Tag Archives: leftover

Lover of Leftovers

1 Aug

Time. There are 24 hours in every day, but sometimes it feels like less.  So when I cook, I have to make it count for more than one meal.  Cooking big is a time saver. If I have a little wiggle room during the weekend to cook, I try to fill the fridge for the upcoming week. But even quick week night meals can provide leftovers for another meal.

Okay, it’s no secret that I love leftovers.  You can enjoy them for a second meal as is, but they can also be used as inspiration for a new dish.  I use my leftovers both ways.  If I cook a couple of extra pieces of chicken, that goes to work with me for a quick lunch at the office.  Using that chicken as inspiration for another meal might mean a nice chicken casserole or chicken salad sandwich.  Need some ideas?  Let me outline my leftovers from the past few days.

Night #1.  Leftover: Quinoa.  Used the next morning as an addition to breakfast oatmeal to power it up. Quinoa is a plant based protein loaded with beneficial amino acids. It was a satisfying protein and grain breakfast following an early morning workout at the gym.

Leftover quinoa added a nice nutritionally punch to morning oatmeal.

Leftover quinoa added plant protein to morning oatmeal.

Night #2.  Leftover:  Goat cheese.  It was leftover from a beet salad.  The next day goat cheese was a wonderful addition to a “gourmet” sandwich, adding delicious creamy flavor to a weekday brown bag lunch.

Leftover goat cheese not used for this salad added flavor to a sandwich.

Leftover goat cheese not used for this salad added flavor to a sandwich.

Night #3.  Leftover:  Home made vinaigrette.  I used this to drizzle over veggies going into the oven to roast.  Homemade vinaigrette is super flexible and great to have around. It is a delicious way to add a wonderful layer of flavor to most anything.

Leftover vinaigrette.  This isn't just salad dressing.  It has a zillion uses.

Leftover vinaigrette. This isn’t just salad dressing. It has a zillion uses.

Night #4.  Leftover: Roasted veggies.  These leftover roasted veggies made the most amazing salad. I also threw in some of that leftover quinoa so it was a complete meal.

Roasted veggies made an awesome sandwich, panini style!

Roasted veggies made an awesome salad! The added quinoa was the perfect protein for this dish.

Night #5.  Leftover:  Pesto, with a bonus of shredded chicken. (Nonleftover: frozen cauliflower). This made a quick pasta dinner.  Dinner was ready in the time it took for a pot of water to boil and pasta to cook.  The cauliflower cooked up quick in the microwave. It was tossed together with the chicken and pesto for a quick and easy one dish dinner for a busy night.

By now I am sure you get the picture.  Be creative.  When cooking, cook a larger portion than you need.  Toss leftovers in both the fridge and the freezer.  And start embracing the ease of the next meal using leftovers.  Let me know what ends up on your dinner table!

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Bland Beige

22 Mar

I love to cook.  But its hard to hit it out of the ballpark every time you go to bat.  I’ve had some famous flops.  A fallen cake.  A kale fail.  A burnt grilled chicken.  Even with my resources, a well stocked pantry, and a fridge and freezer with great leftovers, I blow it.  The other night was once such miss.

I think about a lot of things when composing a meal.  When meal planning, I consider nutrition content, leftover potential, budget, who will be at the table, and what the meal will look like on the plate. No one wants to eat something looking like dog mush, even if the flavor is fantastic.  But I had come home from work late and in a rush to get a good meal on the table.  Into the oven went some lightly seasoned chicken to bake.  It would be ready in about half hour.  Out came some leftovers to round out the meal.

Being busy and distracted, I didn’t go through my typical due diligence getting a meal onto the table.  What leftovers did I pull out to accompany the chicken?  Mashed potatoes, creamy mushroom sauce (perfect to jazz up the baked chicken) and roasted cauliflower.  Sounds good, right?  But put it on a plate, a beige plate at that, and its flat.  No panache or pizzaz.

I will show it to you, but promise not to laugh.  Like I said, everyone misses now and again.  What have your misses been?

My beige dinner.  Delicious but blah.  Especially on a beige dinner plate.

My beige dinner. Delicious but blah. Especially on a beige dinner plate.

 

Roasted Veggies-3 ways

7 Dec

The other day I had two things:  a lot of good fresh fall vegetables and a little extra time.  So I went to my happy place…the kitchen.  I decided to roast the vegetables.  I started peeling, chopping and layering.  This was going to be a big honking batch of veggies!  Mushrooms, bell peppers, butternut squash, onions, celery…Yum!

A big batch it was.  After they were chopped, I dusted the vegetables with salt, pepper, basil, and parsley then sprinkled olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar on them as well.  After a good healthy stir, I poured them onto a lined baking dish and placed them in a preheated 400 degree oven.  Almost immediately, warm succulent aromas began to fill the house.  My mouth began to water with those decadent scents wafting though the air.

I checked the vegetables after 15 minutes in the oven and couldn’t resist sneaking a taste. Ooh!  What a delicious bite!  Back into the oven for a few minutes, and then they were ready.  We enjoyed the roasted  veggies with lovely grilled salmon.

Did I mention that it was a big ol’ batch of fall veggies?  And that I love leftovers?  Did we ever have leftovers!  But that’s okay.  They were fantastic to have around.  And like spaghetti, the vegetables were more flavorful as leftovers.

Leftovers day one: Roasted veggies made an amazing addition to an omelet the next morning.

Leftovers day two:  I cooked quinoa to mix into the vegetables.  That created  a powerhouse side dish of veggies and quinoa.

Leftovers day three: Roasted veggies piled on a turkey sandwich.  Who needs mayo??

And that is what you do with leftovers my friends.  I used a little extra time to cook big, and had nutritious  leftovers to launch other dishes.

Next…

25 Aug

I am a single mother that is short on time.  When I cook, I have to make it count for more than one meal.  Time is my most precious commodity at the moment, so cooking bigger sure helps in a time crunch.  If I have a little wiggle room during the weekend to cook, I try to fill the fridge for the upcoming week.

Okay, it’s no secret that I love leftovers.  They can be easy to eat as is for a second meal, or used as inspiration for a new dish.  I use my leftovers both ways.  If I cook a couple of extra pieces of chicken, that goes either in school lunches or to work with me for a second meal.  Using that chicken as inspiration for another meal might mean a nice chicken casserole or chicken salad sandwich.  Need some ideas?  Let me outline my leftovers from the past few days.

Night #1.  Leftover: Quinoa.  Used the next morning as an addition to breakfast oatmeal.  Quinoa powered up morning oatmeal following an 8 mile bike ride.  It was a solid “recovery” breakfast.

Leftover quinoa added a nice nutritionally punch to morning oatmeal.

Leftover quinoa added a nice nutritionally punch to morning oatmeal.

Night #2.  Leftover:  Goat cheese.  It was leftover from a beet salad.  My high schooler used it to spread on his “gourmet” sandwich, adding delicious creamy flavor to a weekday lunch.

Leftover goat cheese not used for this salad added flavor to a sandwich.

Leftover goat cheese not used for this salad added flavor to a sandwich.

Night #3.  Leftover:  Home made vinaigrette.  I used this drizzled over roasted veggies going into the oven.  Homemade vinaigrette is super easy to customize ingredients and flavors to make even picky eaters happy.

Leftover vinaigrette.  This isn't just salad dressing.  It has a zillion uses.

Leftover vinaigrette. This isn’t just salad dressing. It has a zillion uses.

Night #4.  Leftover: Roasted veggies.  These leftover roasted veggies made the most amazing sandwich to take to work.  I wish I also had some of that leftover goat cheese too, but it was quite tasty as is.

Roasted veggies made an awesome sandwich, panini style!

Roasted veggies made an awesome sandwich, panini style!

Night #5.  Leftover:  Pesto, shredded chicken. (Nonleftover freezer item: frozen cauliflower). I actually pulled this from the freezer to make a quick pasta dinner.  Dinner was ready in the time it took for a pot of water to boil and pasta to cook.  The cauliflower was microwaved.  Everything was tossed together for a quick and easy one dish dinner for a busy night.

By now I am sure you get the picture.  Be creative.  When cooking, cook a larger portion than you need.  Toss leftovers in both the fridge and the freezer.  And start embracing the ease of the next meal using leftovers.  Let me know what you make with your leftovers!

Quinoa and Roasted Vegetables Part Deux

4 Oct

Oops, I did it again!  Ugh!  I don’t mean to pat myself on the back in such an obvious way.  I am having a rare moment of confidence sprinkled with a dash of sassiness!  Anywhoooo, you know I love having leftovers around.  I made quinoa and roasted veggies the other night.  I also have some fabulous leftover grilled tuna medallions from last night.  Denis and I are heading out to the JV high school football game tonight, so no time to make dinner.  No worries.  I quickly packed up a cooler to take to the game.

Here is what I made to take to the game.  I sliced up the tuna, grabbed the leftover quinoa and veggies out of the fridge, along with some tortillas.  I laid a tortilla out and slathered the quinoa and veggies on it.  Next, I piled on some leftover tuna.  The great finish was some wasabi sauce.  Hey, what can I say?  I like a good kick of heat!  Then I rolled the tortilla up and sliced it in two.

I wrapped the tortillas in parchment paper.  Wrapping them this way makes them easy to eat on the run.  Into  the cooler they went, along with an apple, an apple cutter, some bottled water, and a few cookies.  After that kick of heat a bite of something sweet is perfect, so a few cookies were a must!

Out the door we went to cheer Quinn and his JV football team on!  We were able to munch on outrageously healthy food that was ready in a quick minute.  Sure beat the bleacher pizza and nachos that others were munching on.  Have a peek at my prerolled tortilla!  Yum!  What can you do with your leftovers?

Roasted veggie and quinoa, sliced grilled tuna, and some wasabi! Rolled up, this made a perfect wrap to transport and eat on the run!

Roasted veggies and quinoa, sliced grilled tuna, and some wasabi! Rolled up, this made a perfect wrap to transport and eat on the run!

Raiding the fridge

29 Aug

Two of my children have left for college in the past week.  For years my house has been the place where my kids and their friends often gathered.  With all the hubbub around my house, it has been normal for me to keep the kitchen loaded with lots of food.  And I cook big, because I just didn’t know how many kids would end up around my dinner table.  Hear that noise?  Sound like brakes?  Yup.  Last week that came to a screeching halt.

My kids left for college, and so did their friends.  I am left with one little chickadee in my nest (if you can call a big honkin high school football player little…). Food consumption in my home suddenly has changed.  The result is a fridge is loaded with leftovers.  I am still getting used to my much smaller family unit (albeit temporary) and haven’t made the mental adjustment to downsize my cooking.

So dinner tonight (and probably tomorrow night too!) consisted of leftovers.  And wow wow wow!  It was good!  I raided the fridge for dinner.  This is what I piled up:

  • 3 kinds of greens (lettuces)
  • leftover chicken-I cut it into cubes
  • leftover sliced bell peppers
  • goat cheese (but any kind will do)
  • cashews

Then I made home made vinaigrette.  Here is my winning recipe:

  • 1 cup good quality olive oil
  • 1/2-3/4 cup vinegar-I like apple cider vinegar for this one
  • 2 T. honey
  • 3-4 T. Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

I whisked this together and poured it over the salad.  My 15 year old son and I noshed on this and it was delish!  It was so easy to create meals from leftovers, and quick.  Our meal was healthy!  In included animal protein in the chicken, a good source of calcium and plant protein in the cashews, fiber in the greens, vitamin C in the peppers, and was packed with vitamins and minerals.  The flavor was fantastic, and cleanup was minimal.

That’s it. Simple dimple.  Leftovers can deliver a fast meal loaded with flavor.  Try it!  Look in the fridge and freezer.  Get creative!  Use that leftover pasta sauce to add to cooked vegetables.  Use that leftover steak or chicken for a salad.  I have even used pimento cheese, which I may from scratch as a crowd pleasing appetizer, to make grilled cheese sandwiches.  Fabulous when paired with tomato soup!  Dig into those leftovers and dine with ease!