Leftovers get a bad reputation. I don't know if it's because so many people just put out the same food as the night before and get bored, or because they get left in the fridge and forgotten about until they go bad, but let me encourage you to reclaim your leftovers. Add a little flair to your leftovers to help your food budget flow a little more smoothly.
This morning I made my first ever food video (I promise, I'll get better!) after trying to decide what to do with our leftover pizza ingredients from dinner last night.
As you can (sort of) see, there's not a lot left. A little pizza sauce, a few slices of meat, a few chopped peppers and onions. And no mozzarella. My usual go-to meal when I only have a little bit of this and that left is soup, so that was an option. I could always cut up another pepper, add a can of tomato sauce with loads of garlic and oregano, and have a reasonable facsimile of pizza in soup form. I also considered loaded pizza baked or roasted potatoes, and a casserole of sorts was taking shape in my mind. In the end, though, I decided to send my oldest to school with a pizza grilled cheese sandwich, which is what you see in my video. I made sure to cool it to send it to school with a freezer pack, so maybe not quite as tasty as hot, but still a delicious lunch. I'll probably eat one for lunch too, actually.
When you've got a pile of leftovers, consider how you can change them up to make something else. Dinner tonight is again leftover-based. A month ago or so I cooked a pork loin, sliced the leftovers, and froze them in meal sized portions- these are my meal starters. To a baggie of pork loin slices I am adding leftover brown rice from dinner a couple of nights ago and creating a yellow pepper, spinach, and yellow curry cream sauce. It's going to be delicious! And quick. I like quick. Quicker than sitting in the drive-through window and ordering dinner, then driving home to eat it. Definitely tastier and better for you, too. I will have dinner on the table tonight in about 15 minutes, because the rice and pork are already cooked.
Varying your foods exposes your family to different flavours in a nutritious way. You've probably heard "Variety is the Spice of Life", and it's true even when related specifically to food. We need a variety of foods in our diets to achieve the most nutrition naturally, and many spices have their own specific health-supporting properties. We definitely need as many supporting players as possible this time of year when flu and cold season starts up in full swing.
If you'd like to experiment with building your own spice blend for Garam Masala (what we in the west mostly call curry), I found this delicious-sounding recipe online this morning during my search for internet treasure. I have created in-house blends for many of my favourite spice mixtures, and sometime in the next while this will be something I experiment with. In the meantime, though, I have a brand new package of store-bought to use up, and we all enjoy eating it.
Happy Friday to you, friends! What's for dinner at your house tonight?
There are scheduled and unscheduled meal plans, and then there are the ones that are somewhere in between. Over the past month I've fallen into the latter category. I'm not exactly unscheduled, but I'm not precisely on a schedule either. I know what we've got going on and how much time I have to cook on any given night. I know what's in our fridge, freezer, and pantry. But cooking has largely been left to deciding the day of, rather than a week or two before. It's depending largely on how well I slept the night before, how my family is feeling, what kind of leftovers we have in the fridge, what my mood is, and what sorts of meal starters are in our freezer.
This week we are down to a potato, 5 mushrooms, a bunch of onions and garlic, 3 sweet peppers, 5 good sized carrots, 2 heads of romaine, and quite a few frozen vegetables of differing variety. We also have lots of canned goods- beans and fruit, and lots of meal starters in the freezer- various cooked proteins, stocks, and wraps. We are fully stocked for raw proteins as well, but I'm trying to free up space in my freezer for a good quantity of cooked turkey I expect to have after Thanksgiving.
Another post coming this week is a conversation about iron deficiency anemia. I found out late last week that my second son has very low iron, so my meals are reflecting that. This dinner pairs vitamin C (found in the potatoes and peppers) with many sources of iron- heme, from the beef, and nonheme, from the beans. We'll talk more about that later though.
For dinner this week we are using up as much fresh food as we can so it doesn't go off, and whatever meal starters I have kicking around in the freezer and pantry will make up about half our meals.
What are you eating this week? Enjoy your kitchen, and be well, friends! I'll write more soon.
One year while in college I lived with 3 roommates. We shared a 2 bedroom suite and it was one of the best years of my life.
Every Sunday I'd make "Sunday Soup". Whoever was around could come and eat soup. Sometimes it was just me, sometimes it was my roommates, sometimes guests. It always started with a package of ramen noodles and enough eggs just dropped in to poach for however many people were eating it. Whatever leftovers I could scrounge from the fridge went in there, and sometimes a handful of vegetables. The specifics are long gone, because that was 22-23 years ago, but I remember loving my soup tradition. Plus it was cheap, a very important consideration for broke college students.
Nowadays I don't make soup every Sunday, though I'm thinking I may want to revisit the idea for the fall and winter. Last night we enjoyed Sunday Soup for dinner. It's the time of year when our people are starting to catch colds or just feel under the weather. It's warm outside, but there's still a bite in the air, especially when it's windy. And I worked hard all day and was too tired to really think. Like I said on my interview with Carrie Ann, soup is my all time favourite meal to cook, especially the last week of the month when we're on the end of our fridge food.
Growing up with a mom who didn't usually waste anything, soup is one of those things we ate often. I don't remember her ever using a recipe. I got my Sunday Soup idea from her, and over the years I've cooked periodically without following a recipe as well. I like to know I can stay a little more free-flowing with my ideas, something that's a challenge for me sometimes.
This soup started with some meal starters pulled from the freezer, flavour added to with fresh onions and carrots, and enhanced with basic herbs and spices. It was gentle on the taste buds and delicious.
And sadly I will never be able to recreate this particular soup because I used some of my meal starters- a bit of this and a bit of that from my freezer- some leftover gravy, a baggie of roasted pork drippings, some turkey stock I made last Thanksgiving, and the rest of the pork loin I cooked last winter. A handful of pasta left in the bottom of the box filled it out, and voila! Dinner was served.
We saved money cooking in rather than ordering in. We used up leftover bits of food from the pantry and freezer, and took advantage of meal starters I'd been keeping track of and organized. This meal was more nutritious then anything we could have brought home and was less expensive than ordering food for the family from any local establishment- and as an added bonus, we get to enjoy the leftover soup for lunch.
What's your go-to homemade meal when you're at the end of your energy? Do you have a favourite Sunday Dinner tradition?
Enjoy your week, friends.
I love playing with wonton wrappers. I know I've barely scratched the surface of all the interesting things you can do with them. In fact, I just found this fabulous article with other ideas that I'm going to have to play with down the road.
Tonight we made taco bites. I layered extra lean ground chicken in a silicone muffin pan, seasoned with homemade taco seasoning spice, layered with frozen corn and a slice of cheddar cheese, and topped with a second wrapper. These were baked @ 375*F for about 25 minutes. Served with salsa on the side, to accommodate my picky boys' palate, and fresh vegetables.
The second picture, above, is my BBQ pork nests. These were made by stir frying red peppers, garlic, and onions together with some already cooked leftover tenderloin strips. I mixed in a little sauce, topped them off with a bit of cheese, and baked for about the same length of time at the same temperature. They were delicious, and were a hit appetizer at the party I brought them to.
The third is a twist on the second. These wontons were cooked more traditionally, the BBQ pork stuffed inside the wrappers, sealed, boiled, and then pan fried until crisp. Served with coleslaw, they were given a 2-thumbs up by my first son.
Did any of these ideas inspire you to start playing around in your kitchen? #testkitchen fun! These are especially fun to use when you have some time and a few leftover ingredients you're looking to find a use for. I was able to use up the last of my pork tenderloin, the last pepper, and the end of my bag of frozen corn.
Enjoy your day, friends.
It's a sandwich for dinner tonight! This weather, while gorgeous, has taken me by surprise this early in the year. Today's high is almost 30*C (close to 85*F), and it's a beautiful night to sit on the soccer field.
I don't know if this kind of sandwich has a different name in another place, but in our house we call it the grilled wrap. It's a large whole grain/whole wheat wrap, stuffed with sweet peppers, leftover cooked meat (tonight we're using some beef or turkey from the freezer), sauteed onions, peppers, and garlic and a bit of sauce and cheese. We're using BBQ sauce with cheddar tonight, but you could also use tzatziki or hummus with feta, caesar salad dressing with parmesan, or hot sauce and monterey jack cheese with jalapenos.
The advantage to this kind of dinner is the speed it's cooked at. Sauteeing takes, at most, 5 minutes. We use the George Foreman Grill to grill it, though the BBQ or a smaller sandwich press works well too. At most, again, 5 minutes. And I can set it up on the deck to cut down on how much heat sets up in the house.
This is a pretty basic recipe, but there will be a printable pdf available tomorrow on my Wednesday giveaway, with all the options listed here, including the exact way I made the sandwich pictured above. Check back on Facebook tomorrow for the like, comment, and share post.
Last night I introduced our kids to soup with dumplings.
When I was a child, my mom used to take a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and somehow throw it all together and end up with a big pot full of yummy. To this day, homemade soup is one of my most favourite meals to create. It's nutritious, easy on the wallet, and perfect to use up the little bits and pieces left in your fridge and pantry at the end of the month.
It rained all day yesterday, a cold and driving rain, the wind was blustery, and altogether miserable. Not that I'm complaining...we need the rain. But we really didn't want to turn the furnace on again, and our house was so cold. This soup did a marvelous job of warming us up from the inside-out.
Dumplings are really easy to make, just a bit gooey while you're mixing up the dough. My second son thought he "sort of, kind of, maybe liked them", and my first son gobbled his up.
Dumplings are basically baking powder biscuits cooked in the soup. They get dropped in to boiling soup in small globs of dough, where they expand and grow as they cook. They're moist, because they get cooked in hot stock. They absorb some of the liquid, so you do want a good amount of soup to work with. You can flavour them with seasoning, spices, herbs, cheese, garlic...anything you want, really. It would be a great way to add interesting layers of flavour to your soup. For the boys though, I wanted to go with plain. Change is hard! Adding dough to the soup was change enough for those two.
The best thing about soup is that you can use up your leftovers- less food waste, and your budget goes further. And homemade soup is invariably more nutritious than store bought. You control the ingredients you add.
Leftover soup and grilled cheese sandwiches with fresh vegetables is what we're enjoying for dinner tonight. Tomorrow morning's #tuesdaysoupseries giveaway is this childhood turkey soup with dumplings recipe.
Do you have any special recipes you turn to when the weather is foul or when you need a throwback to comfort food from your childhood?
Enjoy your day, friends,
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