nesting * geeking * critiquing

Blame the Tryptophan

I’ve been a bad little blogger. Between stuffing my face and decking my halls (and shopping), upkeep of the Thicket has been back of mind. Regardless, I’m sharing something very special with you today—my very favorite leftover-turkey recipe. You’re probably thinking that those are a dime a dozen this time of year, particularly with my friend Pinterest ruling the interwebs; stop thinking that. This one really is special, because it’s delicious and occupies a sentimental spot in my heart.

Three weeks before my 15th birthday, we were awake at an ungodly hour, packing our car and preparing for the ten-hour drive to Texas. My 94-year-old great-grandmother, facing steadily declining health, awaited our arrival. We knew that in all likelihood, this was to be our last visit before she passed out of this life.

As we made our last check of things around the house, the phone rang. When calls come in that early in the morning, you know not to expect a telemarketer…or anything other than bad news. Great Mamaw couldn’t hold out for us any longer; she had gone ahead.

The rushing to leave the house came to an abrupt halt as we began our grieving. It was a cold January morning.

Some hours later, we were in Texas, which was somewhat warmer; I remember nothing of the drive there or the couple of days that followed. Aside from visiting the floral shop, memories of the visitation and funeral evade me. Tidbits of the after-service dinner, however, stuck with me. Enter the turkey/potato chip casserole.

I spent the better part of the next dozen years thinking of that dish (from time to time, anyway, not exactly obsessing over it). One day my mom and I finally broke down and combed through every church and charity cookbook we could get our hands on. The trick was searching for a chicken recipe instead of turkey—though I don’t imagine chicken could possibly taste as good. I make it every year now, and I strongly suggest you do the same. It’s comforting and yummy and not your average tetrazzini-type casserole.

Hot Turkey Salad Casserole (aka the recipe that a random stranger made for post-funeral supper)

3 c. cooked turkey (Thanksgiving scraps work well)
1 1/2 c. diced celery
1/2 c. chopped almonds (or almond slivers)
1 T. minced onion
1 1/2 T. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 c. mayonnaise
1 1/2 c. grated cheddar
1 1/2 c. crushed potato chips

Combine turkey, celery, almonds, onion, lemon juice & pepper. Add mayo and toss. Sprinkle with cheese and top with chips. Bake in pre-heated 375-degree oven for 25 minutes.

Enjoy!

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