The Remains of T-Day: A Wrap Up of Leftovers

Monday, November 30, 2009 51 comments

Thanksgiving Wrap Up

[A funny thing happens when I'm a wee bit stressed about schoolwork, holidays and the million other vagaries of mere existence: I start talking to myself . . . ]

Me: Life is like a plate of Thanksgiving leftovers --

MeanieMe: It's an indistinguishable mish-mash of reconstituted remnants from happier times? A bland attempt to recapture in scraps the experiences, sensations and emotions of all-too-occasional special occasions? You never know what you're gonna get?

Me: Can I finish? As I was saying, life is like a plate of Thanksgiving leftovers - it's often made up of highlights from those exceptional moments when we are profoundly reminded of our membership in family, community and society. Just as there are several helpings worth of turkey and trimmings to be had in the days after T-day, many of us continue to graze on these special instances as we return to our everyday lives, to tide us over with pleasant memories until the next big event.

MeanieMe: [Zzzzzzzzzz] Wha-? Oh, sorry. Must've dozed off after "As I was saying . . . "

Me: Moving right along, this analogy came to me as our family sat down to enjoy the copious remains of our Thanksgiving meal on the Day After, eating with gusto until once again our bellies were full and our sighs were contented. It was just like the day before, except that it really wasn't.

The good china had been replaced by Chinet paper plates, the silverware with plasticware. The 15-lb fresh, local turkey that was slowly roasted for nearly 5 hours was now rendered into convenient slices of dark and white meat, microwaved to an edible temperature in less than 5 minutes. And the delicious side dishes, condiments and desserts, which my mother- and sisters-in-law prepared with such care and consideration, were inauspiciously lined up on the kitchen counter in the same plastic containers in which they were refrigerated overnight. Though the flavors of the food were (almost) the same, the entire context of the meal was much different.

MeanieMe: Well, well. I thought I was the crabby cranberry, but here you are being Miss Pilgrim Party Pooper, hatin' on the leftovers. Can't say I'm surprised: last year's post-Thanksgiving entry about how the all-American holiday story is just a socially-constructed myth was a major downer, too.

Me: Hey, that post had a happy ending and I am not hating on the leftovers. Just let me get to my point.

MeanieMe: Which is . . . ?

Me: That it's all well and good for us to try and recreate the best occurrences in our lives, but oftentimes, we set ourselves up for a measure of disappointment if we expect an exact duplicate of a singular experience - like eating a plate of reheated leftovers in the belief that it will be a Holiday Feast Redux. The reality is that all the little details and intangible variables that come together to make these moments so special may not always be in place; no matter how hard we might try, what we get is a slightly faded facsimile of the original.

Instead, let's take a few elements from those great times - say, the surplus from a wonderful Thanksgiving meal, like moist turkey, piquant cranberry-horseradish sauce and a tender baked sweet potato - and make additions from today (wheatberries, whole wheat tortillas) to create something different yet reminiscent. It may not reach the level of noteworthiness as a big ol' holiday, but it makes an ordinary day a bit more special.

MeanieMe: [Zzzzzzz] Wha-? Oh, sorry. Must've dozed off after, "Blah blah blah . . ."

Me: I'm not talking to you anymore.

Thanksgiving Wrap Up
This dish was inspired by the Harvest Wrap - roasted turkey, wild rice, yams, and cream sauce, rolled in a soft wheat tortilla - served at The Good Earth restaurant in Edina, MN. Although it's been quite some time since I've had the original, it immediately came to mind when I considered what to make with our Thanksgiving leftovers. The appetizing appeal of this wrap is in its combination of textures - from the crunchiness of nuts, the chewiness of a whole grain and the creaminess of mashed yams; I changed up a few of the ingredients from Good Earth's version to use what came from our bounteous Thanksgiving table, namely wheatberries in place of wild rice and a cranberry-horseradish sauce for the cream-based one.

I'm pleased to submit this dish to the Thanksgiving Makeover Challenge hosted by Natasha of 5 Star Foodie. Be sure to check her blog on December 7th for what will certainly be a delectable round-up of entries!

Serves 2


Whole wheat tortillas
Roast turkey, sliced
Mashed sweet potatoes (see below for suggested preparation)
1/2 cup cooked wheatberries
Pepitas, slivered almonds, chopped hazelnuts or other nut
Creamy Cranberry-Horseradish Sauce (click here for recipe)

For gingered sweet potato mash, choose 1 medium-size tuber, peel and cut into quarters. Place in a pot and add water until just covering the potato chunks; bring to a boil and cook until pieces are tender. Drain and place in bowl with 1 Tablespoon butter, 1-2 teaspoons of ginger paste (or very finely minced gingerroot), and 2 Tablespoons of heavy whipping cream. Mash with a fork or masher until potatoes are smooth (if using a potato ricer, mash potatoes first before adding butter, etc.)

To prepare:

1. Warm tortillas in a non-stick skillet over low-medium heat until soft;
2. Spoon 2 heaping tablespoons of mashed sweet potato lengthwise in center of tortilla, then top with turkey slices;
3. Spoon as much wheatberries as desired over turkey slices, then sprinkle pepitas or other nuts on top.
4. Fold bottom of tortilla (edge that is perpendicular to the filling) over, followed by the sides. To keep tortilla folded, flip it over so that 'seam' side is down;
5. Spoon cranberry-horseradish sauce over the wrap and serve immediately.

Happy Leftovers!!


  • Anonymous said...

    This is excellent! The wrap sounds absolutely fantastic with this combination of ingredients and the cranberry horseradish sauce! I'm especially intrigued by wheatberries! Thank you so much for participating!

  • Chef E said...

    Funny I was thinking of a similar wrap up, but yours is too perfect! I hope you are the star in that line-up, well I know you will be...good luck on wrapping up classes and then a nice break before it all begins again! I am taking a course next I crazy?

  • Palidor said...

    Very profound. I think you're right that we often try to recreate a past experience in the hopes of recapturing the same feelings and atmosphere. But comparing the present to the past only sets us up for disappointment and then we fail to enjoy the present moment. Presently, I am hungry and would love a turkey wrap. The cranberry-horseradish sauce has a wonderful color to it.

  • Lori said...

    What an awesome idea! I had never considered putting the Thanksgiving feast in a wrap, but this looks so good! I wish I could pick out my favorite part, but each one interests me with the sweet potatoes and that sauce to top it all off.

    I love that conversation with yourself. Ha, ha! If MeanieMe won't listen, come talk food & culture with me any day. :)

  • Daily Spud said...

    So you mean to tell me that there's two of you that I need to meet? Could you maybe send at least one of them over here while the other holds the fort in MN? :)

    On the thanksgiving leftovers front, well, of course I don't have any because there was no TG dinner to begin with - or should I say I don't have any yet, because I've arranged a mini belated TG dinner with an American friend this coming weekend. It won't approach the full excesses of a US TG dinner nor, in my friend's case, will it replace the special thing that is celebrating that day with his family, but maybe it will be a reminder of other great times and an occasion worthy of remembering for itself. Best of all, though? Afterwards I get to have leftovers too :)

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Thank you all for your great comments! As usual, I beg your patience and will return with proper replies tomorrow, after I turn in my most current class assignment. I miss reading and commenting on all your great sites, and can't wait to get back to it. Thank goodness there's only two weeks left of school!! 8-)

  • Phyllis said...

    HA - I thought I spotted wheatberries inside that wrap! I haven't used them since I made a Barefoot Contessa wheatberry salad years ago. What an amazing and clever recipe -I can just imagine how delicious it is with all those different textures and flavors. Good luck in the makeover challenge :)

  • Reeni said...

    I would of loved to eat my leftovers like this! Oh, who am I kidding? I would of loved Thanksgiving dinner itself in this form! A delicious creation!

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Talk about TGIF! Looking forward to half-relaxing weekend and two weeks before the end of classes - yay!

    doggybloggy - Thanks, although after seeing your entries, my wrap looks rather humble. But I am looking forward to seeing everyone's take on T-day leftovers.

    5 Star - I'm happy to participate; too often, I miss out on such fun events because I can't quite get my schedule together. I look forward to seeing what everyone has done; as for the wheatberries, I'm now a convert - can't wait to try them in other dishes!

    Bob - Thank you! The cranberry horseradish is a wonderful sauce, sweet and piquant. It goes great in sandwiches (like turkey, or even better, roast beef!)

    Chow and Chatter - Thanks! It turned out well although I think I'll have to try the Harvest Wrap at Good Earth to shore up my memory of how it's supposed to taste like!

    Terecita - You should definitely try it, especially if you ever have leftover roast chicken!

    Juliana - Thank you! My husband enjoyed the sauce the most; I think he'd put it on anything! 8-)

    Chef E - Oh! What course are taking? It's not crazy at all - even though I complain constantly, I enjoy having the structure and all that I'm learning. Hope you'll have fun with your class! As for the wrap, I'm convinced that any leftover can be turned into something fantastic with the magic of whole wheat tortillas and a creamy sauce! 8-)

    Jenn - I'd love to see what you did with your leftovers! I wasn't looking forward to soup or sandwich, although I love both. This was a nice change-up.

    Christine - I voted! And I hope that James is doing alright. Praying for him that he'll be approved for the sleeve; sending all my best wishes to you and your family!

    Forager - Thank you! The sauce has become THE family favorite and now we can't imagine a Thanksgiving meal without it! 8-)

    Midge - I can highly recommend the sauce! It's perfect with roast meats, either with sandwiches or even rice! 8-)

    Trissa - [LOL] It's the kind of internal debate I have with myself when I start getting too preachy - a kind of internal system check! 8-)

    MrsLavendula - Thank you! The cranberries turn the sauce such a pretty pink color, don't they?

    Palidor - I try not to get too contemplative about food but for me, it often serves an analogy to things we do. Too often, I get caught up in trying to recapture some fantastic moment and I neglect to just enjoy the simple day!

    Lori - Thank you! I've done all the usual leftover dishes - casseroles, sandwiches and soups - but the Harvest Wrap at Good Earth was so unforgettable, I just had to try it out myself! And there's no way I'd pass on more sweet potato. 8-)

    I will take you up on your offer to talk food anytime!

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    ValleyWriter - Thanks! MeanieMe rears her snarky attitude every once in a while but this was her first public appearance. 8-) But if you didn't have leftovers, good for you! It means you feast must have been to good to leave anything behind.

    Kat - Thank you! Leftovers are all well and good but it's nice to turn them into something 'new' - that way, it doesn't feel like the same old, same old!

    Elra - I'll swap my wrap for your cannolis! 8-D

    Diva - So happy you enjoyed it! It's been a hectic past few months and it was great to just relax and have fun for a few days with family and good food!

    Mariana - Thank you so much! Too often, I don't make the extra effort but these leftovers were the result of my mother- and sisters-in-law's hard work, so I wanted to be sure to enjoy them a few days after Thanksgiving as much as on the day itself!

    Spud - [LOL] I'd be happy if just one of me had the opportunity to get together with you!

    I hope you'll share your belated TG dinner with us - I'd love to hear your take on it (and on your leftovers!) It's always a special time to be with family but given that, it really should be Thanksgiving at every meal. Have a wonderful time!

    Divina - Thank you! The wrap was such a nice way of enjoying the wonderful food we had without making it just 'leftovers'. It was an all-new dish!

    Dawn - Right back atcha! You've got to do this sauce, saucy grrrl!

    Sarah - Thanks! I actually have these weird mini-conversations with myself - I should watch it before it turns into full-blown multiple personalities! 8-D

    Erica - Thank you! It was fun to make the wrap, satisfying to eat and both to write about it!

    A cupcake or two - I can't take too much credit: the original Harvest Wrap from Good Earth made such an impression that I had to try making it myself. And Christmas leftovers are just as great as Thanksgiving - what is the traditional 'centerpiece' food of the holidays in Australia?

    Full-Timed Housefly: Thanks! Usually, I'm too lazy to make the effort and just microwave the leftovers. But my mother- and sisters-in-law put great effort in making these dishes, so it deserved a bit more special presentation. But you've made me crave laksa - it's become quite cold here so it's a perfect time for soup and noodles!

    Lisa - It's amazingly good on a variety of roast meats and keeps very well in the fridge. As for the wheatberries, I'm hooked! I need to find more recipes . . .

    Greg - Deep, dark secrets are revealed . . . I can be quite the bee-yotch, but very rarely, I promise! 8-D

    Duo - They are and I'm finally realizing it! Now I wish I had a bit more leftovers to continue experimenting . . .!

    Phyllis - Thank you! I thought that my favorite parts would be the soft, creaminess of the sweet potatoes and the cranberry horseradish sauce, but the pepitas and wheatberries just add such satisfying heft to the whole wrap! As for the challenge, I've been seeing some amazing leftovers - I'm going to be stealing, I mean, borrowing a lot of ideas! 8-)

    Jennifer - Believe me, after gorging myself for 4 days straight (beginning the day before T-day and continuing into the weekend), I needed something healthy! 8-)

    Reeni - Thank you! I hope I can muster the effort to turn any leftovers into something more special than just reheated remains. But I agree - I almost wish we had another turkey to try out different things!

  • gastroanthropologist said...

    The best part of thanksgiving is the leftovers! Usually its just reheat in the original form or turkey+cran sauce sandwiches for me. At Christmas (when we will have the same similar feast) I will take the extra step to make the leftovers into something delicious like this. Cranberry-horseradish sauce...yum...think I'll be using that for more than just leftovers.

  • Rico said...

    Looks so pretty that it looks more like a sweet that a savoury, but after reading the ingredients I am delighted to say I would love to try this explosions of textures and splendiferous mouth watering smooth sauce with against the grainy catch...well done very well executed and beautifully photographed ...AAAAA+++++ xxxxx

  • Joanne said...

    This is a great post! I talk to myself constantly. Stressed, not stressed, morning, noon, night. It's a bad habit I guess.

    What an excellent wrap! I love the combination of fillings and the cranberry horseradish sauce look amazing!

  • Manggy said...

    Oh, absolutely! It's primarily the reason why I eat ham every chance I get, heh heh :) But my main motivation for eating leftovers is of course the guilt over throwing food away, and cooking some more only increases the leftovers in the fridge (egad)

  • Anonymous said...

    I saw this picture at 5-Star Foodies' blog, and I had to rush over. OMG. This wrap is genius, and it looks so, so , so, SO freaking gorgeous. It's prettier than me! >.<

    I would devour this with pleasure! Oh...I wish I had more leftovers left!

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Thanks for the new comments!

    Pigpigscorner - The sauce is really stellar; I encourage everyone to give it a taste!

    Gastroanthropologist - I love Thanksgiving leftovers but maybe I've read too many creative food blogs and the idea of simply reheating and serving just doesn't seem sufficient any longer. My SIL made an extra huge batch of the sauce, which we split; our portion went pretty quickly after we put it on everything, including rice!

    Ricardo - Thank you so much! The candy-pink sauce does suggest a sweet dish, doesn't it? Even though I knew what I was putting in it, the contrast in textures was still a satisfying surprise.

    Joanne - [LOL] My husband would probably prefer that I just talked to myself; instead 'we' try to draw him into the conversation! You can totally switch up all the ingredients in this but if you keep one thing, it's got to be the sauce!

    Manggy - So true! And even more so after a Filipino holiday meal! 8-) I've been instituting 'pabaon' with my in-laws so that we can share all the leftover goodies. Now, I'll focus on Christmas!

    Burpandslurp - [LOL] Pretty in pink always works! I made these wraps with the last of the turkey and was tempted to roast another. Instead, I'm going to get a roast chicken (and I have to make more sauce - thank goodness it's cranberry season!)

  • OysterCulture said...

    As the recipient of all the original goodies I can only imagine how good this wrap tastes.

    Funny, in all the years I've known you, I never met MeanieMe - she really does stay in your office. Good luck on the contest, I know what a wonderful combination of flavors are going on there and that cranberry horseradish sauce is incredible flavor bonder.

    BTW, how did your first batch of turkey stock turn out?

  • Anonymous said...

    Happy leftovers, indeed! I love that shockingly pink cranberry sauce. Reminds me of Susan Stamberg's mother-in-law's cranberry sauce--she gives the recipe out every year on NPR for Thanksgiving. And wheatberries?! You are good, TN! Hope you had a marvelous Thanksgiving:)

  • Lo said...

    I love it how just about anything can be wrapped up in a tortilla and it turns into something marvelous and new! Great new take on the old leftover song! Yum.

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    OysterCulture - I've managed to keep her in check! 8-) You and I know how good that cranberry horseradish sauce really is; hopefully, the word will spread. As for the stock, it turned out great! I actually used it to cook the wheatberries which gave them a nice flavor. Thanks for helping me with that!

    OPC - Thank you! It was a great time and good eatin', which we were able to extend for a few days. I can't take any credit for the wheatberries - I loved them in Good Earth's original version of this wrap so I had to include them. 8-)

    Lo - Tortillas should be a staple in all households! I'm partial to corn but the whole wheat was really perfect for something like this. Leftovers are soooo good no matter what!

  • Crystal said...

    Love your blog! I also talk to myself so I found your "chat" very entertaining. And the cranberry sauce adds such a lovely colour - it's a pleasure just to look at the photo.

  • Trisha said...

    What a great way to recycle leftovers! I make sandwiches out of leftover roast chicken too. Sometimes I even use it as the garnish or even the main ingredient for arroz caldo...


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