A Smoked Turkey Makes Quite the Savory Gift

     One of the most delicious gifts that we received this Christmas was a mesquite smoked turkey prepared by dear friends on Christmas Eve.  Turns out that a smoked turkey is the gift that keeps on giving.

Don’t let the blackened crust scare you.

     After being the centerpiece of our Christmas dinner, the carcass became 26 cups of smoked turkey stock the next day.  I placed two cups each into quart freezer bags, then placed them on a tray to put in the freezer.

Now I’ve have stock in convenient amounts that will serve as the basis for many a smoked soup in the coming winter months.

     I also had enough leftover meat to make three casseroles.  In addition to the family favorite, Tamale Casserole, which was particularly delicious with the smoky flavor, I experimented with a basic turkey and wild rice casserole recipe that I found on Cooks.com.  With some simple adjustments, I added a bit of green to this otherwise very white dish and got loads of compliments to go with it.

Turkey with Wild Rice and Spinach Casserole

1 medium onion, chopped
8 0z. sliced mushrooms
1/2 C butter
1/4  C flour
1 1/2 C chicken or turkey stock
1 1/2 C half and half
3 C cooked turkey, cut up
1 box Uncle Ben’s Original Wild Rice
8 oz. package chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dried of as much water as possible
1/2 C slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350° and lightly grease a 2 quart casserole dish.

Cook onions and mushrooms in butter over low heat, stirring frequently, until onions are transluscent but not browned.  Gradually stir in flour until thickened and well blended.  When it begins to bubble, stir in the stock and half and half.  When blended, bring to a boil while stirring constantly.  Once boiling, continue to stir for one minute.

Remove from heat and stir in spinach, wild rice and seasoning packet and turkey.  Pour into prepared casserole and cover with aluminum foil.  Bake for one hour.  Remove aluminum foil, sprinkle evenly with almonds and bake for an additional 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool slightly.

Serves 6-8.

     So many delicious dinners from one little ol’ bird.  What a wonderful gift!


Quick & Easy Tamale Casserole That Even Your Teens Will Love

     How did it get to be December 7th already?  As the holiday marathon continues, my dinnertime mantra has become “tried and true with a pinch of easy”.  I still have turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving bagged in 2 cup portions in the freezer for the “easy”, but the ubiquitous rotisserie chickens you can find at every grocery store keep this dinner solution just as simple.

     My family gets excited when they hear that this entrée is on the menu.  In fact, they don’t even turn up their noses when they learn that Tamale Casserole will also be a leftover dinner later in the week.   Even though it may be new to you, I have tried it many times and trust me:  it’s quick and easy, and your family will devour it.

  • 1 1/2  cups 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 (14 3/4 oz.) can cream-style corn
  • 1 (8.5 oz.) box corn muffin mix (I use Jiffy)
  • 1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chiles, drained
  • 1 (10 oz.) can red enchilada sauce
  • 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken or turkey
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 400° and coat 13 x 9–inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Stir together 1/4 cup cheese and next 7 ingredients in a large bowl just until moist, then pour batter into prepared dish.

Bake for 20 minutes or until cornbread mixture is set.  Pierce its entire surface liberally with a fork, then spread enchilada sauce evenly over it with a spatula.  Cover sauce with meat, then scatter remaining 1 cup cheese over top.  Return to oven for 15 minutes or until cheese melts.  Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes.  Divide into 8 servings and, if desired, top each with 1 tablespoon sour cream.

Based on Chicken Tamale Recipe published by Risë Minton in Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2008, and sent to me by myrecipes.com 4/30/2010.

     Just add a side of fruit, and your family will be holiday happy!