Tag Archives: leftovers

Hawaiian Risotto

I have been waiting a whole year for this.

It has to be one of my favorite leftover recipes I have ever made. I think it will be one of your favorites too.

Cube up some of that baked ham you are going to have sitting forlornly in your refrigerator after tomorrow along with some of the pineapple that sat prettily on top, and toss them into a rich and comforting bowl of risotto. Maybe you turn around to say something to your Little Dude and a little bit (or maybe a lot a bit) of the sweet pan juices and glaze you used on the ham dribbles its way into your pan. I don’t know. It probably wouldn’t be the worst thing that ever happened in your kitchen. In fact, it might be one of the best.

The rice is creamy and rich with the salty cheddar cheese. The ham cubes offer a hearty filling bite, while the pineapple bursts with their sweet juice giving you that addicting salty-sweet contrast.

Oh and might I suggest swirling in a generous helping of Sriracha? It is definitely the right thing to do.

Mahalo, and Happy Easter.

Hawaiian Risotto

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup finely diced onion

1 cup Arborio rice

1/2 tablespoon minced garlic

1/3 cup white wine

4 cups simmering chicken broth

1 cup simmering water

1 cup cubed ham

1/2 cup shredded cheddar

1/4 cup pineapple tidbits

In a large pan, heat olive oil and add onion. Cook until translucent and soft.

Add rice and garlic and toast for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Pour on white wine and stir until absorbed.

Ladle in the warm chicken broth about 1/3 cup at a time. Stir until the liquid is absorbed by the rice before adding more.

When all of the broth is gone, heat some water in a pot. Begin adding the water 1/3 cup at a time until the rice is soft and creamy (I used about 2/3 cup).

When the rice is done, stir in ham, cheese, and pineapple.

Serve immediately.

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Baked Oatmeal Cinnamon Toast

A few months back, I did something pretty outrageous for a busy mom of two small children to do.

I outlawed cereal in this house.

Yes, when you are all bleary eyed first thing in the morning, haven’t even had a sip of coffee yet, but have two kids who are depending on you to feed them, you just want to throw something at them fast. And I’ll be the first one to admit, it doesn’t get any faster than cereal and milk.

When I really thought about it honestly though, cereal (especially the ones you can get kids to eat the easiest) really aren’t that great of a way to start the day. And I wasn’t even feeding them the “bad” kinds. I knew better than to be feeding them the ones that are obviously just sugar, but even the varieties that are touted as healthy are really just a bunch of empty calories. Still, I kept ignoring that little voice that kept trying to tell me that this probably was not the best way to start the day.

But then I realized we were all starving about an hour after breakfast. Amazingly, right around the same time I would start trying to think of a way to sneak out of whatever game I was playing with the girls to go grab a handful of nuts or something, The Dude would start asking to eat again. And once she was able to communicate it, Little Monkey Mode would do the same.

Well I don’t know if there many things more annoying to a mom who is cranky from a blood sugar drop than two whiny kids who are also cranky from a blood sugar drop and asking to eat again when she just cleaned up the kitchen from breakfast. Then said mom looks at the clock and realizes it is only 8:30. So she  starts banging around in the cabinets to find something else for everyone to eat while hearing herself say something brilliant like, “Ohmagosh! How can ya’ll seriously be hungry again already? We just ate?”

And that is why the cereal madness had to stop. Tasty and easy as it may be, I basically just figured it was a waste of everyone’s time to eat it.

So a couple of nights a week, I will whip up a quick oatmeal to bake the next morning while I am working out before everyone else is awake. We never eat the entire pan, which has turned out to be a good thing because I have figured out a really tasty way to eat those leftovers.

Basically, I am going to break down a method for you rather than a recipe, but I will tell you the basic formula for my baked oatmeal because I rarely make it the same way twice.

I let the oatmeal that I am making depend on the mood that I am in that evening or what kinds of things I think the girls would like, or what types of fruit or veggies I think that they haven’t had enough of at the time. But the formula roughly consists of 2 cups of oatmeal, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cup of liquid (some type of milk or leftover smoothie…yes that’s right smoothie…), 1/2 cup mashed up fruit or veg (banana, applesauce, pumpkin…), 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt or silken tofu, 1 egg, and 1 to 1/2 cup of dried fruits (apricots, raisins, cranberries, cherries…).

I will pour the mixture into a greased 8×8 pan, cover with tin foil, and place in the refrigerator until the next morning. I will bake it for about 30 to 40 minutes at 350.

You might notice that my “recipe” is not very sweet. This is because I have weaned us off of a lot of real sugary foods. But to make The Dude feel special, I will usually let her dip her squares into a small cup of maple syrup.

Plus, I don’t feel bad about dousing it in cinnamon sugar the next day. Here is how we do that.

Cut your remaining pieces into desired sized squares. Then cut down the middle into two thin slices with a sharp, serrated knife. (This is why you just about have to use leftover oatmeal. It needs to be a little firmer to work well.)

(wow this shot looks rather violent huh?)

Then spread on some butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Place these puppies under the broiler until the sugar is melted and bubbling with the butter, and the edges of the oatmeal are turning brown and starting to crisp.

Holy smokes! Do you see that crispy edge?? Now this is some seriously tasty, non-blood sugar crashing, non-cereal breakfast, friends!

P.S. If you would like a more concrete baked oatmeal square recipe than the one I gave you, here are a couple of good basic ones that I really like a lot. (They happen to be vegan, but that is really just a coincidence…)

Mama Pea’s Baked Oatmeal Squares

On The Glow Basic Oatmeal Squares

Pollo Verde Lasagna

Friends, if you did not feel swayed to make the Pollo Verde before, you absolutely have to now. I am not kidding when I tell you how freaking delicious this lasagna is.

THIS LASAGNA IS FREAKING DELICIOUS!!

Saturday’s Slow Cooker Pollo Verde recipe actually yields a good bit of food considering you are only using 2 chicken breasts. So we naturally had a lot left over. While I really enjoyed the chicken, I honestly just kept feeling reluctant to go heat it up and eat it again in tacos or quesadillas like we ate it the first night.  I never mind heating up leftovers for dinner, but I rarely want to eat it the exact same way it was served before, so I will usually think up random new ways to use up what is in the fridge.

When lasagna popped into my head, I realized that I absolutely had to drop everything right then and make this for dinner on Sunday night. Unfortunately, I also realized that we had no lasagna noodles in the house. Not to be deterred, I quickly went to a blog friend to find a recipe to make my own noodles. (Dear Mother Thyme, thank you thank you! I love you. You are my new BFF!). I halved her recipe and it made three beautiful layers for my 8×8 pan. Her recipe was easy and absolutely perfect for this dish.

As for the cheese, I just sort of grabbed things at random really. I sprinkled in some grated mozzarella that needed to be used up, tossed in a little sharp cheddar, and sliced up some beautiful fresh mozzarella for the top. I think that this would be good with any combo of the ones I used with pepper jack, queso fresco, or even a little Paremsan .

I assembled and baked it just like you would a traditional lasagna.

First, I spread about 1/4 cup of the chicken onto a greased 8×8 pan. Then placed a layer of noodles. On top of the noodles went on about 1/2 cup of chicken followed by about 1/4 cup of cheese. Then I was able to repeat the process two more times with the amount of noodles I had. I also used a good bit more cheese on the very top just to make it extra cheesy and gooey.

I actually made this while The Monkey was taking her afternoon nap and when I finished it, it was about an hour away from when I wanted to pop it in the oven. So I just covered it with tin foil and set it on the counter until it was time. I baked it for 40 minutes covered. Then took the tin foil off and baked it for another 10. At that point the cheese was plenty melted, but since I have a real weakness for browned bubbly cheese, I turned on the broiler until it was to my liking. Then we let it rest for what felt like a million years, even though it was only about 10 minutes.

Seriously, guys, I cannot say too many times how great this meal was. I know you are going to love it.

Pollo Verde Lasagna

1 3/4 cups Slow Cooker Pollo Verde

1 cup cheese (cheddar, pepper jack, mozzarella, Parmesan, queso fresco….)

1/2 box lasagna noodles or 1/2 of this wonderful homemade lasagna noodle recipe

Preheat oven to 350.

At the bottom of a greased 8×8 pan, spread 1/4 cup of the chicken.

Cover with noodles.

Spread noodles with 1/2 cup of chicken.

Cover chicken with 1/4 cup of cheese.

Repeat twice, but add closer to 1/2 cup of cheese to the top layer.

Bake covered for 40 minutes.

Uncover and return to the oven for 10 minutes more.

If desired, turn on broiler for about 5 minutes, until cheese is brown and bubbly.

Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Open-faced Turkey Sandwiches

I don’t know about you guys, but I think I have just as many big plans for my Thanksgiving leftovers, as I do for the meal itself.

The leftovers are kind of the best part aren’t they?

Here is one of the ones I am currently dreaming about.

It’s an open-faced sandwich kind of thing.

Open-faced sandwiches just seem more hearty. Which is weird because they are missing a whole piece of bread. But I don’t know. You put two pieces of bread around some turkey and cheese, and it feels like a light lunch. But you take away a piece of bread, spoon on a little more gravy, use a fork and knife, and suddenly it feels like a hearty weeknight supper.

This starts off with a thick piece of sourdough bread that you place under the broiler for a couple of minutes until it gets super crispy and brown on each side.

Then you pile on the turkey as high as you please, a generous dribbling of gravy, and a thick slice or two of a sharp cheddar cheese.

Then back under the broiler it goes for a few minutes more until the cheese starts to bubble and run all over the pan with the hot gravy. Definitely scoop up that gravy and cheese overflow and put it back on your sandwich, or tear off another hunk of bread and rake it up before someone sees you and tries to take some for themselves (Hey, it is a well known fact that The Dude and The Hubs are food thieves).

I’m not going to give you an exact recipe because I’m pretty sure you know how much turkey, cheese, and gravy you would like on a slice of bread. Now go on out to the store and pick up a loaf of sourdough so you can have this on Friday before you go Christmas shopping.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!


Mashed Potato Lasagna

Today’s post is brought to you by my mom.

You can call her Heffie.

Yep. Heffie. Like the female cow except with cutesy “-ie” sound on the end.

That really is her name. You can ask The Dude.

She has been visiting this week, which is so great because she lives about five hours away and I don’t really get to see her as often as I would like. We usually talk on the phone at least once a day (at least). But I am always so excited to have her physically in my house.

The best thing about her being here though is that she and The Dude have an absolutely amazing relationship.

I sincerely hope that all of you readers out there with kids can say that your little ones have a grandparent as amazing as my mom. She has an incredible ability to make The Dude laugh like no one else I have ever seen.

At one point I found them sitting underneath a tree, throwing acorns back up into the branches while screaming and laughing, “You can have it back, Tree! I don’t want it!”

Apparently, this was one of the funniest things my child had ever done in her entire three years of life. The Dude started doing that kind of laugh where no sound comes out, and I’m pretty sure she wet her pants a little (Mom was laughing pretty hard too, but since I don’t help her in the bathroom, I can’t quite say for sure what her pants situation was).

Heffie also always manages to find really fun things to do that would never in a million years occur to me. Here I will spend hours about to bang my head against the wall from boredom of the same ol’ games with the girls, and she thinks of things of things like this.

There they are, eating a snack in the car. Just chillin’. I’m pretty sure there were also some fairly elaborate games played in there prior to the snack, but I never quite understood the rules so I can’t really describe it to you.

Basically, things are super fun at this house when Heffie is in town.

But since this is a cooking blog and not a why-my-mom-is-the-coolest blog, why don’t we go back inside and see what was happening in my kitchen during these shenanigans? I’ve got a little leftover mashed potato recipe for ya.

I love mashed potatoes, but in all honesty, I don’t really enjoy them as much warmed over. So I figured I would give them a little makeover when we had some that needed to be eaten up.

This recipe is actually a major throwback for me and The Hubs. This was something that I started making when we were a newly married couple.

Yes, it is true that I have always been a freak about not wasting food.

Basically, it is just as the name suggests. A couple of  layers of mashed potatoes, sauce, and cheese baked until bubbly and crispy around the edges. Easy peasy, friends. Easy peasy.

And as a bonus,  I am going to give you my go-to tomato sauce recipe as well.

I saute up half of an onion in some olive oil until it starts to brown a little bit. Then I toss in some garlic, a can of diced tomatoes, water, wine, crushed red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning.

I let that come to a hard simmer for about 10 minutes then crush it with a potato masher, but if I need a smooth sauce, I will give it a quick whirl with the immersion blender. Here I give it a quick taste to see how much sugar needs to go in. Every can of tomatoes is different so you should always taste the sauce before adding in sugar. Then I let it continue at a hard simmer for another 10 minutes, until about half of the liquid has evaporated.

At this point, you can just let it simmer on low until you are ready to use it. If you would like it a little thinner though, just go ahead and add in a little more water. The Hubs really likes this chunky, thick, rich sauce so that is how I often serve it.

Now you are ready to assemble the lasagna.

This is one of those great meals, where you get to totally clean up the kitchen before you ever even eat, get some other chores done, or maybe if you are super lucky, get to pour a glass of wine and put your feet up for a minute.

OK. So probably not that last part. But a girl can dream, right?

P.S. My Mom loved this dinner.

It was the least I could do for the person who makes my kid pee her pants, Mom. Love you!

Mashed Potato Lasagna

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 onion, diced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 14.5oz can chopped tomatoes

1 can water

1/4 cup red wine

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

salt, pepper, and sugar to taste

2 cups mashed potatoes

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, divided

In a medium sauce pan, saute onion in olive oil until golden.

Add garlic, tomatoes, water, wine, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning. Let simmer on high about 10 minutes.

Crush tomatoes with a potato masher. Taste for salt, pepper, and sugar. Adjust as needed.

Continue on hard simmer for about 10 minutes more, until liquid is reduced by about half.

Preheat oven to 375.

Stir 1 egg into 2 cups mashed potatoes.

Spread half of potatoes into the bottom of a greased 8×8 casserole dish.

Top potatoes with half of tomato sauce.

Sprinkle with half of cheese.

Repeat with the remainder of ingredients.

Bake covered for 40 minutes.

Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Waffle Muffins

Uh-oh.

Looks like crazy leftover lady is back.

And this time she doesn’t even have a recipe for you.

This is just something fun that I can’t stop making these days.

Which is totally sad for poor Little Dude because she is mega burned out on them.

At first she ate them happily and with excitement. Now, she always vetoes them.

I usually give her a few choices at mealtimes. And since I keep making these, I keep trying to trick her into eating them.

“So what would you like for breakfast? You could have cereal (I say in a bored tone), or oatmeal (I say with a disgusted look on my face), or WAFFLE MUFFINS?! (I say with as much enthusiasm as I can muster)”

“Ummmm maybe just cereal.”

Ok whatevs.

She didn’t buy it.

She’s over it.

I tried this again for snack and lunch, but then The Hubs called me out on it and told me to leave her alone about it. Oops.

So I am going to try to give them a rest, but not without passing them along to you first.

You know how I like to stuff muffins and breads full of healthy stuff for The Dude to eat. Well, I seriously do make up a batch of muffins about once a week for her lunch. They are rarely the same, but usually consist of some combination of chopped up fruits, oats, whole wheat flour, and milled flax seeds.

I made one batch a couple of weeks ago that were pretty moist (I think I put a good bit of Greek yogurt in…can’t really recall). And while this was delightful, fresh out of the oven; the next day at room temperature, it was not quite as charming. So I sat there thinking, wow this would be so much better if I just toasted it up with an obscene amount of butter.

Then, my eyes landed on the waffle maker that had been left sitting on the counter (who says laziness doesn’t pay off sometimes?!).

Bingo.

I split the muffins in half and placed them in the waffle maker for a couple of minutes.

Cute, hot, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside little muffin waffles.

You know you are about to go make up too many muffins so you can have some of these tomorrow.

…please just don’t offer any to The Dude. She is très bored with them now. Thanks.

Black Eyed Pea Falafels

I am thinking about maybe changing the name of this site to amylikestomakeuprecipeswhilecleaningouthefridge.com

or crapiliketodowithleftovers.net

or shestoocheaptothrowanythingout.org

No?

Keep the title I already have for now?

OK.

It just occurred to me that pretty much every recipe I have shared on this site starts with me saying, “so…I had a little leftover fill in the blank in the fridge and just hated to throw it out…”

Humor me and pretend that this is more charming and clever than it is anal and annoying.

Oh wow! What was that?

You guys just love how resourceful I am with odds and ends in the fridge?

Dude, seriously, that is sooo nice of you to say that.

And you know, it is really interesting that you suddenly felt the need to compliment my leftover using skills because it just so happens that that is what today’s recipe uses!

….

Sooooo I had some leftover black eyed peas in the refrigerator, and I just hated to throw them out.

I have used black eyed peas as a chick pea stand in for hummus before so I had a pretty good idea that this was going to be excellent.

And guess what? It is now one of our all time favorite suppers. In fact, just last night I was cooking up some flat breads for dinner and the Little Dude asked, “Is this for falafels?” I think she was a little dissapointed when I told her that it wasn’t.

(Side bar…ummm yeah…how cool is my three year old that she asks for falafels?)

These bad boys are super easy, cheap, healthy, and crazy tasty.

Simply take your leftover black eyed peas, drain off most of the liquid, pulse them up in the food processor for a couple of seconds, and then dump them into a bowl.

Next place half an onion, garlic, parsley, and an egg and give them all a few pulses together. Then pour them on top of the peas.

Now here is my shpiel on parsley. I personally feel that a little bit of parsley goes a looooong way. I know that falafels should be green from all of the parsley that you are supposed to put it in it, but this to me does not taste good. So if you are one of those people who enjoys a great deal of parsley flavor in your food then by all means, knock yourself out, but I am going to keep things moderate over here if that is OK with you.

Next up stir in the remainder of your ingredients: baking powder, cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, and bread crumbs. You may need to sprinkle in a few more bread crumbs if it looks a little more moist than you would like. This just kind of depends on how much liquid you left in your peas.

Murphy’s Law of Cooking with Kids Around #73 states that as soon as you get your hands covered in something, somebody is going to fall down, or grab a pair of scissors off the counter, or pee on themselves. So while I love to get my hands all up in my food as much as the next cook, it just isn’t a good idea most days. I discovered that an ice cream scoop is one of the best ways to form up the little patties. Plus it gives them all a uniform size, which means they will cook up evenly. Hooray!

You are totally feeling the vibes from that subliminal messaging there aren’t ya?

Flatten out your little mounds of falafel with the back of a spatula. (I tried to get a picture of this but apparently there was an earthquake or something because all of my pictures are pretty blurry)

Bake ’em up, and check it out! The South just met the Mediterranean in your kitchen!

I like to serve mine up on homemade flat breads with sharp feta, crisp baby spinach, juicy tomato slices, and a tangy little mixture of tahini and lemon juice.

So. Freaking. Good.

The Hubs and the Little Dude like to keep there’s a little more simple and a little less traditional with cheddar cheese only. Here is The Hubs modeling his that he so expertly rolled up like a burrito.

And while I do like mine better, I will tell you that this is actually pretty darn tasty too.

Black Eyed Pea Falafels

2 cups cooked black eyed peas, drained

1/2 onion

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 cup fresh parsley

1 egg

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 heaping teaspoons cumin

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

salt to taste

pepper to taste

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup bread crumbs (place extra if needed)

Preheat oven to 425.

Pulse peas in a food processor. Pour into a large bowl.

Pulse onion, garlic, parsley,and egg in food processor. Add to peas.

Stir in remaining ingredients.

Form into patties and place on a well greased cookie sheet. Spray the tops with cooking spray.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Serve on warm flat bread or pita with your choice of toppings.