Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Smooth Way to Use it Up

Earlier this month, I purchased a bushel of peaches from a local farm. There is just NOTHING like fresh peaches, and once you've tasted them, you'll never look at the ones in the grocery store again. We ate quite a few while they were fresh, and then I canned up 12 1/2 quarts to enjoy throughout the year. Even canned, they taste better than the grocery store stuff! :-)

I opened my first quart jar earlier this week with a dinner. We ate most of them at that first sitting, but there were a few left that I finished off later in the week. Today I noticed the jar in the fridge with just the peach juice and about 3 small slices of peach floating in it. I started to remove the slices to eat with lunch and dump out the syrup (which was of the extra-light variety) as is the common procedure.

But then I paused, contemplating that yummy peach-flavored, lightly-sweetened liquid. I didn't want to drink it, but how could I use it in a less wasteful way? Inspiration struck and I pulled out the blender. I poured in the syrup, as well as the peach slices that had been in it moments before. I went to the counter and picked up an over-ripe banana, peeling it and adding it to the concoction. Then I opened my freezer and took out a small bag of strawberries I had frozen. I contemplated blueberries or blackberries, as I have those in the freezer as well, but the strawberries won.

I turned on the blender until I had a thick puree, then added some milk and pureed again. I ended up with a very cold, extremely tasty smoothie. I served it to the kids with their lunch today and they were mesmerized, asking for more before they had finished what they had! I didn't add a bit of sugar beyond what was in the extra-light syrup, so it was a fairly healthy beverage.

I'm going to make this a new habit - why waste the delightful syrup with bits of fruit in it at the bottom of the jar? If you enjoy commercially-canned fruits instead of canning them yourself, you could still do something similar - it would just probably have a bit more sugar and additives....but it would still taste great and if you add other fruits, would be just as good-for-you!

I wish I had a picture of the beautiful creation, but it was gone before I even thought about blogging about it. :-) You'll just have to trust me - it was G-O-O-D!!!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Rotisserie Chicken

First, I am so sorry that I've been mia from the blogging world. I don't really have any excuses, other than life got in the way. Between losing a dear friend to cancer and school starting and a general "blah" kind of feeling lately, I haven't done much with my blogs. I'm trying to get back into it, since I really do enjoy it! So tonight, I'm going to talk about rotisserie chicken. Don't you love those?? The wonderful warm and moist chicken that you bring home for an easy dinner that the family loves..... Yum!! But after a tasty meal, don't you end up with something that looks a bit like this?:

Not quite so pleasant, eh? I think most people just look at that and think, "Leftover rotisserie chicken. Yuck. What am I supposed to do with THAT?" Somehow it just isn't quite as appealing sitting there cold and refrigerated, with the once-delightful juices now congealed and just plain icky! But you should never, never waste the chicken that is left. You can do wonderful things with it!! In this particular situation, I got two more meals out of these leftovers.

My initial advice is to avoid the congealing. It's just pretty much disgusting. Allow the remaining chicken to cool until it can be handled and then pick the meat off the bones before refrigerating. If this isn't possible, you can always rinse off all the "goo," but I know it's a deterrent to making this meat last. I removed as much meat as I could from the bones, and then I set the bones aside in the fridge for making soup later.

Out of some of the shredded meat, I made THIS:

Delicious fried rice made with some of my other leftovers, including some cole slaw mix that was left from bierocks I made earlier in the week. I also tossed in some zucchini from the last picking of my garden. It was soooooo good!

The next night, it was a little cooler and rainy, and just felt like a soup night. So I simmered the bones in a pot of water to make a nice stock and made chicken noodle soup. As I still had quite a bit of chicken left (and still had zucchini, too), I made chicken-zucchini stuffed bread to go with it. Doesn't this look good?:

It was quite tasty! I used some veggie noodles I had gotten very cheaply at the store with a sale/coupon combination to make a very inexpensive soup! I also chopped up some carrots that were left in the fridge. Both of these meals were great use-it-up strategies that didn't FEEL like leftovers. That's kind of the point, isn't it?

Next time you get a rotisserie chicken, be sure you get at least two meals out of it. Even if your family eats most of the meat the first night, you can definitely cook some stock/broth out of it. You'll likely be amazed at how much MORE meat you can get once you've simmered it awhile, too. Rotisserie chickens can be used for multiple meals so you definitely get your money's worth! This just gives you a couple of examples. Let your creativity go, and see what you can do with the sad leftovers of a deli chicken!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Leftover "Pizzas"

Last night we had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner because I needed something simple. After dinner, I had about 3/4 c. of sauce and 2 large meatballs left, which we promptly refrigerated.

Today for lunch, I looked in the fridge for some ideas. I saw the container of sauce on the shelf but had to figure out how to make lunch for three kids out of it. In the drawer of the fridge, I spied some flour tortillas that really needed to be eaten. There were four of them...perfect! I made tortilla pizzas:

In order to give the pizza slices enough support to eat them, I always use two tortillas for pizzas.....I place one on the baking sheet, spread a bit of pizza sauce (or in this case, spaghetti sauce)on top of it, and then "glue" the second tortilla on top. Then I top that second tortilla with my pizza toppings. If you really like a nice crispy crust, before topping the second tortilla, brush it with a bit of olive oil and pop just the "crust" into the oven for about 5 minutes, then proceed with the pizza-making.

For today's pizza, I chopped up the two meatballs and sprinkled them around each pizza, then covered it with shredded cheese. Into the oven they went for about 10 minutes at 400°. My kids absolutely LOVED them, especially how the tortilla edges crisp up. I had to admit, I ended up sharing the lunch with them because they were very good. :-)

Lunch made from two meatballs...see what you can do with leftovers???

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Blogging Break

I just wanted to post a quick note to let my readers know that I will not have internet access most of next week, so I am going to be on a bit of a blogging break. Please don't think I've disappeared - I will be back soon! Thanks for reading! :-)