>Fresh Idea Friday

>I know I mentioned about trying to post something other than food in the near future … however, I can’t help it if today’s Fresh Idea is about Leftovers! So, you’ll have to endure another post about food before I move onto a baby update (that’s right, stay tuned to hear all about how our little girlie is doing … I had an ultrasound and baby appt. yesterday, so I’ll give an update later).

Back to Fresh Idea Friday … as I mentioned, today we’re sharing our leftover magic … creative ways we use leftovers.

I have to confess that I have it very easy when it comes to leftovers. I have a husband (and kiddos) who will eat leftovers for lunch or for dinner 3 nights in a row! They aren’t picky which makes my life much easier. Depending what it is, we’ll often just re-heat it in the oven since we find that it tastes better that way (we don’t do this much in the summer as I try to keep the oven off). That being said, I do sometimes try to use leftovers to create another meal … so here are some of my basic guidelines and ideas in trying to be creative with leftovers:

~Grilled meats that are leftover will often get sliced/cut up for salads, fajitas or stir-frys.
~Roasted/baked meats tend to get used in homemade casseroles.
~Seasoned meats, such as taco salad meat is great for an appropriate companion meal such as chili or mexican tortilla soup.
~Leftover veggies (grilled or steamed) get thrown into stir-frys, salads, casseroles and homemade mac n cheese.

One of my favorite meals to make in the fall/winter is Oven Roasted Chicken. It’s simple, quick and delicious!
All I really do is rinse the whole frying chicken with cold water, remove the giblets, season breast side first, then place in baking dish (that has a lid) breast side down, season the other side and bake @ 325* for about 30 min./pound. Some seasonings I typically use are rosemary, lemon pepper and seasoned salt. It’s also helpful if you use a baking dish about the size of the chicken as this will keep it nice and moist. The leftover meat is perfect for casseroles, soups, enchiladas, sandwiches or whatever else you might use perfectly moist chicken in! You can also just freeze the leftover meat to use for later.
And the juices from the roasted chicken are great to save for chicken broth or to make homemade cream soups. Just put the cooled juices in a container in the fridge to allow the fat to harden and seperate. Remove from the chicken broth (which will turn into a jelly substance) and use in any recipe calling for chicken broth (can be diluted as it is a very rich broth!). Or, make some homemade cream of chicken soup (or whatever you use) to freeze for the next time you need some …

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup
~1 1/2 c. chicken broth (from roasted chicken juices)
~2 T. minced onion
~1 garlic clove, minced
~1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
~1/8 tsp. black pepper
~1/4 tsp. salt
~1/4 tsp. parsley
~dash of paprika
~1 1/2 c. milk
~3/4 c. flour

In med. saucepan, boil broth, 1/2 c. of milk, onion, garlic and seasonings until onions and garlic are tender. Wisk together remaining 1 c. of milk and flour, then add to boiling mixture and wisk continually until mixture boils and thickens. This will make about 3 cups (or about 2 cans) of cream soup.

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, I have also made Roasted Chicken in my crock pot. The most important thing to remember is not to place the chicken directly on the bottom of the crock pot. You have to put potatoes/onions/carrots/etc. on the bottom first. Then season the chicken breast side up, turn over so that it cooks breast side down and season the other side. Add about 1/4 c. of water and cook on low for about 8 hours. The great thing about this is that I can throw it in the crock pot in the morning with the potatoes and veggies and have dinner be ready 8 hours later without creating a single dirty pan! When I make it in the oven, I typically make a couple of sides (brown rice, veggies, salad, etc.) so there is still a little work to be done before dinner!

Another great way to enjoy leftovers is to double the recipe (at least in my family!) and then freeze half for another meal. There are lots of great meals that freeze well and taste just as good baked out of the freezer. Of course, if you do that you aren’t really using leftovers, but oh well! I’ll often do this with soups/stews/chili … make a large batch and then freeze a good portion of it to use on those days when you need something quick out of the freezer.

So there are my leftover tips … check out Lisa’s post for more leftover ideas!

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