Ingredient SpotLight

Every Thanksgiving, Americans consume 675 million pounds of turkey. Low in fat and high in protein, it's the one dish that has almost universally come to symbolize this special holiday. And why not? It's great-tasting, good for you and -- if you plan it right -- easy to make.

The average turkey is about 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat. Of course, the white meat is a healthier option, but many people tend to think of it as dry. This can be the case if it's overcooked, but dry meat doesn't have to be a Thanksgiving tradition any more than popping antacid does! My favorite way to make sure the white meat isn't dry is to start roasting my turkey upside down in a roaster and then turn it about 30 minutes before it's done to allow the breast to get that nice, golden color. However, if you ask me, unless you're having a really huge crowd over for the holiday, there's an even better way to get that bird on the table. If you'll come a little closer and hide your screen from any nearby spies, I'll share it with you! I give you ...

Crockpot Turkey Breast

I'll let you in on a little secret -- even if I am entertaining a lot of people for Thanksgiving, I still make my turkey this way. I just fire up two crockpots!!! The meat is incredibly tender and no one can argue with such a low maintenance technique. And you better believe that the juices that collect at the bottom of the crockpot makes the world's most wonderful gravy!
  • 1 medium turkey breast, thawed in the refrigerator
  • 1/4 c. apple cider
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. cracked rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground chipotle pepper

Remove any gravy or giblet packets from the cavity of the turkey breast and discard or save for another use. Place the breast in a large crockpot. (You may have to do some creative trimming to get it to fit -- it's worth it.) Pour the apple cider into the bottom of the crockpot.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and rub over the top of the turkey breast. Cover the crockpot and cook on the LOW setting for 7-9 hours or until the meat is cooked and tender.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 8 hours

Of course, leftovers are almost as much of a Thanksgiving tradition as the original appearance of the turkey itself! The secret to good use of turkey leftovers is to find an application that takes advantage of the flavors of the bird without taking too much time. After all, after fussing over Thanksgiving dinner, it's time to enjoy some quick meals that are just as yummy. The five most popular ways to leftover turkey are as a sandwich, stew or soup, salad, casserole and stir-fry. Of course, I won't let you go without sharing a couple of my favorites as well. Here they are:

Turkey & Roasted Pepper Pizza

Pizza is an American favorite. And what better way to enjoy those turkey leftovers than on a pie that's delicious and simple to make?
  • 1 large packaged pizza crust (such as Boboli)
  • 1/4 c. tomato sauce -- choose your favorite variety
  • 2 oz. shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 c. sliced roasted peppers -- I like to use the jarred variety
  • 1 c. shredded, cooked turkey
  • 2 T. sliced green onions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Spread the tomato sauce evenly over the crust. Layer the remaining ingredients evenly over the crust and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Cut into wedges and enjoy with a cold one!

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Southwestern Turkey Wraps

Shredded turkey is essential for the decadent texture of the filling in this wrap. That's why you'll want to make your turkey in the crockpot -- shredding is incredibly easy!
  • 1 c. shredded, cooked turkey
  • 1 red bell pepper -- cut into thin strips
  • 1/4 c. diced red onion
  • 1/4 c. diced celery
  • 1/4 c. diced cucumber
  • 2 T. sliced green onions
  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise
  • 2 T. salsa -- choose your favorite variety
  • 1 T. taco seasoning
  • 2 T. chopped pecans
  • 4 c. mixed greens
  • 4 large flour tortillas

In a large bowl, toss the turkey, pepper, red onion, celery, cucumber and green onions together to combine. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, salsa, taco seasoning and pecans; mix to form a dressing. Toss the dressing with the turkey mixture. Arrange the filling and greens evenly among the flour tortillas. Wrap the tortillas up to form a wrap and, if desired, cut in half. Serve with chips and additional salsa and, if you're feeling festive, margaritas!

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes
However you choose to enjoy your turkey and its leftovers, make sure you give yourself time to enjoy family and friends. After all, that's what Thanksgiving is really all about.

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