Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Humble Potato

I've had a little bit of fun with potatoes this week. I had baked potatoes on my menu plan a few days ago and I ended up baking a few more than we were able to eat that evening. So what do you do with leftover baked potatoes?

I know there are tons of ideas for the versatile vegetable, but I'll tell you what I ended up doing that we all enjoyed. I took the 4 remaining potatoes and cut them in half. I scooped out some of the white centers, leaving 1/4" to 1/2" of flesh on the skins. I brushed these with olive oil and baked them for several minutes, turning halfway through, until they were pretty crispy on the outside. Then I put them peel-side down on the cookie sheet and filled the space with shredded cheese and bacon bits. I baked a little longer, just till the cheese melted. We spread on sour cream and had great potato skins another evening.

Do you think I tossed out that scooped potato?? Heck, no!! I put it in a container in the refrigerator. Today for lunch, I pulled it out and dumped it into a saucepan and added some milk. I stirred until it was about to boil, then simmered it for a bit. During the simmer time, I stirred in bacon bits, cheese, and some dill weed, along with a tiny bit of salt. My son and I had absolutely delicious baked potato soup for lunch. We thoroughly enjoyed those "leftover" baked potatoes.

Another idea for cooked potatoes is to cut them into chunks and toss with a little Lawry's seasoning salt. Place them on a cookie sheet and bake at 375° until they crisp up a bit. Then top with your favorite shredded cheese and return to the oven until it melts - yummy!

If they aren't baked until they're super soft, you can cut them into cubes and make a flavorful potato salad. However, you have to have them baked just till they are barely done or they will fall apart when you stir. Be gentle, and only try this if your potatoes aren't too soft.

If, on the other hand, they are baked until they are super-soft, you might make smashed potatoes - just mash them up, skins intact, and add some milk and seasonings. Cut some cream cheese into cubes and mix it in, then pop into the oven till it's heated through. Stir and serve.

I know there are plenty of other things to do with potatoes. These are some of my family's favorites. Do you have some great ideas to share? Please leave a comment!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Have I Gone Over the Edge?

I know that some of you are going to think that I've finally gone over the edge with using leftovers. Yes, you do actually see ZUCCHINI on that pizza. But before you close the window on what you consider a very weird post, let me tell you that it was actually GOOD! Hard to believe, I know, but I decided to try it, and I'm almost embarrassed to say that I liked it!

Yesterday my menu plan got messed up. I was supposed to cook a rotisserie style chicken, but I forgot to thaw it! Oops. It's definitely not a good idea to cook a completely frozen whole chicken, not even knowing what's inside that cavity. Yuck! So I kicked into change mode and made a new dinner plan, basing it on the abundance of fresh produce we currently have in the house. We had grilled pork chops, grilled zucchini, grilled mango, baked potato skins (I had leftover baked potatoes I needed to use), "fried" apples, and sliced peaches, pears, and nectarines. After dinner, we still had one pork chop and several slices of zucchini remaining.

Friday night is pizza night here. It's a tradition that we rarely miss, because it's an simple, delicious dinner that the kids love. I always try to use anything that's left in the fridge on our pizza, even when it might seem a little strange. Tonight I had some alfredo sauce, and pork goes well with the alfredo (I mean, it IS the "other white meat," right??). My kids absolutely love fresh spinach on their alfredo pizza, so I covered my wheat sourdough crust with the remaining alfredo sauce, covered it with several spinach leaves, sprinkled on the finely diced pork chop, and then eyed that zucchini. Why not try it?? So I cut it into chunks and put it on the pizza. I did leave several slices zucchini-free in case it wasn't so great. I topped the pizza with a combination of mozzarella and cheddar-jack cheese and into the oven it went.

I was actually surprised that it tasted as good as it did. I really wasn't sure about zucchini on a pizza, but it blended well with the alfredo sauce and spinach. Now I'm thinking that I might try serving the zucchini with alfredo sauce as a veggie side dish. I think it might be tasty! Have you ever tried that? Let me know in comments if you have.

So what do you think of my zucchini pizza idea? Have I gone completely insane with my unique utilization of leftovers? It really isn't bad. Give it a try! I bet you've been trying to figure out what to do with all that zucchini from the garden......

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Unique Food Combinations

Sometimes you have to think outside the box when it comes to using your leftovers. You've probably been using the same list of basic flavor combinations for most of your eating life, without giving it much thought. In order to use what you have, you need to let your creativity flow. If you aren't sure about how a couple of things will flow together, try one of them in small quantities with the other item. Maybe it will work.

One combination that I didn't consider for a long time was both tomato-based pasta sauce and alfredo sauce. However, Pastitsio is one of the family's favorite meals and they taste excellent together, especially when you toss in some cheddar cheese for accent! :)

Today, I had a wonderful lunch based upon this concept. I had a small leftover Honey Lime Chicken breast left from dinner Monday night. This morning, we visited the downtown City Market and came home with some peaches, pears, baby spinach, and other items, some of which needed to be used as soon as possible. We also picked up a package of freshly-baked pita bread that was fantastic!! So I got a bit creative for lunch. On the pita bread, I drizzled a bit of honey mustard, then arranged a light bed of baby spinach. Onto that went the heated chicken breast, cut into strips, and half of a peach, sliced. A roma tomato was diced and added and I had a very colorful lunch ready! (I didn't think to take a photo - I'm sorry!)

Now, the question did the honey-lime chicken, spinach, and peaches taste together?? They were amazingly excellent! The flavors blended together and created a very tasty sandwich that I plan to make again. I hadn't tried chicken and peaches before, though some of you might have, and I really enjoyed it. I think it would have been good with a bit of fresh cilantro, too. I'll have to remember that. My initial plan was to have a very basic chicken pita - I'm sure glad I experimented!

This particular example is pretty basic, but it gives you the idea. Just try something outside of your cooking comfort zone. You never might find a new family favorite!

Got any unique combinations you've tried? Let me know. Let's get creative!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Blog Swap - To Save a Penny

This post is not related to leftovers, but I think it will be a lot of fun! I'd like to tell you about a site that I enjoy visiting, To Save a Penny. Amber is the site's hostess, and she posts lots of deals and valuable savings information. She lets you into her life by sharing her personal tales of goals and budgeting. She tells you what works for her and encourages your input and tips.

Amber recently detailed a birthday party she threw for her three-year-old daughter. From the planning to the decorating to the party bags, she shared what she did and how much she spent. It looked like a great party! It was the cutest little cupcake theme - you've got to check out her posts and her ideas! You really can have a great party with all the trimmings and not break the bank.

If you enjoy contests, she's almost always got something she's giving away that you'll reallllly want, like a Starbucks card or a fun prize like colorful markers. And she keeps up to date with posting all the lastest deals and printable coupons, too.

If you're new to CVS or Walgreens, she has easy-to-follow tutorials to help you get started getting more than you ever thought possible for what you spend!

Check out To Save a Penny and leave Amber a comment while you're there. If you don't find information you can use, you'll definitely find a kindred spirit in living the best life you can on less!

Blog Hopping

I'm also posting this over on my Monkeys blog, but since I have different readers on each blog, and I posted recipes from each one, I thought I'd also post the Blog Hop over here, too. I'm also excited that I figured out how to do it! :-)

Jump in and enter YOUR favorite recipe!!!

MckLinky Blog Hop

Friday, July 17, 2009

Leftover Pizza

I had a request to discuss what to do with leftover pizza. This one actually has taken some serious consideration on my part. I never have this problem! With three kids (one of whom is a 13-year-old boy) and a hungry husband, if we order pizza, it gets eaten as pizza, often in a single sitting. So I really had to think about what I might do if we ordered pizza and got tired of eating pizza before it was gone. What an interesting concept!

I'm going to offer some ideas, but I will also issue the disclaimer that these are not tried-and-true. I have to go by what I BELIEVE I would do, since I haven't had the opportunity to test most of the theories. :-)

If you have a nicely rounded crust on your pizza, you could cut off these crusts and eat them as breadsticks with a sauce to enhance the experience.

If you're just tired of the variety of pizza, maybe you could add another layer of topping and some more cheese and pop it into the oven at 350° until the cheese is melted - this would be like a new pizza.

Perhaps you're just sick to death of pizza, but hate to waste it. You could remove the topping from the crust and put it on a lunchmeat sandwich - it would make it kind of like a sub with the melted cheese and vegetable toppings. I have actually done this one before and it was quite tasty.

You do have the option of wrapping the pizza well and popping it into the freezer to eat at a later date - this could possibly save you the cost of another pizza delivery. I have also done this in the past with much success. My tip is that if you INTEND to do this, ask the company to underbake/parbake one of the pizzas for you - this will make it fresher when you rebake it after defrosting.

And one more, but this one is very strange. It came from someone I know, but sounds just strange enough to be possible. For breakfast, scramble some eggs. Heat a slice of pizza in the microwave to soften the crust and heat the cheese. Place the eggs on the slice and roll it up. Eat as a "breakfast pizza burrito" of sorts. Hey, you never know......

Oh, wait! I just realized that I really do know the perfect way to use up leftover pizza!!! Call a friend or two with teenagers. That pizza will be eaten in no time! ;-)

Enjoy your pizza!!!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Swiss Steak

We had Swiss Steak the other night. Now, I have rather simplified the process of Swiss Steak, so mine may be nothing like yours, but I put a cheap cut of steak in the crock pot and dump a can of diced tomatoes over it. Cook all day....dinner! After we had eaten, there was just a little bit of steak left with some tomato - here's how it looked:

Not terribly appetizing, huh? But I can't let it go to waste! So I re-worked it today and created.....The Ultimate Happy Plate:

Okay, my older daughter did the plate-arranging. :-) In reality, it's an open-faced sloppy joe melt. And it was GOOD! That little bit of meat made a total of four melts, so it stretched pretty far. And doesn't it look a lot better than it did in that first picture?

Yep, I thought so....

Friday, July 3, 2009

Welcome New Readers - Let's Talk Quiche

First of all, I would also like to send out a hello to my new readers from a variety of newspaper websites across the country. I'm glad you enjoyed my grocery savings tips enough to visit my blogs. I truly hope you find some useful information and keep coming back. If you keep up with this blog, you'll never throw out a leftover again!!! :-)

One of my early posts talked about using your leftovers in a wonderful potato-crust quiche. The other night, I had quiche on the menu to use up some eggs that were close to date, and I planned to make this crust again. However, I ended up having some sort of bug much of this week, and was just too wiped out to grate those potatoes. Wanting to take the cheater's way out, I opted to try a new quiche recipe. I tried one that was supposed to make its own crust.

Here's the recipe I used:

3 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk or cream
1/2 c. baking mix/Bisquick
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of nutmeg
Filling (I used leftover chopped steak and veggies and some shredded cheddar)

Beat eggs, milk, baking mix, and seasonings till smooth. Stir in filling ingredients. Pour into greased pie pan. If desired, top with some shredded cheese for fun color. Bake at 400° for 30-40 minutes. Test with a knife inserted in the center to see when done.

I wondered how this would turn out, but it was great! Admittedly, I prefer a nice potato or rice crust, but in a pinch, it definitely worked well. There was a crust of sorts and it didn't fall apart at all like I had feared. The kids loved it and I will definitely make this again. It would make a really quick and easy breakfast, and the lack of an actual "crust" makes it quite a frugal option. It cost me less than a dollar for this entree and I cleared out the leftovers! I even served it with some sliced strawberries that were sitting in the refrigerator needing to be eaten. It was a great use-it-up night!