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!

Leftover Tuesdays #2

David at Cooking Chat started a wonderful event called ‘Leftover Tuesdays’ and Rachel is hosting the second one. I can’t wait to see what everyone cooked up!

I make pork loin about every other week and it’s a good source for leftovers. Sometimes I shred it for BBQ sandwiches or add green chile sauce for burritos, for example. This week I was intending to make a garlic filled Twice Cooked Pork, but plans often go astray. Instead, I made another fairly common meal for our house that I, ever so creatively, call ‘Meat, Beans and Rice’.

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There are a number of different permutations of this — ground beef, chicken, or pork for the meat, for example — but it typically has kidney beans, onions and tomatoes in it and corn makes a frequent appearance. Here’s this week’s method:

Three slices of cooked pork loin, torn into small chunks

1 can green enchilada sauce

1 (15 oz) can kidney beans

1 (15 oz) can corn

1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes

3 green onions (b/c I didn’t have any yellow ones but had these on hand)

cumin

oregano

2 cloves garlic, crushed

I put the pork in a pan and covered it with the green enchilada sauce and let it simmer for a few minutes before adding the beans and corn. I let that simmer a few more minutes before adding the tomatoes and seasonings and then let it simmer until the rice was done. I also made some guacamole to go with it. The Husband had a little sour cream and cheese on top of his.

Cooking Challenge: Leftover Tuesdays

David at Cooking Chat is hosting a great event — Leftover Tuesdays. So often people comment that it’s all well and good to come up with a great dish by shopping for particular ingredients but what they need practice and guidance with is coming up with something edible when their sick kids kept them from the grocery store for three days beyond shopping day and they are scrounging in the cabinets. Or they have leftovers that weren’t particularly popular the first time around and dread the complaints of a second serving but are too frugal to just toss it out.

My recipe comes in the form of the latter. One of my favorite ‘light’ pasta dishes is to cook together onion, garlic, zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, halved black olives, green peas, kidney beans and diced tomatoes and toss it with cooked penne or mostaccoli pasta. I season it with basil, oregano and sometimes some mixed ‘Italian herbs seasoning’ — McCormick came out with a grinder that I bought when we were at the beach last year and I wanted to neither bring along the entire kitchen/buy all new there or to forgo seasonings altogether and I like it for quick seasoning.

I made some of this for a baby shower on Saturday but forgot to put in the black olives 😦 The lack of olives made it seriously less interesting to the kids (who would each eat a can of black olives for a snack if I let them) and the population of squash and mushrooms made them squeal ‘eewww, yuck’. So I converted it to a not-so-light pasta recipe last night (yes, it was Monday leftovers). I had some breakfast sausage in the fridge and *everyone* in our family likes that, so I cooked it and tossed in a jar of Ragu — I know, I’m destined to be banned from all Foodie circles for life. I buy it when it’s on sale for $1/jar b/c at that price it’s cheaper than making my own and b/c it’s quick and people will eat it. Shun me if you will, but some days it’s all about getting food into people’s bellies and not just about ‘good and interesting’ food. 🙂 I stirred the leftover pasta into the sausage/sauce mix until it was heated through and served with some shredded Parmesan cheese. The kids still left some mushrooms and squash on the sides of their plates but they ate quite a bit of it.

It’s a ‘Leftover Tuesday’ b/c one bowl of it was left last night and it’s my lunch today 😉 It’s not as pretty in the bowl after it bubbled in the microwave for a minute, but still tasty.

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