish off the gravy. I could keep going! I hope Julia Child would be proud.


Because butter is such a big part of the meal, I like to make it more flavorful. It is very easy to do. Make a compound butter. That is a fancy name for a butter that you add flavor to. I usually make it a day or two before Thanksgiving. You can even make it today!

Rosemary, Sage, Thyme and Lemon Compound Butter



1 ½ cups of unsalted butter (3 sticks), softened/room temperature

1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

¼ teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage

1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme

zest of one lemon

1 teaspoon of salt

A pinch of pepper



With a fork, mash together all of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Take 3-4 tablespoons of the butter and place on a small rectangle of parchment paper and make it into a roll. Place in fridge to cool, until Thanksgiving morning. Take it out, unroll it onto a plate and it will be ready for your table! This can be for your table for your guests to melt on warm rolls. The remainder of the butter should be covered and placed into the refrigerator until Wednesday night. Leave it on the counter so that it is spreadable on Thursday when you start to cook.


If your stuffing mix or stuffing already has seasoning, use plain butter. Otherwise you can use this on any other part of the main meal.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions about your Thanksgiving meal!

Other helpful Thanksgiving posts:

Appetizer ideas for Thanksgiving

Cooking your Thanksgiving Turkey

Easy Thanksgiving Side Dish: My Favorite! Acorn Squash

I guess Thanksgiving is coming soon!  – Great make ahead mashed potato recipe!

Happy Cooking!

Easy Thanksgiving Side Dish: My favorite! Acorn Squash

A question I frequently get from readers is whether my house is completely gluten free. Yes, it is. Except for my husband’s beer 🙂 It is a personal decision to make the entire house gluten free, but it is what works for us. I mixed the kids’ lunches up once while we lived in a shared household and after that decided to go gluten free. Too much work for me to keep it separate! Holidays at our house are also completely gluten free. I love the challenge to make traditional holiday meal items so that no one misses the gluten!

Most of the meal is naturally gluten free, except for the stuffing and the rolls. This year I am making my own stuffing. I am going to base it on this recipe, but use all the ends of the gluten-free bread that I have been saving in the freezer for the cubes. I will also substitute vegetable stock so that it is vegetarian for one of our guests.

I tested some recipes for rolls and decided that I am going to use the corn-based rolls recipe from Roben Ryberg’s book, You Won’t Believe It’s Gluten-Free! I will cook them just before we eat, so they come fresh out of the oven onto the table.

Here is my super easy Thanksgiving side dish recipe for acorn squash. The hard part is timing it for your oven space! This can be cooked while your turkey is resting and you are making gravy. Then keep it warm and covered while your rolls cook. Just prep it in the pan earlier in the day so that whenever you have time and space it’s ready to go into the oven.


Chili rubbed Acorn Squash (feeds 4 so double or triple as needed)


1 Acorn Squash, sliced into half moons

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon chili powder



Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss squash with the rest of the ingredients in a baking sheet (you can probably fit 1 ½ acorn squashes on each baking sheet). Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Take out, flip each piece of squash and return baking sheet to oven and bake for another 15 minutes.


Don’t try to over complicate your meal. I have done that many, many, many times and only you suffer for it. Thanksgiving is not the time to experiment with fancy recipes. Keep it simple with just a couple of seasonings and the fewer the steps for you to take the better! The more you can prep in advance, the better and the more help you can take from the store, the better.

If you missed it, check out my Holiday Mashed Potato recipe and ideas for easy sides, how to simplify your Thanksgiving meal and about the star of the show, the turkey.

Send me a message or comment below if you have any questions about making your Thanksgiving meal gluten free.


My Thanksgiving Menu

Cooking creates some stress in people and that stress increases even more when it’s for a holiday and large numbers of people. Don’t let it stress you out! Take help from the store or take others up on their offer to bring a specific item, make what you can ahead of time and keep it simple of the day of!!
Here is my plan this year for Thanksgiving (recipes are below):
Roasted Turkey
Cranberry Sauce
Steamed Lobster
Sweet potato gratin or sweet potato soup.
Mashed Potatoes
Spinach Salad with roasted butternut squash, goat cheese and raspberry vinaigrette
Dinner Rolls
Compound butter
I haven’t even thought about appetizers yet!!! Simple is best though because a big meal is coming.  I’ll probably just put out a simple veggie tray with hummus, a cheese plate and salami, prosciutto plate.
Roasted Turkey
 I cook my turkey in pieces. I know, I know, not traditional, but after listening to many chefs being interviewed on the Splendid Table (http://splendidtable.publicradio.org/) over the last few years, I have followed their lead and roast the white meat in the oven while the dark meat, bones, and giblets braise on the stove.  This is actually faster, only a couple of hours for a 12-15 pound bird. If you want to brine the turkey go for it. I did last year in water, salt, lemon, pepper and garlic over night. The morning of Thanksgiving, dry the breasts thoroughly. In a separate bowl mix butter, sage, rosemary, thyme , salt and lemon pepper. Take the butter and rub it all over the breasts, including under the skin. Roast the breasts in an oven safe bag on top of sliced lemons, chopped onions, carrots, garlic + whatever veggies you like.  Depending on the weight of your turkey, about an hour and a half (I think that is how long the breasts from my 12 pound bird took last year), until the right temperature. Check out the USDA sight on safe poultry handling for time and temperatures: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/lets_talk_turkey/index.asp
The dark meat and the giblets I brown in 1 part butter, 1 part olive oil in a very large sauce pan after rubbing with salt and lemon pepper. Then I add a chopped onion, clove of garlic and the braising liquid. The braising liquid is one part chicken stock, one part beef stock, 1/8 part white balsamic vinegar, thyme, rosemary and sage. Cover and braise on medium for 2-3 hours (depending on the size of your bird).  Make sure liquid is about ¾ way up the bird.  
The Chew is talking turkey today and here is a link their turkey recipes.  Food network and many other cooking blogs have tons of recipes for turkey. If you get overwhelmed, stop searching! You will find a million different ways to make a turkey, so just read a couple of recipes and think about how you roast a chicken and keep it simple! Simple = delicious!
When the dark meat is done, take it out and let it rest on the platter under foil.  Reduce the braising liquid by ½. Take out the veggies.  Taste the liquid and add water or stock if too strong or if you want more of a vinegar flavor add more vinegar. You can use wine instead of vinegar. It all depends on your own taste. To thicken the gravy put a tablespoon of cornstarch in a mug and ladle some of the liquid into the mug and mix. Then pour it into the pan and whisk. Repeat until desired thickness. Strain to get out any lumps.  Finish by whisking in a couple pats of butter. TIP: I usually serve gravy in travel coffee mugs. That way it stays warm all through dinner. 
Cranberry Sauce
Everyone has their own preference and I am one of those people who LOVE the cranberry sauce out of a can. So good! I usually have a can of cranberry sauce + a can of the whole berry one so that there is a variety for people. If someone asks what they can bring and homemade cranberry sauce is their thing, by all means, they can bring it.
Steamed Lobster
For the past few years while we lived in Seattle I have served salmon alongside the turkey to add a little Pacific Northwest flair to the meal. Now that we are back in New England we were talking with my brother about what would be a good Boston flair to the meal. His idea was to bring already steamed lobster. I’ll never say no to that! 
This is where I take some help from the store. Maybe it is nostalgia, but I love Stove Top stuffing. I buy the savory herb blend. To make it a little more my own, I brown up some mild Italian sausage and some chopped apples and add it to the stuffing after cooking it according to the directions on the box. Put it in a casserole dish covered to stay warm, putting it in the oven if you need to. If its drying out, add a little chicken/turkey or beef stock and cover to allow the steam to moisten the stuffing. 
Sweet potato dish
I haven’t decided yet which I am going to make. I think I am going to go with a soup. Like this one I made a couple of weeks ago. It will be lighter than a gratin. Although this gratin dish sounds amazing! – http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/recipe/michael-symons-sweet-potato-gratin-14954467It is from Michael Symon, who made it on The Chew.
Mashed potatoes
Peel and dice the potatoes (You don’t have to peel them if you don’t want to). Put them in a pot and pour enough milk over to cover the potatoes. Add a little garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper and stir. Turn on heat to medium/medium high and watch to make sure milk doesn’t boil over.  Simmer until potatoes are soft. Drain potatoes leaving a little milk in the pot. Add butter, couple of tablespoons of cream cheese, salt and pepper. Mash, taste and add more butter, milk, salt or pepper to your taste.
Spinach Salad with roasted butternut squash, goat cheese and raspberry vinaigrette

Thanks Lauren for this! This is so good! First, peel and cube a fall/winter squash of your choice. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. I also add some Trader Joe’s Everyday seasoning, a coriander mix on a sheet pan.  Roast for about 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees. While its roasting arrange fresh spinach leaves on a platter. When squash is browning around the edges, take out and place on top of spinach. Top with some crumbled goat cheese and drizzle with a raspberry vinaigrette of your choice. Sooo good! 
Here is another option for a squash salad from Sally, using items from your local farmer’s market.
Dinner rolls
I also take some help from the store or local bakery with this one. Here is a tip from Our Best Bites to make store bought rolls a little fancier with some fresh herbs:
Compound Butter
This may sound fancy but is really simple and delicious! I take a couple of sticks of butter and leave on counter to soften. Once soft, then mix it in a bowl with some lemon zest and fresh thyme (or whatever other fresh herbs you have on hand). Either put it in a small shallow bowl and refrigerate or make a log out of it and wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper and refrigerate or (what I’m going to do this year) put in a shallow flat pan and refrigerate. Once cooled and hardened then use cookie cutters to cut out little shapes. I found some cute leaves, acorns, pumpkin ones that will look very fancy, but without much work! I found the idea in an old Martha Stewart magazine.
I’m not really much of a baker, so when people are coming to Thanksgiving at my place and ask what they can bring, I usually say dessert. I have made some things in the past from Our Best Bites. This pumpkin crumble is amazing!!
Wine – good pinot noir or Riesling – whatever you like the best.
Beer – Have on hand what you know your guests will like.
Butterscotch martinis – My favorite fall drink! 1 part butterscotch schnapps, 1 part vodka, shake and serve.
Apple cider
Cranberry Juice
Apple Juice
TIP for the kids:  Have a little project or puzzle handy for each kid (dollar store is a great resource) to give them after dinner so they have something to keep them occupied until dessert, especially if is raining. If not raining have one, two or more adults play with them outside until dessert.