Something Fishy

I’m giving credit to Ilva at Lucillian Delights and David at Cooking Chat for the inspiration for today’s post. The Heart of the Matter theme of seafood and the encouragement to make new creations from leftovers rather than reheat repeats conspired to bring you today’s lunch: fish burritos (not fish tacos with cabbage/cole slaw inside).

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I don’t often buy seafood in the Midwest as I’ve had several bad experiences, but Ilva had me thinking about seafood I’ve had in FL and St. John so, when I saw red snapper on sale and it looked decent, I picked up a couple of fillets. Of course, it was too much for last night’s dinner and I’m usually not nearly so fond of fish leftovers as I am the first serving. I didn’t put anything on the fish but lemon juice last night for grilling so it left the options wide open for leftovers.

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I reheated it in a pan with some lemon juice and Old Bay seasoning. Then I made burritos using mostly leftovers from last night — salad of greens, tomato, cucumber and carrots went in the bottom of the tortilla, next the fish, then some leftover tartar sauce, finally some leftover mango pineapple salsa. Oh man. It was good. I have enough fish left to make a couple more and I think that’s what I’ll do — no need to come up with another leftover recipe.

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My Soup Bowl Runs Over

I’m not including these in my LOT#3 entry, but it’s more of the same . . . using up that rice last week. I was the main dish provider for small group so I made two different soups.

One was a chicken and rice soup — pretty straight forward. I made my own broth with celery, onion, carrots, garlic, salt and pepper, and a couple of bone-in chicken breasts in a pot of water on medium-low heat for six hours. Next, I pulled the chicken out and shredded it and returned it to the pot sans bones (although there may have been a few left). Finally, I added some frozen peas and the rice and let it warm through. Pretty ho-hum and I’m sorry to say we have a lot of leftovers from that . . . b/c it’s likely to go to waste . . . anyone want some chicken & rice soup?

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For the other I made a Stuffed Pepper Soup. I read several different recipes — some included brown sugar or soy sauce — and came up with my own version. Here’s what I added to my crockpot:

2 lbs ground sirloin, browned

large onion, chopped & sauteed for a few minutes with the beef

2 bell peppers, chopped

3 stalks of celery, chopped

1 – 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

~ 24 oz V-8 juice (I poured from a 46 oz bottle and used about half)

water

thyme

parsley

rice

salt and pepper

I didn’t drain the beef b/c it didn’t look like it had much fat and I thought the juices would be good in the soup. But when I tasted it, I thought it was too greasy so I should have drained it like I usually do. I put everything but the rice in the crock and cooked it on low for about 6 hrs and added the cooked rice in the last half hour to get it heated through. This was OK, and the kids like it well enough, but I thought it could use a little jazzing up. A little Tabasco or something. Maybe use the spicy V-8 juice.

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Currying Favor with Leftovers

Most of my cooking in the past week has been trying to figure out creative ways to consume this and it’s twin:

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As I’ve mentioned before, more often than not when leftovers are given a makeover to create a new meal they have a Mexican flavor because we all like Mexican foods. Using up this rice reminded me of a challenge I gave myself several years ago.

After growing up in a household in which chicken and turkey slaughter was an annual practice (well, I must confess we only raised turkeys one year but it *seemed* like more), in which the pot of boiling hot water was set up on a fire of logs a few yards from my bedroom window, in which my main role was pulling the feathers off the chickens after they had been dipped in the hot water, and which left us with chickens to bake most Sundays of the year, except for the ones in which we baked a turkey . . . and have I mentioned I’m an only child and these birds lasted a long time?? Well, after all that, when I left home it was several years before I ate chicken by choice . . . I would see the chicken and the smell of wet feathers would be conjured up and I would begin to gag. Chicken is fairly inexpensive and it’s a fairly healthy choice for meat, but cheap and healthy doesn’t necessarily result in tasty. After several years of chicken avoidance the wet feather smell wasn’t so strong, so my challenge to myself a few years ago was to make chicken and rice (or noodles) every night for a week and never have them taste the same. It was a great challenge and encouraged me to be a little more creative and I started enjoying cooking chicken a little more.

My challenge to myself this week was to not focus on Mexican or, due to the source of the leftovers, Chinese for the leftover menus. This was one of the first things I made: Chicken Curry.

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I started with some diced chicken breast and browned that in a pan with a little peanut oil.

Side note: one of my most helpful hints I can give to a busy cook is make your own convenience foods. One of mine is to buy large flats of chicken breast, clean them and then freeze; some are whole, others I dice before freezing, some I slice into long strips for skewers. So easy!

I added onion, celery, asparagus, and carrots and cooked until they were bright and still a little crisp. I added a little fresh grated ginger and minced garlic and sprinkled it with mild curry powder until it was lightly coated.

Next, I added some chicken broth and brought it to a boil and stirred in a little broth/flour paste to thicken it slightly.

Finally, I added some of the cooked rice and frozen peas and cooked it until those were heated through.

It had a similar flavor to the S&B Curry that I like without the MSG that doesn’t like me. This is something I’ll make again!

Trifling with Leftovers

I’ve been a busy girl in the kitchen this week but not so busy with blogging. I hope to catch up in the next couple of days. Thing 1 has begun to sigh at the end of cooking, announcing — well, we’ll get to eat soon . . . as soon as Mom is done taking pictures of dinner, anyway. 😛

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A couple of months ago I wanted to bake a birthday cake for a couple of people in our small group . . . but I was flitting around and constantly distracted by the kids and I managed to miss nearly all of Glenna’s wonderful Secrets for A Successful Cake. I greased my pan and set it aside to cut out the waxed paper lining and I don’t know where I went next but came back and started mixing my cake and then poured it into the pan and after the batter hit the pan I cringed — oh, man, I forgot the waxed paper and I only greased, not greased and floured . . . I really don’t want to scrape this out and wash the pan and start over . . . I’ll just hope for the best. I baked it . . . too long . . . my white cake wasn’t very white 😛 Then I set it aside to cool and remembered it about *2 hours* later. Ah, crud. It wouldn’t come out. No amount of coaxing was going to get that out. I ended up tearing it to bits trying to get it out of the pan. I stuck it in freezer bags for use on a later date and ended up whipping up another dessert and abandoning the idea of a birthday cake altogether . . . no one knows what they missed out on unless you tell them . . . they didn’t know I was going to surprise them with a birthday cake so they were happy with the chocolate desserts we ended up with. 😉 We were happy to eat this trifle with leftover fruit salad, using strawberry juice rather than sherry or brandy:

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I cut up some fresh strawberries and sprinkled a little sugar on top and let them stand for a few minutes to get the strawberries juicy.

I grated the rind of a lime and stirred it into a container of Cool Whip (since we girls are lactose intolerant I use it more often than real whipping cream).

In my bowl I layered:

cake, crumbled in smaller bits

lime Cool Whip

strawberries

cake

lime Cool Whip

leftover fruit salad with plums, pears, apples, oranges, and kiwi

cake

lime Cool Whip

strawberries

Everyone loved it and it’s a nice light dessert.

LOT#3 is Coming Soon!

This time Leftover Tuesday, the brain child of David at Cooking Chat, is to be hosted by Megan at What’s Cooking. After Saturday’s party I have 2, yes that’s 2, 9×13 pans that are 2.5 inches deep FULL of white rice. I will probably be able to make a wide assortment of leftovers for this one! We finished off the Vegetable Soft Noodles on Monday and Thing 1 and I polished off the last of the Hunan Chicken for lunch Tuesday so the rice is the only thing left that I didn’t freeze.

Last night for dinner I cooked some ground beef and onion with a can of corn, a jar of peach and mango salsa, and a bunch of rice and we had taco salad with some leftover chips in the closet from a week ago (crisped in the oven last night). We piled some romaine, grape tomatoes, black olives and cheddar cheese on top. Yum. I used some of the leftovers from that to make the Husband some burritos for lunch today. How many iterations of leftovers can we come up with here?? Leftovers often have a Mexican flavor here, but for LOT #3 I’m going to try to come up with something a little different. Mmmm . . . off to play in the kitchen!