Frugal: My Leftovers Hints (all) - FYI
The following basic recipes are "old hat" to the older generation but apparently not known to some of the younger ones. So as requested what to do with leftovers - they are easier to do than to read:
Casserole Basics These are approximately the amounts:
1 cup main ingredient (tuna, cubed chicken, turkey, ham, beef, seafood)
1 cup second ingredients (diced veggies, sliced onions, mushrooms, peas, diced cooked eggs, etc.)
1-2 cups starch ingredient (mashed/sliced potatoes, cooked noodles, cooked rice, bread cubes, etc)
1 cup binder (white sauce or sprinkle 2 -3 Tbs flour & slowly add milk with pats of butter, sour cream, can soup, etc.)
1/4 cup extras are optional (pimiento, olives, almonds, water chestnuts, etc.)
Seasoning (Salt, pepper, onion, garlic powder, chili, rosemary, whatever you like)
Topping is optional (crushed potato chips, cheese, bread or cracker crumbs)
Mix all ingredients together or layer them one at a time. Place in lightly greased casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees F. for 25-40 minutes depending how large the dish.
Top with desired topping, and bake an additional 5 minutes or so. (You want to toast the bread crumbs, spritz the crushed crackers or chips with butter or melt the cheese first, etc.)
If I think it might taste just so-so, I add shredded cheddar cheese to the casserole. Always improves it.
If too dry, add 1/4-1/2 cup milk or stock.
If too wet, remove any lid or tin foil and let some liquid cook away.
You can use your leftovers and add in any ingredients that are still needed.
Example: We had ham and a dish of sliced potatoes and green beans leftover. I buttered the casserole dish, layered the ham (main), potatoes (starch) and green beans (second ingredient); adding a can of drained beans to make enough, sprinkled with 2-3 tablespoons of flour with about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of milk, pats of butter (binder), pepper and onion powder (seasonings) mixed in shredded cheddar cheese, with crushed potato chips on top.
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Start with diced
Carrots, Onions and Celery (sauteing first will add a slightly richer flavor but is not necessary)
Broth - you can use cubes, powder, cans (chicken goes with any meat or vegetables-a beef cube or 2 will make the chicken broth 'richer' tasting)
Water if needed (chicken and beef bouillon will help the flavor)
Seasonings like salt and pepper (watch the salt if you use broth), garlic powder, thyme, whatever.
This is tasty all by itself.
Now add your leftover or fresh diced meat, veggies and starch ( pasta, rice, potatoes, bread, beans, dumplings) Simmer until all is done and tender.
If the taste is not so great (it happens), add a pkg of Lipton or Knorr dry Onion, Chicken, Vegetable or Beef Onion soup mix to it. Always keep a pkg on hand plus chicken & beef bouillon to perk up a flat broth.
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Beef with Milk Gravy for leftover veggies
Brown 1 pound or so of chop meat. After the meat is done, do not drain all of it. Take about 3 tablespoons of flour and mix it with the ground meat. Then pour milk into your pan and stir to make a gravy. When it thickens, you can add salt and pepper and let your sauce cook on low.
You ladle this meat gravy over potatoes, noodles, rice or mix with rice.
When I was a child and unexpected guests came at meal time, this 1 pound or so would often be spread over a large dish of mashed potatoes so there was enough for all.
To avoid leftover fresh vegetables getting old in the refrigerator: I buy enough for about 4-5 days, then dice what is left to make soup (shredded lettuce can go into a soup) or this dish - cleaning out the drawer. I hate vegetables getting 'funny' in the frig. This past week, I added to this gravy: 1/2 slice tomato, 1 peeled and seeded cucumber (yes, you can cook it) 1 red pepper, 3 celery stalks and onion powder. Then served it over store brought already mashed potatoes.
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I don't like leftovers in the refrigerator so when there is extra food after a meal, I decide right then what is to be done with it. A large or nearly enough for a meal will be served in a day or two if there are potatoes (they don't freeze well) in it or put into the freezer for a meal another time. Smaller amounts will go for next day lunch over rice, pasta, in a broth, wrapped in a tortilla or a smaller one serving will go into a three part divided freezer friendly dish. When all three all filled, lunch time. I try to cover these servings with gravy, tomato sauce, if possible, to avoid freezer burn.
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Leftover Condiments and Salad Dressings
When I want to replace my condiments like ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, relish, I make a simple barbeque sauce and add them to it. Balancing the sours with sweets, sometimes adding sugar or brown sugar to it. If you are new to this, just add small amounts at a time, simmer, taste, before adding more so they don't overwhelm the sauce. I used to keep a bottle of molasses on hand to balance the flavors.
I also use up the small amounts left in salad dressing bottles and condiments to flavor baked chicken. A different one on each chicken part.