Every Thanksgiving, we end up with a fridge full of leftovers. Despite seating a maximum of six people around our table, we still cook enough to feed a small army because we follow the same family recipes handed down from my regular and great-grandparents, who had between six and twelve children in their households.
Although we usually talk about cutting down on side dishes, or at least halving a recipe or two, those good intentions always fly out the window on Turkey Day. The only thing we’ve ever downsized is the bird!
I know, we’re kind of crazy… But nobody really likes dark meat in our family, and when given the choice between turkey or chicken or ham, that first option is generally everyone’s least favorite. So now we only cook a turkey breast, and next year, we may just do ham!
This year, to channel my inner boy scout and always be prepared, I started brainstorming ways to creatively repurpose leftovers this past weekend instead of resulting to reheating the same Thanksgiving feast over and over again in the microwave. While tweaking my all-time favorite side dish, maple sweet potato casserole, a light bulb went off.
If I saved the skins… And added some greens… And topped that with a little cheese… I could create sweet potato skins! Specifically, these Chicken & Cranberry Sweet Potato Skins. Because we prefer chicken over turkey, of course!
When you start to make your sweet potato casserole—or even mashed potatoes, if you aren’t a fan of the orange variety—skip peeling the skins before cooking them. Bake the potatoes and hollow out the insides for your traditional Thanksgiving dish instead. Stash the cooled skins in a zip-topped bag in the fridge, and just pull them out whenever you’re ready to jazz up your leftovers!
To make the skins crispy, we’ll bake those again first while preparing the filling. I lightly coated mine with cooking spray, then sprinkled them with a generous shower of salt. That crisp skin combined with the bite of salt… Oh boy, it’s nearly as addictive as these cookies!
If you’re creating yours with Thanksgiving leftovers, I recommend diced turkey and cranberry salad (the kind made with fresh berries, not straight out of a can) to make these even easier. But if you’re preparing them on a random Monday night like I just did, you can either cook the chicken that evening or use whatever you prepared earlier in the week.
Then just wilt a little fresh spinach in a pan, add in your cranberry salad (or freshly chopped cranberries), and sauté them until they’re warmed through. This helps make sure that the filling is hot by the time the cheese melts.
And oh boy, do not forget that cheese! That ooey gooey melted stuff on top is the best part. I can’t be the only cheese lover out there! Who’s with me??
You guys… SO many awesome flavors going on here! The tangy cranberries, the earthy spinach, the sweet potatoes, the salty cheese… It’s basically your stomach’s idea of heaven! Or, at the very least, a much more exciting way to enjoy leftovers.
And yes, you better believe these Chicken & Cranberry Sweet Potato Skins are making an appearance on the menu on Black Friday!