Leftover Turkey Wraps

After the Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey dinner is over and family or friends have gone home, Jerri and I attack the turkey carcass. We slice off as much meat as we can , dismember the skeleton and put the bones in a soup kettle. We add enough water to cover the bones and simmer them for two hours or so.

We package the white and dark meat in meal-sized portions sealed in freezer bags. At least one bag consists of small pieces of mixed dark and light meat that we will use in Turkey Wild Rice Soup or Turkey Tetrazzini. The larger pieces usually end up in more elegant dishes like Jerri’s Turkey A la King or Turkey Curry.

Here is a simple way to use up some of those smaller mixed pieces of leftover turkey. Don’t let the two jalapeño peppers frighten you. Mixed with the other ingredients, they add a bright flavor without torturing your tastebuds.


2 T vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups leftover turkey
2 medium jalapeños
1/2 cup chopped green or red bell pepper
3 green onions
1 small yellow squash (about 1 cup chopped)
1/2 Roma tomato (1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped)
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. Mexican seasoning
1/4 tsp. chili powder?1/3 tsp. salt
2 T salsa
3/4 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
4 burrito-size flour tortillas
Sour cream and salsa for serving


Start by preparing the meat and vegetables. Cut the turkey into small bite-sized pieces and put them into a medium-size bowl. Wash the peppers, onions, squash and tomato. Cut the stems off the jalapeños and slice them lengthwise into quarters. Remove the seeds and white membranes, slice each quarter lengthwise in half and chop the jalapeños into an eighth inch dice. Put them into the bowl with the turkey.

Remove the seeds and white membrane from the bell pepper and chop about a half cup of pepper into a quarter-inch dice. Remove the root ends from the onions and chop them into eighth-inch rounds. Remove the stem and blossom ends from the squash, slice it lengthwise into quarters, then chop it crosswise into eighth to quarter-inch pieces. Put these vegetables into the bowl with the turkey and jalapeños.

Remove the stem scar from the tomato and chop a half of a Roma tomato into a quarter to half-inch dice. Set the chopped tomato aside in a small bowl.

Grate the cheese and have it ready to add to the meat and vegetables just before serving.

To make the filling for your wraps, warm the oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the turkey and all the vegetables except the tomato. Stir to mix everything together. If it seems dry, you can add a tiny bit more oil. Stir in the cumin, Mexican seasoning, chili powder, salt and salsa and cook over medium heat for three or four minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for a minute to release their juice. Stir in the cheese and cook briefly until it has melted.

Warm four tortillas while the filling is cooking. To make the wraps, spread a thin layer of sour cream to within a half-inch of the edge on each tortilla. Spoon about a a half cup of filling starting about a third of the way up from the bottom edge across the center and ending about an inch from the top edge. Top with a tablespoon or two of salsa, fold the bottom edge up and each of the sides over to make a convenient pocket with the top open to tempt the diner.

Serve with a green salad and beer for a good light dinner or lunch.

NOTES: One simple way to adjust the spiciness of these wraps is by your choice of salsa. We prefer medium salsas, but mild or hot will work just fine if that is your preference.

If you like quesadillas, tacos or burritos, you might want to make your own batch of Mexican seasoning. It is a blend of spices that saves a lot of time. Instead of measuring a quarter teaspoon each of oregano, garlic powder, red pepper , cumin, etc, you simply stir a teaspoon or two of Mexican seasoning into your tacomeat, perhaps with an extra teaspoon of chili powder, some salt and tomato paste.

You can find Mexican seasoning in most supermarkets, of course, but you can make enough to spice up a lot of dishes in a few minutes. Here’s how to make it.


1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1?2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1?2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. paprika
1 1?2 tsp. ground cumin
1?2 tsp. sea salt
1?2 tsp. black pepper
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves


Grind the pepper flakes and oregano in a mortar. Add the salt and black pepper and grind more to mix well. Add the other ingredients and grind briefly to mix everything together. Store in a tight container in a cool place out of direct sunlight.

Turkey Wild Rice Soup

A long, long time ago, shortly after cooking pots came into use, a man was sitting in front of his cave watching his mate boil bones to flavor the seeds she planned to cook for the evening meal.

As the water boiled she turned a piece of meat on a stick over the fire.

“Woman,” said he, “why don’t you put some of that meat into the water?  We can’t eat bones, and that old goat you’re roasting is so tough I can hardly chew it.”

Since she was a good mate, she chopped a piece of the meat off the roast and tossed it into the pot.  Years later she would tell her grandchildren how she had invented soup, interrupted of course by the old man who claimed the credit.  

“I told her to add the meat.  She put in the roots and greens later, but she was just trying to make something fancy to impress the folks in the cave down the ledge.”

“It was because the hunting was poor, you old coot,” she would reply, and the children would laugh.

The argument about who invented soup is still going on.  There are even food writers who claim that the invention of soup was inevitable.  People who say this would probably not claim that cell phones were inevitable.  The only difference between the invention of the cell phone and the invention of soup is that soup was invented about twenty thousand years ago while some of us can remember a time when there were no little phones that made strange noises in the theater or church.

Someone has to apply his or her intelligence to solve a problem or see something that does not yet exist.  The man at the fire in front of the cave wanted tender meat and his mate wanted to cook other edibles at the same time, so soup came into existence.  The person who imagined a cell phone was probably a wife who wanted to remind her husband not to forget the bread and milk or a husband wishing he could apologize in advance for being late for dinner.

Soup might have been invented by different people at different times around the world, or the invention may have spread from some remote cave in China where 20,000 year-old cooking pots have been discovered.  Today, however, virtually everyone enjoys soup, and you can find dozens of soup cookbooks.

I love a good soup and enjoy reading cookbooks. While not thought of as a cookbook, the plot of Stone Soup, by Marcia Brown, is really a recipe for a pretty good soup. I first read the book when I was about five years old. The story is based on a folk tale about three hungry soldiers who get some selfish villagers to supply the food for a pot of delicious soup. I was fascinated by how easy it sounded to make soup.

Marcia Brown, the author of Stone Soup, published another “cookbook” called Skipper John’s Cook, which you can read online complete with the illustrations by clicking HERE. It is a book with a good lesson for anyone who wants to succeed as a cook.

Since we were in leftover turkey time, like Skipper John I was looking for interesting ways to vary the menu but use up the turkey before Christmas arrived. Jerri suggested using some in a wild rice soup. I liked the idea and here is how to make your own turkey wild rice soup.


1 cup uncooked wild rice
3 cups water
3 T butter
1 T vegetable oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1/8 tsp. powdered garlic
1/4 tsp. white pepper
5 T all-purpose flour
4 cups turkey or chicken broth
3/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. instant or 2 cubes chicken bouillon
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups chopped leftover turkey
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fresh parsley for garnish


Rinse the wild rice in cold water, drain it well and put it in a covered saucepan with three cups of cold water. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer covered for an hour. Stir occasionally and add more water if necessary. When the rice is done remove the pan from the heat and leave it covered to cool.

While the rice is cooking, clean and slice the mushrooms and clean and chop the onion, carrots and celery into a quarter to half-inch dice. Chop the turkey into bite-sized pieces and clean and coarsely chop some parsley for a garnish.

Melt three tablespoons of butter in a Dutch oven or soup pot over moderate heat. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and sauté the mushrooms for about two minutes. Add the onions and cook them until they begin to soften. Then mix the carrots and celery with the mushrooms and onions and season the mixture with the powdered garlic and white pepper.

Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir continuously for two minutes to cook the flour. Add the broth and stir until you have a smooth liquid. Add the salt and two teaspoons of instant or two cubes of chicken bouillon. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for twenty minutes to cook the vegetables. Stir occasionally.

Drain the rice and stir it into the soup, then stir in a cup of cream and the turkey. Grind a little black pepper on the soup. Bring the soup nearly to a simmer, taste and adjust the seasoning. If necessary, thin it with a little cream.

NOTES: When I first made this soup, my chief taster, proofreader and editor judged it “not as good” as some she had eaten. It needed more salt and turkey, and a more velvety texture. One mistake I made was using half and half rather than cream in my first attempt. Be warned. If diners want to reduce their consumption of butterfat, serve them a small bowl of soup and a large one of salad.

If you serve it like we do, here is what they will see.