Friday, December 3, 2010

Reincarnated Leftovers

I don't know about your household but we always seem to have leftovers from meals.  I hate to throw away food, yet my family doesn't want to eat the same thing 2 days in a row.  And often, there isn't enough left from the original meal to feed our entire family again.  

So with that thought in mind, I thought I would list some ways that I use leftovers to make new meals and also a few simple recipes (okay, not really recipes because I don't use them much anymore, rather instructions)

The Holy Trinity

Three things save me repeatedly at meal times -  They are as follows.....

1) Gravy - Gravy can be used to make anything seem more special.  It can also be used to change flavors a bit in the original ingredients.  It is often used in our house as a medium to mix all the leftover ingredients along with a new ingredient. 

For example, we will have

  • On Monday - a pot roast  with potatoes and carrots.
  • On Tuesday - 
1st - Take the small leftover amount of roast and cut it into cubes, along with any remaining potatoes and carrots and set aside.
2nd - Dice an onion and saute in small amount of  butter, oil or bacon grease (maybe a tablespoon or two) until it is a little translucent. 
3rd - Pour enough all purpose flour into the sauteed onions to absorb the oil   (being sure to pull it off the burner so I don't burn it). 
4th - Add several cups of liquid (can be various combinations of milk, water and broth/drippings from the roast) to the flour/onion/butter mixture and whisk it over low to medium heat until it thickens.  
5) Season it with salt and pepper or whatever seasoning I feel like at the time (Cavendar's Greek Seasoning is a favorite). 
6) Finish up the gravy mixture by throwing in the roast, veggies and add some more veggies that I may have on hand.   

I use this mixture as a filling for pot pie, as a sauce over egg noodles or rice or bake it in the oven with biscuits on top (I guess that qualifies as a pot pie as well) 

I use white gravy as a substitute for cream of mushroom soup or cream of celery soup in any recipe.  And of course I use gravy to pour over meats, and vegetables to dress them up a bit.

2) Soups - The same concept applies to leftovers with soup.  Often I will take the leftover ingredients and put them all in the crockpot (or oven on 250 degrees) add water, salt, pepper, additional veggies and onions and let it all simmer for several hours or longer.  Sometimes I will add noodles, rice or dumplings to the pot an hour or so before serving time.  If I'm in a big hurry, I'll cook it all on the stovetop.

3) Bread and variations of -  Knowing how to make homemade yeast bread and baking powder biscuits is a lifesaver because leftover ingredients can be put into "hot pocket" style rolls with cheese added (if you have any on hand). 

Or try one of my kids favorites, pinwheels, easily made by rolling dough (yeast or quick bread) out in a large rectangle and spreading ingredients, such as meat, cheese and veggies, then rolling up "cinnamon roll" style, slicing and baking 25 mins or so on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees. Serve with..., you guessed it, gravy on top!

I use pie crust to make pot pies when I feel like I have the time, but most of the time, I just use biscuits.

Hopefully these tips will inspire you to think of creative ways to use your leftovers!  Happy cooking!

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