Turkey Stuffing Casserole

Turkey-Stuffing Casserole= The first year we were married I participated in a ‘secret sister’ program at our church. For those unfamiliar with church ‘secret sisters,’ you exchange names and, keeping your identity a secret, you give little gifts, cards, and notes to your secret sister, and you remember her in prayer regularly. Lou-Anne, the sister who drew my name that first year of marriage had a gift for gift giving. She cross-stitched a beautiful red and white cover to a canning jar, which I filled with the dried rose petals from my wedding bouquet. She wrote thoughtful notes with sweet little Bible verses perfectly matched to my prayer requests. and she gave me a one-dish meals cookbook that has served us well for over two decades of marriage. Some of our most economical, tasty dishes came from that cookbook. Her thoughtfulness and kindness really meant a lot to me over the years, and taught me something about personalizing.
A few years ago we crossed paths again (this happens often with military families), and I told her how much those little gifts had meant to me and how much use they had gotten. She was embarrassed because she didn’t remember that she had ever been my secret sister. She didn’t need to be embarrassed. It did not hurt my feelings. On the contrary, she taught me something again about generosity. She taught me that we never really know how much some small kindness that we don’t even consider worth remembering will be a precious gift to somebody else. Never slight the small things.

Here is one of the recipes from the cookbook she gave me:

6 beaten eggs
2 cups of milk OR one cup milk and one cup cream of celery soup (NOTE: I don’t use the cream soup. I use two cups of thinned gravy leftover from Thanksgiving Dinner).
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of dry mustard (this really does contribute to the flavor)
1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
10 slices of slightly stale bread (I never use bread. I use leftover stuffing or dressing)
2 cups grated Cheddar cheese, sharp
2-4 cps of diced leftover turkey

Mix well the first four ingredients to make a sauce.

Grease a 13X9 casserole dish

Spread half of the stuffing (or bread if that’s what you use) in the bottom of the pan. Spread the turkey and cheese over this, and top with remaining stuffing (or bread). Pour the milk mixture evenly over this and refrigerate for four hours or overnight.

Brig it to room temperature and bake in your preheated, 350 degree overn for 45 minutes to an hour (until it’s bubbling hot). Let stand another 15 minutes before serving.

This serves eight.

Serve with leftover cranberry sauce on the side, along with a green salad.

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Turkey Enchiladas

Turkey Enchiladas are a tradition stemming from my childhood- when we lived in the southwest we smoked our turkey every year, and we learned the most delicious use of leftover smoked turkey is to make enchiladas. In fact, we liked this so well that we prefer the leftovers to the turkey. Here’s the recipe:

In a large saucepan heat together:
two cans evaporated milk
2 cans cream soup (usually cream of chicken, but cream of mushroom is also good)
1 small can tomato sauce
1 envelope onion soup mix (optional- it will be richer with it, but it’s not necessary).
grated cheese to taste (how much cheese will depend entirely on your budget and your taste preferences).
1 or two cans of diced green chiles

Mix about 4 cups of chopped leftover turkey, grated cheese (to taste), and some more green chiles (to taste). Measurements are very flexible. Do you like your enchiladas thick or thin, full of cheese or full of meat, spicy or mild, dry or saucier?

Grease a casserole
Dip a corn tortilla in the sauce mixture. Lay it in the casserole dish. Put a spoon full or two of turkey mixture down the middle of the tortilla. Roll it and turn it seam side down in the pan. Repeat until the pan is full of enchiladas. Pour remaining sauce over the enchiladas and bake until hot all the way through and golden around the edges.

Serve with a salad and refried beans on the side.

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Home-made Crackers

This recipe is adapted from Hearth and Home, by Karey Swan, and tastes like wheat thins.

3 cups whole wheat flour

1/3 cup Butter, shortening, lard, coconut oil, or margarine (Margarine is the least healthy alternative)

Cut the butter into the flour as for pie crust or biscuits.

Blend in:
1 cup water (buttermilk is also tasty)

1/2 tsp. Salt

Mix it all together. For fancier crackers you can add ground flax seed, sesame seeds, herbs and spices. Kneed to make a smooth dough, but don’t over knead. Roll very thin directly onto ungreased baking sheets. I must stress that the success of these crackers depends upon how thinly you roll the dough. Too thick and the crackers are hard and difficult to bite. Roll it thin enough and they are delicate, crispy, and delicious. Cut with pizza cutter, a knife, or a fluted pastry cutter (I use my great grandmother’s) for ruffly edges. You don’t need to separate them, just roll the cutter up and across making a grid of squares.

Prick each cracker a couple of times with a fork. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until crisp and lightly brown. You can remove the crackers from the outside edges and return the cookie sheet to the oven to let the center brown.

Hearth and Home has many healthy, frugal, family friendly recipes. It’s one of our core cookbooks.

You could combine buttermilk and flour the night before, soak the flour, and then melt the butter and stir in remaining ingredients.

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Cheese Ball

Cheese Ball

Allow to reach room temperature and then mix well:

1 package of cream cheese
1/4 pound grated cheddar cheese, preferably sharp (or more)
4 Tablespoons finely chopped (even grated) onion (use a Zyliss food chopper or grate onion and cheese together in your food processor)
1 teaspoon minced garlic (or more, adjust to taste)
1 teaspoon horseradish (or more, adjust to taste)
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce (you really don’t want to dispense with this)

Mix very well- I use a fork first, then go to my electric hand mixer, then back to a fork. Scoop together into a sort of a mound and refrigerate an hour or two.

Roll this into two balls, using two spoons to shape the ball. You can also wrap it in plastic wrap to help shape it without getting your warm fingers all over it.

Crush or chop some nuts and put them in a saucer- it takes surprisingly little. We like almonds and/or walnuts, but feel free to use anything you have on hand.
Roll the ball in the nuts, put on a pretty plate or a cheese tray and return to refrigerator until you are ready to serve it. Repeat with the second ball.

Serve with crackers. If you make your own crackers this also makes a very lovely gift- you can wrap the cheese ball, put the crackers in a ziplock bag and put it all in a pretty basket with a nice dish towel. Look at thrift shops and yard sales for pretty baskets, tins, and even tupperware to package this special home-made gift. You could also just put the crackers in a jar with a lid, cut out a square of cloth to cover the lid and tie a ribbon around it.

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Cranberry Orange Relish

12 ounces cranberries
1 orange
1 cup of sugar

Wash the orange. Slice the orange and remove any seeds. Don’t peel it. Put about half the orange and half the cranberries in the food processor and pulverize- or use your hand chopper.
Put the chopped oranges and cranberries in a bowl, add the other half and repeat.
Combine in bowl, stir in sugar (may adjust sweetener to taste).

Refrigerate and serve when ready.

Makes 2 1/2 cups
Is delicious.
Really delicious.

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Making Turkey Broth from the Turkey Carcass

Turkey Soup– making soup from the bones of any meat is an art every cook should know. The truly frugal cook will always save meatbones for soup. If you don’t have enough from any one meal, you can keep them in a bag in the freezer until you accumlate enough for soup. With the turkey carcass, of course, you already have enough for soup.=)

Sally Fallon is the author of the excellent book Nourishing Traditions. On this webpage she summarizes some of the information on soups and broths that you can find in her book:

“Science validates what our grandmothers knew. Rich homemade chicken broths help cure colds. Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons–stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.”
When broth is cooled, it congeals due to the presence of gelatin…
…Although gelatin is not a complete protein, containing only the amino acids arginine and glycine in large amounts, it acts as a protein sparer, helping the poor stretch a few morsels of meat into a complete meal. During the siege of Paris, when vegetables and meat were scarce, a doctor named Guerard put his patients on gelatin bouillon with some added fat and they survived in good health.

The French were the leaders in gelatin research, which continued up to the 1950s. Gelatin was found to be useful in the treatment of a long list of diseases including peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, diabetes, muscle diseases, infectious diseases, jaundice and cancer. Babies had fewer digestive problems when gelatin was added to their milk. The American researcher Francis Pottenger pointed out that as gelatin is a hydrophilic colloid, which means that it attracts and holds liquids, it facilitates digestion by attracting digestive juices to food in the gut. Even the epicures recognized that broth-based soup did more than please the taste buds. “Soup is a healthy, light, nourishing food” said Brillant-Savarin, “good for all of humanity; it pleases the stomach, stimulates the appetite and prepares the digestion.”

If you can afford it, the free range birds will yield better tasting, richer, and healthier broth than the grocery store birds, but we make a decent broth with the turkey carcass from the grocery store turkey, too.

Put the bones in a stock post and cover with water. If you break up a few bones that will add to the flavor of your broth. Add a couple tablespoons of vinegar, because vinegar will pull minerals out of the bones and  into your broth, making it even more nutritious (we like apple cider or balsamic vinegar. A bit of wine may be substituted). Add two to four cups of vegetables such as onions, carrots, and celery. The vegetables should be chopped very coarsely- onions, for instance, can be quartered, celery chopped into four or five large pieces.

Very frugal cooks will save the skins from onions and garlic cloves (they keep in the freezer) because these are nutritious and will add onion and garlic flavor to your broth without adding cost. The leaves to celery are also edible, and can be added to your broth for extra flavor. You may also add garlic cloves (even cloves that have started to sprout).

Let this pot of bones, veggies, and water soak together for about half an hour or a little longer. Bring it to a boil and skim the surface as scum rises to the top. Discard this scum or feed it to your pets (you can put it over the top of a bowl of dry cat or dog food).

Reduce the heat to simmer, cover the pot and simmer it for hours, even overnight (if you have a wood-burning stove, just set the pot on the back of the stove to simmer gently). Check periodically to make sure there is still plenty of liquid. Sally Fallon says to simmer from 6 to 24 hours. Just a few minutes before removing it from the heat, add some fresh herbs for added nutrition and flavor- fresh herbs such as parsley, rosemary, basil, sage, and bay leaves.

Pull the bones out with a pair of tongs. If there is any meat left on them, let the bones cool and then pick the meat off with your fingers or a fork. Otherwise, discard the bones. Strain the broth into a large container- I use double folded cheese cloth for this because I like a very clear broth, but a collander works just as well if you don’t mind a less clear version.

Discard the vegetables (in a compost pile or feed them to pets or livestock), because you’ve just cooked the dickens out of them.
Refrigerate your broth. The next day skim the fat off, which will have risen to the top and solidified. I save the fat and use it for the fat in gravies and sauces. The broth should be congealed, like gelatin- because this is real gelatin. It will liquify when reheated. Keep this in jars in your refrigerator or freezer. Reheat and use as needed when chicken stock or broth is called for in one of your recipes, or used it as the basis for any soup.

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Tuna Helper

Tuna Helper
You can make tuna helper with a white sauce recipe. Mix up white sauce with about 4 cups of cooked noodles, a can or two of drained tuna, a little bit of grated cheese and cooked onion. Add sour cream to it to make it richer if you like, or make more white sauce. Serve from the pan for a skillet supper, or put it in a casserole. Top with bread crumbs and reheat until bubbly for added flavor. Add peas if you like them (my family hates it when I add peas to pasta dishes) or broccoli or mushrooms.  Season to taste (salt, pepper, chili powder, a pinch of nutmeg- it depends on your other ingredents).

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White Sauce

White Sauce
To make a white sauce, melt 2 tablespoons of fat in a skillet. This can be the leftover grease from frying ground beef or it can be butter, margarine, lard, or even coconut oil (very nutritious, not so frugal).
Stir in 2 tablespoons of flour until it forms a smooth paste.
Slowly stir (or whisk) in two cups of milk or meat broth (I prefer milk). You add 1/2 cup or so and whisk it until it is smooth and thick, then add another half a cup, whisk ’til smooth and thick, and so on. This will thicken more when it gets cool, so if you don’t use it all up, don’t throw it out. Save it and reheat, adding more liquid.

This recipe is the basis for all kinds of sauces and gravies. I use it instead of canned soup in recipes calling for canned soup. I flavor it with spices, herbs, and bits of meat and vegetables I have on hand. I think every cook should know how to make a white sauce.

You can use this for sausage gravy- fry sausage, and scoop out the browned meat with a slotted spoon.  Gently stir in about as much flour (a tablespoon at a time) as you have sausage grease in the pan, stirring until you have a thick paste, then gradually add milk or broth, stirring until you have gravy the consistency you like.  Then add the sausage back and serve over biscuits (that’s how I would do it, but you can also just pour the grease and measure it- the proportions are 1T fat to 1T flour to 1 Cup of milk or broth) .

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Home made Hamburger Helper

Hamburger Helper, adapted from the More With Less Cookbook. People think these boxed convenience foods are cheap and frugal, but they really are one of the least frugal items you can buy, and they aren’t as nutritious as your own mixes, either. Here’s one recipe:
to serve 8
1 1/2 pounds of ground beef
2 t. salt
1 t. pepper
2 T. onion, very finely diced

Drain (drain it into a clean metal can, the kind that formerly tomatoes, green beans, or cooked kidney beans. You can reuse this fat to fry other things, to make gravy or white sauce)

Add to the meat mixture 1/2 cup of canned or frozen vegetables your family likes- this can be peas, mushrooms, cooked potatoes, corn, cooked turnips or parsnips- whatever your people will eat and you have on hand.
1 1/2 cups canned tomatoes (stewed, crushed, whole, chopped, whatever).
Stir this well, mashing down the tomatoes if you need to , and continue to heat.

Meanwhile, cook 2 cups of dry noodles, or use four cups of noodles you have on hand from a previous meal (leftover macaroni and cheese sounds nasty, but actually, it’s quite good in this).

Mix the cooked noodles in with the hot meat mixture and sprinkle with about 2/3 cup of cheese, cheddar, parmesan- whatever you have and your family will like.


If you do not like the way this sounds, you can make it as above, except substitute white sauce or gravy for the tomatoes.

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Red Flannel Hash

Red Flannel Hash is an old ‘use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without’ recipe.
Originally it would have been made with bits of leftover beef, cooked potatoes, and some beets from the root cellar, or bits of delicious roasted beets leftover from Sunday Dinner. While milk or cream were fairly easy to come by on the farm, a thrifty housewife might have used some leftover gravy, thinned out with water or milk. You could do the same with this one. Or you could adapt it if you don’t have corned beef hash on hand- you could use corned beef and cooked potatoes (about equal amounts). You also don’t have to fry it. You can mix it, put it in a greased pan and bake it.

2 cans corned beef hash
1 can cooked beets, drained (not pickled and not harvard, just plain beets, about one 16 ounce can) (reserve the liquid- I’ll tell you how you can use that later)
1 chopped onion
1 Tablespoon of Parsley
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup milk (or half and half)
pepper to taste
Salt if you must

fat for frying- this can be bacon grease, butter, margerine, chicken fat, lard, or cooking oil- it’s just got to be flavorful grease and you need 1/4 cup of it.

MIx everything well except the fat in a large bowl. Heat the fat in a skillet or on a griddle. Press the mixture down in teh skillet, making a large, flat wheel of it (or you can make several little ones). Let it fry gently until the bottom is slightly golden or toasted. Flip (to flip a large one, put it on a plate, cover with an inverted plate, then flip the plates, and slide the hash into the frying pan). Add some more oil to the pan, slide the Red Flannel Hash in to cook the other side. Serve right away.

For a side dish you could serve with a cabbage salad, or you could chop the cabbage, saute it lightly in a little oil until it begins to wilt, add cream and chopped green onion, keep on low until the cream is slightly thick and the cabbage of the texture you like to eat, and sprinkle it with dill. Serve warm. If you want to make this a really red, white, and blue meal, you could top the cabbage with bleu cheese, OR you could cook this with red cabbage instead. Red cabbage will sometimes turn blueish when cooked without any acid.

Beet liquid uses:
1. Red beet eggs: Add enough liquid to your beet juice, if necessary, to make one cup- water is fine, the liquid from a jar of olives or artichoke hearts will also be tasty.

Boil the beet liquid, 1 cup cider vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Pour into a jar, let it cook, and refrigerator overnight. Put 6 peeled hard-boiled eggs in the liquid and store in the refrigerator overnight. Use over salads.

2. Beet salad dressing: IN a saucepan combine equal amounts of beet liquid and basil pesto, about half that much bacon and then add pepper to taste (i.e. one cup beet juice, one cup basil pesto, 1/2 cup bacon). Stir it from time to time as it heats up, but do not let it boil. Serve immediately over a salad (a spinach salad would be good, so would a salad made of potatoes, chives, and olive oil).

3. Use the beet juice to create your own veggie smoothie, similar to the healthy veggie juice drinks that Tim’s Mom has been talking about.

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