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Make most of the leftover Thanksgiving turkey

The turkey's been gobbled (sorry — couldn't help myself) along with all the trimmings, and now you have this huge half-eaten turkey sitting in your fridge. You can only eat so many sandwiches! What are you going to do with it all?

In my opinion, turkey is the ultimate leftover. It is a continuous feast because out of one meal, you can get at least two out of the deal. In the case of turkey, probably even more. So here are some incredible recipes to get you using up that turkey and enjoying every mouthful.

And when there is nothing left but a big old bony carcass, don't throw it out! Put it in the freezer (in the appropriate freezer zipper-type bag) and I promise, I will give you a fabulous recipe for Roasted Turkey Carcass Soup for a cozy at-home New Year's Eve party. Sounds gross, I know, but you'll love it.

In the meantime, let's talk turkey — the leftover kind, and make some culinary magic:

Beanless Turkey Chili

(Serves 4)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, pressed

1 red bell pepper, chopped (seeded and deribbed)

1 stalk celery, chopped

2 jalapeno peppers, chopped (seeded and deribbed) (optional)

1-2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

1 28-oz. can tomatoes, broken up

4-5 cups cooked turkey, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

juice of one lime

In a large saucepan or skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion, garlic, celery, peppers and seasonings over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes. Simmer gently for 20 minutes. Stir in cooked turkey and cook until heated through. Before serving, add lime juice and fresh cilantro and stir gently. Serving suggestions: Serve in bowls and top with shredded cheddar cheese and blop of sour cream. Serve with a big green salad and cornbread muffins. If you don't have that much turkey left, you can add a can of drained white beans and one cup drained canned corn, and it becomes more of a chili.

Per serving: 283 calories; 8g fat; 31g protein; 11g carbohydrate; 3g dietary fiber; 82mg cholesterol; 273mg sodium. Exchanges: 0 grain (starch); 4 lean meat; 2 vegetable; 1 fat.

Barbecued Turkey Pasta

(Serves 6)

1 pound fusilli or other medium pasta shape, uncooked

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cups leftover turkey, cubed

1 small green bell pepper, sliced thin

1 small red onion, sliced thin

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1/2 cup spaghetti sauce (your favorite)

1/4 cup barbecue sauce

1 cup grated provolone cheese

3 green onions, chopped

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add turkey and saute, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown on all sides, about 1 minute. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic and cook until pepper turns bright green, about 1 minute. Now add your favorite spaghetti sauce and barbecue sauce and heat just to a simmer. Remove from heat.

Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of water and return pasta to the pot. Add turkey mixture and cheese to the pot. Stir over a low heat until pasta is coated with sauce. Add enough of the reserved cooking water, if needed, to make the sauce lightly coat the pasta (you don't want it too thin, however). Serve up the pasta in bowls and top with green onions and chopped cilantro. Serving suggestions: Serve with a big spinach salad and whole grain rolls.

Per serving: 530 calories; 11g fat; 43g protein; 61g carbohydrate; 3g dietary fiber; 84mg cholesterol; 487mg sodium. Exchanges: 4 grain (starch); 4 1/2 lean meat; 1/2 vegetable; 1 1/2 fat; 0 other carbohydrates.


Leanne Ely, a k a Dinner Diva, is the author of the best-selling "Saving Dinner" and "Saving Dinner the Low Carb Way" (Ballantine). What's for dinner? Go to www.savingdinner.com and find the solution!