Posts

Clever Ways to Make Meals from Leftovers

How to use leftovers? Oh, let me count the ways. There really are so many ways to make meals from leftovers, something the late Julia Child preferred to call “the remains of the day.” Such an elegant way to refer to leftovers.

Open refrigerator with food in kitchen. Food supply for a week.

Regardless, both terms refer to anything from half a pan of lasagna to a dab of mashed potatoes that sit in the fridge until they turn green, at which time we feel a lot better about throwing those leftovers away, right? These days, with the price of food soaring—that’s like throwing cash in the garbage.

RELATED6 Ways to Stop Throwing Rotten Produce in the Garbage

The secret to sticking to a food budget is to first find a delicious use for every last bit of what we buy, then have an immediate plan for leftovers, and finally, to be diligent to follow through. Really, it all comes down to choosing to see leftovers as ingredients for new dishes—not just multiple go-rounds of the same thing until it’s finally gone.

Contents

Click on one to go straight to it, or scroll down to enjoy all.

1. Pasta
2. Pizza!
3. Tortilla chips
4. Bread
5. Cheese
6. Eggs
7. Mashed potatoes
8. Coffee
9. Rice
10. Chicken, turkey
11. Fish
12. Meatloaf
13. How long to safely keep leftovers?

Pasta

Spaghetti Frittata

So, imagine spaghetti for breakfast. Impossible? Not at all, although this recipe works for lunch or dinner, too. For this recipe, you can use any kind of plain pasta—or go wile and use up last night’s leftover pasta smothered with sauce. Basically, you’re going to add protein value with eggs, milk, and veggies. Then, fry it up in a skillet and you’ve got Spaghetti Frittata.

Pasta Stir Fry

Stir-fries are a great way to clear out the refrigerator and use up bits of produce. Stir-frying is really one of the best leftover technique you can have up your sleeve. It’s a matter of throwing together leftover pasta, vegetables, a protein like chicken and some kind of sauce.

Pasta Mama

It’s one of our favorites—for any meal of the week. Does it sound familiar? That’s because you recall Pasta Mama from a previous post. Find it here.

Pizza

Pizza eggs

Cut 2 slices of pizza into bite-size pieces. In a bowl, beat together 8 to 10 eggs. Add the pizza pieces, stir to cover all the pieces and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Spray a large frying pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high. Scramble pizza-egg mixture in the pan for about 6 minutes or until fully cooked. Top with grated or shredded cheese and serve.

MORE: Absolutely the Best Way to Store and Reheat Leftover Pizza

Pizza lasagna

This takes a little imagination, but bear with me. Use your favorite lasagna method or recipe, substituting the lasagna noodles with leftover pizza you’ve cut into strips. It’s amazing so you really should give this a try.

Tortilla chips

Breakfast scramble

It takes only 10 minutes, and the results are amazing. Crush up that partial bag of tortilla chips—crush ’em good! Then fold chips and salsa into eggs and add cheese for an awesome Breakfast Scramble. Full recipe here.

Tortilla soup

It’s quick (under 30 minutes!) and demands tortilla chips to finish. Perfect! This recipe from Martha Stewart is super easy, too.

Bread

French toast

In a bowl, beat together 2 eggs, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2/3 cup milk. Soak 6 slices stale bread in the mixture, turning to coat both sides. Next, heat lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat. Place bread in a skillet over medium heat and cook on both sides until golden. Serve with butter and syrup.

Croutons

Rub 4 slices of stale bread with a crushed clove of garlic. Cut bread into cubes, crouton-size. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add cubes and cook, stirring often, until crispy. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

French onion soup

This recipe actually calls for the bread to be stale—either a baguette or another crusty variety. Each serving of soup uses two slices of bread, one on the top and one on the bottom. Or check out my favorite French Onion Soup recipe, which admittedly is a bit more involved, but so worth it.

Avocado toast

Spread any kind of toasted bread with a touch of a schmear of mayonnaise followed by soft buttery avocado, a bit of lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Then, kick it up with these additions: sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced cucumbers, cilantro, sprouts, sliced olives—whatever you have on hand.

MORE: 7 Awesome Ways to Use up Stale Bread

Cheese

Fromage fort

It’s not what you’re thinking—blankets of cheese spread over furniture for kids’ play! Actually, it’s French for “strong cheese.” Translated, it is a delightfully economical blend of whatever odds and ends of cheese you have around plus some wine, garlic, salt, pepper and herbs.

Basically, you throw all of it (think leftovers from last night’s party) into the blender and Voila!, a spread for crackers and baguette, or a dip veggies. Don’t judge, this really is quite amazing.

There are no rules or recipes, just guidelines. But the main thing, the salient bit, is that you just wing it. You have to check it out!

Mac ‘n cheese

Pretty much a no brainer, right? Well not exactly, depending on which cheese you have in need of a delicious way to be used up. If it’s white cheddar, hallelujah! This copycat recipe is my family’s all-time favorite. If you’re a Panera Bread fan, you’re going to love it, too.

Eggs

Breakfast bowl

Probably not what you’re thinking. The idea here is to enrich that bowl of plain Cream of Wheat with an egg and vanilla. The result is a creamy breakfast pudding. Yum! Find the recipe here.

Pavlova

What to do with all of those egg whites leftover from that recipe that called for only egg yolks? How about a meringue dessert. The fancy name is pavlova, and it is delightful! There are endless recipes out there for pavlova, but you won’t find one easier and more foolproof than Easy Pavlova.

Mashed potatoes

Potato cakes

Mix cold mashed potatoes with an egg or two, leftover pieces of fish, ham, corned beef plus chopped onion and a little flour to hold it all together. Form into small patties and shallow fry in oil, until brown and crispy.

Topping

Use leftover mashed potatoes as a topping on a savory pie filling. You’re not likely to have a lot of potatoes, so think individual shepherds pies or chicken pot pies.

Gluten-free cake

Mashed potatoes are an ingredient in many gluten-free desserts, paired with gluten-free self-rising flour, like this Lemon & Orange Cake or this Lemon Drizzle Cake.

Coffee

Sauce

After pan-frying chicken or pork, deglaze the pan with coffee instead of wine for a deeper, southern-style gravy sometimes known as Red Eye Gravy

Freeze it

Coffee ice cubes are great in iced coffee; they don’t dilute the drink as the ice melts. Or add your preferred milk and flavorings to the coffee and pour into popsicle-type molds for a frozen treat tomorrow

Brine

Coffee-based brines that include spices such as cloves, star anise, peppercorns and, of course, plenty of salt make for delicious and super moist roast chicken. Here’s a recipe for your consideration: Coffee Brined Chicken Breasts.

Rice

Fried rice

The main ingredient in fried rice is … leftover, white rice! And it’s so easy, if not forgiving. All you need is a good roadmap to follow. And I’m sure you’re not surprised that I have that for you right here in New Life for Leftover Rice!

Rice pudding

Most recipes for rice pudding call for uncooked rice. That’s not much good when it’s cooked white or brown rice leftover that needs a yummy use, and quick. That’s why I love this recipe, Old Fashioned Creamy Rice Pudding. The first ingredient is 1 1/2 cups of cooked rice! I think you will agree that it is fabulous.

Chicken, Turkey

Chicken soup

Of course, chicken and turkey are pretty much interchangeable when it comes to making soup. You may have a heritage recipe handy, one that has been handed down through your family tree. Or if not, this one could easily become your go-to recipe of choice.

Club salad

Use cut-up turkey or chicken to top a salad. The protein fiber combination makes for a perfect meal!

Mediterranean wrap

Forget shelling out the big bucks at the local sandwich shop. Instead, repurpose last night’s chicken or turkey in your own healthy version. Grab a flour tortilla and use it to wrap chicken (or turkey) and your choice of grilled vegetables.

Turkey pot pie

Or chicken. Honestly, just the thought of homemade chicken or turkey pot pie makes my salivary glands go crazy. If you’re with me on that, here’s a pretty awesome, if not foolproof, recipe because father knows best, right? Dad’s Leftover Turkey Pot Pie. Be still my heart.

Fish

Salad

What to do with those bits and piece of leftover salmon, halibut or another type of fish? Even if it’s breaded or deep-fried, don’t toss it out! It can make a fabulous addition to tomorrow’s lunch.

Fish casserole

Move over tuna casserole. This fish pasta is oh, so much classier. While it calls for 1 1/2 pounds of white fish filet, I know you can figure out how to use yesterday’s leftover flaky fish. Since you’ll be baking this in a casserole for fewer than 25 minutes, no worries about it drying out or otherwise turning ugly.

Meatloaf

Chili

Use chopped up leftover meatloaf in place of ground beef to make homemade chili. It’s all seasoned and ready-to-go.

Quesadillas

So easy! Mix together chopped up meatloaf, onion and green pepper or other toppings of choice. Stir in your favorite BBQ sauce. Cover a flour tortilla with the mixture, top with shredded cheese and top with the second tortilla. Place tortilla in the skillet cook for 1-2 minutes, until cheese starts to melt and the tortilla starts to turn brown. Flip so each side is golden and crisp.

Spaghetti

Replace ground beef with chopped leftover meatloaf in your favorite meat sauce. Over spaghetti, it is one of the most fantastic dishes from leftovers!

Grilled sandwiches

Add a slice of leftover meatloaf to your next grilled cheese sandwich! Or forget the cheese and make a grilled meatloaf sandwich.

Sliders

Tiny dinner split rolls plus a slice of meatloaf cut to the same size plus your choice of spreads—bacon onion jam, mayonnaise, mustard, you name it and what do you get? Party Food!, no party necessary.

How long to keep leftovers?

In closing, you may be wondering, how long do we have to make these meals from leftovers? How many days can we safely keep leftovers in the refrigerator? That is an excellent question, and one for the professionals.

According to Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.:

Leftovers can be kept for three to four days in the refrigerator. Be sure to eat them within that time. After that, the risk of food poisoning increases. If you don’t think you’ll be able to eat leftovers within four days, freeze them immediately.

Food poisoning—also known as a foodborne illness—is caused by harmful germs, such as bacteria in contaminated food. Because bacteria typically don’t change the taste, smell or look of the food, you can’t tell whether a food is dangerous to eat. So if you’re in doubt about a food’s safety, it’s best to throw it out.

Fortunately, most cases of food poisoning can be prevented with proper cooking and food handling. To practice food safety, quickly refrigerate perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs. Don’t let them sit more than two hours at typical room temperature or more than one hour at temperatures above 90 F (32 C).

Uncooked foods, such as cold salads or sandwiches, also should be eaten or refrigerated promptly. Your goal is to reduce the time a food is in the “danger zone”—between 40 and 140 F (4 and 60 C)— when bacteria can quickly multiply.

When you’re ready to eat leftovers, reheat them on the stove or in a conventional oven or microwave until the internal temperature reaches 165 F (74 C). Slow cookers aren’t recommended for reheating leftovers as these devices may not heat foods hot enough to kill bacteria.

Revised & republished:  3-28-20


Up Next

Homemade Flour Tortillas

Rules for Leftovers

Turn Leftovers into Soup

Einstein in the Kitchen or Let Them Eat (Carrot) Cake

 

 

 

 

Einstein in the Kitchen or Let Them Eat (Carrot) Cake

I have a special treat for you today. It’s a recipe. Normally I sell this recipe for $1,000 but it’s your lucky day. OK, I’m just kidding about that, but honestly, this one is worth its weight in gold, which as I write is about $1,665 per ounce.

scrumptious-3-layer-carrot-cake-sitting-on-glass-cake-stand-creamy-frosting-and-sprinkling-of-walnuts

In this world, there is carrot cake and then there is scrumptious absolutely to-die-for carrot cake—the kind of cake you’ve only experienced with a $200-per-person meal at a fancy hotel (you do that all the time, right?).

It’s the kind of carrot cake that would surely be named the Grand Champion in a competition at a fine culinary school like Le Cordon Bleu Baking and Pastry Arts Program if I’d ever had such an opportunity to compete.

This is the cake that’s going to make your friends and family think you’re a genius! And don’t be surprised when it becomes your signature cake—the one they request for their birthdays. Imagine how beautiful this cake might look on your Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter buffet table.


MORE: Dinner-in-a-Box is Not What I Thought!


As you peruse this recipe, you may be tempted to make a few adjustments. Please do not do that. You’ll think 1 1/2 cups oil is excessive. It’s not. And the pineapple. Seriously? Yes. Do not doubt me.

This is the perfect recipe both in ingredients and proportions, so please follow it exactly. It’s the recipe you’ll be tempted to keep secret and good luck with that! 😉

Read more

How to Make a Perfect Baked Potato in the Oven

If you’ve ever wondered how some restaurants turn out such perfectly baked potatoes with salty, crispy skin—potatoes that are super fluffy inside and so delicious, you’re about to discover the secrets. And don’t be surprised when once you have the technique down, your family will be all in when you announce that potatoes are what’s for dinner!

Baked potatoes prepared with oil and salt sitting on baking tray having just been baked perfectly and split open ready to

Baked potatoes on a baking tray split open and ready to eat!

Potatoes—they’re nutritious, delicious, and inexpensive. And as they come from the oven, they’re gluten-free, low-fat, dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan, too.

What is the best type of potato for baking?

Russet potatoes, also referred to as Idaho potatoes in the U.S, are best for baking. A russet’s skin or “jacket” is thicker than other types of potatoes, so it holds together well during baking. The inside of a russet is starchy, sweet, and makes for a fluffy texture once baked. Russets are available from medium to large, making them perfectly sized for a side dish—or one large russet per person makes a meal on its own.

Read more

Homemade English Muffin Bread

Here’s an easy way to cut your grocery bill this week—make your own bread. Wait! Hear me out. I want to show you how to make homemade bread that is so easy, so simple, and so foolproof it’s going to make you feel like a genius. This homemade English Muffin Bread is simply amazing.

If you’ve read my book, 7 Money Rules for Life, you know that Rule #1 is so simple it would be easy to overlook it as being too elementary. Here it is: Spend less than you earn.

Now think about it … “spend less than you earn” is not the same as “don’t spend more than you earn.” That implies it would be okay to spend all that you earn, but no. The operative word is “less.” You need a gap between what you earn and how much of it you spend. That is the fundamental secret to living below your means.

It’s in that gap that you can repay debt, build an emergency fund, and financial freedom can grow. You really need to read the rest of the book, but for now, let’s just say that growing the gap is the challenge.

Making your own homemade bread is an easy way to increase your gap this week even if only by a few dollars. It all adds up! Let me show you how to make homemade bread that is so amazing, so simple, and so foolproof it’s going to make you feel like a genius.

Read more

It’s All About the Sauce—Chinese Brown Sauce!

Some of my earliest childhood memories center around Asian food. But not just any Asian food. I’m talking about the food at the Golden Dragon restaurant in Boise Ida., city of my birth and the home of tiny pork ribs swimming in the most beautiful and delicious brown sauce with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

To my 7-year-old sense of fine cuisine, that dish was to die for. My favorite thing in the whole, wide world!

For me, it was all about the sauce. Brown sauce. Yummy, amazing make-my-mouth-water kind of sauce. I poured it on my noodles; would eat it with a spoon like soup.

I recall exactly what it tasted like, too. It was definitely brown, kinda’ sweet but a little tangy and shiny—not clear like broth but not dense like gravy, either. And smooth. No chunks or chewy bits. No onions, peppers or pineapple pieces. None of that. Just glorious, shimmery, fabulous sauce over tiny ribs and sticky white rice on the side. I would all but lick the plate clean. Wait, maybe I did that.

Read more

11 Easy 3-Ingredient Party Dips That are Absolutely Delicious!

Here’s my idea of a killer New Year’s Eve, Super Bowl or any other kind of party—one that includes a smorgasbord of dips and things to dip in them.

3 ingredient dips anchor this beautiful party buffet

I’m talking about absolutely delicious hot, cold, savory, spicy, even sweet dips—an amazing variety sure to please all—beautifully arranged so that everyone can easily graze through the evening. All said dips need to be quick and easy to make, too, requiring only 3-ingredients (all of which are available in local grocery and supermarketsl; links included for some so you can see what they look like).

Are you with me?

Crab Dip

It’s amazingly yummy, thanks to Mrs. Dash. You will be disappointed if you try to substitute anything else for her extra spicy blend. It has to be this one.

Place all ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Mix well. Keep refrigerated until serving.

Recipe source: Pinterest

Read more

The Best Way to Cook Bacon (Easiest, Too!)

I must admit to a kind of love-hate relationship with bacon. On the one hand, my family loves bacon, which means I cook it often. And until I discovered the best, easiest way to do that, I dreaded having to fry bacon!

perfectly oven-baked bacon

The problem in two words: splatters and smell. I’m not a fan of splatters all over the cooktop. And that lingering smell of stale bacon throughout the house for hours and beyond? That nearly knocks me out. Then there’s the problem of keeping the first batch hot and crispy when only about 1/4 pound fits well in a stovetop skillet.

Trust me, I’ve tried all the methods—stovetop, microwave, griddle, and outdoor grill. The outdoor grill has been mostly my go-to method, but when it’s 10 F. with a foot of snow out there, not so much.

And all that is history, now that I’m hooked on the absolute best way to cook bacon—in the oven. It’s easy with minimal if any splatters, the smell of bacon is all but limited to the baking time, I can cook an entire pound of bacon at one time, and clean up is a cinch!

Why is oven-baked the best method?

Until I tried it, I assumed cooking in the oven would make an even bigger mess than using my cast iron skillet on the stovetop. And time-consuming. Just the opposite is true. I can prepare an entire pound of bacon without having to baby it and tend to it. Oven-baked, it stays flat with no splatters. Even better? The “fragrance” of bacon is short-lived.

Read more

Ask Me Anything: Cosigning Parents, Silent Stylist, Rum Cake Recipe, and More

Once again, it’s mailbag day, when I reach in and pull out your questions. While there are always more than I could possibly answer in one sitting, I try to select the ones that will have the greatest interest to most of you, my Dear Readers.

Ask me anything

What’s inside? Here are the questions I’m answering from my bulging reader mailbag. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. Or just scroll through to read all. Enjoy!

Contents

1. Gray “scratches” on fine dinnerware

2. Help, we co-signed student loans!

3. Spreadable butter disaster?

4. Spouse demands the purse strings

5. IP Vanilla Extract 

6. The unscrupulous stylist

7. Rum Cake Recipe, Pleeeese!

 

Q1: Do you have a tip on how to clean gray lines and scratches from my white Pfaltzgraff dishes? Barb

Pfaltzgraff has been making dinnerware for many years and has used earthenware, stoneware, porcelain,  and bone china at some point in its history. Most Pfaltzgraff patterns currently in production are made primarily of stoneware and earthenware, with only a few patterns being offered in ironstone and porcelain. The good news is that all Pfaltzgraff dinnerware is microwave and dishwasher safe.

The appearance of gray lines or “scratches” on Pfaltzgraff dinnerware is not a defect—in fact, it is quite common. These marks appear when metal utensils come in contact with the hard glazes used by the manufacturer. You can remove these marks easily using a variety of cleansers. Pfaltzgraff makes its own Pfaltzgraff Stoneware & Porcelain Cleaner, but it is a little pricey. Read more