If your refrigerator is at all like mine, it harbors an odd assortment leftovers and “almost gones!” So what on earth can you do with that? Try some of these suggestions on for size:
Salad dressing. It’s a rare refrigerator that doesn’t have an assortment of almost-empty salad dressing bottles. Here’s what you can do with any oil and vinegar dressings like Caesar, Italian or other vinaigrettes–even the low-fat varieties: Mix them together for marinade for beef, pork, chicken. The oil adds flavor, the vinegar (or other acid like lemon juice) tenderizes. You need enough to coat the meat or poultry, then cover and refrigerator for at least an hour before roasting, grilling or baking.
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 and then add 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.
Cooked rice. Turn that rice into a wonderful quiche crust. Mix together 2 cups white or brown leftover cooked rice, one beaten egg and one teaspoon soy sauce. Spread evenly to cover a well-buttered quiche or pie pan. Bake crust at 350 F for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Place any kind of fresh or frozen vegetables (broccoli is a good choice) or meat in bottom of crust. Mix together 4 beaten eggs, 1 1/2 cups milk or half-and-half, salt and pepper to taste and a dash of nutmeg. Pour over vegetables. Top with 1 cup grated cheese (Swiss, cheddar, Jack or any combination). Bake at 350 F for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted near center of pie comes out clean. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes before serving. You can practically clean out the refrigerator right into your quiche pan. Just remember to add the cheese last to make a beautiful mellow, brown crust on the top.
Mashed potatoes. Leftover mashed potatoes make a great topper for most any casserole—Shepherd’s Pie, for example: Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil, and sauté 1 pound ground or shredded turkey, 1/4 cup minced celery and 1/2 cup chopped onion until brown. Add 3/4 cup beef or chicken broth, 1 tablespoon catsup, 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Cook for 5 minutes. Mix in the peas. Pour mixture into an 8 x 8 square baking pan. Spread the leftover mashed potatoes over the top. Sprinkle with a little paprika for color (optional). Bake for 30 minutes. Yield: 6 servings.
Buttermilk. That 1/2 cup of buttermilk leftover won’t last forever. Before it goes bad use it to make fabulous over-fried fish. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking pan or cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray. In a flat dish or pan mix together 1/2 cup cornmeal, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, stirring with a fork until blended. Pour the buttermilk into a shallow bowl. Cut fish fillets to equal four servings (catfish is perfect for this recipe) into portion-sized pieces. Dip each piece in the buttermilk and then in the cornmeal mixture, making sure to dip both sides of each piece. Place on the sprayed foil. Drizzle olive oil over the fillets or spray with olive oil-flavored cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes.