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The Dinner Bar: Turkey Panini

Happy Day-After Thanksgiving! For those of you who are wondering what to do with all of the food left from your holiday meal, fret no more. This month’s Dinner Bar recipe showcases all of the delicious morsels that you have put so much hard work into–again.

Why eat cold turkey when you can have a warm grilled turkey panini sandwich loaded with new and exciting flavors? And who looks forward to plain reheated veggies?

Bring them back to life by transforming them into fun and colorful confetti to decorate your plate with. There is a veritable cornucopia of possibilities waiting in your refrigerator. To turn your boring leftovers into unbelievable “planned-overs,” you will need:


* Leftover Turkey

* Pecans, chopped


* Whole wheat flatbread


* Mixed greens, in a bag

* Baby spinach leaves, in a bag

* Leftover Green beans

* Leftover Carrots

* Leftover Corn

* Red onion, sliced

* Pumpkin pie mix, 14 oz. can


* Jellied cranberries, canned

* Craisins


* Fat-free cream cheese

* 2 c. skim milk (for pudding)

* Fat-free frozen whipped topping

Unsaturated Fats:

* Extra virgin olive oil

* Vinaigrette dressing, bottled


* Cheesecake-flavored instant pudding mix

First, make the cheesecake pudding using skim milk according to package directions. Add the canned pumpkin mix to taste (somewhere between ½ and ¾ of the can). Place in refrigerator to chill. Take whipped topping out of freezer to thaw. Chop pecans.

Next, get out all the leftover turkey and veggies from your refrigerator. Pick at least three vegetables for the salad. The firmness of raw, steamed, or roasted foods is best.

I chose my family favorites, but any will do. Just remember, this is where the “confetti” part comes in, so pick lots of fun colors if possible. If cooked, reheat in the microwave. Dice each vegetable into small squares or circles and place into separate bowls. Thinly slice the red onion. Cut the flatbread rounds in half.

Open the jellied cranberries, craisins, cream cheese, vinaigrette dressing, and lettuce and spinach bags. Prepare a small cup of olive oil for the pan or press.

Place all the bowls and plates containing each item on your bar, and invite your family to make their own perfect Paninis, confetti-covered salads, and spiced pumpkin dessert.

Remember, the Dinner Bar is all about allowing children the freedom to choose what and how much to eat. All of the items, in any combination, are fair game.

If you have a Panini press, now would be the time to use it. If not, a griddle pan with a lid or regular frying pan with a foil-covered brick for weight will also do the trick. Heat the pan and use a basting brush to lightly coat it, and the bread, with olive oil. This will keep you from using more than the desired amount of oil for cooking.

Cook each Panini until heated through and golden brown on the outside, about 1-2 minutes. You should be able to do at least 2 at a time. Serve and enjoy!

I spread cream cheese and jellied cranberries on my bread, and added spinach and onions to the turkey. Then sprinkled the veggie-confetti on my salad greens. A dollup of whipped cream and a sprinkling of pecans were the perfect touch to a pumpkin-flavored pudding. Yum!

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  1. I am trying not to be so wasteful so last night I made baked chicken and macaroni and cheese and today I took the left-over chicken grated with the cheese grater and am making fettuccine Alfredo. Mix it up with other ingredients to make a tangy cranberry-citrus sauce a slightly tart cranberry mustard or mayonnaise or a unique cranberry chutney or salsa.