I couldn’t help reminiscing about Thanksgivings past  – the people, the places, the varying menus – all of which I treasure the memories. As a child, my matriarchal grandmother would insist the entire family convene in Des Moines. These were formal celebrations we dressed up for, sang, played piano, shared the latest events in our lives, and, of course, had the odd squabble synonymous with large family gatherings.

With my cousins and baby sister for Thanksgiving as a child

Then there were the celebrations on the road, and with friends in London. One of my favorites that I sadly do not have photos of, was when Grace Jones’ mother made a Jamaican Thanksgiving feast in Belgravia while Grace was there filming A View to a Kill. I remember vividly how my taste buds jumped to life with

Thanksgiving on the road

each bite as Nick and I thoroughly enjoyed the company of Grace, her mother and brother, Dolph Lundgren (her then boyfriend), Antony Price, and Manolo Blahnik – such a divine evening! Another year I got to experience Thanksgiving with a Puerto Rican twist when my friend Lisa B’s mother made drool worthy homemade empanadas, and more recently a soulful Thanksgiving in Las Vegas with my friend Nile Rodgers’ family – all so excitingly different (and tasty) to the traditional dishes I’d grown up with.

Thanksgiving with my parents and friends in my London home 1993

Then, of course, there were the Thanksgiving celebrations I myself threw in both London and Paris, and for clients when I opened The Roving Stove here in Los Angeles. So many wonderful memories, and delicious food each year. The floodgates of my past have happily opened into my present as I realize how lucky I am to have almost all of those people still in my life, thanks mostly to Facebook for hooking us all back up across the globe.

Thanksgiving in London 1995

Enough of looking back – I’ll bet many of you have a ton of Thanksgiving leftovers you would like to know how to heat to eat? It is always important to know safe food guidelines, but also the Personal Chef Approach secrets to storing and heating your food, so it tastes as fresh as when you first made it.

Thanksgiving with Jeanette Caliva then, and now

1). As soon as people have finished feasting on the day – you need to cool the food completely to room temperature (quickly and safely) then package in airtight containers with a layer of plastic wrap over the top of the food to protect from freezer burn if you choose to freeze some of your goodies. Yes, you can freeze that sliced turkey in baggies or containers to defrost and eat in sandwiches for the next couple months if you like!

2). The microwave is your PCA friend. They are inexpensive to purchase, and the fastest at heating food back up. Microwaves got a bad rap back in the 70’s and 80’s, but they are perfectly safe today and the only way to heat to eat a cooked piece of poultry, meat, or seafood without cooking it further. Be sure you are using microwave safe containers (metal will cause sparks to fly, and you probably don’t want to risk your great grandmother’s fine China).

Turkey Dinner Heat to Eat Instructions

Turkey: All microwaves heat slightly differently due to varying wattage’s and amounts of food you heat at once, so these are general guidelines. Heat your turkey on 50% power for 3-5 minutes, turning the slices midway to distribute the heat evenly. Heat in one-minute increments if additional heating is required. If you’re still microwave shy, preheat a 325° F. oven. Wrap the turkey in foil, and place on a sheet pan for support, then heat in the preheated oven until the turkey reaches 165° F, but not longer or it will dry out.

Stuffing: Heat in the microwave on full power for 2-3 minutes, stirring midway to distribute heat evenly. Heat in 1 minutes increments after that if more is required; or heat in a casserole dish next to the turkey in the 325° F. preheated the oven.

Gravy: is probably best heated in a saucepan over medium-low heat until hot, and beginning to boil, about 10-15 minutes; or you can vent the lid of a microwave proof container and heat for 3-5 minutes on full power, stirring midway to distribute heat evenly.

Alternatively, here are a few turkey recycling ideas I like to do this time of year (members can find these recipes in the library).

Turkey Replay Pot Pie

Turkey Replay Florentine Casserole

Click here to see more about How the PCA Works, and on What’s In It For You? to see why you need a Personal Chef Approach Membership.

Curried Turkey Replay Salad on Cantaloupe

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes


Curried Turkey Replay Salad

  • 1 cup mayonnaise store bought or homemade
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne optional
  • 1 pound cooked turkey cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • 1 large honeycrisp apple cored and chopped
  • 1/4 cup dates chopped
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup pecans toasted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro or flat leaf parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 medium cantaloupe melons sliced in half, and seeds removed


Curried Turkey Replay Salad

  1. In a large bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, preserves, curry, and cayenne.
  2. Stir in the turkey, celery, dates, raisins, pecans, and cilantro. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Serving Suggestions

Serve turkey salad in the chilled cantaloupe halves.

Heat To Eat

Serve the turkey salad cold; or remove from refrigerator 30-40 minutes before serving to bring to room temperature.


I also make this salad with either roast chicken from the store, or my chicken tikka.


Salads like this are very forgiving - if you don't like or have an ingredient, don't worry - just omit it. Likewise if you have something to use up you think will pair nicely with the flavors, add it.

PS: So tell me in the comment section below, what are some of your favorite turkey replays?

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  • November 24, 2012
    7:40 pm

    Love the leftover ideas! Personally, I don’t think I could ever have too much turkey left over from a meal. I often buy pieces during the year so I can roast them up for one meal, but more importantly, use them in other ways. Now, I have a few new ideas to add to my stash! Thank you for sharing these wonderful new spins on turkey!

    • November 25, 2012
      9:03 am

      I have to do other things like I mentioned in the post, and freeze in individual portions to pull out periodically. For some reason turkey tastes great to me with one or two meals, but then I need a break from it for a bit. Couple others to consider are a turkey vegetable soup, or a turkey chili. I do like keeping some sliced for sandwiches too.

  • November 25, 2012
    8:58 am

    That recipe sounds divine! I’m already drooling just reading it!

    • November 25, 2012
      9:04 am

      It’s great made with chicken too Pamela, handy recipe to have on hand and whip up last minute when unexpected guests come over.