Monday, October 13, 2008

Leftovers

My 13 year old son once said that leftovers are left over for a reason. Hardy-har-har ... He is such a funny kid. There are some leftovers that never seem to have a problem disappearing. Cold pizza moves real fast as does leftover stuffing. It is the other leftovers like bits of meat or vegetables that are not as good at the disappearing act.

I have heard different ideas for giving leftovers a makeover. One is freezer soup. I tried that once. I put all bits of meat, sauce, gravy and vegetables in a washed-out ice cream bucket in the freezer. Then when it was full I made what I called Leftover Soup. It is a good idea, but a flop with my family. What do you do with leftover leftover soup?

I pureed it and made baby food out of it actually. My youngest loved it. That leftover makeover works better in our house. Remaining fruits, vegetables and meats become baby food either individually or combined.

Another way to use up leftovers is create a new dish. Bits of meat and/or vegetables also are good when used in fried rice. Fried Rice is a good leftover-user-upper meal. I have used up leftover scrambled eggs, crushed pineapple, peas & carrots, onions, ham among other things. It is a quick and easy dish not mention low cost.

I also use soups but not saving over time like the above freezer method. Baked potatoes become Baked Potato soup which is loaded with all the extra toppings of bacon, cheese and sour cream. Did you know that pureed cooked cauliflower resembles mashed potatoes and substiutes or adds nicely to potato soups? Leftover broccoli becomes a Broccoli and Cheddar Soup. Rice, chicken and cooked carrots become Chicken & Rice Soup. Sloppy Joes and some extra beans can mix with more vegetables to become a Beef and Vegetable Soup.

Another use for leftover mashed potatoes, green beans and/or sloppy joes is Shepherd's Pie. Leftover taco meat and refried beans can be combined with other ingredients (i.e. tomato sauce, kidney beans) to make a thick chili for chili dogs or Frito Pie. Leftover grilled steak or chicken is good in salads, fajitas or alfredo. Leftover roast is shredded to become barbeque sandwiches or toppings for chalupas or in burritos. Leftover spaghetti sauce can become pizza, goulash or part of a chili.

Breads work well too using up leftovers. I have made potato bread with leftover mashed potatoes. What about that half can of pumpkin left? Add it to muffins or pancakes with a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves. I have pureed fruits creeping past their prime to add to waffles or muffins.

Using up leftovers creatively keeps down the mutiny over the same thing for three days but the food bill as well. The biggest problem I have now with leftovers is when I want there to be leftovers (like for my lunch) there aren't. I am still working on how to overcome that problem.

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