Pulled Pork and Pasta Bake

This delicious dinner happened because I did not have hamburger buns!  I wanted to use 4 cups of leftover pulled pork, which we usually pile on a bun with a spicy slaw for hearty sandwiches.  There were no sandwich buns in the pantry, but we did have a variety of dried pasta, including an interesting artisanal pasta made in Gragnano, Italy called Gnocchi Napoletani. It almost seemed a shame to combine a leftover with such a fancy pasta, but I did and the results were wonderful.  This pasta dish is not heavy with cheeses and buttery sauces so the flavors are bright.

Pulled Pork and Pasta Bake

One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

3/4 cup red wine

fresh thyme sprigs, 2 for chopping, and 2 for garnish

2  cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon chopped Italian or flat-leaf parsley

3 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped teaspoon plus extra oregano sprigs for garnish

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or more if you like more heat

3/4 pound pasta, preferably orecchiette, or gnocchi (unfilled) – shell shape holds sauce

1/2 cup grated or flaked Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Cook pasta al dente, only about 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in skillet. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook until softened and beginning to brown.  Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the red wine and thyme sprigs and cook over high heat until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and simmer over low heat. Stir in the chopped parsley, oregano and crushed red pepper and season with salt and pepper. Add 4 cups of pulled pork and cooked pasta.  Pour all into large baking dish sprayed with cooking spray and sprinkle grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over top.

Cover and place in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until all is heated through. Remove cover and continue baking for 10 minutes.  Serve hot, with crusty bread and a green salad.

Microwave Baked Potato Soup

BakedPotatoSoupMy kitchen cupboards and pantry are almost bare, making me feel like Mother Hubbard. But eating take out food and in restaurants can get old as well as pricey.  Plus, today it is raining buckets. Again.  We are staying in so I opened the refrigerator to stand and browse like  our teenagers have done in the past, hungry, and surveying possibilities. I found eggs, bread, juice, a half jar of elderberry jelly, and leftover baked potatoes. Last night we stopped and picked up loaded baked potatoes for a late dinner, only to find after we sat down to eat that we were more tired than hungry.  The remains sat in a ZipLoc bag on the refrigerator shelf, looking very unappetizing.

Changing roles from Mrs. Hubbard to a Chopped contestant, I opened the contents of my basket and made potato soup in the microwave (all pans packed, only a few serving dishes remain). I  took the peeling off the cold potatoes, warmed them in the microwave to soften, and mashed them.  Then I added a sprinkle of sea salt plus milk to the right consistency, and reheated in the microwave, turning out a large bowl of delicious soup loaded with bits of bacon and green onion.  We ate in coffee mugs and recharged enough to head back to packing  for movers to come on Monday.  Simple, and tasty enough to remember for the next leftovers, or to bake extras the next time I serve baked potatoes as a side. If you have no loaded bakers as leftovers, use the following recipe.

Microwave Baked Potato Soup

2 large baked potatoes, cooled

1 1/2 cups milk

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

1/3 cup crumbled bacon

1/4 cup chopped green onion

Peel potatoes, coarsely chop into microwave safe bowl.  Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, to soften potatoes.  Mash with fork or potato masher.  Add milk, sour cream, salt, and pepper and stir to combine.  Microwave for another 2 minutes or until hot for serving.  Ladle into mugs or bowls, and sprinkle with cheese, bacon, and green onion.

 

 

Grilled Vegetable Omelet

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Cooking in my kitchen has been quite different in recent weeks for two reasons.  First, we had our house on the market, selling it days after listing. Second, I am on a medically prescribed restricted diet:  No tomatoes or sauces, no spices, no citrus, little or no fats, and only certain breads. We were eating more meals in restaurants, so the second  was complicated by the first. Since we needed to be out of the house often for showings, inspections, etc we still needed to eat out making menu choices more limited, and certainly more thoughtful.  This week, Joe brought in a take out meal which I had chosen resulting in leftovers – a  portion of grilled chicken breast and a larger portion of grilled vegetables. I decided to make this grilled vegetable omelet which was so good I will make it again, including grilling the veggies myself..OK, I admit, I added some chopped chicken too!

Grilled Vegetable Omelet    (serves 2).

4 large eggs.

1 Tablespoon water

1 cup or more chopped grilled vegetables (I used zucchini, broccoli, onions, and sweet red pepper).

Olive oil to coat the omelet pan (I used our vintage 8-inch curved side iron skillet)

Over moderate setting, heat a scant amount of oil in omelet pan or skillet

Add the eggs whipped with 1 Tablespoon water, and cook, lifting edges and tilting pan to allow raw egg to pour under the edge.  Continue until almost done, but still shiny, smoothing any liquid egg toward edge.  Add chopped vegetables and spread evenly over half the egg mixture.  Turn off heat.  Fold omelet in half, pressing slightly to seal edges. Egg will continue to cook.  Slide onto serving plate and garnish as desired.  I usually cut the halves and serve, but you can leave the omelet on the servng plate in order to serve yourself at table. We had this for breakfast, but it would be nice for a light lunch or supper as well.

 

Pumpkin Spice Waffes

20151228_082645Waffles are always a special treat at our house. These Belgian waffles were even more special since they were made with pureed pumpkin and fragrant winter spices.  Since I served these on the morning of our 52nd wedding anniversary, I dressed them with some whipped cream and berries, but the ones we made by finishing up the batter and freezing them were just as tasty later when eaten with some melted butter and maple syrup!  This is a good way to use leftover canned pumpkin.

Pumpkin Spice Waffles

  • 1 1cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 2/3 cup milk 
  • 4 Tablespoons melted butter

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl. In a second bowl, add eggs, sugar, pumpkin, milk, and butter; beat well. Fold in the flour mixture and bake in preheated waffle iron..

Leftover batter is best used by baking the rest and freezing those waffles.  I cool the waffles and put them in a stack separated by a square of wax paper, then place them into a large Zip Loc bag before putting them in the freezer.  When ready to use, waffles may be placed single layer on a baking sheet and reheated in a 400 degree oven for a few minutes. I like to get them crispy again.

Greek Beef Stew

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Continuing to post ways I used lovely leftovers during the holidays! We had a family favorite on our table for Christmas – Pancetta and Rosemary wrapped Beef Tenderloin. The pieces of leftover beef  and roasted potatoes were perfect in this pot of Greek Beef Stew, and fed a bunch of us again!  The spices keep holiday fragrances and flavors too!

Do not let the long list of ingredients keep you from trying this!  The many layers of flavor are so worth a little measuring!

2-3 cups cubed beef (I used leftover beef tenderloin.  If using uncooked beef, brown meat in olive oil)

1 onion,chopped

3 cloves of garllic, minced

1/2 cup red wine

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 cup beef broth

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped fine

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

several grinds of freshly cracked black pepper

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 pinch ground cloves

1 Tablespoon brown sugarr

1 (28 ounce) can roasted diced tomatoes (do not drain)

1/2 cup water (add more if stew is too thick

2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces or equivalent of leftober roasted potatoes

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

salt to taste

In stew pot, heat several Tablespoons olive oil, add beef, onion, then  garlic. Pour in the red wine, red wine vinegar, and beef broth; stir in the tomato paste and mix well..Mix spices and add along with bay leaves and brown sugar..Pour in tomatoes and their juice; rinse the can with 1/2 cup water and add. Stir in potatoes and carrots.  Cover the pot and simmer until vegetables ae desired tenderness. Serve with crusty hot bread.

Black Eye Pea Fritters

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We always have a traditional East Texas New Year’s Day meal that includes Black Eye Peas, Greens (cabbage this year), ham, and cornbread. And we always have leftovers. I had both black eyes and purple hulls in the freezer, so I mixed them this year, simmering them until tender with some bacon, onion, red sweet pepper, and a jalapeno.  The mix was tasty, but we had more leftover than we ate.  I tried mashing the peas and making them into fritters and we gobbled them up!  We like mideastern food like falafel and these were even better! If you choose to use canned peas, be sure to add some extra veggies and seasoning to the mix before mashing. This is messy, but oh, so worth the cleanup!

Black Eye Pea Fritters

about 4 cups drained, cooked peas, or equivalent in canned peas

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 large eggs

4 large green onions, green part chopped, plus more for garnish

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt1 teaspoon your choice other seasoned salt, or more to taste

1 teaspoon your choice other seasoned salt, or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar

1 heaping cup fresh breadcrumbs

coconut oil for frying

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set out baking sheet coated with cooking spray

Heat 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil in an iron skillet over medium heat. Heat peas briefly in skillet, then mash with potato masher until about 2/3 of peas are mashed, leaving some whole.

Add the flour, egg, green onion, oregano, lemon zest, cayenne, and  breadcrumbs to the pea mixture. Fold in the cheese. Add seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.

Place 1/2 cup breadcrumbs at a time in a shallow bowl.  With table spoon scoop mixture and roll into balls,  Press into flat 1/2-inch-thick discs and coat in breadcrumbs. Will make about 16 patties.

Wipe out the skillet. Heat additional coconut oil in batches, a few at a time, sear the fritters until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Place on a baking sheet and finish cooking in the oven until cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

 

Chicken, Mandarin, and Pecan Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing

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We make a rotisserie chicken stretch into several meals at our house, and I am always trying new ways to use the “rest of the story” when I remove all the chicken bits from the bone. If time permits,  I also cook the bones and strain the broth to use in other ways. But I always pull the meat away, shredding or chopping as I go. Most of the time I have 3 two cup portions to use or freeze. This salad was a perfect lunch, using 2 cups of leftover shredded rotisserie chicken.  This makes 2 generous servings for a lunch entrée.

Chicken, Mandarin, and Pecan Salad

2 cups chopped Romaine lettuce

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

1  hard-boiled egg, peeled and sliced

3 green onions, sliced

1/2 cup chopped pecans

8-10 canned  mandarin orange slices

 

Creamy Lemon Dressing:

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

Combine all salad ingredients except oranges and toss. Drizzle with Creamy Lemon Dressing, then scatter mandarin slices on top.

Garden Salad

IMG_2461After our weekend family gatherings with meals that inlcuded a Saturday dinner of smoked pork tenderloin, roasted corn, roasted green beans, a lunch of sausage,vegetables, and rice, baking (and eating) breakfast scones, root beer popsicles, ice cream treats, and our Memorial Day feast of grilled hot dogs, Kielbasa, smashed potatoes and all the trimmings – we were more than ready to have salad for a meal.  All the food was pretty healthy, there was just alot of it!  If you begin to feel that way as summer arrives, there is no tastier choice than a fresh vegetable salad.

If you are going to avoid a long session of prepping, remember to save those small amounts of leftovers that sometimes get tossed.  Of course you can always make soup, but think salad and stash those left behind cooked vegetables – green beans, corn, beets, asparagus, Grilling and roasting vegetables is very popular, and nothing tastes better topping your fresh ingredients. Quantities suggested below will vary according to what is in your own frig. I love it when I have a few things from my own garden. The combination of colors, textures, and flavor make this crunchy salad a feast!  Top with make-your-own or bottled Balsamic Vinaigrette, recipe below photograph.

Garden Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 cups mixed leaf and Romaine lettuces

2 carrots, sliced

4 -5 radishes

2 ears roasted sweet corn, cut from cob

1 cup roasted green beans left whole or cut into pieces

1 small yellow squash, sliced

1 small green pepper, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

chopped red onion (optional)

Prepare all vegetables and place on top torn lettuces in large bowl.  Add Balsamic Vinaigrette and toss.  Serve with a crusty baguette.

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Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

Put all ingredients in a jar, tighten lid, and shake!   Taste and adjust amount of vinegar or seasoning as you wish.

Lobster Bisque on a Budget

IMG_2345One of my favorite treats when we go out for a special meal is Lobster Bisque. We rarely cook fresh lobsters at home and when we do there is seldom enough leftover to add to a bisque, but now I have found a way to use other white fish in a way that will put this particular bisque on our table more often!  Joe and all three of our sons spent last week fishing near Homer, Alaska.  Happily, they brought back plenty of salmon and halibut to add to our freezer.  They also brought back a method for cooking what they call Poor Man’s Lobster!  The first fish Joe cooked was halibut cooked like this. I found there are recipes everywhere with many variations.  Almost any type firm fleshed white fish can be used – cod, haddock, monkfish.

Poor Man’s Lobster

  1. Fill a pot with water, at least 2 quarts of water..
  2. Add 1 cup sugar and 1/3 cup salt and bring to a boil.
  3. Do not ever stir the mixture.
  4. Add chunks of halibut, do not over crowd.
  5. They will sink to the bottom, and then rise to the top when they are done.
  6. It should take just a few minutes.
  7. Remove with slotted spoon.
  8. Remember do not stir the mixture.
  9. Continue until all the halibut is cooked.
  10. Dip in melted butter and eat!

We had plenty of this, drizzled with lemon butter, and heaped on some crusty French bread. It really does taste like lobster!

We had a sandwich bag of leftover fish, so I made this wonderful Lobster Bisque the next day for our lunch. Feel free to use the real thing, but the Poor Man’s Lobster worked for us. Don’t let the long list of ingredients and directions fool you.  It is easy, and the results are worth any effort!

Lobster Bisque on a Budget

  • 6 to 8 ounces lobster broken into small chunks
  • 2 shallots,  minced
  • 2 green onions, sliced thin
  • 4 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup  white wine
  • 1 T Worcestershire  Tabasco
  • 2 Tablespoons  dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 4 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cups whipping cream
  • 2 cup half and half
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  1. Saute shallots, onions, and garlic about a minute in a sauce pan00000
  2. Add white wine and stir to combine..
  3. Add Worcestershire, Tabasco, and thyme and saute for another minute.
  4. Add sherry and stir
  5. Add the paprika, hot water, bay leaves, and tomato paste, combine well.
  6. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Whisk in whipping cream,half and half  and the butter and bring to a simmer
  8. Add the lobster and heat through.
  9. Serve with crusty garlic bread.

Thankful for Leftovers

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Wonton Soup, with (leftover) Kale

I was born in the 1940’s, and grew up in a family that always found a use for even a tablespoon of leftover food. Waste not, want not!  I have a fondness for leftovers, and creative ways to use them, as you might notice if you have read my blog in earlier years.  This year I mention some ingredients you may have collected to use for Thanksgiving cooking, as well as Big Bird and other menu items!

Turkey

Before you are tempted to toss that Thanksgiving turkey remains, slice off some to store in the refrigerator for sandwiches.  Then gather the meat left on all those bones, chop and put into Ziplocs to freeze.  This chopped turkey makes wonderful Tetrazzini or added to marinara, a delicious spaghetti sauce.  You can also use it with rice, broccoli and cheese for a hearty casserole. See links below for posts in past years which mention this.

CranberrySauce

Serve for breakfast with your favorite sausage and toast or biscuits. Better than jelly! Jellied cranberry sauce slices are great to top hot open face chicken or tuna sandwiches.

Mashed Potatoes

Extra mashed potatoes make great soup. Thin the mashed potatoes with milk, cream or broth and garnish with thinly sliced scallions.

You can also make fabulous fritters When I was growing up, my parents owned a small cafe.  I used to ask Daddy to make “fried mashed potatoes” when he had mashed potatoes on the menu. . Add flour and an egg to bind the mixture, fold in some chopped onions and shape it into patties. Daddy cooked them on his hot griddle.  An iron skillet heated with a small amount of cooking oil works just fine.  You can also add chopped ham or bacon bits..  If you want a crispier fritter, dip the potato patties in a mixture of bread crumbs and flour seasoned with salt and pepper.  This is also featured in a previous post, link below, along with a great potato pancake recipe.

Greens, such as Spinach, Kale, Chard

Even a small amount of remaining sauteed or fresh (if not dressed) greens can be a great addition to soups or omelets.  In the photo above, I combined frozen wontons with chicken broth, kale, and a bit of hoisin sauce for a delicious soup.

 


Mustard

Do you have a bit of mustard left in the jar?. Add some oil and vinegar and make vinaigrette by just shaking it up right in the jar. Or stir in a little bit of jam — ideally apricot, or a red-currant jelly — and use the mixture as a glaze for pork or chicken. This is especially nice if your mustard is a fancy one like Dijon.

 


Bread

Slice it and freeze it for morning toast,,make bread crumbs by pulsing the bread in a food processor, or make a batch of croutons. Just cut the bread up into chunks, toss with olive oil and a little salt and sauté in a pan or toast in a 400 degree oven. It’s also great for crunchy crostini. You can also keep it in the freezer for the next time you make cornbread dressing, to which I always add some torn up leftover sliced bread. Another use is not for eating – we save bread in the freezer for our grandchildren to take to the neighborhood lake to feed the ducks!

Buttermilk

Substitute buttermilk for regular milk in pancakes by adding a little baking soda and decreasing the baking powder just a little. Use it for marinating chicken for fried chicken — it both tenderizes and gives a little tang. Or try it in a salad dressing with a small amount of oil.  By the way, you can avoid having leftover buttermilk by purchasing powdered buttermilk which you can store in the frig so you can make exactly the amount you need every time.

 


Coconut Milk

Stir and freeze in ice cube trays for use in drinks and soups later. You can also substitute coconut milk for some or all of the water when you make rice – delicious!  (when I do this I add some toasted coconut flakes on top. . Or sub for butter to finish a sauce, stir a little into some broth along with cooked pasta.

 


  Pork

This is one of my favorite leftovers~  so much so that I often cook extra so I will be sure to have some!

 

Pork Fried Rice, Vietnamese Salad

Chop some plus any extra vegetables and make into a pasta sauce. Add a little broth, butter, and Parmesan, toss with hot cooked pasta and you’ve got an instant meal. Cooked pork also makes a great soft or crispy tacos,

 

Rice

Fried rice puts leftovers to delicious use and actually works better with cold cooked rice.

Mix the cooked rice with a little egg, some Fontina or your favorite cheese, add some seasonings and make rice cakes. Cook them in a little olive oil.

 

Tomato Paste

I often have leftover tomato paste.It can be frozen in ice cube trays  You’ll have it on hand for stirring into soups and stews.

 

Flour Tortillas

Extra corn or flour tortillas can be frozen in a Ziploc bag and used later for savory or dessert pizzas. Place the tortillas on a baking sheet, brush with a little oil and crisp them in the oven. Top with a bit of tomato sauce and cheese  to make an individual pizza. For dessert, brush with butter and brown sugar, bake until crisp and add  toppings

 

https://kitchenkeepers.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/lovely-leftovers-or-still-thankful/

https://kitchenkeepers.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/gourmet-leftovers/