New Life for Leftovers

Local Celebrity Chef Susie Jimenez Reinvents Traditional Thanksgiving Leftovers With the Flavors of Mexico

Article by Caitlin Causey Susie Jimenez

Photography by EstatePhotoVideo.com - Michael Hefferon

Originally published in Roaring Fork City Lifestyle

Even better than Thanksgiving dinner itself, many agree, are the leftovers. What’s more fun than raiding the fridge for a cold slice of pumpkin pie the morning after, or piling turkey, mayo, and fixings between slices of crusty bread for the best sandwich of the year? Leftovers help extend the feasting through Thanksgiving weekend and beyond.

Sometimes though, you may find yourself staring down that vat of uneaten mashed potatoes or the half gallon of cranberry sauce and wondering what to do with it all. It’s a common conundrum. This is where Carbondale resident, Food Network star, business owner, and culinary instructor Susie Jimenez steps in this month with ideas. Her favorite way to eat classic Turkey Day leftovers is to infuse them with fresh flavors inspired by her family’s Mexican heritage. Trust us, you’ve never had leftovers like these before; we suspect that they’ll soon become your family’s new day-after-Thanksgiving tradition, too.

Mashed Potato Crunchy Tacos with Cabbage-Fennel Slaw and Tomatillo Sauce


Leftover mashed potatoes

Corn tortillas

Turmeric, cumin, coriander to taste

Pinch salt


4 cups cabbage, shaved

1 cup fennel, shaved

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1 each jalapeno, chopped

2 limes juice

salt to taste

Tomatillo Sauce:

1 cup canned tomatillos

2 garlic cloves

1 jalapeno

¼ cup cilantro

2 tablespoons red onion

Salt to taste

Start with tacos by combining mashed potatoes with spices and salt. Place a small amount on one half of a corn tortilla and fry over medium heat in one inch of grapeseed oil. Place on paper towels to remove excess oil. Repeat until you have finished your desired amount of crunchy tacos. Then, mix slaw ingredients quickly in a bowl. For the sauce, place ingredients in a pot and cook over medium heat for five minutes; when heated, place in a blender with the cilantro, onion, and salt and blend until smooth. To assemble the finished dish, crack your tacos open, add slaw, and top off with tomatillo sauce. Serve immediately.

Susie's Note: "These tacos have been in my family since I can remember. Something so simple, but full of flavor."

Homemade Red Sauce for Turkey Enchiladas


3 Pasilla dried chiles

3 California dried chiles

3 Roma tomatoes, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

¼ small yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon each of cumin, coriander, and salt


Leftover turkey, shredded

Corn tortillas

Queso fresco and shredded lettuce, for garnish

Soak the dried chiles in warm water for 10 minutes. Remove seeds and stems. Place in a blender with ¼ cup of the soaking water and blend. Strain, and return to blender. Then, in a skillet with one tablespoon grapeseed oil, add the chopped tomatoes, garlic, and onion. Stir over medium heat for five minutes, then place in blender with the chile paste. Add the spices and salt, and puree until smooth. Heat corn tortillas on a skillet so they don’t break, stuff with your leftover turkey, roll, and place side-by-side in a large casserole dish until full. Pour your red sauce on top and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with queso fresco and shaved romaine lettuce, and serve.

Susie's Note: “You can also fill the enchiladas with leftover mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, or even stuffing for a vegetarian option.”


Chipotle Cranberry Sauce

1 cup prepared cranberry sauce

1 tablespoon chipotle paste

Whisk well, and enjoy: This one is so simple! Stir in yogurt or crema for a creamier sauce. Use as a dipping sauce for turkey empanadas (pictured here), tacos, a beautiful crudite platter, cheese board, or any dish that needs an all-around delicious sauce. It’s also great with your crunchy tacos.

Susie's Note: "This recipe is very easy, versatile, and tasty. It pairs well with so many other dishes."

Stuffing and Turkey “Meatball” Soup with Cilantro Lime Broth


2 cups prepared stuffing

1 cup leftover turkey, shredded

2 eggs

¼ cup crumbled cotija cheese (feta or parmesan will work too)

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon coriander


2 carrots, peeled and sliced

2 celery stalks, sliced

½ onion, sliced

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped

1 jalapeno, sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

2 limes, juiced

Fresh chopped cilantro

In a soup pot, place one tablespoon grapeseed oil and add vegetables. Stir over medium heat for five minutes. Add two gallons water or stock, and reduce heat to low-medium for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine meatball ingredients in a bowl and form small spheres; set aside. Return soup to medium heat, add meatballs, and cook for another three to four minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add the fresh cilantro and lime juice, and serve immediately with warm tortillas.

Susie's Note: "After Thanksgiving, you sometimes want lighter food that's still comforting. This soup is perfect for that."

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