My week in leftovers. Dinner, a side, a salad and dessert with my leftovers. 

My friends always ask: “How do you just look into the fridge and know what to do with random ingredients?” Answer: I brainstorm.  I investigate.  I experiment.  And the people who eat at my table eat better because of that.  This week I made a series of #Cheftovers dishes with all kinds of stuff I had in the form of leftovers or extra ingredients.  

Now, I don’t profess to be an experienced recipe developer.  I do what I can to share what I am doing, or have done, with specific ingredients.  But the inherent nature of leftovers is that no one household is going to have the same ingredients (of leftovers) so it’s hard for me to share or spread “recipes.” I prefer to share ideas, and inspiration.  So in that spirit, here is what I did this week:


I roasted a whole chicken and prepared stuffing (confession: it was boxed and I’m not ashamed).  Needless to say, in a household of two adults, a whole chicken and a whole recipe of stuffing left us with excess.  I took the extra stuffing and added a beaten egg and pressed it into a small tart pan (no reason you couldn’t use a pie pan on a larger scale) then baked it for a while for a crust.  



Then I combined beaten eggs and a hodge podge of what I had around (shallots, zucchini, and some of that roasted chicken) and poured it into the “crust.” I topped it with a little bit of shredded cheese and baked it until the egg was firm.  Boom. “Dinner Quiche-ish.”


Hands down, my hubby’s favorite meal I make is bruchetta and spaghetti carbonara.  Made that Sunday.  But there was leftover bruschetta.  Shocking, I know.  I immediately thought of panzanella.  


It’s a bread salad of sorts using stale bread, basil, tomato, red onion and red pepper (which I already had on hand because I made chicken cacciatore over the weekend too) I chopped up the leftovers and looked up a couple of recipes online to see if I was missing anything. But it was super easy and super fresh, despite may use of leftovers.


Risotto is one of my favorite go-to dinners, because you can play around with it, kind of like a canvas.  I made a nice lemon and artichoke risotto, a hit with both my kids and my husband. But again, there was more than we needed.  So I thought of arancini.  Essentially they are fried rice balls. Now do I have our attention?  I took leftover risotto, mixed in a little grated cheese and a beaten egg, rolled them into balls and coated them in bread crumbs to fry them up.  Mic, dropped. 

 
Now to dessert.  It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, I am up early and thinking about what I am going to do, and cook.  When I wake up on a weekend, I usually put on Food Network to get inspired.  I landed on a nice episode of “Southern at Heart,” with Damaris Phillips, who I had the chance to meet at this year’s Fabulous Food Show.  


She was making a picnic for $30 date and prepared chocolate mason jars. I thought, “I can do that !” And I had some leftover eggnog in the fridge (yes, it’s still in stores, it is not a month old!) Instead of whole milk, I used the egg nog.  And I’ll be honest…it was kinda genius.  Just for show, I crumbled a little of the Rice Krispie treats my kids asked me to make that same day, and topped it with a chocolate covered almond.  And it was spectacular.  And easy.  And quick. And delicious.


The moral of the leftover story is, you have more around than you realize.  More potential and more deliciousness.  You just need to get adventurous!  And get to sharing.  Tell me what you’re doing with your leftovers. 

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Which Friendsgiving style are you?

I am now of the age and stage in my life where I’m participating more in the execution of Thanksgiving. Contributing more dishes, even hosting. It can be intimidating to try and live up to the Thanksgiving traditions of the past.  So don’t! Create your own. 

My dear friend and fellow creative type, Rachel, has helped me come up with three distinctive styles for Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving gatherings. Use any or all of our ideas to pull off a stylish event, with savory and sweet elements, plus cocktails! Just add turkey!

Moody Modernist Menu

These offerings use things I already have on hand in new and tasty ways, incorporating Rachel’s Mid Century Modern décor for presentation. We started with a bold-patterned runner, added metallic candleholders and layered in elements of gold to tie things together. Using a sleek martini glass dresses up the soup and gives guests the green light to go bottoms-up at the table.

Buttercup Squash Soup, inspired by Martha Stewart’s version of butternut squash soup.

Sweet Potato Skins, a nod to the classic candied yams dish, as adapted by me. It scratches the itch without tipping the scales. (recipe below)

Stuffing in a Bundt Pan, Kim’s Healthy Eats and A Spicy Perspective both posted such ideas on Pinterest. I used those instructions to give it a shot, using the recipe for stuffing from Fresh Fork Market. 

Cranberry Ginger Champagne Cocktail, 2 oz. ginger infused vodka (I shaved small slices of fresh ginger and placed them in a jar of vodka in the fridge for about a week), 4 oz. cranberry juice, a generous splash of champagne, and a dash of lime juice.

friendsgiving pecan pie bark

Pecan Pie Bark, like Rachel’s contribution to this blog, the recipe comes from a guest blogger on Wishes n Dishes incorporating all the flavors and a fraction of the effort it takes to get those distinct flavors of the traditional dessert.

Comfort Food Chic Menu

Every dish in this menu incorporates one or more element of leftovers! Great for an evening gathering during the long weekend. Keeping it casual, the packing paper serves dual purpose as a runner and a place for guests to scribble what they are thankful for. Wood, wicker, copper and linen add texture and warmth, while a tiered stand lets the food take center stage. (recipes below)

Sriracha Fried Mac n Cheese Bites take leftover macaroni and cheese and give it new life, and a kick! Served with Sriracha Ranch Dipping Sauce.

friendsgiving comfort food dishes

Stuffing Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms Didn’t polish off all the stuffing at the main event? No problem. Use my version as a starting point and make it your own.

friendsgiving brie and cranberry

Mini Baked Brie Bites, proof that cranberry is a perfect complement to creamy Brie cheese. Take what’s left of the Thanksgiving cranberry sauce and make this satisfying appetizer.

Apple Pie on the Rocks This seasonally spicy sipper will even satisfy the vegan in the crowd. Source: Vegan Yack Attack

friendsgiving pumpkin roll ice cream sandwich

Pumpkin Roll Ice Cream Sandwich A scoop of butter pecan ice cream smooshed between two thin slices of my favorite fall dessert, with some fall sprinkles for color.

Friendly Farmhouse Menu

friendsgiving friendly farmhouse table

To me, this collection makes for a great brunch menu, perfect for those hosting out of town guests during the holiday. No matter the time of day, always include fresh floral on your table. We threw sunflowers in a grey pitcher to complement the ticking stripe napkins. Stacked plates and a silverware caddy let guests grab what they need without interrupting a busy host.

Sausage Stuffing Quiche created in individual “minis” or bake a large one to slice up at brunch. The “stuffing as crust” idea courtesy of a post on Food.com but, like I did, you can use whats around to add to the egg.

friendsgiving sweet potato chips

Sweet potato chips with garlic aioli, the recipe for the dipping sauce came from a fellow blogger, Our Life Tastes Good. I deep fried the thinly sliced-sweet potatoes, but you could bake them instead.

friendsgiving green bean casserole cups

Green Bean Casserole Cups (this could also make use of leftovers). Take your family’s version of the thanksgiving staple and serve it in a new way. For step-by-step instructions courtesy of Pillsbury, click here.

Apple Cider Mimosas, make the bottomless brunch beverage more seasonal by swapping OJ for cider.

friendsgiving candy bar cookies

Loaded Halloween Candy Cookie Bars, a childhood friend and fellow food blogger, Michelle, of  The Secret Ingredient Is helped me out with this one.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving please share your creations with us @cheftovers @roaringacres #friendsgiving #thanksgiving.

RECIPES:

Sweet Potato Skins

Ingredients: 4 yams or sweet potatoes (baked ahead of time and cooled), 8 T. melted butter, pinch of salt, 2 T. Brown sugar, ½-1 tsp. each of ginger and cinnamon, ¼ t. nutmeg, marshmallows

Directions:  Slice potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out about half of the inside. (Careful, as the skins of these are more delicate than russet potatoes). Melt the butter in a small sauce pan and add brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. Stir until it forms a syrup, then remove from the heat. Brush the mixture over the potato skin and place in the oven to broil on HIGH for about 5 minutes, until the edges start to get crispy. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with mini marshmallows. (5-7 per potato) Place back under the broiler, on LOW, for 2-3 minutes, until marshmallows are toasted.

Sriracha Fried Mac n Cheese

Ingredients:  Leftover mac n cheese, flour (seasoned), 1 egg (beaten), Sriracha hot chili sauce, panko bread crumbs, salt and pepper, blended oil, ranch for dipping

Directions:  Place spoonfuls of mac n cheese onto a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper or foil. Put the tray in the freezer for at least 25-30 min. Heat a deep skillet (cast iron if you’ve got it) to medium high and pour in about 2 inches of oil. Remove tray from the freezer and dredge each mac n cheese pile in flour. Add 1 T. of Sriracha (more or less depending on how hot you like it) to the egg, and coat the floured bites in the mixture. Finally, cover each one in panko bread crumbs. Fry the bites in the oil until golden brown, turning once. Place on paper towel to drain. Serve with ranch for dipping. (Add a dollop of Sriracha to that too if you so desire.)

Mini Baked Brie and Cranberry Bites

Ingredients:  Frozen puffed pastry (sheets or squares), leftover cranberry sauce (preserves, like blackberry, can also be substituted), Brie cheese (wedge or round)

Directions:  Preheat oven to 400 (or the temperature listed on the baking instructions for the puff pastry, if different). Thaw frozen puff pastry dough for 20-25 min. Cut the pastry into 2-3 inch squares. Place a pastry square over each cup of the mini cupcake tin and gently push them down, so as not to tear the dough. Insert a cube of cheese into each one, about 1-2 inch squares. Gather the corners of the squares to the center.  Some of the cranberry will still be exposed. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Cool for 3-4 minutes, then gently pop each bite out with a butter knife.

Stuffing Stuffed Mini Portabellas

Ingredients:  Mini portabella mushrooms (washed, stems removed), leftover Thanksgiving stuffing (the kind with sausage is the best!), grated fontina cheese, truffle oil (optional), extra virgin olive oil

Directions:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place mushroom caps upside down on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Stuff each mushroom with a spoonful of stuffing (about a tablespoon, depending on the size of the mushroom). Fill it up and pack it tightly. Drizzle a bit of truffle oil on top (optional). Sprinkle cheese on top to cover. Bake for 25 min.

 

 

Roasted Garlic and Jalapeno White Bean Dip.

This week marks the official beginning of picnic and barbecue season.  Memorial Day, Father’s Day, graduation parties and a host of other outdoor gatherings will bring food and people together (rain or shine) from now through Labor Day.  I never like to come empty-handed.  So I perused my fridge and cupboard to find the makings of a great go-to dip that you can replicate and bring to the next gathering you attend.

cannellini beans

My initial inspiration for this dip was the cannellini beans I had leftover from a vegetable soup my daughter and I made earlier in the week.  The recipe only called for a half a can, so I had about 1 cup left.  The idea of a white bean dip popped into my head.  But I usually find those to be rather bland. I dug deeper into the refrigerator, and came across half of a jalapeno I had remaining from a batch of guacamole.  Bingo.  That would give it just the kick I was looking for.  I decided to roast it, along with some garlic, to take the edge off both ingredients.

jalapeno-and-garlic

I put the halfed jalapeno (seeds removed) and three cloves of garlic into a small ramekin, drizzled some olive oil on them and sprinkled a pinch of salt.  I roasted the combo in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes until the garlic achieved “GBD” status-Golden, Brown, Delicious.

roasted-garlic-and-jalapeno

It was time for my trusty food processor.  I poured in 1 cup of the cannellini beans, and added the roasted garlic cloves and jalapeno.  I seasoned the mixture with six cranks from my black pepper grinder and 1/4 t. of salt.  Then I fired up the food processor and gradually added roughly 2 T. of olive oil and let it blend for about a minute.  And, you’re done!

If you’re so inclined, I think a pinch of smokey cumin would be a nice touch in this dip too.  Of if you prefer even more heat, try a pinch of chipotle chili pepper in it.

roasted-jalapeno-and-garlic-white-bean-dip

I served my Roasted Garlic and Jalapeno White Bean Dip with celery sticks, but you could do slices of red, yellow or green peppers, maybe pita chips…whatever you want.  Pop open a cold beer to wash down the heat, and enjoy!

Cinco de Mayo Hangover Soup

I’ll admit it.  On the week of Cinco de Mayo, I’ll always fall prey to the marketing ploys of grocery stores (ex. limes, tortilla chips, Mexican beer, and guacamole components displayed prominently at the front of the store)  I’ve also been known to throw back a few more than I should on a day that doesn’t really have any significance to this Italian/Slovenian girl.  Hey, “when in Rome….errrr, Mexico City…” Right?  This recipe is for those of you who fall into one, or both of those same categories.  

Earlier this week I made chicken fajitas with fresh guacamole, hands down my favorite dish to order at a Mexican restaurant and one of my favorites to make at home as well.  So on day two, I found myself with some leftover chicken, black beans (both cooked), jalapenos, avocado, roasted corn and cilantro.  Rather than transforming the flavor profile of the meat (silly, since it was already heavily seasoned) I chose to make something new with some of the same ingredients I worked with the day before.

leftover chicken fajitas

I don’t know about you, but when I’m working through a hangover, I often like to “sweat it out.”  So I decided to bring the heat…and put these, and a few other ingredients, together to create a Cheftovers version of tortilla soup.

simmering mexican veggies

I chose a dutch oven for this project, and started with chopped garlic, jalapenos and onion.  I sauteed those in some canola oil until the onions were translucent, just a couple minutes.  Then I tossed in the roasted corn and season chicken (chopped into small pieces) I had leftover from “fajita night.”  Next, I cracked open a can of petite diced tomatoes and poured those in.  And since this was a soup, it certainly needed some stock.  I added a carton of chicken stock, making sure to season it generously with salt, and chipotle chili pepper to add some more, smokey heat to my “soup-to-be.”

adding ingredients to cinco de mayo soup

Finally, I tossed in a few sprigs of fresh cilantro, and squeezed a couple of lime wedges’ worth of juice into the pot to give it some brightness and acidity.

simmering cinco de mayo hangover soup

I brought the soup to a boil, then reduced the heat and let it simmer at a medium/low for about a half hour.  Toward the end, I tossed in the leftover black beans (didn’t want them to get too mushy or break down from being in there too long).  I tasted my soup and decided to add just a little more chipotle pepper and a bit more lime juice (a preference thing).  Now, it was time for some elaborate garnishes, since I had some on hand.

finishing the cinco de mayo soup

After scooping out a couple ladles full of my Cinco de Mayo Hangover Soup, I sliced up some fresh avocado and jalapenos, then tossed in a few more sprigs of cilantro.

cinco de mayo hangover soup

You could also add some crunchy baked tortilla strips for texture, or some shredded cheese.

Vamos a comer!  Let’s eat!  This soup should make you sweat as much, or as little as you want…and help you get to Seis de Mayo.  Now, I gotta ask…What’s your favorite hangover meal?

 

Bistro Panini

I love a good grilled panini.  And like lots of other Cheftovers tricks, it’s kind of a blank canvas.  Add your favorite creamy cheese to a crispy, chewy ciabatta roll, along with whatever veggies and meat move you…and you’re in business!  

This week I used one of my got-to’s for weekday meals, a roast in the slow cooker.  I made a London broil roast with pretty basic seasoning.  But as is often the case, I made more than we needed for just two of us.

sliced roast

So I sliced up the rest of the beef and immediately began drooling over my idea, incorporating one of the tasty Orlando baked goods I came across during my review of their new products (see previous post).  I was going to grill up a couple of paninis using their Heat & Serve Ciabatta Rolls.

ciabatta rolls 

Now that I had the canvas for my panini, (the rolls) and the protein (my leftover London broil) I was excited to find a couple of other elements to boost the tastiness factor.  And I knew caramelized onions would have to join the party!

sliced onions

I sliced up a whole sweet onion into rings, then tossed a couple tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of olive oil into a saute pan.  I added the onions to the pan, seasoned them and left them on a low-medium heat for about 90 minutes, stirring them only once every 15 min or so.

(Here’s the part of my process where I unload the dishwasher, feed my kids, flip the laundry, etc.  I’m so glamorous.)

caramelized onions

When the onions turned this beautiful color, I was ready for the final components.  I found the chunk of creamy Havarti cheese that my husband picked up at the grocery store this week to snack on.  But I got to it first!   And I was sure this would be a super compliment to what I was drumming up.  Now for a sauce, spread or condiment…couldn’t be something ordinary.

panini condiments

I decided to try two routes…using a deli horseradish sauce for sandwiches (something we like to keep around the house) and I was also going to mix up a balsamic mayo.  I have developed quite a collection of balsamic vinegar varieties in my cupboard… I’ve got Sicilian Lemon and Mango white balsamic, chocolate, and raspberry.  I don’t find use for them often, but when I do, they’re usually the MVP of the dish.  For this panini, I liked the garlic cilantro one.  I mixed a couple spoonfuls of olive oil mayo with a couple teaspoons of the balsamic vinegar….oooh yeah, that was what I was going for!   balsamic mayo spread

grilling the panini

I assembled two sandwiches using a couple slices of Havarti, a spoonful of caramelized onions, three slices of my leftover roast, and one of the spreads on each.  Then I placed them on my panini press and eagerly awaited their gooey goodness.  They sat on the grill for about 5 minutes until I saw those pretty grill marks on the outside of the ciabatta rolls.  Know that the contents may slide out a bit, or ooze out a little.

bistro panini with carmelized onions

Now it was pay off time, and it was sweet!  These were warm, chewy, tangy and sweet.  And the best part?  I have more of all of the ingredients so I can make this again.

Duck, part deux: how I made lasagna out of cassoulet leftovers

I had a pretty awesome birthday this year, topped off by a dinner out at a fantastic French restaurant.  When I have the pleasure of dining there, I order the cassoulet. (a rich, slow cooked casserole of sorts, with duck confit, pork belly and white beans) It’s decadent and delectable.  This time I also indulged in a recommended appetizer, so I couldn’t man up and finish the entire cassoulet myself.  So, I doggy-bagged that dish and brought it home to enjoy again.  But how?

leftover cassoulet

There were a lot of white beans there, which were creamy and beautifully cooked.  But I can’t just eat spoonfuls of them.  I pureed them along with some olive oil and the other stragglers -a couple of carrots and some parsley-and decided I was going to turn this doggy bag of delight into lasagna!

white bean filling

I had some lasagna noodles in the cupboard, so that covered one layer.  I decided the white bean puree would serve the same purpose at the ricotta usually does. (it had the same texture and consistency)  And I had an Italian cheese blend in the deli drawer of my fridge.  All that was left to tackle was the sauce.

leftover duck confit

I decided the duck leg from the cassoulet would substitute for the ground meat I usually work into a lasagna sauce.  So I chopped the meat off the bone, but reserved the bone (figuring it could come in handy later)

Now, a traditional lasagna sauce starts with garlic, onion and olive oil to flavor the browning meat.  Then you add tomato and spices.  So I too began with garlic, onion and olive oil and sauteed that until the veggies softened.  Then I added about 15 oz of canned tomato sauce I had in the cupboard.  I stirred in some salt and pepper, basil and oregano then tossed in the duck leg bone to incorporate that rich meaty flavor.  When the sauce got to a nice simmer, I covered it and let it mature for about 30 min on low.  duck lasagna sauce

Next, I tossed in the chopped duck meat to make for the chunky, meaty sauce that I’m used to.  I let that sit on the stove for another 15 min, also on low.

layering the lasagna

Now it was time to layer.  I started with a thin layer of my sauce.  Then I placed a no-bake lasagna noodle on top, followed by a layer of my white bean puree and a heavy handed sprinkling of Italian cheese blend.  I repeated this process twice more, ending with a layer of sauce and white bean puree mixed together.  Then a last helping of shredded cheese.

duck lasagna

I covered this French-Italian fusion experiment with foil and popped it in the oven at 350* for 35-40 minutes (until it was bubbly).  Voila!  That’s French, right?!

If I’m being honest, I could actually eat cassoulet (leftover or not) a couple times a week.  So it wasn’t my first instinct to mess with “perfection.”  But the idea of zapping this beautiful collection of ingredients into a microwave on day two made my heart hurt.  So, getting creative (or crazy) with these classic French elements was the next best thing the next day!

Mangia Mojo Shrimp Skewers

Shrimp cocktail is a real treat…one you shouldn’t waste when there’s excess. (I’m still unsure why there ever is!) But it has a short shelf life.  So when there was a bowl full of shrimp leftover from my birthday dinner (Thanks, Mom) I moved quickly to execute some Cheftovers magic. 

shrimp cocktail

I recently connected with the fine folks and fellow foodies at Mangia Dry Rub(http://www.mangia.tv/) They invited me to try a couple of their products and incorporate them into some of my Cheftovers concoctions.  Since one of them was labeled “Shrimp Mojo Dry Rub,” I took this as a sign!  It’s packed with Cajun flavors (Ingredients: onion powder, garlic powder, salt, sugar, spices: paprika, celery, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper and turmeric)

mangia dry rub

I followed the instructions on the package, and mixed two parts spice mix with one part oil (I used canola) then added that to a Ziploc bag full of the  cocktail shrimp for a kind of “reverse marinade” since the shrimp was already cooked.  I stuck that in the fridge for about an hour until I was ready to grill ’em up.

marinating shrimp

When it was time to fire them, I found some wooden skewers and a long grill pan.  I threaded six or seven shrimp on each skewer, and was pleased with how well the Mangia Mojo rub stuck to the shrimp. I hate when all the marinade (and the flavor) is left in the container you marinated in, instead of on the meat.

bringing shrimp up to temp

Here was the tricky part.  The shrimp was already cooked, and it’s really easy to over cook it, of course.  So to prevent tough, overdone shrimp, but also grill in that “mojo” I let the shrimp sit out on the counter for a few minutes to bring it up to room temperature.  I cranked up the burners below the grill pan to high.  What I was going for was a nice sear or grill marks on the outside…just a quick fire to change the flavor of the shrimp.  It only took a minute or two on each side.  (it’ll depend on the size of the shrimp you’re working with)

grilling shrimp

It was as easy as that!  I grabbed a nice pasta salad (also made with leftovers https://www.facebook.com/Cheftovers) from the fridge to accompany it.

pasta salad

Suddenly this meal was starting to feel like I was bringing the cook-out indoors.  The Mangia Mojo Dry Rub gave the shrimp cocktail a new personality, and it helped turn an appetizer into a satisfying supper.

mangia mojo shrimp skewers

mix one part