Friday, July 1, 2011

From the Kitchen: Creative Leftovers

I love saving time and money. I do not love eating the exact same thing over and over again.  The trick to eating leftovers--and liking it-- it to use them in a way that is very different from the original dish. Recently, I've come across all kinds of things in the fridge and here is how my family 'recycled' them.

MEATLOAF-- I admit it, I don't enjoy meatloaf sandwiches. However, when cubed or crumbled, it makes a great addition to pasta sauce. The kids didn't even realize it was the same meatloaf they cringed at two days earlier. Love it!

RICE: I chopped up some onion and leftover cooked carrots into some olive oil with a tiny bit of butter. Once the onions were done to my liking, I added some leftover rice and a very small amount of low sodioum soy sauce. Once that was ready, I pushed it to the side of the pan and scrambled some eggs in the empty space then mixed it all together. I also used half of a pork chop sliced into small pieces. Pork fried rice in about 10 minutes. Wonderfully simple and the kids gobbled it up.

STRAY VEGGIES:  This is the easiest and cheapest thing ever. Take every stray vegetable you find and  turn it into broth. I did this today and it was crazy simple. During this past week, I froze remaining vegetables  for this very purpose. This included broccoli, green beans, and corn. I tossed this in the pot with as many other vegetables as I could find: three potatoes, three tomatoes, half a bell pepper, one onion, a sweet potato, fresh corn cut off the cob as well as all the juice scraped off the cob with the back of the knife. It wasn't very elegant. Just chopped up and tossed in the pot, skins and all. Next,  I added some multi purpose spice, garlic powder and a little fresh rosemary. I covered with water and cooked it for about 2 hours. You are trying to leech out every flavor and vitamin possible so the broth will be very dark and rich looking. Taste it and add whatever you like. Cool and strain through a collander as many times as needed until you're left with a wonderful broth that you can freeze in appropriate sized portions. Use for soups, stews or any recipe that requires water.

YOGURT: If this is getting close to the expiration date, blend with fresh fruit, a little honey and ice for a smoothie. Or layer with granola for a parfait.

EGGS: If you're not craving something scrambled, try supper omelets filled with leftover veggies with a bit of cheese or some salsa.

STEAK:  Slice thinly and cook with cubed potatoes, onions and peppers for a skillet dish that's restaurant-worthy. This also works with any kind of sausage, pork or chicken.

I thought I was saving money by having leftovers. Unfortunately, I was throwing away money because they weren't being eaten. I had to find away to make them more palatable. It isn't too hard to get creative with your leftovers. Just use what you have and do what you know. For me it's almost a game. I just tell myself, 'You've got such and such. Now how quickly and you do something with that so that no one recognizes it from last Tuesday.' It will only take you a few minutes to pull together something creative, different and tasty. You will get the satisfaction of having a great meal for a fraction of the restaurant cost and without the wait.

Bon Apetite!

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