NORTHWOODS COOKS: Tasty ways to use up Thanksgiving leftovers

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Turkey casserole with broccoli and rice
A turkey vegetable casserole is a tasty way to use up leftovers. Top with crushed French fried onions or crackers for a bit of crunch.
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After a big Thanksgiving dinner, there are always bound to be some leftovers. Here are some tasty ways to use them up over the weekend.

Fried Mashed Potato Cakes

1 cup leftover mashed potatoes, cooled

1 large egg


2 1/2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil, or as needed

Mix together mashed potatoes, egg, flour, and salt in a bowl until well combined. Heat a thin layer of vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat.

Working in batches, drop 1/6 of the potato mixture into the hot frying pan and flatten into a patty. Repeat to add more patties to the pan. Cook until browned, about 3 minutes per side.

Turkey Vegetable Bake

2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced


3/4 cup red or yellow sweet pepper, chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. margarine or vegetable oil spread

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. dried thyme, crushed

1/4 tsp. black pepper


2 cups fat-free milk

10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained

2 cups cooked brown or white rice

2 cups cooked turkey or chicken, chopped

1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)

In a 12-inch skillet cook and stir mushrooms, sweet pepper, onion and garlic in hot butter or oil over medium heat until tender. Stir in flour, salt, thyme and black pepper. Slowly stir in milk; cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Stir in spinach, rice, turkey and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese.

Spoon mixture into a 2-quart rectangular baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake, covered, in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake about 10 minutes more or until heated through. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Leftover Cranberry Sauce Mini Cheesecakes


1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 Tbsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. butter, melted


8 oz. light or regular cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp. vanilla

7 Tbsp. cranberry sauce


1 cup cranberry sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard-sized muffin pan with 7 large muffin liners.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. Stir in the graham cracker crumbs and sugar, until the mixture is crumbly. Divide evenly amongst the lined muffin tray (should be around 1 tablespoon per cheesecake). Press gently with your fingers to flatten.

In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy. Scrape the sides of the bowl several times. Mix in the egg and the vanilla. Spoon over the crust until muffin papers are 3/4 full.

Add one tablespoon of cranberry sauce over the tops of cheesecakes. Swirl gently with a knife.

Bake for 20 minutes. Centers may still jiggle slightly. Cool completely in the muffin pan, then transfer to a resealable container and cool for 2 hours in the refrigerator.

To serve, top with an additional 1-2 tbsp cranberry sauce.

Turkey and Stuffing Casserole

6-oz. box Stove Top stuffing mix, any flavor

16-oz. bag frozen mixed vegetables

2 1/2 cups homemade or 2 (10.5-ounce) cans turkey gravy

1/2 cup sour cream

4 cups cooked, shredded turkey (about 1 pound)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the stuffing in a large bowl. Drizzle with 1 cup hot tap water and stir with a fork until evenly moistened. Set aside, fluffing occasionally with the fork as the water is absorbed.

Place the frozen mixed vegetables in a colander and rinse with hot tap water until thawed slightly and the pieces don’t stick together. Let sit in the colander to drain.

Place turkey gravy and sour cream in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the vegetables and shredded turkey. Stir until everything is evenly coated with sauce. Taste and season with kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

Transfer the mixture to a 9-by-13-inch or other 3-quart baking dish and spread into an even layer. Fluff the stuffing mixture with the fork, then transfer on top of the turkey mixture in an even layer. Cut 2 tablespoons unsalted butter into 12 pieces and scatter evenly over the stuffing.Bake until the stuffing is browned and the casserole is bubbling around the edges, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Readers are invited to submit their favorite recipes to enjoy, along with a note about what makes them special. Send recipes to

Readers are invited to submit their favorite recipes to enjoy, along with a note about what makes them special. Send recipes to

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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