Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Quick Meals Made from Leftovers

 I like a great meal that is fast, tastes great and is good for you. The key word is 'fast.'  It's also important that I stretch my grocery budget as far as possible, so leftovers need to be used. Even though I like eating leftovers, sometimes I just don't want the exact same meal. Here are a few of my favorites that seem to appear often during our summer meals.

Chicken is a staple in our house and it makes a great Grilled Chicken Pizza. Take any leftover chicken such as grilled, rotisserie or barbecued and shred or cut into small pieces. Toss in a pan with some carmelized red onion and add your favorite barbecue sauce. Heat through to let the flavors blend. Adding some green bell peppers while carmelizing the onions will add a lovely color. Next, throw it on top of a premade pizza crust and add some mozzarella. Heat according to package directions and add some fresh fruit or a crunchy salad.

We tend to eat rice on a frequent basis so there's always a bowl of it sitting in the refrigerator. Toss in a pan with a tiny bit of olive oil. Add some leftover vegetables or any vegetable that will cook quickly (yellow squash, zucchini). Add some scallions, a little soy sauce and you have the base of a simple vegetable fried rice. For an extra boost you can toss in an egg that gets scrambled in the rice as well as some thinly sliced left over pork chops, chicken or even shrimp. Clean up will be a snap and it will taste amazing. It's a one-bowl wonder.

Sometimes, Upside Down Day just works best and we eat breakfast for supper. Take those leftover vegetables and make an omelette. It will be tasty, colorful and good for you.

Another easy use for vegetables is to make a nice broth to freeze for future use. Simply collect up every leftover vegetable you have. The bigger variety, the better the broth. You can also use peelings also. It can't be any easier. Just throw it all into a huge pot and cover with water. Add all your favorite spices and cook. It will reduce and the liquid will get a rich, intense color. When it tastes just right, you're done. Drain and cool. Freeze in two-cup portions and don't forget to label. This is perfect for soups, stews, potatoes, rice or any place you would typically use water in a recipe.

Every now and then we will have a meatloaf and nobody in our house will eat a meatloaf sandwich. We crumble it and add to spaghetti sauce. We also crumble it up, add some salsa and Mexican spices and now it's taco and burrito filling.

Leftovers do not have to be boring and tedious. They can be your salvation after a long day and you just don't feel like cooking from scratch. Bon Apetit!

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