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Clever Tricks with Leftovers

If your refrigerator is at all like mine, it harbors leftovers and an odd assortment almost empties—bottles and jars of dressings and condiments. So what can you do with that? Try these suggestions on for size.

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LEFTOVER APPLESAUCE

That last bit of applesauce in the jar will make a wonderful coleslaw dressing. Make sure you have about 1/2 cup applesauce left in the jar. Now add the following ingredients right into the jar:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water

Apply the lid, shake well and toss with 4 cups shredded cabbage or packaged coleslaw mix. Refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to meld. Yield: 8 servings.

How to Use Up Every Last Bit of a Supermarket Rotisserie Chicken

If you’ve ever ducked in the supermarket to pick up a yummy, hot rotisserie chicken for dinner then tossed the remains in the garbage when no one was looking, this is for you. Don’t do that anymore, hear?

 

There are so many ways you can turn all of that remaining chicken meat, if any, into at least one more meal—and I’m not talking about a meal of leftover rotisserie chicken.

I’m talking brand new meals, using that remaining chicken meat (so easy to pick off the bones) as a key ingredient.

BREAKFAST

BBQ Chicken and Cheddar Omelet

As odd as this might sound, barbecue for breakfast is fabulous. The flavors in this omelet are just right, too.

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon bottled barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup dark rotisserie chicken dark meat, shredded
  • 3 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon sliced scallion

Cooking in Foil Packets Gets Everyone Out of the Kitchen

No matter what you call them—hobo dinners, meal-in-one packets or fun-with-foil—packet meals are a real kid-pleaser that gets everyone out of the kitchen. If you’ve never tried cooking in foil packets, you’re in for a tasty treat.

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Here’s what’s so great about packet meals: You don’t heat up the kitchen because you cook these meals outdoors on your grill or camp stove. And cleanup is a cinch. No pots or pans, only foil and that goes straight into the trash.

Surely there is a scientific explanation for why ingredients wrapped in foil and set over a hot grill taste so fantastic yet require so little effort. However, I prefer to think of it as magic. And what fun it is.

General instructions

Preheat grill to medium-high. Cut pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil that are 12 by 18 inches each. If using regular foil, prepare double thickness foil for your packets.

Spray foil with non-stick cooking spray. Place items in the foil per the recipe. Bring up foil sides. Double fold top and ends to seal packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside. 

Secrets of Super Savvy Grocery Shoppers

I flinched at the thought. Buy produce from that store where nothing costs more than a dollar? I probably came across as a snob when I asked my friend if it was even safe. I mean, where would food that cheap come from?

She pushed, so I agreed to go along, but only as a spectator.

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Oh, the bargains I found there—beautiful, first-quality produce: lettuce, scallions, a seriously large bag of ginger root, five pounds of Russet potatoes and six heads of gourmet garlic in a mesh fabric bag. Five items, just 99 cents each for a total of $4.94. On that day the same items would have cost $11.88 at the neighboring supermarket. My skepticism evaporated quickly making me a convert and a regular.

My experience with chopping the cost of produce is a drop in the bucket compared to the food shopping methods of people I consider extreme grocery shoppers. Just keep this in mind: Not every method works for every person. Discover what works for you and then hone that method to a razor’s edge. Soon you’ll be bagging bargains and bringing your food costs down—extremely!

Cilantro-Lime Rice Like You’ve Never Made It Before

I have no idea why on the one hand I seriously DO NOT care for cilantro but on the other hand I’m crazy for Cilantro-Lime Rice as served by both Chipotle and Qdoba casual Mexican restaurants.

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How do they do that? How do they take rice, lime and cilantro for goodness’ sake, and turn it into such a delicious side dish?

I’ve been asking that question for a long time. Finally, I believe I have figured out how to make delicious, amazing Cilantro-Lime Rice that tastes for all the world just like the restaurants’—and for just pennies.

But before I get into the specifics for how to make Cilantro-Lime Rice, I want to tell you about something I have learned in this process—a super fast way to prepare plain rice from scratch in about 12 minutes give or take.

My rice cooker takes nearly 2 hours to do the same thing. More traditional methods include preparing rice on the stovetop or in the oven with proper liquid to rice measurements followed by covered cooking at low temperatures until all of the liquid is absorbed.

There is another way and I’m talking about the way we prepare pasta: Get a big pot of water boiling, add salt and pasta. Boil rapidly for 8 to 12 minutes. Drain, rinse. Done. Perfect every time. Yes, that defies every rule we’ve ever learned for how to prepare rice, but it just works!

The Art of the Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Who says a grilled cheese has to be boring? Enjoy one of our most popular posts of 2013 on how to spice up the American classic.

A surefire signal that I’m out of town is the big square burn mark in my best stainless skillet. That’s the telltale sign my husband has attempted to prepare the one and only item on his repertoire of home cooked meals: A grilled cheese sandwich.

The man doesn’t know how to cook.

His grilled cheese sandwiches are burned on the outside, solid on the inside. Poor guy. When it comes to this basic all-American favorite, Harold does just about everything wrong. He starts with a blazing hot skillet, uses cold butter and unevenly sliced cheese with the thickest parts of the cheese piled up in the middle of the sandwich. This man really needs his wife.

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There’s an art to preparing a perfect grilled cheese sandwich that is crispy, golden brown on the outside, soft on the inside with cheese that is evenly melted. 

What Would You Do with 35 Pounds of Lemons?

I kinda’ went nuts on my last trip to California. You’ll recall from a previous column we make that trip quite often for business but also to visit our son who has a Meyer lemon tree in his back yard. I have never seen such a prolific fruit tree in my life. It’s not on any kind of lemon steroids; it gets no preferential care like pruning or watering. Apparently, it thrives on on being left alone.

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I always load up my suitcase with lemons but for some reason, this last trip I went crazy. How crazy? I arrived home with 35 pounds of gorgeous, perfectly ripened Meyer lemons.

My friends got lemons. I squeezed lemon juice for the freezer. This past month, I’ve made Lemon Chicken, Lemon Bars and “Lemons in a Jar” for gifts.

While I haven’t come up with a way to share lemons with you, I can gladly share my favorite recipes. Enjoy!

Storing Onions, Making Beef Jerky

I recall the event as if it happened yesterday. I purchased a beautiful bag of sweet white onions (10 pounds for an economical $2.98). I stood the bag on the floor of the pantry. Within a few short weeks I expectantly reached in to pull out a perfect specimen only to find the entire lot had gone soft and were more black than white. I hate when that happens.

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A few days later I was reading one of my prized possessions, Julia Child’s The Way to Cook. Right there on page 25 is Julia illustrating the way to store onions. She doesn’t come right out and describe the method, but careful inspection of that picture reveals one leg of a pair of pantyhose (impeccably clean, you can be sure) holding the onions and hanging from a hook. You can see where she dropped one into the toe and then carefully tied a knot then another onion and another knot until the tube if filled, tying it off again at the top.

Pretty ingenious if you ask me. By tying off between each one, the onions are not touching another and the hose material allows air to circulate. Doesn’t look too bad, either. I don’t hang mine right out there in full view, but it’s great hanging from a hook in the pantry.

Now I just cut off one onion at a time and feel quite culinarily chic in the process. Onions and garlic (I store them the same way) seem to last forever with this method.