Leftover Recipe: Holiday Turkey Casserole

I have to confess that I absolutely LOVE our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.  I love cooking them, I love serving them to my family, and I especially love the leftovers.  Creating a new meal from the leftovers is just so much fun!  Everything has already been cooked at some point, so all you’re really doing is re-assembling the foods in a new and different way… how hard can that be?  TurkeyCasserole

Last year, I used the stuffing to create “stuffing waffles”… if you haven’t tried this before, you HAVE to try it.  They were simply incredible!  You can check out my recipe here, which also talks about topping them with turkey gravy.  Serious “yum” factor here.  This year, I decided not to get the waffle iron down, so I came up with this new casserole.  Same sort of “yum” to the flavor… just a whole new twist.

I layered about 2 cups of our Mimi’s Peas Casserole (it’s the same “green bean casserole” that everyone else does… we just use frozen peas instead.  GENIUS!), sprinkled 1 cup of diced turkey on top, then spooned 3/4 cup of leftover gravy just to cover the turkey.  To finish this off, I took scoops of leftover stuffing and put stuffing balls over the entire casserole, then smooshed them down with my fingers to “connect” them as a topping.  Just for extra flavor, I crumbled about 3 slices of bacon over top, but these really weren’t necessary… this casserole was stellar all by itself.

NOTE:  Before you ask where the “wine” is in this recipe, remember that I used wine when I made the stuffing AND the gravy (and it’s in the peas as well), so I didn’t really feel the need to add more, but you’re welcome to add a little to the gravy if you think it’s too thick.  Just use your best judgement.  

Once everything was assembled, I baked the casserole for dinner at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until the gravy was visibly bubbling.  This dish was honestly so good that we ate it for two nights in a row… all the flavors of a holiday dinner wrapped up in one meal.  YUM!

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Recipe and a Bonus: Double Duty Red Pasta

Have you ever wondered what pasta looks like if you cook it entirely in red wine?  I was curious and, since I worked at a winery, had access to some good red wine that was left over from a festival.  This was my opportunity to cook some corkscrew pasta in red wine, so I ran with it!

I decided to make a very basic recipe using chicken breasts and corkscrew pasta.  I diced the breasts into thick 1″ cubes and sauteed them in a small amount of butter and a touch of olive oil until they were nicely browned and thoroughly cooked.  This recipe was going to be my first go-round, so I wanted everything to be very simple and “clean”, so I wasn’t playing with lots of extra flavors… I really wanted the taste of the wine to shine.

In a stockpot, I poured a bottle of red wine and a box of corkscrew pasta together and let the pasta cook in the wine until it was done to al dente’.  Since the pasta had cooked in the wine, there was a nice amount of starch in the cooking liquid, so I ladled some in with the chicken to create a bit of a sauce and added a pat of butter to gloss the sauce.  The only addition to the sauce after this was some salt and pepper to taste… it was delicious!  I served it with some lightly steamed broccoli for color, but the dinner was grand. Deep purple in color from the wine, everything looked and tasted just as I’d hoped.  Score one for the cook!DoubleDutyRedPasta

The bonus came when I realized that cooking an entire box of pasta made too much for two people to eat in one sitting.  A day or two later, my cousins came by unexpectedly and I needed to throw a quick, late night dinner together for them.  Since they weren’t looking for a three course meal, I decided to make a quick pasta salad to tide them over for the night.  I had rolls that I could slice up and serve as garlic toasts on the side, so I set about creating a new Leftover Recipe from the red pasta.

Since I had saved the red pasta in a plastic bag, I just had to add a few ingredients that I had on hand: frozen fresh corn off the cob, frozen peas, finely diced onions, one can of Veg-all, and some italian salad dressing that I had in the fridge.  I ran the frozen veggies under hot water in a colander so they would thaw and then dried them off before adding them to the pasta.  The canned veggies included carrots and potatoes, so that added just enough extra colors to the salad to make it look great.  I also had one extra cooked chicken breast that I diced fairly fine and added it into the pasta salad as well.  It was a great leftover meal that would have been terrific for a picnic or as a complete meal with a burger or steak.

Never discount what you’ve got in your fridge… remember that the most expensive ingredient is one that you throw away, so try and find a use, no matter how obscure, for anything you bring home.  Food can be a challenge but it can also be a lot of fun!  Enjoy creating your own bonus meals…

Leftover Recipe: Sausage Muffin Breakfast Casserole

Have you ever had leftover Sausage Muffins and not known what to do with them?  It  *is* a dilemma, right?  I really hate to waste food, so when I purchased too many sandwiches one Sunday morning (and ended up bringing five of them home that evening), I knew I needed to come up with a workable solution.  After thinking about the composition of the sandwiches for a bit, I came up with a great way to use these tasty treats in a way that changed them into something relatively healthy and totally yummy… a breakfast casserole!

NOTE:  This is a recipe that is best made the night before you plan to bake it, so the bread has time to soak up SausageMuffinBreakfastthe liquid.  I actually put this casserole together when I brought the cold sandwiches home from work on Sunday night so I would have something ready for breakfast that I could also take into work to share with co-workers on Monday. 

I started with five sausage muffin sandwiches.  The ones I purchased simply had english muffins, a sausage patty, and some cheese, so I diced them into bite-sized pieces and loaded them into a pie plate, sprayed with cooking spray.  I then made a mixture of 3/4 cup egg substitute, 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk  (you could certainly substitute any milk product you like, but I really like almond milk for baking… and for the low calorie count), 1/2 cup shredded 2% cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup shredded 2% colby cheese, 1 Tablespoon dry mustard, 1 teaspoon each of parsley and herbs de provence, and 1/2 cup James River Cellars Reserve Chardonnay white wine.  As with all my recipes, you’re welcome to substitute your favorite ingredients wherever you see something you’d prefer.  Different flavored cheeses and any sort of white wine you like (or have open) is a great way to personalize this recipe.

I whisked the liquids and cheeses together and poured them over the sausage muffins in the pie plate.  I then pressed the muffins down into the liquid so they would have the best chance to become thoroughly soaked before I baked the casserole in the morning.  I covered the casserole with some plastic wrap and allowed the dish to sit overnight.  NOTE: You can also place a weighted plate on top to continue the pressure on the casserole until you bake it.  I ended up adding an additional drizzle of 1/4 egg substitute before baking in the morning because mine just didn’t look quite “soaked” enough.  Just before baking the casserole, I garnished the top with some smoked paprika and popped the dish into a preheated 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.

This was a really delicious casserole.  I shared it with my co-workers and it got rave reviews from everyone, which made me very happy.  I was able to create something that tasted totally “new”, using something that otherwise might have gone to waste.  To me, that counts as a win-win!

I hope you’ll try this recipe sometime.  Being able to make a totally new meal with a leftover ingredient is pretty fun!

Leftover Recipe: Stuffing Waffles with Turkey Gravy

I’m always looking for a new and unique way to use leftovers, especially from holiday meals.  We seem to have extras of everything in the fridge, so I find it very exciting when a new idea comes around.  This recipe idea was one that my husband found and it really looked fun.  A new way to use my waffle maker other than just making waffles?  I’m IN!

I started by making the turkey gravy that would go on top of our dinner.  Basically, I reheated the leftover gravy from Thanksgiving and, using James River Cellars Reserve Chardonnay, flour, and chicken stock, I thinned the gravy out to make more and then added chunks of leftover turkey.  Once this was done, I turned my attention to making the waffles.StuffingWaffles&TurkeyGravy

I preheated my waffle iron and then sprayed it with cooking spray before starting.  Using a large cookie/muffin scoop, I put one scoop of cooked stuffing into the center of each quarter of the waffle iron and let it all cook for 7-10 minutes.  Seriously, it was that simple.  I didn’t add anything to the stuffing… it was already moist enough that it toasted up nicely in a short amount of time.  When the waffle was crispy, I turned it onto a plate, topped it with turkey gravy and added a side of homemade cranberry sauce.  It was a really delicious way to enjoy our favorite parts of Thanksgiving in a new and tasty way.

I hope you’ll try this way of making your leftovers into something different instead of just reheating the same meal for a few days in a row.  As yummy as that is, having a new and unique meal that incorporates your leftovers can be really fun.  Honest!

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season with lots of leftovers…

Recipe: Nutty Chicken Salad with Chardonnay

I love when a simple idea comes together to create a delicious and fairly healthy meal.  I had a roasted chicken in the fridge this week and needed to bring something to work for lunch… what came from those two separate ideas was a recipe that I will be repeating often.  Seriously, it’s *that* good.

NuttyChickenChardSalad

I started by cutting up some chicken breast – literally, I cut a portion of chicken breast off of the roasted chicken, diced it, and put it in a bowl.  I then diced two small scallions and added them to the mixture.  I emptied a mini box of raisins on top and added a handful of chopped walnuts and sunflower seeds.  The salad came together using a mixture of Miracle Whip light, a few spoons of non-fat, plain Greek yogurt, and some splashes of James River Cellars Chardonnay.  I seasoned it with salt, pepper, and a pinch of lemon thyme and let it sit overnight (or until lunchtime, whichever works for you.  Note:  Since I still have some dried lemon thyme in the cupboard from last summer, I like to add this anytime I want just a hint of that spice in a meal. 

When plating this salad, I certainly could have used any bread I had on hand or I could have used it to top some greens, if I didn’t want the bread at all.  Since we’d just been to the store,  I had a ciabatta roll in the pantry and used that for my lunch.  I actually had enough to make my own  lunch, plus share some with a co-worker, so that was a big plus in my book.   Feel free to play with this recipe and make it your own.

Alternative ingredients?  I’m sure it would be delicious with leftover turkey (yup, already planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner leftovers), and craisins would be a fun change from the raisins I used here.  I also will plan to add some celery to this recipe, but that’s not included here since I didn’t have any when I was making this particular recipe.  If you come up with any other fun ideas, feel free to let me know what you’ve used.  I love hearing about ways others make this recipe into something their family will love.

Have fun playing with your food!

A Recipe Redux: a new twist on leftovers

A “redux”, by definition, means of a topic, restored, brought back, revisited.  This recipe is my way of showing you, dear reader, how to take something that clearly isn’t going to work in its present state and turn it into something that has your family and friends saying “wow.. what is this?”  I had the opportunity to make a totally new recipe from some leftovers and was so thrilled with the results that I simply had to share them.

Every so often, there is leftover food from an event at our winery.  Caterers don’t want to take cooked food home and not everyone thinks about bringing food storage bags to take away the excess, so the employees and volunteers become the willing recipients of this cooked bounty.   This happened recently and I was very excited to try my hand at creating something totally new and different from the plate of food I had to bring home.

What did I have to start?  The caterer had made a beef tenderloin with a tasty brown sauce, scalloped potatoes, crab cakes with a mango salsa, and a great green salad.  There was enough left over that plates were made up for the three staff members working the event (I love when caterers think of this, since I feel funny traipsing into someone else’s event and grabbing some of their food) that included individual portions of each item.  Since I knew the salad wouldn’t make it home (and it wouldn’t be enough to feed M and myself), I ate that while still at work.  I now had three slices of cooked beef tenderloin with sauce, a serving of scalloped potatoes, and two small crab cakes (with that yummy salsa) to take home for dinner.  The crux of the problem was that this wasn’t going to feed both my husband and myself… oh, what to do… what to do…

My Redux:  Once I got home, I sliced the beef into thin strips and removed the salsa topped crab cakes to a separate plate.  I decided to simply warm up the crab cakes, which was the best solution for us… we love crab cakes!  I then proceeded to make dinner.  Using 1T butter and 1T of flour, I made a roux, allowing the mixture to bubble a bit to cook out the flour taste.  Next came some wine, to extend the sauce.  In this case, I used a nice amount of Cabernet Sauvignon (that I already had open in the fridge) and about 3/4 of the same amount of Reserve Chardonnay (that I also had open in the fridge).  The sauce now was slightly pink and needed a bit of seasoning… some simple salt and pepper worked nicely.

I now had a sauce but felt that it wasn’t quite enough.  I added the serving of scalloped potatoes to the mixture and squished it down (great cooking term, eh?) to allow the butter and cheese in the potatoes to add some richness to the sauce while the potatoes (when smashed) added depth.  After stirring the mixture a bit, I added the beef strips and sauce to finish the dish.  For leftovers, this was looking pretty amazing!  I did add some more Chardonnay to thin out the sauce, since the potatoes had cooked a bit and added a little too much depth.  Once everything tasted “right”, I plated this over some brown rice and added the warmed crab cakes on the side.  It was a perfect amount for two and my husband’s question of “what is this?” was just the line I needed to feel fabulous when I replied:

“Oh, it’s just leftovers”

See if you can come up with a way to use your leftovers in your own version of a Recipe Redux… you might be pleasantly surprised with what you create if you just think outside the box!