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Posted Sunday, November 27, 2011, at 1:09 PM

Leftovers are one of the best parts of Thanksgiving.

Is there anything better than the turkey sandwich made from leftover turkey breast, lots of mayo, and a Velveeta-like cheese?

In Thanksgiving terms, this was an unusual year. I like to gather up the widows and orphans. My beloved wants to have a special time for family.

This year, because my youngest son had to work on Thanksgiving Day, we celebrated twice and for the first time, did both. That means lots of leftovers!

I am the family cook. (You'd never know to look at me).

My family roots come from strong food traditions. My mother's family is from New Orleans. My father's family is half immigrant Italian. Together, we are all full-blooded American.

A TV chef I used to watch was known to say, "More butter is better." On Thanksgiving, I use enough butter to give a cardiologist a heart attack. I use it liberally in the dressing, gravy, homemade noodles, rolls, potatoes, sweet potatoes, dirty rice, corn, green beans, and any other thing I can stick it into.

For my Thanksgiving, we served traditional oven roast turkey, brined for 12 hours, injected with slightly sweetened butter, stuffed with fruits and herbs to keep it moist during roasting. The stuffing is only to enhance the bird during cooking and is not eaten.

For the family Thanksgiving, celebrated on Saturday, my beloved invited the in-laws, the outlaws and everyone in between. It was a large crowd. Therefore, the twin centerpieces of this feast were smoked turkey and glazed ham.

I soak my turkey in a brown sugar and salt brine for 24-48 hours. I include oranges, lemons and fresh herbs to the brine. Then, the bird is slowly injected with melted butter and seasoning. The cavities are stuffed with chopped onion, apple, orange and fresh herbs. Then, the bird is placed on the smoker for 12-plus hours. I smoke over apple and plumb wood. Sometimes, I add maple or hickory bark.

The ham was marinated in brown sugar, real maple syrup, and locally gathered honey for two weeks before it was baked. A cherry orange glaze was applied during baking and on the serving plate. Can anyone say yum?

In tribute to the old South, we have my version of "dirty rice," and cornbread dressing. With a nod to Italy, it is imperative that artichokes be on the menu and that there is a variety of olives to nibble on. Both sides look for the shrimp cocktail and crab dip.

How sad that Yvette and I are forced to nibble on shrimp during the long weekend to keep it from going bad. Too bad the olives really can't be saved and have to eaten over the next several days.

Now there is a leftover ham bone with chunks of clinging meat. I want to boil it for split pea soup. My beloved favors potato soup. I may be outvoted. Any turkey that survives the sandwich-making process is bound for a pot of homemade noodles and my version of a slightly spicy savory turkey salad.

I have heard that one of the biggest days for delivery pizza is the day after Thanksgiving. I guess that makes sense if you have had your fill of turkey and fixings. But how many times per year do you get to eat dressing covered in gravy? Two or three times per year are not enough in my humble opinion.

I look forward to the leftovers.

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