Got leftovers? Create easy second-day specialties

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January 2012

The most wonderful time of the year has passed and, like many, you are strapped for cash after spending too much on gifts — and those boots you’ve been coveting that were half off. What is the best way to start off the new year and save money when it comes to cutting your kitchen budget? Being creative with your leftovers, of course. 
 
Leftovers often get a bad wrap. Instead of eating a repeat from last night’s dinner, why not reinvent your meal and give it a new life? No one wants to reheat and eat the exact same meal multiple days in a row. But with a little preparation and creativity you can turn those dreaded leftovers into satisfying meals without compromising your culinary standards and wasting food.
 
Cooking with leftovers can be a fun challenge. Finding myself with leftovers lurking in the fridge, I reached out to my gourmet go-to-girl, Lemon Sugar’s Erin Mahoney, for some quick tips on putting a new spin on leftovers. Mother of two and all-around cooking pro, she says consider leftover meals at the same time you prepare the main meal to ensure you have a plan in place. Here is a delicious use for leftover ham to make sure your scraps don’t go to waste:
  
Ham and Provolone Sliders
Leftover ham, thinly sliced
Mayonnaise
Sliced provolone cheese
Leftover dinner rolls
Topping:
1 stick unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
1 Tablespoon Worchestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
 
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice rolls in half and spread mayonnaise on both sides of the rolls. Top the bottom half of the roll with ham and provolone, then replace the top of the roll. Place sandwiches on a baking sheet and prepare topping. In a small microwave safe dish, melt butter. To melted butter, add mustard, Worchestershire sauce and poppy seeds and whisk together. Using a pastry brush, spread the top of each sandwich with the butter mixture. Cover sandwiches with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil and bake for two minutes more, or until cheese is melted. 
 
New twists on an old dish
Turning leftovers into new dishes is as easy as pie. I usually start by asking myself, “What recipe do I know that has similar ingredients?” Extra vegetables, grains and protein can be re-imagined into a brand new meal. When you find yourself with a refrigerator full of leftovers and no ideas, try these:
 
Pasta: If you have extra pasta on hand, toss in leftover protein and veggies with a little marinara or pesto sauce for a quick and easy 15-minute meal. Or, if you had pasta the night before, freshen it up by adding in a little spinach and drizzling with olive oil. You can even throw pasta in the oven and sprinkle bread crumbs on top and have a delicious pasta bake.
 
Soup: A slow-cooked stew or noodle soup can really hit the spot during the winter months. Add leftover veggies and meat with beef or chicken stock and you now have a delicious and stomach filling meal that helps free up some of your fridge real estate. 
 
Omelets: Omelets are quick, easy and relatively cheap. It’s a great way to use up leftovers that are lingering in your fridge. Heat your leftovers and then throw them into an omelet for breakfast or dinner. 
 
Pizza: If you keep some pre-made crusts on hand (or mix up your own dough in advance), you can quickly turn last night’s dinner into a pizza your entire family will love. Here is a great pizza recipe from Lemon Sugar’s Mahoney:
 
Pizza Toppings (you can substitute these with any vegetable or protein in your fridge)
2 cups freshly grated mozzarella cheese
6 oz ground, browned sausage
14 oz canned diced tomatoes, drained
8 oz black olives, roughly chopped
Sprinkle of kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Garlic powder
Dried oregano
 
Direction: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat the bottom of an oven-safe skillet with about 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stretch pizza dough over the bottom and sides of the pan (our use pre-made crust). Cover crust with half of grated cheese. Spread tomatoes in an even layer over cheese. Season tomatoes with salt, pepper, garlic powder and dried oregano, to taste. Add olives and the remaining cheese. Top with sausage. 

 

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