• deborahreinhardt

An easy one-pot dinner uses leftover turkey to create a comforting meal for the family in just about 30 minutes.

Biscuit-topped pot pie in iron skillet with a serving on white plate
Turkey Skillet Pot Pie with Buttermilk Biscuits

What a difference a year makes! Last year, most of us celebrated Thanksgiving with our immediate household. Now that many Americans have access to COVID vaccinations, it looks like we’re going to celebrate with more family and friends this year.

According to AAA, Thanksgiving travel will rebound to near pre-pandemic levels, which translates to 53.4 million people on the road and in the air this week.

And not only are travel numbers on the increase, so are food prices (but you don’t need me to tell you that). According to the USDA, food prices are up 5.3 percent from October 2020 to October 2021.

If the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving dinner will be a golden-brown turkey, chances are it’s larger and more expensive this year. Butterball executives recently told the Associated Press that labor shortages and delays in processing plants are the culprits for this trend.

Given the larger gatherings and the cost of food this year, we would do well to be especially mindful in using all the leftovers. So, after you’ve enjoyed the turkey and dressing sandwiches, this recipe for Turkey Skillet Pot Pie will fill tummies for Thanksgiving weekend and help you use the last of the bird before making stock with the carcass.

This recipe features a comforting white sauce with a hint of nutmeg that bathes turkey and vegetables, and the buttermilk biscuits that top the skillet pie bake up golden yet wonderfully stodgy on the bottom.

I think you could even use leftover green bean casserole in place of the mixed vegetables if necessary. However, in my house, we never have leftover green bean casserole because it’s everybody’s favorite.

For this recipe you’ll need:

  • 2 cups cubed and cooked turkey

  • 1 (12-ounce) bag frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

  • ¼ cup flour

  • 1 (10-ounce) can chicken broth

  • 1 tube refrigerated buttermilk biscuits

  • ¼ cup milk (2-percent or whole)

  • ⅓ onion, diced

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • ⅛ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Cooked turkey, onion, canned chicken broth, mixed vegetables, milk, flour, butter, pepper, nutmeg and biscuits come together to make a delicious skillet pot pie.

It’s recommended you use a cast iron skillet for this recipe, but if you don’t have one, be sure the skillet is completely oven safe. Another option is to make most of the dish on the stovetop and transfer to a buttered casserole before topping with the biscuits.

To begin, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter in the skillet over medium-high heat and add onion. Sauté until onions just start to turn golden and are softened.

Whisk together milk, flour, broth, pepper and nutmeg. Pour into skillet, and cook until mixture begins to thicken.

Stir in turkey and vegetables.

Open biscuits and cut each into quarters. Top skillet with pieces of biscuit. Bake for 20 minutes or until tops of biscuits have browned and the turkey mixture is bubbly.

biscuit-topped pot pie in an iron skillet
Golden biscuit bites top the luscious turkey pot pie.

The Taste of Home recipe this is based on says the skillet dinner will serve six people. I don’t see that. If I’m doing the math correctly, six people would get a three-ounce serving of turkey and vegetables.

When I made this, four adult-size portions was the yield. We had the skillet pot pie with a simple side salad for a satisfying dinner.

Turkey sliders are another delicious way to use up leftover turkey after Thanksgiving.

If you roasted a chicken for a smaller Thanksgiving feast, those leftovers would be a natural swap for turkey.

For folks who aren’t into Thanksgiving leftovers, your freezer is your best friend! Cooked turkey is definitely freezer-friendly. Just remove the meat from the turkey (slices thaw much quicker than large pieces) and store in a freezer bag. If you can’t make that turkey stock within three days of Thanksgiving, freeze the carcass until you’re ready to use it.

That delicious turkey gravy also can be frozen, so long as it’s flour-based. Just store in smaller freezer bags or freezer-safe containers alongside your turkey. I’m seeing open-faced turkey sandwiches with gravy here, are you?

Cranberry sauce, stuffing and roasted sweet potatoes (or other vegetables) will freeze, too. Tip: The sweet potato casserole toppings won’t freeze well, so if that’s what you made, just remove the crumble or marshmallows before freezing.

Mashed potatoes and green bean casserole won’t freeze well because of milk used in those recipes. Best to use those leftovers within two or three days of Thanksgiving. And any uneaten servings of pie can be frozen, but note that sometimes the texture of pumpkin pie changes a little once frozen and defrosted. Fruit pies should be fine.

If you have a favorite recipe for using Thanksgiving leftovers, be sure to drop a comment below!

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Updated: Nov 10

An easy roast pairs with homemade stuffing and caramelized Brussels sprouts with carrots for a perfect Thanksgiving feast for two.

Holiday Pork Tenderloin with Apple-Cranberry Sauce

Cooking for two can be a challenge, especially on Thanksgiving when the motto of the day seems to be more is better. This year, why not skip the turkey and trimmings and try this juicy Pork Tenderloin with Apple and Cranberries as the star of the culinary show. Pair it with Simple Homemade Stuffing, and Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Carrots with Maple Syrup Glaze.

With no disrespect to Sarah Josepha Hale, the girl boss writer and editor regarded as the Godmother of Thanksgiving, not everyone loves turkey. While the fowl has been a part of our holiday table for years—thanks in part to Hale’s early recipes in her Godey’s Lady Book—there’s no definitive evidence that turkey was part of the first Thanksgiving. Proteins probably were duck, venison and seafood.

Fact: Not everyone wants to eat turkey on Thanksgiving.

While many of us like to think of Thanksgiving as this 1942 Norman Rockwell image—the large family happily gathered around a table waiting for a slice of turkey—families have changed quite a bit in the last 80 years.

Many families are scattered across the country and can’t always gather for Thanksgiving. Sometimes, divorce means children have to split up holidays with family. For whatever reason, families of two are faced with something of a dilemma: What do we do about Thanksgiving this year?

Fact: Not every Thanksgiving gathering is large

That's why I love this menu; it's perfect for two people and there won’t be a ton of leftover food. The apples and cranberries create a wonderful topping for the juicy pork and kicks it to the "special occasion" category. The stuffing (or dressing as it’s often called) comes together in no time at all, and the veggies round out the meal perfectly. Of course, you can always add your favorite Thanksgiving sides instead. So, let’s get cooking:

To make Holiday Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Cranberries, you’ll need:

  • 1 pork tenderloin

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

  • 1½ teaspoons each kosher salt, coarsely ground black pepper, granulated garlic and fresh or dried chopped rosemary leaves

  • ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning

  • 5 ounces apple jelly

  • ½ cup apple cider or juice

  • ½ Granny Smith apple, finely chopped

  • ½ cup fresh cranberries

  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice

  • cornstarch

  • water

To begin, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Mix salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary and poultry seasoning in a small bowl and sprinkle this over a board. Rub tenderloin with olive oil and roll the meat over the spices to fully coat.

Place tenderloin in a shallow roasting pan and bake uncovered for 35 minutes per pound. My tenderloin was a little over 1½ pounds, so it baked for 50 minutes. And we had enough pork for sandwiches the next day.

While the tenderloin is baking, make the apple and cranberry topping by combining the apple jelly, juice or cider and allspice in a saucepan. Cook over low heat until smooth. Add apples and cranberries and cook about 10 minutes or until apples are tender.

To thicken the fruit mixture, combine 2 teaspoons of cornstarch with enough water to make a slurry and stir into the saucepan. After it comes to a boil, turn heat down to medium and cook until sauce starts to thicken, about 2 or 3 minutes. Set aside.

Remove the tenderloin from oven and let it rest for 10 minute before slicing. To serve, transfer the apples and cranberry sauce to a bowl or gravy boat and place alongside tenderloin on a platter.

Easy Homemade Stuffing for Two

Holiday Pork Tenderloin is an elegant main dish that goes beautifully with Simple Homemade Stuffing for Two. Let's work on the stuffing.

To make Simple Homemade Stuffing for Two, you’ll need:

  • 2 cups dry bread cubes

  • 1 egg

  • 3 tablespoons melted butter

  • 1 small onion

  • 1 celery stalk

  • 1½ cups chicken broth

  • ⅛ teaspoon each salt and pepper

  • Note: if you are not using the seasoned bread cubes that comes in a bag ready to use, then you’ll need ⅛ teaspoon each of sage and thyme.

Begin by preheating the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat an au gratin pan with non-stick spray.

Dice the onion and celery. In a small saucepan, melt butter and add vegetables, cooking for about 3 minutes.

Beat the egg and add the salt and pepper.

To a mixing bowl, add the bread cubes, onions, celery and egg. Stir to combine. Add the chicken stock and stir.

Transfer stuffing to prepared pan, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 5 minutes or until the top browns.

My mom always liked to add sausage to her Thanksgiving dressing (she always baked this separately and never stuffed the turkey). If you also like sausage in stuffing, add 1 pork sausage patty and brown it with your onion and celery. Add the melted butter to the bread cubes as the sausage probably will render enough fat to help the veggies brown.

I used the Pepperidge Farm seasoned bread stuffing, which are like small croutons, it took every drop of broth. If you are using stale or toasted bread, I suggest starting with 1 cup of broth and see how the consistency is before adding more liquid.

For folks who like cornbread dressing, take a look at my Jalapeño and Cheddar Cornbread Dressing.

Brussels Sprouts with Carrots and Maple Syrup

We love roasted Brussels sprouts, and this next side dish is so good, you’ll want it throughout the year. My daughter and I like charred sprouts; the roasting time in recipe caters to the rest of the population, so your vegetables will not be quite as browned as those in the photo!

To make Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple Syrup Glaze, you’ll need:

  • 3 carrots, cut on diagonal in 2-inch pieces

  • 10 whole fresh Brussels sprouts, sliced in halves

  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar

  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • kosher salt

To begin, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat with non-stick spray.

Spread carrots and Brussels sprouts out on pan and top with the brown sugar, red pepper flakes, and butter. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Toss to combine and bake for 35 minutes. Turn the vegetables once to prevent sticking.

Turn off the oven, pour syrup over vegetables, stir and return to the oven for another 5 minutes. The residual heat will create the sticky glaze.

Warning: You will never eat Brussels sprouts any other way than this.

To finish the menu, add a light salad of butter lettuce with blue cheese crumbles and roasted pecans and a simple vinaigrette dressing.

We can all agree than dessert is an important part of Thanksgiving! My Pumpkin Cheesecake Tart is a wonderful cap to a Thanksgiving meal; just cut the recipe in half for a smaller serving.

If you're baking a pie, remember that you can freeze leftover baked fruit pies (not recommended for pumpkin). Just wrap slices in foil and put in a freezer bag to enjoy later. Of course, you can always invite a friend over the next day for a cup of coffee and piece of pie, which is something Mom or Grandma definitely would've done!

Friends are one of the most important blessings for which we are all thankful. I’m grateful to share this space with you, and wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving.

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  • deborahreinhardt

Host a fuss-free Friendsgiving that features a comforting bowl of chicken soup, a few easy side dishes and a holiday sangria.

creamy chicken soup in a small green crock under green gingham tea towel
Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Friendsgiving, a meal that is shared with friends just before or after the national holiday, is a newer celebration, and I’m grateful for it. Menus can be simple or elaborate, and this year, I’m going to have a “bowl” with friends. (Bad pun, but a good soup recipe will make up for that!)

With Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup as the main dish, I will have time to enjoy the company of friends. I’ll also make a simple Cranberry Sangria that’s perfect for kicking off the holiday season; it’s also a self-serve cocktail. The rest of the menu will feature salad, warm rolls and dessert brought in by guests.

According to Merriam-Webster, the earliest use of Friendsgiving was around 2007. When the term was used in 2011 as part of an ad campaign for Bailey’s Irish Cream and later incorporated into a story of Real Housewives of New Jersey (“Gobblefellas” was the episode), our awareness of Friendsgiving took a big upswing.

I’m hosting Friendsgiving for my movie-watching group the weekend before Thanksgiving. It’s an opportunity to gather ahead of all the holiday hoopla. It seems like after Thanksgiving, we’re all off and running; sometimes the holidays slip by without getting to see some of the most important people in your life.

So, in addition to an easy menu, I’ve planned an simple holiday craft we can do after the meal. We’ll watch a holiday movie while enjoying dessert before calling it an evening.

The great thing about this soup is it can be made an hour or so ahead of my guests gathering. I’ll keep the soup warm in a slow cooker, which also makes for easy serving. And sangria gets better the longer it sits in the refrigerator.

Let’s get cooking. For Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup, you’ll need:

  • 42 ounces reduced-sodium chicken broth (divided)

  • 1 (6 ounce) package long grain and wild rice with seasoning packet

  • 2 cups fresh broccoli florets

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves cut into ½-inch pieces

  • 2 carrots, diced

  • 2 celery ribs, diced

  • 1 small onion, diced

  • ¼ teaspoon dried sage

  • 3 tablespoons flour

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 cups half-and-half

  • fresh sage leaves (optional garnish)

photo collage of raw wild rice, chicken breasts cut into cubes and small broccoli floret
Key ingredients to the soup are wild and long grain rice mixture, chicken breasts and broccoli cut and trimmed into small florets.

Start by setting aside ½ of chicken broth.

In a stock pot over medium-high heat, add olive oil, diced carrots, celery and onion. This is the mirepoix for your soup. I also peeled and diced some of the broccoli stalk for a flavor boost and added nutrition. When the onions start to turn translucent, add the dried sage and stir to coat the vegetables with herb. By toasting the sage this way, it’ll help bring out the flavors.

Add the cubed chicken breasts to the pot. When the chicken starts to turn white and you see some browning, add the remaining broth and the wild rice. Cover and bring this to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the broccoli florets and cook for about 15 minutes.

Stir flour into the reserved chicken broth. Add it to the soup, turn the heat up to medium-high again, and bring to a boil until the broth slightly thickens.

Reduce heat and add half-and-half, cooking until heated through (about 3 minutes).

This recipe will make 4 servings.

Can I use leftover turkey instead of chicken? Absolutely! If you’d doing your Friendsgiving after Thanksgiving, just cut up your turkey (about 1 pound) into ½-inch pieces. You'll probably want to add the cooked turkey at the last step to just heat it through.

Can I use frozen broccoli? Yes; use 1 (10-ounce) package of frozen chopped broccoli as a swap. You could also swap out one bag of frozen cut green beans for broccoli.

Can this soup be frozen. Wouldn't recommend it because there's cream in the soup. However, after the broccoli has cooked—maybe to al dente—you could cool the soup and freeze it at that point. After it thaws and you're ready to reheat the soup, finish the last steps to thicken and add the half-and-half at the end.

Another common component to a Friendsgiving is a cocktail (or two).

Every year, I usually buy a couple bottles of Missouri-made cranberry wine from St. James Winery. This wonderful sangria is made with oranges, pears, tart apples and fresh cranberries. When it’s time to serve, simply put the pitcher on your buffet or table with glasses and let your guests help themselves.

To make Cranberry Sangria, you’ll need:

  • 1 bottle of cranberry wine

  • 1 cup fresh cranberries

  • 1 cup white cranberry juice

  • 2 red apples (I like the Fuji apple for this)

  • 2 green pears

  • 2 navel oranges

  • 2 rosemary sprigs

  • 12 ounces non-alcoholic ginger beer

Rinse cranberries. Wash and dice the apples, oranges and pears. You could also dice the apples and pears and slice oranges—however you want the presentation to look. Layer the fruit—apples, oranges, pears and cranberries—laying rosemary sprigs on top.

Pour in wine and juice; allow at least 2 hours to chill in refrigerator. When ready to serve, add ginger beer and lightly stir. Optional garnish would be a couple of cranberries skewered on a rosemary sprig.

For guests who can’t drink, have an alternative on hand, such as sparkling apple cider.

Here’s the most important tip to Friendsgiving: Allow or invite your guests to bring a dish or drinks. But when your friend asks “What I can I bring,” don’t say “whatever you’d like.” That’s no help to either of you. Ask your friends to bring something specific, such as their favorite Thanksgiving pie for dessert, or an autumn salad.

Remember that being a good host doesn’t mean you have to do everything, but rather extending warm hospitality to everyone in your home. Be in the moment with your friends and family, which might be the most meaningful demonstration of gratitude we can give any time of the year.

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