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Thanksgiving leftover recipes: Mexican-inspired dishes to try

If you have leftovers from your 20-pound turkey, you might take the path of least resistance and eat turkey sandwiches until it’s time to go back to work on Monday.

But with just a bit more effort, you can fix one of the following Mexican-inspired dishes, adding a little spice to your post-holiday weekend. Enchiladas, quesadillas, nachos — don’t they sound good for a change?

Pick up a few items in advance so you’ll be prepared to deal with leftovers in the days that follow. You may not have these items in your pantry.

Jarred enchilada sauce
Chipotle chili in adobo
Pickled jalapeños
Pepper Jack cheese
Sour cream
Corn tortillas
Corn chips
Monterey Jack cheese
Cheddar cheese
Canned peeled tomatoes
Canned chicken broth
Canned chipotle chilies
Canned kidney beans
Tomato salsa

Turkey and sweet potato quesadillas

TURKEY AND SWEET POTATO QUESADILLAS2 (10-inch) flour tortillas1
Photo Credit: Doug Young


2 (10-inch) flour tortillas
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes, divided
3⁄4 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese, divided
1 cup shredded cooked turkey, divided
1 tablespoon finely chopped pickled jalapeños (optional)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Cranberry sauce for serving (optional)


1. Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Place a tortilla in the skillet for 2 minutes, turn, and heat for another minute. Transfer to a work surface and repeat with remaining tortilla.

2. Spread half the sweet potato over half a tortilla. Sprinkle with half c the heese and half the turkey. Sprinkle with jalapeño if desired. Fold other tortilla half over top and press to flatten. Brush both sides with oil, sprinkle lightly with salt and set aside. Repeat with remaining quesadilla and filling ingredients.

3. Place both quesadillas in skillet and cook until undersides are crisp and well-browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until both sides are browned and cheese is melted, another 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, let stand 2 minutes, cut into wedges, and serve with cranberry sauce on the side if desired. Makes 2 servings.

Turkey nachos

TURKEY NACHOSServe with guacamole, sour cream and tomato
Photo Credit: Doug Young

Serve with guacamole, sour cream and tomato salsa on the side.


8 ounces corn tortilla chips, divided
1 cup shredded cooked turkey, divided
4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
1⁄4 cup drained pickled jalapeño slices, divided
2 scallions, chopped


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Spread half the chips in even layer in a 13-inch-by-9-inch baking dish or 11-inch round dish. Sprinkle evenly with  1⁄2 cup turkey, 2 cups cheese and half the pickled jalapeños. Repeat with remaining chips, cheese, turkey and jalapeños.

3. Bake until cheese is melted, 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with scallions and serve immediately.

Turkey and red bean chili

TURKEY AND RED BEAN CHILI2 tablespoons vegetable oil2
Photo Credit: Doug Young


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1⁄4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
1 (32-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup low-sodium canned chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups shredded cooked turkey
Shredded Cheddar cheese or sour cream for serving


1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium high. Add the onions and pepper and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, coriander and cayenne, if desired, and cook, stirring, for a minute.

2. Stir in the tomatoes, broth, oregano and  1⁄2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until slightly thickened, 20 minutes.

3. Stir in the beans and turkey and simmer, uncovered, until heated through, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with Cheddar cheese or sour cream on the side. Makes 6 servings.

Turkey enchiladas

TURKEY ENCHILADAS12 (6-inch) corn tortillas2 tablespoons vegetable oil2
Photo Credit: Doug Young


12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups enchilada sauce, divided
1 1⁄4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 1⁄2 cups cooked shredded turkey
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a 13-inch-by-9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Brush both sides of tortillas with oil. Stack tortillas, wrap in a clean, damp kitchen towel, and microwave until warm and pliable, about 1 minute.

3. Spread  1⁄2 cup enchilada sauce over bottom of prepared pan. Combine cheeses in a medium bowl, reserving  1⁄2 cup cheese for topping.

4. Working with 1 tortilla at a time, spread 3 tablespoons cheese across center of tortilla, sprinkle with turkey and onion. Roll tortillas tightly and place, seam side down, in baking dish, to form 2 columns across width of dish.

5. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with remaining  1⁄2 cup cheese. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling, about 15 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Turkey chilaquiles

TURKEY CHILAQUILES 1⁄2 cup sour cream 1⁄4 cup milk1 (28-ounce)
Photo Credit: Doug Young


1⁄2 cup sour cream
1⁄4 cup milk
1 (28-ounce) can peeled whole tomatoes, drained
1⁄2 to 1 canned chipotle chili in adobo
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1⁄2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 cups low-sodium canned chicken broth
8 ounces tortilla chips
1 1⁄2 cups shredded cooked turkey
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime, cut into wedges


1. Combine the sour cream and milk in a small bowl.

2. Combine the drained tomatoes and chipotle chili in a blender and blend until smooth.

3. In a saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer, stirring often, until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the broth and bring to a boil.

4. Stir the tortilla chips into the liquid. Cover, turn off the heat, and let stand 5 minutes.

5. Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with turkey, drizzle with sour cream mixture, sprinkle with cilantro and serve with lime wedges on the side. Makes 4 servings.

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