Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Repurposing Leftovers

I hate leftovers and barely ever reheat them and eat them the next day like everyone tells you that you are supposed to.  I have come up with a few helpful hints to how to use leftover without having the same meal again.  The great thing is that you can make extras now and count on these for another meal without having to cook on two different nights.  This is great for every day use and even better with Thanksgiving leftovers coming up!!

1. Quesadilla- Put cheese and leftover chicken or seasoned ground beef on tortilla in heated pan.  Cover with second tortilla.  Flip when starting to get brown on bottom and cook on second side.  Cut up in triangles and serve with lettuce, salsa, or other favorite sides. 

2. Panini-  Do everything above but put in between two pieces of bread.  We have a neat press (Christmas gift from my wonderful aunt) that we use but you could do it in the grill pan with a press or weight on top of the sandwich.  Other people have been known to use waffle irons or George Forman grills- creativity is key!  We aren't all equipped like Panera to make the sandwich but you can still think like them and borrow a few ideas on things to go in the sandwich.  I think that Thanksgiving Dinner is a perfect excuse because turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce would make a really interesting panini.

3. Wraps- There are many fun things that you can put into a wrap to make a totally new meal with leftovers from the fridge.  If you want to heat up the wrap first, just dampen a paper towel and wrap around the tortilla and heat for a few seconds in the microwave.  This will help so that it isn't as stiff so that you can fill to the brim with food.

4. Homemade Hot Pocket- Roll out crescent roll or other pre-made rolls, smooth any perforations to make sure that nothing gets out.  Take leftover ground beef, shredded or died chicken, or any other meat and put it on the dough.  Cover with cheese.  Fold the dough over and seal the edges.  Bake in the oven per the package directions until browned.

5.  Fried Rice- There are tons of recipes online but I usually use the package seasoning and the directions on there.  Put canola oil in the pan and heat up.  Put leftover rice in pan and stir occasionally.  Cut leftover chicken into small pieces and any leftover vegetables.  Add seasoning and soy sauce (I use some of the packages from the Chinese restaurant).  Let it cook for 1 minute then move it to the side of the pan.  Put an egg in and scramble.  Add the meat, leftover or frozen vegetables and stir together.  More healthy then eating out and you can put in exactly what you want.

6. Pizza- Put all the leftovers on a pizza for something different.  You can use the roll out pizza dough like Pillsbury or you can make it with yeast from scratch but the final product is a yummy pizza.  You will probably end up with something even more special then California Pizza Kitchen or those other speciality pizza chains.  How do you think that they came up with Rosemary Chicken Potato Pizza or Tostada Pizza?  Think outside the sauce, pepperoni and cheese that we always think of and I am sure you will have a great treat.

7. Salad- I like my chicken hot on my mixed green salad so I cut it up and heat it up in a pan (sometimes I throw a little Frank's red hot in too) and I have chicken salad with any other items in the pantry like cranberries, sunflower seeds, or nuts.  Super yummy and fresh with a little crumbled blue cheese which makes it seem like you are sitting in a fancy restaurant.  Think about all the salads that you get in restaurants and make your own.

8.  Won Ton or Egg Roll Wrappers-  Up until a few months ago, I had never gotten these wonderful creations but I had a coupon and bought these wonderful won ton wrappers and egg roll wrappers.  I was now stuff with trying to figure out how to use them.  I had leftover rice, taco meat, and cheese which I did a few different ways.  The first was in the won ton wrappers and folded them into little triangles.  I pan fried them and we had them for a lunch the next day.  The egg roll wrappers I used to stuff and pan fry to make chimichangas which we tried plain and I made it once with cheese sauce and once with red sauce.  I also used them to make homemade cinnamon and sugar chips, nacho cheese strips for a soup topper, and yummy nutella won tons.  I don't think that there is anything that you could put in a won ton wrapper that would not make a great creation but they are something different to try if you are interested in experimenting.

9.  Soup-  If you don't have a lot of leftovers, it is great to have a bag or container in the freezer that you can put a little extra anything in so it doesn't go to waste.  When the bag or container is full, then you can make leftover soup with chicken or tomato based recipes.  It is a great idea to not let food go to waste.

I hope that these leftover ideas help you to plan to use your leftovers and going forward plan for a yummy leftover meal by making just a little more on purpose one night!!!

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