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Soaring With the Turkeys: Making the Most Of Holiday Leftovers

Updated on October 30, 2013

Wild Turkey

(photos this page public domain)
(photos this page public domain)

Unfair to Turkeys!

In many dictionairies, you will find one defintion of turkey as a slang word used to mean naive, stupid, inept or loser. Somehow, the notion that turkeys are stupid is oftne hard to break [American Proverb: How can I soar with eagles with I work with turkeys?].

However, some scientific proof exists that the turkey is not so dumb, after all.

In addition, one company in the Oklahoma area compresses and heats turkey parts into OIL that we can use for fuel until all the alternatives take over. So the turkey may prove useful in many ways besides for dinner.

Crowded conditions for domestically raised turkeys. Free range and lots of room are better.
Crowded conditions for domestically raised turkeys. Free range and lots of room are better.

Poultry geneticist Tom Savage at Oregon State University Animal Sciences studied turkeys, chickens, and fowl for over 30 years and helped devise ways to improve turkey production and meat quality. He has decided that turkeys are smart and aware of their surroundings, but have been bred to be heavy, fat, slobs that can no longer fly. People ask him why turkeys seem to star at the sky so much, and Savage explains that it is a genetic disorder that creates a spasm, and not stupidity. Wild turkeys still fly.

So, if turkeys are - well turkeys (slang) - then, I guess we made them that way.

Enjoy these recipes that will ensure that your family does not groan at holiday leftovers this year.

Fast Oven Turkey Salad

Serves 8 – 10


  • 2 Cups chunked cooked turkey
  • 2 Cups coarse-chopped celery
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons diced onion
  • 1/2 Cup chopped nuts – walnuts, pecans, or almonds, or use your favorite.
  • 1 Cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ Cup stuffed green olives, sliced
  • 1/2 Cup shredded Colby Jack cheese
  • 1 Cup breadcrumbs, seasoned or plain


  • Combine all ingredients except the cheese and potato chips or breadcrumbs.
  • Place the mixture into a cooking-sprayed 1.5 quart baking dish.
  • Combine the cheese and breadcrumbs and distribute evenly over the top.
  • Bake the dish at 375 degrees F for just 20 minutes

Chunky Turkey Chili

Serves 8


  • 1 Pound dried navy beans (or use caned navy beans to save a lot of time)
  • 2 Pounds chunked cooked turkey – white, dark, or a mix
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Spanish Onions, chopped
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces chopped mild green chilies – canned are fine, just drain
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 Cups turkey, chicken, or vegetable stock (Low-salt)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • Corn Relish - optional
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Low-Fat sour cream


  • Pour the beans into a large pot and add water to cover, to three inches above the beans Soak overnight and drain <OR> use canned beans instead. With canned beans, drain the juice for making gravy another time.
  • In a large pot, add onions and cook until translucent (8 – 10 minutes). Add in the beans, garlic, chilies, cumin, oregano, cloves, cayenne, and stock, stir, and bring to the boil.
  • Reduce heat to simmer 2 hours until beans are tender <OR> add the drained canned beans.
  • Add the cooked turkey and heat through.
  • Season to taste and serve with cheese, cilantro and sour cream, and corn relish if you like.

"we are NOT fat!"
"we are NOT fat!"

Turkey Almond Ding

Serves 4 – 6


  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 Pound Chunked cooked turkey
  • 1/2 Cup chopped onion
  • 10 ounces frozen green peas
  • 6 – 8 ounces frozen pea pods
  • 1 Cup Spring Water, divided into two 1/2-cups
  • 1 teaspoon instant chicken bouillon
  • 8 ounces mushroom stems and pieces, drained
  • 8 ounces sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • 1/4 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds


  • Heat the vegetable oil in large skillet over medium-high heat and toss the cooked turkey and onions until onions are tender.
  • Stir in peas, pea pods, 1/2 cup water and the bouillon and lower heat. Simmer, stirring once or twice, until peas are hot, 5-7 minutes.
  • Stir in mushrooms and water chestnuts and raise heat until mixture boils.
  • Add in the rest of the water and the cornstarch, soy sauce, ginger and garlic salt and mix well.
  • Cook while stirring until sauce thickens and bubbles. Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with the almonds before serving.

Horseradish gives this dish some zing.
Horseradish gives this dish some zing. | Source

Horseradish Turkey Loaf


  • 1 Large onion chopped 
  • 2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/3 Cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 3 Tablespoons chili sauce
  • 1 Clove of Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 Cup bread crumbs or crushed saltines
  • 2 lbs. cooked turkey and 1/2 lb. ground or diced ham 
  • 1/4 Cup minced parsley 
  • 1/2 Cup low-fat sour cream


  • Saute onion in a pan with butter until tender.
  • Beat the eggs in a large bowl and stir in milk, horseradish, chili sauce, garlic and salt.
  • Add bread/cracker crumbs and let stand 1 minute.
  • Next, stir in the onion, turkey, ham and parsley.
  • Press the mixture into a cooking-sprayed loaf pan and bake at 450 degrees F until brown and juices run clear when knife is inserted in center – about 90 minutes or so. 
  • Let the loaf stand covered for 5 minutes to reabsorb its juices. 
  • Loosen the edges of turkey loaf and invert onto a warm platter; then slice the loaf and spoon sour cream over the slices and serve. 

Rice plants. Try wild rice or brown rice with this recipe.
Rice plants. Try wild rice or brown rice with this recipe. | Source

Turkey Broccoli Tetrazinni

Serves 4


  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Pound turkey breast meat
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 Ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 Cup dry white wine
  • 1 Cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 Cup 2% milk
  • 1/2 Cup fresh or frozen chopped broccoli (or use florets of broccoli)
  • 1/2 Cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Hot cooked noodles or healthy wild or brown rice for 4 servings


  • Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add mushrooms and sauté until they exude liquid, liquid evaporates, and mushrooms begin to brown (3-4 minutes).
  • Sprinkle with mushrooms with flour and stir for another 2 minutes. Add the wine and bring mixture to the boil.
  • Gradually stir in chicken broth and turn heat down to medium-low. Simmer until mixture thickens, add milk, and peas and stir.
  • Season the turkey with salt and pepper if desired and place in skillet; cooking until heated through.
  • Re-season to taste and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.


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