Thanks for the Recipes

Here’s the truth. Despite all the recipes in the back of my cozy mysteries – 51 so far, believe it or not, and no, I don’t believe it – I’m not really a cook. I enjoy baking but rarely get to do it. And I’ve found the adage that those who like to bake aren’t fond of cooking and vice versa, to be true.

That being said, I have come up with a few recipes I’m truly proud of. So today, in honor of the holiday about to be upon us, I share one of them with you.

The inspiration for this recipe comes from a Pampered Chef party I hosted two decades ago. For hosting, I was gifted with a few great kitchen gadgets, plus a recipe booklet that included sort of a strudel-y one made of crescent roll dough and stuffed with apples, raisins, etc. The following Thanksgiving, I was staring into a refrigerator of leftovers when a lightbulb went off for me. Why not sub out the apples and raisins for turkey day leftovers? Thus “Turkey Dinner in a Braid” was born. (Note: if you subscribe to my newsletter, you’re probably sick of this recipe. Sorry!)

It’s remarkably easy to make and people get a real kick out of it. The only tricky part is making sure the dough underneath the filling cooks without burning the dough on top. But my feeling is, if the bottom dough isn’t cooked enough, just toss it out. (Which is why you can tell I’m not a real chef like the Chick’s own Leslie Karst, who would potchke with the recipe until she figured out to get both the top and the bottom crust to cook perfectly.)

Anyhoo, here’s the recipe. Happy Thanksgiving! (Oh, and for the dinner we’re invited to on Thanksgiving day, I’m making pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, and pecan cobbler. Told you I like to bake.)



2 crescent roll packages

2 cups turkey chopped

1 cup chopped broccoli, peas, or string beans

1 cup diced potatoes or mashed potatoes (optional)

1 cup stuffing

2 teaspoons gravy

½ cup cranberry sauce

½ cup mayonnaise

1 egg white, slightly beaten

2 tablespoons French-fried onions (the kind you use in a green bean casserole)


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Mix the turkey, gravy, mayonnaise and cranberry sauce together in a medium bowl.

Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper, leaving a few inches of overhand on each side.

Open and unroll the crescent roll doughs one at a time. Arrange the first horizontally across the width of the pan toward the top, then lay the second one below it, and seal them both together either with a rolling pin or clean fingers.

Cut the long sides of the dough into strips about 3” deep and 1 ½” wide. Important: you want to leave around 6” in the center for the filling, so adjust the strips accordingly.

Spoon the turkey mixture evenly over the middle section of dough. Layer on top of the turkey: the stuffing, potatoes (if you choose to use them), and your green vegetable.

To braid the dough, lift the first two strips across from each other so that they meet in the center, twist each strip once, and then lay them both down on the filling. (You may have to pull or pinch the dough a bit to stretch it.) Continue to do this until you’ve twisted all the strips. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect. Tuck the ends of the braid up to seal it on both ends. Brush the braid with the egg white, and sprinkle with the French-fried onions.

Bake 20-30 minutes, until a deep golden brown.

You can either serve it on the cookie tray, or lift up both sides of the parchment paper to gently move the braid onto a serving dish.

Readers, do you have holiday recipe you’re proud of? Share it with us!

37 thoughts on “Thanks for the Recipes

  1. ELLEN: That turkey braid looks amazing!
    Funny enough, the holiday recipe I am most proud of has a shape similar to yours, but a very different taste.

    I make an almond stollen to give out as Christmas gifts.
    The main ingredient in the stollen is almond flour and marizan paste instead of regular flour. Lots of currants and dried candied fruit, too, and some rum.
    And Libby Klein gave me a GF-stollen recipe last year that is also pretty tasry.
    I know several people who hate eating the traditional fruitcake, but will eat my stollen.

    I used to give out made-to-order boozy chocolate truffles but that is a multi-day labour-intensive recipe that I no longer have the time (or patience to make)!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. BECKY: Yay for another stollen and fruitcase lover.
        Fruitcake is a very divisive holiday treat though…you either love it or hate it!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. ELLEN: I really like almond-based desserts, so the almond stollen is a fave staple. And it is so easy to make. The tiny store-bought stollen cost $12-15 and mine are twice as large and freshly made, lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Last Christmas, I made my mother’s sweet potatoes for the first time in a long time. My wife had never seen it before. This Thanksgiving, I’m under orders to make it again. Here’ ’tis.

    Boil sweet potatoes or yams in their jackets. Cool, peel and slice about an inch thick. Butter a baking dish, and lay out slices in rows. Put a large pat of butter on each slice, followed by a well-packed tablespoon of dark brown sugar. Pour real maple syrup over all. Put the dish in a 350 oven until the sugar is melted and all is hot and bubbly.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Ellen, it’s true that I’ve drooled over this recipe a few times before–but I never stop thinking, I’m gonna make this someday!! Going to my daughter’s for Thanksgiving this year. She is Julia Child, and I am Peg Bracken. BUT I am making Martha Stewart’s cranberries–so ez– and we’ll make our traditional (my grandma) creamed onion dish. It has toasted cheese and those Durkee French Fried onions on top (the best part). Easiest thing in the world, except for peeling pearl onions. We hate that task every Thanksgiving morning (parade on in background). But she just texted me that Fresh Direct will deliver fresh, pre-peeled mini onions to her doorstep. Yee-HA!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Like you, Ellen, I’m not a big fan of kitchen work. And that’s exactly how I think of it … and I published a cookbook! So we are simpatico in that way. The difference is, I don’t really like to bake either. I do it when I must, however. A couple years back, scrolling facebook, I saw a really pretty puff pastry wreath, so I tried that. I spread the ring with peach preserves, added pecans and slices of brie. Folded the triangle points over from the center. And after a few tries, it actually worked! (Even the ugly ones were delicious.) People appropriately oohed and aahed over it, so I never have to do that again!

    I think your braid is a genius way to spruce up leftovers! Nicely done!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Excellent recipe, El! I enjoy cooking *and* baking. For cooking, I can toss together ingredients, but baking requires me to follow a recipe step by step.

    As for Thanksgiving, I’m hosting but doing a shortcut this year and getting most of it via pickup from a local restaurant.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Love this, Ellen! This recipe would be a fancy treat the day after Thanksgiving — much better than turkey sandwiches! and your desserts menu for Thanksgiving sounds yummy, and ambitious!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Okay, since you asked here’s my solution to the raw-on-the-bottom-burnt-on-top problem. Preheat the baking pan at 425 degrees F, then lay the stollen on it and bake at that temp for 10 minutes (which should nicely cook the bottom), then turn down the temp to 325 degrees and continue cooking till brown on top.

    And yes, this does look heavenly! But it assumes there will be any potatoes and gravy left over after Thanksgiving, lol.

    Liked by 3 people

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