Saturday, May 30, 2009

Briefly Revisiting Meatloaf

Way back when my blog was new, I talked about what to do with leftover meatloaf. That post is here if you're new to Not Just Leftovers. Tonight, I did something new even for me with a chunk of meatloaf that remained from a meal earlier this week. One of the most essential things you can do in order to stretch your groceries is to experiment and be flexible.

I looked in my refrigerator today and found that I had about 1/5 of a large meatloaf left, along with a little rice (about 1/2 c.), a cup or so of corn, and a couple of cups of mashed potatoes. So, I decided to clean it all out and create dinner. First, I cut the loaf into small cubes and set it aside. Then I made 2 cups of brown gravy (boil water, add base/bouillon, dissolve, mix in cornstarch and water and let thicken - easy). After the gravy was nice and thick, I dumped in the meat, rice, and corn. I poured this into a shallow casserole and topped with the mashed potatoes and some shredded cheese. Yep, a perfect shepherd's pie!

I was going to take a photo of the creation, but I had a bit of a mess in making it. I had put the potatoes into my Pampered Chef Easy Accent Decorator, but it didn't function too well and instead of a pretty topping, I ended up with a mess that included potatoes on my countertop, stovetop, and floor. *sigh* So it isn't too pretty, and not worth documenting with a photo!! However, it tastes great and kids ate it up, which makes it worth doing.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hen House Bargain Meal of the Week, 5/13/09

Sorry again for not keeping this series up to date. It's really difficult to find "bargains" at Hen House most of the time! :-) This week, though, inspiration struck as I was browsing the ad. This recipe may be a little different than your standard fare, but it's fun to mix it up now and then in the kitchen!

Here's your shopping list for this week:

1 lb. boneless skinless fresh chicken thighs, on sale for $2.29/lb
1 large green pepper, on sale for .69
1 small onion, on sale 3 lbs. Vidalia for $2
1 can coconut milk

From the pantry:

Curry sauce
Shredded sweetened coconut
Rice, quick-cook or long-grain

Curried Coconut Chicken

1 lb. chicken thighs, cubed ($2.29)
1 large green pepper, sliced (.69)
1 small onion, chopped (.40)
1 c. coconut milk (shouldn't be more than $2)
1/2 c. (or more if you like spice) curry sauce (.50)
1 1/2 c. water, divided
1 T. cornstarch (.10)

Spray skillet with cooking spray and cook chicken cubes until done. Stir in peppers and onion and stir fry until onion becomes translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in coconut milk, curry sauce, and 1 c. water. Heat to a gentle boil.

Meanwhile, in a measuring cup, combine remaining 1/2 c. water and cornstarch till blended. Pour into skillet and stir gently to combine. Simmer 5-8 minutes, or until thickened.

Cook your rice according to package directions. If there is still coconut milk in your can, you can substitute this in the rice for an equal amount of water to give it a little more flavor.

Top your chicken with the shredded coconut and serve over rice.

Cost of meal:

Entree $5.98
Rice: .60
Coconut .30
Total: $6.88

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Leftover Rice "Keeper"

Don't you love it when you try something new and the family raves about it??? Today I made swiss steak for dinner and had a bowl of leftover rice in the refrigerator. I measured it and had 4 cups. That was, of course, plenty to serve just plain, but the kids wouldn't be thrilled with that, so I decided to experiment a little.

I dumped the rice in a bowl and mixed in what was left in a container of parmesan cheese and the cheese that remained in two bags in the fridge. I added 4 eggs to make it stick together. I think 5 would have been better, but 4 was what I had! I stirred it up and dropped it in scoops on the griddle, flattening it out. I cooked both sides and stacked them on a plate. I wasn't sure how these would be received, but when I tried them, they were good. I think they had about 5 different cheeses in them! :)

The kids absolutely LOVED them, and so did my DH. They were very different, and had a great cheesy taste that really went well with the rice. Everyone asked me to make these again.

Sometimes you just have to be creative to make the most of what you have left in the fridge. It doesn't always result in a new family favorite, but at least you know that you are stretching your food dollars further and further! What creative dishes have you created/tried lately? I'd love to hear about it!