Leftovers, Now What? –2019 Edition

My 2019 Thanksgiving Spread

Have leftovers from the holidays and looking for some creative or new ideas to use them up rather than just popping them on a plate and nuking them?  I think I might be able to help!  Here are a few Joyful Food Journey Kitchen tried and true ideas for using up some of those leftover sides and turkey.

Leftover mashed potato cakes with polish sausage, onion, and cabbage.

Let’s start with those leftover side dishes. 

  • Mashed potatoes are great made into patties and fried up as a substitute for hash browns for breakfast, or serve as fried patties for dinner with some caramelized onions, cabbage, and polish sausage (polish sausage for the holidays has always been a tradition with my family).
  • Brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes are great together as a hash with some bacon or sausage and a poached egg on top (similar to what I referred to in my Playing with Food blog post).  If your sweet potatoes are mashed and have been made with brown sugar or orange juice, add some Cajun seasoning or cayenne to spice them up and make them into patties for that hash.  If those sweet potatoes are made with marshmallows though, you’re on your own – that’s basically dessert.
  • I’ve never made stuffing/dressing myself for the holidays so don’t yet have any suggestions there (except to try making waffles with it – hmm, that might be good topped with some sausage gravy and a runny fried or poached egg). Here’s a recipe idea though, Cornbread Stuffing Fried Rice – let me know if you make it, or what else you’ve done to doctor-up leftover stuffing/dressing.

Here are a few ideas for transforming those turkey leftovers.

  • Top your leftover turkey and sweet potatoes with red curry peanut sauce/dip.  When cold this sauce/dip acts more like a dip (bottom pic), and when warm acts more like a sauce (top pic).  So it’s great for dipping pita chips and veggies, but also great warm as a sauce on turkey or chicken and sweet potatoes.  It could also be used as a simmer sauce for a mishmash of leftovers (I’m thinking turkey, sweet potato, and green beans) and served over rice or grain of choice.
  • Instead of chicken salad, why not turkey salad?  I like it with avocado, a little plain greek yogurt for creaminess, lime, jalapeno, red onion, cilantro.
  • My favorite, though, is a recipe for turkey and broccoli pasta.  The first year my mom and I made this, we used leftover turkey and some uncooked sausage patties we had left over from making dressing.  It really transforms the turkey into something special with the flavors and fattiness from the sausage, freshness from the lemon, and the creaminess from the goat cheese. It’s really simple and quick to make and hits a lot of nice flavors and textures.  This can also be made using uncooked ground chicken or turkey.

I have absolutely no recommendations for leftover desserts because, quite frankly, leftover cold pie by itself is already pretty much the perfect breakfast during the holidays.

Below is the recipe and my notes for turkey with broccoli pasta. Let me know if you try any of these suggestions and what you think. Please also share your holiday leftover ideas and transformations, would love to see what you do!

Turkey and Broccoli Pasta

This is a great use of leftover turkey from the holidays.  (Sorry, no picture!  I'll try to remember to take one in the future and update.)

Credit: The Joyful Food Journey Kitchen (To be quite honest I can’t find the original recipe that this came from anymore, so I think my mom and I created it based maybe on a turkey sausage and broccoli rabe orecchiette recipe.)


8 oz fusilli (or other short) pasta

5 sausage patties (links with the casings removed would also work)

~3 cups pre-cooked shredded turkey (or chicken) – or whatever amount you have leftover and want to use

12 oz (1 bunch) chopped broccoli

3 garlic cloves minced (garlic in a tube works OK with this recipe)

1 Tbsp lemon zest

2 tsp lemon juice

¼ tsp (optional, more or less to taste) crushed red pepper flakes

4 oz herbs de provence goat cheese (if pre-seasoned goat cheese isn’t available, you can substitute plain goat cheese with or without adding herbs de provence seasoning)

1/3 cup walnuts, toasted


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.
  2. Toast walnuts in a separate pan on the stove or in the oven.
  3. In another pan cook the sausage patties.
  4. Add to the pan the turkey, broccoli, and cook with 1/2 cup (more or less) of pasta water.
  5. Add to the drained pasta the garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, the meat, broccoli, toasted walnuts, and goat cheese and mix.

Note: This can also be made with 1 lb of uncooked ground chicken or turkey, it would be cooked at the same time as the sausage.


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