Leftover Recipe: Turkey Leftover Braid

This recipe was inspired by a lunch we had with our cousin Ann last month and I’ve been excited about trying it ever since.  I altered things somewhat (is that really a surprise to anyone who knows me??) but it turned out extremely well.

Here’s the basic recipe I used:TurkeyLeftoverBraid

  • 1/2 package shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 cups of leftover turkey, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, with tops, diced fine
  • 1 large spoon of dijon mustard
  • 3 large spoons of mayo (I used 2 large spoons of nonfat plain Greek yogurt and 1 spoon of Miracle Whip Light)
  • 1/4 cup James River Cellars Chardonel (could have used Chardonnay but I had Chardonel available)
  • 1/2 package of craisins
  • 3 strips of cooked bacon, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 packages of crescent dough (sheets work best, but rolls work as well)
  1. Mix the turkey salad together and allow the flavors to meld for a bit – you can certainly make it and put it right into the braid, but the flavors intensify if you can let it sit in the fridge a little bit.
  2. On a large sheet pan covered in foil (or sprayed with cooking spray… I just don’t like the mess otherwise), lay out both packages of crescent dough side-to-side so you have a long rectangle of dough.  Smoosh any openings in the dough so everything is flat and uniform.
  3. Spread the turkey mixture evenly down the center of the rectangle of dough.
  4. Make slits along each side, doing your best to keep them at even intervals from each other on each side.
  5. NOTE: Here’s the “fancy” part.  Turn the pan so that the rectangle has a “top” and a “bottom.  Starting from one end, and working down to the other, you’re now going to make a “braid” to keep the salad inside.  Lift the left and right top strips, bring them to together, twist once, and lay them back down.  Continue with all remaining strips until it looks like a braided package in front of you.  Pinch the edges closed and tuck under each end.
  6. Bake braid in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes and then serve with or without a salad.  This meal should serve 4-5 people (or 3 very hungry people who forgot to eat lunch).

You could also add toasted almonds if you want more crunch but we find that the celery gives it just the right bite.  I’ve used this method for a few different meals (especially the Wine Taco Braid post on this blog) so feel free to incorporate any changes or flavors you want.  After all, who knows your family’s tastes better than you!  Have fun!

Recipe: Easy Chicken Divan

I was recently tasked with using our new Cabernet Franc Blanc wine (James River Cellars’ 2012 Montpelier) in a recipe and this fabulously easy recipe was the result.  It uses both Montpelier wine AND Monterey  Jack cheese in a sauce that has it’s beginnings in my childhood, so for me, this was a win-win recipe.  I hope you find it that way as well!

EasyChickenDivan

I started with a leftover chicken carcass that I pulled from the freezer.  Typically, I’ll purchase a roasted chicken from our local grocery store and cut out the breast meat to use in a meal early in the week.  Once the white meat is gone, I like to bag up the chicken remains and pop it in the freezer for just such an occasion.  While the original recipe called for a can of cream of mushroom soup, I wanted to make my version a little healthier, so I put the frozen chicken into a large stock pot with about 2 inches of water and set it to a low simmer until the chicken was soft and easy to pick off the bone.  Most of what was left on the bone was dark meat, which suited me just fine.  I transferred all the meat into a large casserole dish and tossed the bones in the trash.   I quickly cooked a bag of broccoli florets in the microwave and layered them on top of the chicken in the dish.  Now to make the sauce that would pull everything together.

The remaining liquid in the pot had a deep chicken broth smell and taste, so that was the beginning of my sauce.  I added one pat of butter and a few spoons full of flour and whisked everything together until the flour had been thoroughly cooked and all lumps were gone.   I slowly introduced the Montpelier wine (you could certainly use a white wine, but a lightly dry rose’ would handle the flavors a bit better, in my opinion) and added a handful of Monterey Jack cheese, whisking again until the cheese melted nicely and the wine was thoroughly incorporated.  I also added a few spoons of Miracle Whip Lite and a generous amount of curry powder.  NOTE: I like to sweet/tangy addition of Miracle Whip in this recipe, so if you really want to use traditional mayonnaise, I would suggest adding a touch of sugar.  Once your sauce is smooth, creamy, and tasty (you HAVE to taste-test the sauce to make sure your flavors are combined well), pour the sauce over the chicken/broccoli in your casserole dish.

Using the same stock pot that you used to warm your chicken (and then make your sauce) add some butter, olive oil, salt, crushed garlic, and pepper.  Allow the seasonings to blend over medium heat and then toss in a few hands full of bread crumbs.  Toast the bread crumbs until they have soaked up the seasoned butter/oil mixture and become a bit crispy.  Layer them on top of your casserole dish and plan to bake your final dish at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

You can absolutely plan to serve this with a simple green salad and some bread, but we love it just by itself.  The flavors combined nicely and everything tasted clean and fresh.  While it reminded me of my Aunt Treva’s Chicken Divan, it seemed a little healthier to me… maybe part of that is mental, but I do know that I was using fresh ingredients so I did feel better about how I made this version.

Try it with your own favorite childhood recipe… maybe you’ll come up with an updated recipe of your own!