As we prepare to host our Thanksgiving dinners, perhaps a little reminder to myself (and us all?) is in order:

Dear Self,

Plan, work ahead, organize and then enjoy.

Remember that while those sitting around your table are hoping for a good meal, truly they are there to laugh and talk and share.

Know that the calmer you are, the calmer your guests will be.

Remember that it’s only one day. Whatever is said, give the benefit of the doubt to the person who is uttering the words.

Look around the table and give a blessing of thanks for each and every guest – even the self-proclaimed gluten-intolerant diner who reaches for a second dinner roll and the cousin who has political beliefs that are diametrically opposed to yours.

Be kind. Be generous with both your words and your deeds. Be thankful.


Your Happy Self

Because I’m assuming you are the prepared individual you are, I’m also assuming that it being Wednesday, you’ve got your Thanksgiving meal well under way. So I haven’t written a column about Thanksgiving Day. I’ve written one about the day after, when leftovers take center stage. I offer a number of quick recipes, or ideas really, to help you use them up.

But first, freeze anything you won’t use within the next couple of days. Divide it into individual or family-sized portions and place in resealable freezer bags or freezer containers. Label and date everything.

Most parts of a Thanksgiving meal will freeze well, with one exception – any dish that contains potatoes. Even mashed potatoes tend to become mealy and watery after being frozen, so instead use those up in one of the ways I’ve suggested in a section devoted to potatoes below.


Layer cooked turkey meat, gravy, cut-up green beans (or other vegetables) in a casserole dish. Use mashed potatoes or squash to form the top layer. Bake at 350 degrees F until the edges are beginning to brown and the center is hot all the way through.

If you don’t have enough gravy, start your shepherd’s pie by making a little sauce: heat up the turkey and the green beans with a little butter in an oven-proof skillet. Sprinkle with flour and stir to incorporate. Gradually add about 1 cup of stock, stirring while you do so. If the mixture is too thick, add more chicken stock. Layer the remaining ingredients on top right in the skillet as described above.


Melt butter in a stock pot. Sauté diced onions and celery in the butter until translucent. Add cut-up or shredded turkey, pureed squash or sweet potatoes, any steamed or sautéed vegetables and chicken stock. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes. To vary the soup, add noodles, rice, gnocchi, diced potatoes, lentils or barley. Serve the soup with a salad and leftover warmed rolls.


The sky is the limit, but here are some tasty combinations:

Turkey with mayonnaise, cranberry sauce, havarti cheese and lettuce on a baguette.

Turkey with avocado, mango salsa, cilantro and mayonnaise in a wrap (or use lettuce as the wrapper).

Sliced ham with cranberry sauce, caramelized red onion and cheddar cheese on rye bread.

Roasted zucchini slices with creamed onions, Dijon mustard, tomato slices and a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts on focaccia bread.


Mashed potatoes can easily become dinner or a side for another meal.

Potato cakes – Combine mashed potatoes with bread crumbs and an egg or two. Form into patties. Dredge each patty in more bread crumbs or in grated Parmesan cheese and pan fry in a little oil or butter. Serve alongside grilled hanger or skirt steak or for breakfast with eggs and toast.

Potato bread – Add mashed potatoes to your favorite bread recipe, reducing the liquid by half. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of water, add 1 cup of mashed potatoes and 1/2 cup of water. Add dill, fennel or caraway seeds to the dough.

Potato-leek soup – Sauté onions and leeks in butter. Add white wine and chicken or vegetable stock. Stir in mashed potatoes and taste for seasonings.


Almost any leftover bread is appropriate for this recipe, but pumpkin bread is my favorite. Cranberry bread with marmalade or French bread and raspberry jam are also delicious. I add Grand Marnier to the custard if I’m making it for adults. Serve the French toast with maple syrup.

Serves 4


3 eggs

11/2 cups milk

4 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon Grand Marnier


1 loaf pumpkin bread, cut into 8 slices (recipe follows)

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup leftover cranberry sauce

1 tablespoon butter

To make the custard, whisk together all of the ingredients in a medium bowl.

To make the French toast, spread 4 slices of the bread with the cream cheese and then cranberry sauce. Top each with the remaining 4 slices as if you were making sandwiches.

Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat.

While the pan is heating, dip the stuffed French toast in the custard.

Butter the griddle and place the French toast in the pan. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown, flip, and continue to cook until the other side is brown.


When I make this for a special afternoon tea, I replace 1/3 cup of the orange juice with the same amount of Grand Marnier. If you have leftover sweet potatoes or mashed squash, use those in place of the canned pumpkin.

Yield: 1 loaf

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

22/3 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 (16-ounce) can pumpkin

2/3 cup orange juice

31/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

11/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cloves

1 cup currants or raisins (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Beat the butter and sugar together in a medium-size bowl by hand or with an electric mixer. Add the eggs, pumpkin and juice and mix thoroughly.

Sift the dry ingredients right into the bowl and stir until just mixed. Stir in the currants or raisins.

Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour or until the bread springs back when lightly pressed. Remove from the oven and cool in the loaf pan on a rack for 5 minutes. Flip to de-pan the bread and cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing.

Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of “At Home, At Sea.” She can be reached at:

[email protected]