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Getting Creative With Leftovers

Love 'em or hate 'em, leftovers are inevitable. Here are a few ideas to turn the week's leftovers into tasty new dishes.

The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found. ~Calvin Trillin

Leftovers. Most people either love them or loathe them. Luckily, this leftover lover has a partner who enjoys them too. I believe that many dishes just taste better when the flavors are left to meld overnight; like most any kind of soup or stew, spaghetti sauce and pot pies, to name just a few.

Of course it has to be noted that the microwave has completely destroyed many a fine leftover meal. When time allows I prefer to reheat in or on the stove.

In a previous column I wrote about uses for leftover chicken: broth, pot pies, chicken salad, soup and even dog food (chicken mixed with some brown rice and pureed vegetables is my Max's favorite meal).

But what about getting creative with other types of leftovers? Last weekend I made a soup out of a bunch of bits and pieces I had in the fridge. Pot roast, cabbage, tomatoes, corn, broccoli, zucchini...everything got thrown into my slow cooker with some beef broth (made from the original pot roast) and a bit of chile paste and garlic. I ate the soup for lunch most of the week.

Soup is the most obvious use of leftovers but there are plenty of other great things to be made. Leftover bread becomes the basis for a tasty bread pudding. Cereal can be crushed and used as a delicious coating for chicken. Chili can be used on nachos and burgers. Leftover corned beef makes a great Reuben (my favorite sandwich, especially every March 18th). Ham and most any type of cheese are delicious in an omelette or frittata.

I spoke with a woman who keeps a bowl in her fridge and puts all the scraps left over from dinner into it each night. The following weekend she makes either a soup or an "everything pot pie" out of it.

Whenever my mom made spaghetti sauce she tossed in whatever meat was leftover in the fridge. There could be beef, pork, chicken or turkey in there on any given week.

I even read about a woman who freezes leftover wine and pulls the cubes out of the freezer when a casserole or sauce calls for it. Great tip, but there is not an abundance of leftover wine in my house. You know what they say...a glass of wine a day keeps the doctor away! (Or something to that effect.)

I'd love to read some of the ways you create great meals from your leftovers! Please leave me a comment.

Have a great week, everybody!

Janet Hurley March 05, 2012 at 12:36 PM
At our house we have "fridge night" about once a week and whatever you have for supper must be made with any leftovers from the fridge. The kids seem to enjoy this and ask for it . They come up with some interesting combinations also :)
Sheila Duggan Chabot March 05, 2012 at 05:39 PM
What a great idea, Janet. Thank you for your comment!

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