Latin Twists on Thanksgiving Leftovers

By Liliana Moyano for Shine Latina


While Thanksgiving is one of the most important holidays of the year in the United States, it's just another day in Latin America. My family didn't celebrate the holiday when we first moved to the US, but we couldn't help feeling left out. All the neighbors and friends spent days in the kitchen preparing for this all-American holiday.

A couple of years later, a guy from North Carolina- David- started dating my sister. When he met our family, he came upon a very joyful group where every evening was filled with dinner parties and wine-tasting nights. Since his family lived out of town, and we partied like no one else, he decided to come over on Thanksgiving expecting a big feast. You can imagine his shock when he arrived with a big, cooked turkey, and he found us in the kitchen making a simple ham and potato salad. We had no idea what a green bean casserole, sweet potato souffle or pecan pie was, let alone that these were traditional holiday dishes. Needless to say, David had a very interesting evening where he ended up educating us on the concept of a proper Thanksgiving meal. The next year, he found us completely prepared, but what he never mentioned was the amazing amount of leftovers we would have, and how boring it was to eat the same meal for the next three days.


A few years later, mi amiga Michelle came over the day after Thanksgiving, and we created a fun and delicious meal out of the turkey and cranberry leftovers. Since she is Cuban and we both love Latin food, we had to give them a tropical spin. We came up with turkey and potato croquetas and cranberry pastelitos. It was a whole new meal! To get really flavorful croquettes, we made the batter out of eggs and fried onion leftovers from the green bean casserole. The cranberry pastelitos- an homage to the traditionally Cuban guava pastry- has just the right amount of sweet and tart tang.


Pastelitos de Cranberry


(4 servings)
1 sheet Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, cut in 4 square pieces
¼ cup cranberry sauce
¼ cup mozzarella cheese
1 egg, beaten

Try this recipe with my Empanadas Light


Preheat the oven at 360 degrees.

Place the puff pastry dough squares on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Add a spoon of cranberry sauce to the dough, and top it with mozzarella cheese. Brush the ends of the dough with egg, and close the pastry diagonally making a triangle. Press the border with a fork making sure all the sides are sealed. Brush the top of the pastelito with egg, and carefully poke some holes in it with a fork to ensure the dough lets out steam as it cooks. Bake the pastries for 15 minutes or until the dough turns golden. Remove from the oven, and let them sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Leftover Turkey + Mash Croquetas


(10 croquettes)
1½ cup mashed potatoes
8 oz. turkey, finely chopped
½ cup mozzarella cheese
½ cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 cup fried onions


Using clean hands, combine the mashed potatoes, turkey and mozzarella cheese in a bowl, making sure all the ingredients are combined well. Next, form 3 oz. flat balls with the mashed potato mix. Preheat a pan with canola oil at medium heat. Proceed to dip each croquette in egg, and then into the crunchy onions for an even coating. Fry the croquettes for 3 minutes on each side, and remove from pan. Drain them in paper towel. Repeat the process with all the croquettes, and serve with any extra gravy you may have leftover.

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