Table Talk–Left-overs

Do you ever get totally frustrated with the left-overs in your refrigerator or the odds and ends in the cupboard?  With just a few little tricks you can eliminate waste, create new dishes, and save some money.

Similar dishes use almost the same spices and can usually be combined without problems because the flavors are closely related.  For instance, basil, garlic, onion and tomato are used in most Italian dishes—spaghetti, lasagna, pizza sauce, marinara, and others.  If you make a pizza sauce and create too much, you can simply use the left-over sauce the next time you make spaghetti, lasagna, or need a little tomato sauce in a soup base, or chili.

Onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder, and lemon or lime can be used in almost anything Mexican—Spanish rice, beans, meat for tacos, enchiladas, whatever.  Sometimes we will make beans and rice. With the left-overs, I can add a little salsa to the mixture, roll them in tortillas (flour or corn) and pour green enchilada sauce over the top.  It has to be the green one and there is only one that I love.  Here is the photo:

This sauce makes anything you make delicious!  I have used it for rice and bean enchiladas, chicken enchiladas, I think I even poured it into some taco meat I was making one time….yummy!

A lot of creating in the kitchen is just knowing what spices are used in the base and then using your imagination, or what you have on hand.  There are certain things you can use for substitutes if you do not have the required ingredient on hand.  Brown sugar, white sugar, and honey can be used almost interchangeably in most recipes.  Powdered or canned milk can be substituted for regular milks, or rice milk, soy milk, or other milk.  Sometimes I use powdered eggs in my baking–1 TBLS of egg mix and 2 TBLS of water.  Though powdered eggs do OK in a bread/cake kind of recipe, powdered eggs to eat, I find nasty.  I won’t do that again.  Tomato paste can be watered down to tomato sauce.  I even used a can of tomato soup in place of sauce one time.  It does change the flavor a little, but not much.  And sometimes, you can just eliminate an ingredient….i.e. vanilla is just a flavoring.  You really don’t need it in your cookies.

Left-over cooked vegetables from a pot-roast or even roasted in the oven just scream “Put me in a soup!”  Just boil some water, add bullion (chicken, beef, or vegetable) for flavoring, maybe some flour, corn starch, or instant mashed potato flakes to thicken it up, add your already cooked vegetables, left over meat, noodles, barley or beans if desired and tada….you have soup.  Serve it with bread and salad and your meal is complete.

One day we made apple crisp and my family ate all of the topping off of it.  The next morning I only had cooked apples left.  No one was going to eat that.  What could I do??  Apples, cinnamon, sugar, oats…..hmmmmm.  So I made oatmeal for breakfast, cut up the apples from the crisp, added a little more cinnamon and sugar, and toasted the rolls from dinner the night before.  Viola!  Oatmeal with a little twist.

Many left-overs can be dressed up in a new way and eaten before they mold in the fridge.  If you don’t know how to use a spice in your spice rack, look it up on the internet and see how it is used.  You will learn something new and have new tricks in your cooking repertoire.  Have faith in yourself!!  With a little courage, you may come up with a new favorite food.  Try it, you might like it!

What is your favorite left-over dish??  How do you serve it? 

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