Tag Archives: leftovers

Where have I been?

Well, I can’t exactly say, but what I can tell you is I’ve developed a couple of exceptional recipes along the way. Of course, when I say “developed”, take that with a grain of salt. Yes, some I’ve hatched from scratch, but some are a compilation of several other recipes that I’ve modified to suit our tastes or what I have on hand.

I’ve been playing with my electric pressure cooker quite a bit lately. It does make life easier when I can crank out “roasted” chicken for recipes and a batch of Rich Chicken Stock all in the same afternoon. I took advantage of all that chicken in a couple of recipes, both for the table and the freezer.

The first of those recipes was Chicken Stuffed Shells Florentine. While I visualized the recipe calling for ground chicken to be spiced with Italian Sausage Seasoning, I started with my pressure cooker shredded chicken and added the spice blend after the fact. That method was acceptable, but I think the chicken would have carried better flavor if I had stuck with the original ground chicken plan, seasoning the chicken as it cooked.

Kicked Up Chicken Enchiladas got a little boost with the addition of some steamed broccoli.  I know, it sounds a bit strange to add broccoli to a dish of Mexican origin, but it was quite good. Those enchiladas are on the spicy side to start with, but the broccoli added a little something to keep them from being just so plain.   I should have dipped each corn tortilla into the sauce  to soften them before filling, but frankly, I just forgot to write that common procedure into the recipe. Because I didn’t do that, all my enchiladas cracked open.  I’ll have to write that step into the recipe… Lesson Learned.

The last of the pressure cooker chickens didn’t go to waste either.  There was just enough left for a batch of Baked Chicken Salad. That recipe was given to me years ago by an old friend, Linda Keen. The original recipe called for water chestnuts, but Michael doesn’t care for those, so I substitute diced red bell peppers. Take your pick.  This recipe is an excellent excuse to buy a bag of potato chips!  You’ll need them for the topping, but it’s kind of like when a recipe calls for wine.  You don’t need the whole bottle of wine for the recipe, so what do you do with the rest of the bottle?  Well, what will you do with the rest of those chips?

Rounding up the wonderful world of chicken was a new recipe, Mushroom Chicken Piccata with Penne and Asparagus. Oh My, is that stuff ever good! It may just be one of my new favorite springtime dishes. I know asparagus is now available year-round, but to me, it’s just different in the spring when it hasn’t been shipped up from Chile or where ever, so to me, fresh asparagus + lemon + chicken = Spring!

No, we haven’t just eaten chicken all this time, those dishes just seemed to flow together for this post!  It’s been so long, I could’t possibly bore you with all we’ve had on the menu lately.  Now that grilling season’s rolling around again you might want to think about setting up a Brat Tub. We did recently, and then we knew for sure that summer was on its way, at least in Alabama. We always grill the whole package of brats and throw the extras in the fridge for lunches later in the week.

If you’re lucky enough to catch a good roast on sale Perfect Prime Rib is a treat we usually reserve only for holidays and special occasions, but who can argue with $4.99 a pound? The next day’s French Dip Sandwiches can’t really be called “leftovers” can they?  Don’t forget to make True Au Jus with that roast so you’ll have something to dip those sandwiches in.  The thick piles of thinly sliced roast will just melt in your mouth.

Pork didn’t get left out of the picture this past month, either.  Boston Butts went on sale for $.99 a pound!  That just screams smokey Pulled Pork Barbeque.  The only problem with that recipe is it makes enough to feed a small army, more than Michael and I can possibly consume, even allowing for leftovers.  There I go filling the freezers again.

Loaded Lentil Soup was a warm and filling Meatless Monday menu item, although I did cheat just a bit by sneaking in a little andouille sausage to start the pot off. That Cajun sausage packs so much flavor! A little goes a long way, so while the soup was technically not meatless, meat was not the main protein. Who’s counting? Sometimes it’s the thought that counts, right?

With Easter coming I’m on a new quest…”The Search for Sensational Sides”. It seems that every year it’s the same old thing with the Easter Ham: Mashed Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, Deviled Eggs, and maybe my favorite but fattening Broccoli Casserole, and on and on. You get the picture. While traditions certainly have their place and I can’t just ditch them all, I’m in search of something new. Maybe not all at Easter Dinner, (children need roots), but mixed in, some then and some to add interest to that leftover sliced ham another day. Hmmm, a new challenge. I need that! Check back!

Be thankful for what life gives you.

Sometimes it gets expensive to have such a low threshold of boredom.

I’ve always got to try new things, most often new recipes. As a result, my kitchen resembles a small grocery store. As long as it’s not too exotic, whatever the recipe ingredient, I’ve probably got it in one form or another. Come to think of it, most of our grocery expense is incurred by my habit of frequently purchasing a large variety of fresh produce, and that’s a good thing. I try to grow what I can in the summer, and buy what is available at the farmer’s market, but in February those sources aren’t an option, even in Alabama. The grocery store’s produce department is really cashing in on my habit, but utilizing a wide variety of produce makes such a difference in the complexity of my dishes.  We try to have a House Salad before dinner as many nights as possible, and plenty of veggies on the side, as well.

If you follow The Sticky Menu Plan you may have noticed that I rarely prepare the same recipe twice, but almost always have a plan for the leftovers. Epicurious magazine calls these “nextovers”, and I think that is a wonderful, fitting name for planning what’s next. Baked Ham makes for a glorious traditional Sunday dinner, but without a plan, that seven pound ham quickly goes to waste, especially in a small household like ours.  So what’s next?  Ham and cheese sandwiches get old fast and plain ham doesn’t freeze well at all.  That’s when I go exploring.  At last count, I had around 30 recipes featuring ham in my data base, and those are just the ones I have personally prepared, many are my own creation.  Can you imagine how many different ingredients are in all those recipes?  Creativity and a low threshold of boredom can get expensive!  That’s when my freezer inventory becomes important. Often, folks package foods for the freezer with the best of intentions, but somehow those meals just fall into a black hole, never to be seen again, but I guess that’s another subject.

Last week’s Baked Ham certainly didn’t go to waste at all.  It did serve as the traditional Sunday dinner, as well as evening sandwiches after we took Emily out for a birthday lunch on Monday.  However, that ham’s other scheduled meals for the week,  Asparagus and Ham Lasagna and Ham Tetrazzini, skipped the dinner table and went straight to the freezer along with a fair quantity of Fat-free Ham Broth and some Southern Style Pinto Beans.

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We celebrated Valentines Day quietly at home. One of my gifts to Michael was his traditional gift dinner of sautéd chicken livers.  If you know us, you know this dinner is a gift because of my extreme dislike of all things liver.  Michael surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of red roses!

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Wednesday I rescued some chicken from the fridge before it went out of date and turned it into a Chicken Cobbler. This version of chicken pot pie is always the perfect balance of filling and crust, at least for our taste. The leftovers reheated well on Thursday, too.

Friday’s Seafood Enchiladas were a bit of a disappointment. For some reason the filling was a bit dry and lacked flavor. I must have over cooked it. That can happen quickly, especially if you let yourself get distracted by a Friday evening glass of wine!

Speaking of Friday, it’s already Friday afternoon, again, and I’m a week behind, again! Well, it’s not because I’ve been sitting around doing nothing! I’ll be back soon.
Be thankful for what life gives you.

Where the Rabbit left off the Squirrel took over!

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I can’t win for loosing! It finally rained a little bit, the blueberries kicked in and the tomatoes grew higher the that Momma Bunny could reach. I thought maybe, just maybe, we would harvest some of our own produce. Silly me. Did you know squirrels like tomatoes too? Well, ours do! Or at least they like to torture us, and we even hung a corn cob out there as a peace offering, or maybe a bribe. Nope, stealing tomatoes is more fun than eating corn. And taking a page from Momma Bunny, don’t eat the tomato, just render it unusable. That darned squirrel even had the audacity to pitch a tomato down out of a tree at us. Now that takes guts! I would like to trap the little bandit and relocate him, but Michael won’t let me. He says there are more squirrels where that one came from. I suppose he’s right. We’ll just keep supporting the farmer’s market. (If all this makes no sense to you, read last week’s post)
I’ve been playing with my new toy, an electric pressure cooker. In all my 50 some years of cooking (yes, I started as a child) I never before now used a pressure cooker. In fact, I was never even exposed to one. Back in the olden days, when we walked to school in blizzards, (we really did in NY state!) pressure cookers were scary things. Unless you knew what you what you were doing and did it just right,  pressure cookers would blow up with horrible consequences. Luckily, today’s version’s are much improved with built in safety features. You still have to pay attention and follow the instructions, but as long as you do, I feel you can cook with confidence. Anyway, Sunday I tried a Pressure Cooker Pot Roast. The recipe came with the machine, and turned out reasonably well. The only thing that I would change, and you know I always change every recipe, is to brown the roast ahead on the stove. The pressure cooker scorched and was hard to clean. I also think I would add more veggies.
Monday’s Veggie Pizza was a near disaster. I was working with frozen pizza dough and sauce which most of the time is fine, but this time I was pushed for time and didn’t give the dough enough time to rise. It stuck to the counter and by the time Michael helped me peel it off it looked more like an ameoba than Domino’s pizza.
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Tuesday we were supposed to feast on Italian Sausage Burgers, but I got a wild hair and skipped the buns. I served them over tortellini with marinara, instead. A menu plan is just a guide line, right?
Wednesday’s leftover pot roast worked out well over broad egg noodles. It didn’t seem like we were eating leftovers at all. The only problem was we still had more than we could eat. That happens frequently when you’re cooking for two. It’s hard to cut recipes down sometimes, and you can only reheat those leftovers once without them tasting off. Divide and conquer. And then I wonder why my freezers are full.
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Thursday was another change of plan. Since I used the tortellini on Tuesday night, the chicken wound up in Chicken and Bacon Hoagies . The spinach makes them healthy, right?
Friday night we got tired of being good and headed out you-know-where…Mexican of course!
Be thankful for what life gives you.

Got Ham?

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Well, I finally used up the ham that was left over from our Easter dinner, but it took some effort!
(Oh, as a side note: I don’t use any sort of glaze on my Baked Ham because I don’t want the carry-over flavor in the recipes I prepare with what’s left. The basic ham flavor is just fine with us, but I suppose some sort of glazey sauce might be good served on the side.)
There were only five of us for a rainy Easter Sunday dinner this year. Even though my ham weighed just six pounds there was still enough left to last a good week, but I managed to use it all down to the last litle bits. Here’s where it all went.
Even though I try, Monday is not always Meatless, as was the case this past week. We had Leftovers of course! That was a good thing though. It gave me the time to break down the ham into the portions I needed for the rest of the week. I also used this advanced prep to turn the ham bone and vegetable trimmings into a flavorful cooking broth for other dishes.  The Mashed Potatoes were repurposed as well.
Tuesday night I served Michael one of his favorite dinners, Scalloped Potatoes with Ham and Mushrooms.  I have several recipes for scalloped potatoes and ham, but I think this one might be the best.  It’s a little lighter than most and the flavors all seem to stand on their own.
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The smallest scraps of ham that I harvested from the whole went into Ham and Potato Cakes. These cute little patties are good for breakfast, lunch or dinner. This time I made a Maple Mustard Sauce to serve on the side. The remaining mashed potatoes evolved into a similar recipe, Cheesy Potato Cakes . Those were bound for the freezer. If you’re wondering why I cooked up so darned many mashed potatoes, there’s a very simple answer. I bought too many because the 15 pound bag was less expensive than the 5 pound bag, and all those potatoes would soon be going bad. Now the work is all done and I have quick and easy side dishes good for any time of the day.
Wednesday’s dinner was a break from the ham, my saucy Chicken Cobbler. Well, at least it was supposed to be saucy until I used the wrong size baking dish and it boiled over. Time to clean the oven!
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One more Ham dish made it’s appearance before the end of the week. My Ham and Eggs in a Garlicky Grits Crust are not for the faint of heart. They are garlicky! Of course, that is easily toned down, but face it, we love garlic. It’s supposed to keep you healthy, right? Well, maybe that’s just because nobody else wants to get too close to us, but hey, whatever works!
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We finished the week out on Fishy Friday with my second attempt at Lobster Mac and Cheese. I think this second version of the recipe is just what I was trying to create. Steeping the shells and a slice of lemon in the pasta cooking water amped up the lobster flavor a bit. (The water was strained before the pasta was cooked.) The cheese sauce was better balanced this time, too. The only thing that might improve this recipe is more lobster, but around here lobster is expensive. You can’t have everything.
Next week will be filled with fattening comfort food, but we’re not just being indulgent. We have good reason. The week after that Michael is scheduled for gall bladder surgery and we don’t know how it might force him to change his diet. I asked him for a list of dinners that are on the “occasional” list because they are just too fat ladened. Here’s his list:
Sauteed Chicken Livers
Country Fried Steak with Gravy
Chicken Fingers with Buttermilk Gravy
and Red Lobster
I think it will take a while to recover from that menu! Anybody have any gall bladder friendy recipes they’ like to share? I’d love to have them. Just contact me here.
Be thankful for what life gives you.