Saturday, 8 January 2011

Leftovers: How to make the most of your food!

Why do people cook and bake their own food? Easy: it is cheaper and, usually, healthier than dining out. People want a good value for their food and many uses for their ingredients.
But there will be times when you ask yourself: "What am I going to do with all these leftovers?!" I am here to help and make suggestions! If you are ever "stuck" and wondering what to do with all those tomatoes, look up recipes, read blogs, and check out cookbooks. Inspiration IS everywhere!

Below are three wonderful examples of what to do when you have leftovers:

1) You decide to make "Chicken Caprese" one night for dinner. Now you have left over tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil.

-Dice the tomatoes and add it to tomorrow's salad.
-With the left over chicken and cheese, make grilled paninis!
-With other leftover cheeses, add the mozzarella to a cheese sauce for a homemade mac and cheese.
-Marinate the cheese in extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried herbs. Add it to a salad.
-Finely shred the basil and top it over a pasta dish.
-Make a basil-garlic mayo spread and use it for the week.

2) You have some friends over to watch some football and you decide to make some fresh pico do gallo, spicy chiptole salsa, and guacamole. You still have some leftovers after everyone is gone.
-Use the pico for tomorrow's breakfast with eggs.
-Add the pico and guac to a salad. Top with grilled chicken.
-Make giant burritos and add the spicy salsa.
-Add the salsa to a meat or chicken marinade.
-Have chiptole peppers leftover? Make a chiptole-cream sauce and add the pico for a SW-Spicy Pasta.
-Use the guac as a "spread" for a sandwich.

3)You're baking your best friend's birthday cake. You have leftover buttermilk, milk chocolate, and a ton of butter!

-Use the buttermilk in mashed potatoes or any potato dish, instead of regular milk. The vinegar in the buttermilk will add more taste and freshness to your potato dish.
-Make buttermilk biscuits for tomorrow's chili dinner.
-Have your friends over and make homemade cocoa with the chocolate.
-Make chocolate chip cookies!
-Make a savory butter to top grilled fish or chicken: soften the one stick of butter to room temp. Add salt, black pepper, and desired dried herbs. Chill.
A garlic-dill butter is great over grilled salmon.
-Using the flavored butter, add it to a cream sauce for tomorrow's pasta dish.

What else is good to have when creating dishes with leftovers? A well-stocked pantry.
What is a pantry: your food basics that you always have in your fridge. The basics. The foundations.
A well-stock pantry should contain:
-Salt (to be more specific: sea salt, kosher salt, and id ionized salt)
-Black pepper mill
-Vinegars (have at least 2 stock. I like balsamic and white.)
-Extra virgin olive oil and canola/veg oil
-All-Purpose flour
-White and brown sugar
-Baking powder/Baking soda
-Assorted dried herbs/spices (depends on which ones you use the most. The most popular: thyme, mustard, oregano, basil, ginger, clove, all spice, cinnamon, etc)
-Eggs, milk, and unsalted butter
-Garlic, onions, celery, carrots, and bell peppers are the most popular and useful produce.
-Bananas, apples, pears, oranges, and lemons are the most popular fruits and have many uses.
-Dried pastas, assorted rices, and other grains you eat. (Like quinoa, cous cous, buckwheat, other assorted noodles)
-Canned tomatoes, olives, and peppers have many uses and a long shelf-life.
When it comes down to it, your pantry depends on what you eat the most. The basics you have on hand. Keep your pantry well-stocked! Always be shopping for more items to add to it.

When grocery shopping, buy ingredients that have many uses to make the most of your food budget.
Not sure what to use a certain ingredient? Look it up, and find recipes dedicated to that one ingredient. Popular foods like onions, garlic, bell peppers, and carrots can be used in many dishes versus buy unique, unpopular foods. Stick with the basics and you will create many dishes with your pantry.

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