Friday, January 9, 2009

Creative Leftovers

Our family has always eaten leftovers. I remember being shocked the first time I heard someone say they threw away leftovers because nobody would eat them. What a waste! It is true, leftovers can be boring. Especially when you eat them the same way the very next night. We try to make ours taste like they are new, not just heated up food from yesterday. To reheat casseroles, try making a little more sauce, cream soup, or whatever is in the recipe, and drizzle over. Add some fresh cheese, bread crumbs, onions, etc on top. This takes away the dry, reheated texture. Throw odds and ends of vegetables in a pot of soup. Before our family was as large as it is now, and we eat every bit, I remember my mom had a bowl in the freezer that she always put leftover vegetables in. Then when she made vegetable beef soup, she would add those frozen vegetables. Soup is a great leftover hider! You can throw in vegetables, rice and other grains, or gravy. Use your imagination. You never know what recipe you may come up with that will be a new family favorite! Steaming is a good way to heat up pasta or rice without drying it out. Use extra spaghetti sauce to make lasagna. We like dressing made with leftover cornbread and biscuits. Like the vegetables, save them up in the freezer until you have enough. Day old french bread is good in bread pudding. Cinnamon raisin bread is delicious as well.

Banana Bread Pudding
8 cups cubed day old french bread
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 eggs
2 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup sliced firm banana
(1/4 inch pieces)

3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3/4 cup milk
1/4 light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the bread cubes in a greased 4-quart casserole; pour butter over and toss to coat. In a medium bowl, lightly beat eggs; add milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir in bananas. Pour over bread cubes and stir to coat. Bake uncovered at 375* for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Meanwhile, for the sauce, melt butter in a small saucepan. Combine sugar and cornstarch; add to butter. Stir in milk and syrup. Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture comes to a full boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat; stir in the vanilla. Serve warm sauce over warm pudding.

Planned leftovers are actually a good way to save time. Making an extra casserole to put in the freezer dosen't take much longer than making just one, and is very convenient on a busy day. Here is my favorite planned leftover recipe.

Day One:
Cuban Black Beans
cooked black beans
cooked rice
shredded chedder cheese
fresh tomatoes, chopped
green onions, sliced
sour cream

On each plate, layer rice, black beans, and corn, and sprinkle cheese on top. Put the tomatoes, green onions, and sour cream on the table for everyone to put on their pile as they want.

Day Two:
Santa Fe Chicken Stew
4 whole chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 small onion, diced
15 1/2 ounce can whole kernel corn, undrained
24 ounce can black beans, undrained
14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
10 ounce can rotel tomatoes, undrained or 1 cup salsa (We usually use a combination.)
1 1/2 cups prepared brown rice
garlic, cumin, and salt to taste
chicken broth from cooking the chicken
(The original recipe calls for the canned ingredients. Substitute leftovers as you have them.)

Place first nine ingredients in a crockpot. Add chicken broth to make the stew the consistency you like. Cook on low for three to four hours.

Ladle soup into bowls, and sprinkle with Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese. Serve with tortilla chips and extra salsa.

And finally, a recipe that uses leftover oatmeal. Honestly, the thought of reheating leftover gluey oatmeal is kind of gross to me. But these muffins are delicious.

Breakfast Oatmeal Muffins
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup leftover oatmeal
1 cup raisins, optional
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and soda. In another bowl, combine oil, eggs, oatmeal, raisins and vanilla; add to dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Spoon into 12 greased muffin cups. Bake at 350* for 18 minutes.

For more frugal tips, visit Biblical Womanhood.

1 comment:

Lydia said...

We just had bread pudding this week! I had styrofoam like cinnamon raisin bread, about 40 rotten bananas, coconut milk that is about to expire, and egg beaters that were given to us expired so I made a very interesting but delicious bread pudding. For the sauce I just used a sweetened vanilla white sauce. Isn't it wonderful to pull together all that stuff most people would just throw away and make something good out of it?