Friday, July 8, 2011

7 Quick Takes: Leftovers Edition!

This week, my quick takes are devoted to removing the stigma applied to the phrase:
"We're having leftovers!" 

"Leftovers" does not have to mean "week-old stuff that got haphazardly thrown in the microwave!"  With a little forethought and imagination, and you can turn your leftovers into things that are as good, or even better than the original meals they came from!


Grilled chicken and veggies

You've already fired up the grill, so why not make the most of it?  This particular firing-up provided us with not one, not two, but THREE dinners this week!  While the coals were gettin' good, I squeezed some lemon juice over 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs and let them sit and marinate for about 20 minutes.  While that was happening, I cut up some veggies (orange peppers, zucchini, and baby pattypan squash - use whatever looks good at the farmers' market) into big chunks (I don't have a grill basket and I do not like losing little pieces of veggies to the fiery coals below), tossed them in a bowl, and coated them with olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper.  When the grill was ready, I gave the chicken a sprinkling of salt and pepper and tossed it on the hottest part, crowding the veggies around.  I cooked them for about... 8-10 minutes per side.  I still haven't mastered the perfect-grill-heat techniques.  I'm getting there.  We each got to eat 2 chicken thighs, and as many veggies as we wanted.  We were full and very happy.

Homemade maltagliati pasta with Italian sausage, tomatoes, and grilled favas.

After the chicken and veggies came off the grill, I replaced them with fava beans in their pods that had been tossed with olive oil and salt.  They cooked while we ate dinner, and after dinner I got them off the grill and let them cool a little, then shelled them and put them in a container in the fridge.  Forethought!  Because the next night for dinner we had homemade whole wheat pasta with Italian sausage, heirloom tomatoes, and grilled favas!  Here's the key: take a leftover item, and combine it with at least one fresh item, to create a brand-new totally reinterpreted meal!


Red leaf lettuce, tomato, spicy brown mustard, mini baguettes, swiss cheese with caraway seeds, grilled chicken

The "How Dare You Call Me Leftovers" Chicken Sandwich

Serves 2.

2 mini baguettes
4 cold grilled skinless boneless chicken thighs
4 slices cheese (swiss with caraway is amazing, but any creamy, flavorful cheese will work)
4 slices red leaf lettuce, washed
6 slices tomato
spicy brown mustard

Split each baguette in half, butter each side, and place them flat-side-down in a skillet to toast.  Meanwhile, slice the chicken into 1/2-inch slices.  When the bread is done, spread the bottom thickly with mustard, and then arrange the chicken, cheese, tomato and lettuce on top.  You will think you've died and gone to heaven.


Cole slaw!
I had some people over for the 4th of July, and I made a TON of cole slaw.  I sliced up half of a purple cabbage and half of a green cabbage, grated a few carrots, and put it all in a huge bowl in the fridge.  Then I took out as much as I thought my guests might eat, and dressed it with a traditional mayonnaise-based slaw dressing.  The next day, I dressed another portion of it with leftover (!) peanut mmmm sauce (which I had used for noodle salad last week) and sprinkled with cilantro and sesame seeds for an Asian slaw that I took to another BBQ.  Then last night with my chicken sandwich, I dressed it with olive oil and white balsamic vinegar.  And I stuck it in my salad for lunch today.  HA!  4 meals and counting!


Mozzarella Sticks keep in the freezer for a while, and only take minutes to fry!  Mid-afternoon hunger pang?  Leftovers to the rescue!


If you got overzealous at the farmers' market, and came home with too many ripe strawberries, make some jam!  You don't need any fancy equipment if you use it up within a week or two.  I did this last week when I knew that my strawberries wouldn't last through the night, and in jam form, they are still kickin'!  Here's the recipe I used (a half batch, because that's how many strawberries I had) for Strawberry Balsamic Jam.


Yesterday's watermelon juice was made possible by more 4th of July leftovers: chunks of watermelon and a splash of ginger syrup, with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

And there you have it!  Leftovers are redeemed!

Head over to Jen's for more Quick Takes!  Have a great weekend!

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