Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Salute to those on Thanksgiving Duty: Firefighters, Police, Nurses with a Firehouse Recipe via Cleo Coyle

Here in New York City, we are thankful every day for our first responders. The recent Paris attacks reminded us all, yet again, how lucky we are to have men and women dedicated to keeping us safe.

To the many firefighters, police, paramedics, nurses, and other first responders and healthcare workers who must work on Thanksgiving...

We salute you!

And though you may miss that turkey feast, have no fear. I've got you covered with a fantastic "Fast Truck" Leftover Turkey Casserole, compliments of a working fire captain.

By the way, if you're wondering what it's like
to work 
on Thanksgiving day at a New York
firehouse, below is a little 
6 minute film 
that shows you.

Click the arrow in the window below to spend
Thanksgiving with Brooklyn's Squad 252...

If you don't see a video window embedded,
you can watch this film on YouTube at this link.

* * * *

Now let's get cookin'....

Fast Truck (Firehouse)

Leftover Turkey Casserole

Today's recipe is adapted from a working firefighter, Captain Jim Colston of the San Marcos Firefighters, San Marcos, California.

"When I first started as a firefighter," said Captain Colston, "I still lived at home, like a lot of us firefighters did when we started out, so I could only cook things from a box. This is a real quick meal that we created from leftovers one night when we didn’t have a lot to spend. It’s a fast meal to make, which is nice when you’re busy at the station."

Cleo Coyle has a partner in 
crime-writing—her husband. 
Learn about their books 
by clicking here and here.

The recipe that follows is my adaption of the fire captain's recipe. Why did I have to adapt it? Because the captain's original portions were huge! The funny thing is, he claimed his original recipe would Serve 4. Oh, sure, 4 firefighters maybe. For us mortals, however, the amounts were more like serves 12!

I halved his recipe and got a serving of 6, added a bit more detail, including oven temperatures and time, a tweak on the ingredients for better flavor, and quickie directions on cooking chicken breasts for a fast dinner when you don't have turkey leftovers. 

May you eat with joy and to all those on Thanksgiving duty, we send our sincerest thanks to you. Stay safe out there!

~ Cleo

For a PDF copy of this recipe
you can print, save, 
or share, click here.


4 cups cooked, chopped turkey or chicken (about 2 pounds)
12-ounce box of stuffing (*see my note on using leftover stuffing)
14-ounce can of chicken broth (or 2 cups fresh stock)
1-2 tablespoons butter or margarine
4 slices cooked ham, quartered (or 6 slices of Canadian bacon)
8 ounces pepper jack cheese (deli slices or block cheese, **see my note
   on using other cheeses)

*Note on stuffing: If using leftover or pre-made stuffing, you'll need 6 cups for this recipe and be sure to reduce the amount of broth or stock to 1/3 cup.

**Note on cheese: If you don't care for spicy flavor, substitute any mild cheese that melts easily: e.g., Monterey Jack, Colby-Jack, mozzarella, or a young Provolone or Asiago.

(Optional) Step 1 - You can use leftover turkey or chicken  for this recipe; rotisserie chicken; or roast or grill your chicken breasts fresh. To roast raw chicken breasts, sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning; place them in a greased shallow pan; and cook them for about 45 minutes in an oven preheated to 325 degrees F. Do not overcook or your chicken will be dry. Chop up the cooked chicken and set aside.

Step 2 - Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a shallow 8 x 12-inch glass dish or casserole pan with butter or margarine. In a large bowl, mix together the boxed stuffing ingredients and broth. If you roasted chicken specifically for this dish, I suggest adding the pan drippings to the stuffing bowl for more good flavor. If using leftover or pre-made stuffing, be sure to reduce the amount of broth or stock to 1/3 cup. 

Step 3 - Pour the stuffing into the pan. Using the back of a large spoon, press it into an even layer, and bake until the top is crispy and brown, about 20 minutes.

Step 4 - Spread the cooked turkey or chicken evenly on top of the crisped stuffing. Arrange the ham slices (or Canadian bacon) on top of the meat and return it to the hot oven for 10 minutes. Remove the pan once more and cover it evenly with the cheese slices (or shredded block cheese). Bake for 10 more minutes, until cheese is mostly melted. Finish under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly.

F o o d i e


To download or print 
this recipe as a free 
PDF document, 
click here, and...

Eat with Thanksgiving joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of  
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

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  1. Good Bless firefighters and police !!!! This is a great left over casserole!

    1. I second your blessings, Sue Ann. I also confess that we love this casserole so much we make sure we have enough Turkey Day leftovers to bake one up! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, and may you always eat with joy!

      ~ Cleo
      Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  2. thanks for reminding us to appreciate our first responders Cleo! and thanks for the yummy recipe...

    1. Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks and we thank our first responders. Have a great Thanksgiving, Lucy/Roberta!

      ~ Cleo
      Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  3. Wonderful post! Thank you!

    1. Thank YOU, Patricia. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, may it be downright delicious!

      ~ Cleo
      Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  4. Thanks for sharing! It's great to thank emergency workers for their hard work and sacrifice. This is a perfect recipe for leftovers... or store some leftover turkey in the freezer for another time of year and make this when you're in the mood for Thanksgiving!

    1. Great idea, Amanda. Who doesn't need another Thanksgiving in the middle of winter's gloom? I wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!

      ~ Cleo
      Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  5. Terrific--both the recognition and the food. Certainly is stick to the ribs stuff!

    We had boy scout friends (way back in the Jurassic period) who came up with a cheap, filling camp meal. It included Dinty Moore Beef Stew (canned), canned spaghetti, and some other item that I don't remember. I never ate it, but they swore by it.

    Thanksgiving blessings to you all.

    1. “Stick to the ribs” is spot-on for this casserole. It's firehouse fare to be sure, quick and filling for guys and gals on the job. And a wonderfully fast leftover casserole for families on the go…or those of us who'd simply like a little taste of Thanksgiving with a pepper-jack kick!

      A fun recipe to improvise, too…
      with the stuffing as crust
      and the cheese up to you!
      (How’s that for a Dr. Seuss rhyme scheme?!)

      Cheers for stopping by today, Libby, it's always a pleasure to see you in the Kitchen. A very Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

      ~ Cleo
      Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  6. Thanks for sharing that video. :) And I am joining you in saluting those boys! (And ladies.) That dish looks good, and although I don't usually keep any of the leftovers, I think I might this year! ;)