Leftovers Left Out!

When cooking for only one or two people, one of two things usually happens. You either make too much food and end up eating it all at once, or you make too much and have a pile of leftovers. In theory the better option is to keep your leftovers and eat them later. Oftentimes, we keep our leftovers for a couple days thinking we will eat them, but it usually never happens and they end up in the trash. Since I’ve started cooking for myself and trying to stay on a budget at the same time, I’ve become more conscious about how much food I initially make, and what happens to the leftovers. This idea is also important when eating out. While you might not be able to control the large portion sizes that you are served at many restaurants, you can choose to eat less and actually eat the leftovers you take home. So, I encourage you to be more aware of what you waste, remember, there are people in the world that don’t have any food, and I think it’s a shame to waste what we are so fortunate to have. This week I had several meals that were leftovers, so that’s what I’m going to share with you.

Good Ole’ Spaghetti
Last weekend, my boyfriend and I made spaghetti for dinner one night. Classic spaghetti with meat sauce is probably one of the simplest and most inexpensive meals you can make. We used regular lean ground beef and browned it in a skillet; don’t forget to drain the excess grease into a can or bottle that you can dispose of in the trash. The sauce was from a jar, Prego maybe? We spiced it up a little bit by adding our own oregano, red onion, and fresh garlic. Adding your own fresh herbs, fruits, or vegetables is a simple trick that can be done with any store bought sauce or mix. As for the noodles, try to always use whole wheat or whole grain. I knew that we would have leftover meat and sauce, so instead of cooking enough noodles to go with all of the sauce, I kept them separate. Cooking only the amount of pasta we needed for that night and adding the meat sauce as a topping on each of our individual servings. This way, you can just keep the meat sauce in the fridge and make your pasta fresh for when you have it as leftovers. This is what I did for dinner a couple nights later.  Pasta is a difficult thing to keep and then reheat because it usually just doesn’t taste the same. If you’re making something and know you will have extra sauce, just don’t cook all the pasta you will need for it, like I did. If you have pasta leftovers from a restaurant and your pasta and sauce are already combined, adding a little water before you microwave it can help with the reheating process.

Banana Bread
I buy bananas, apples, and oranges at the store every week. I usually have a couple pieces of fruit a day, but sometimes I end up with a few brown bananas at the end of the week. Many people like their bananas on the yellow to brown side, but my favorite is when they are more on the green side. So, once they get to be too brown I don’t really like to eat them. This past week, my roommate and I ended up with three quite brown bananas, which is the exact amount needed to make banana bread. I can’t vouch for whether or not this recipe is very healthy, but I can say it makes a great breakfast, especially on the run. This particular recipe has been passed down in my family and is super easy to make. You can make one large loaf or two smaller loafs, which is what I did. This time, I made one with walnuts and one without. Banana bread is also a great thing to give away or take to work to share. I’ll include the recipe at the bottom of the page. You could probably also make banana pudding with leftover bananas, I’ve never made it though. Leftover bananas, strawberries or other fruits might be useful for making a smoothie. Certain vegetables like tomatoes, onions, and peppers would be great for making homemade salsa.

Greek Style Shrimp Scampi
So, this is the second pasta recipe in one post. This amount of carbs probably isn’t the best thing to eat every other night if you have just started trying to lose weight. When I began my diet and exercise plan, I pretty much cut out all pasta and bread, simply because I didn’t need it. Now that I’m used to eating smaller portions and know how to control my portions, I’ve allowed myself to have pasta on occasion, since it’s easy to make and it’s cheap. This recipe is from cooking light and is really flavorful. This is another recipe that you can kind of make your own by adding fresh herbs or other fresh vegetables to spice it up a little bit. I don’t think I really added anything to this one, but if you like spicier food, you may want to have some hot sauce on hand to add. Click here for the recipe.

So, there’s my opinions and advice on how to keep leftovers from getting left out. If you have something leftover that you know you won’t eat, give it away. I had leftovers from a dinner out with my parents this past week that I knew I wouldn’t eat because I had plans the next night, so I called one of my guy friends who I knew would eat it. He greatly appreciated it. I’ve also given leftovers to a homeless person before so, if you have a homeless shelter in your city, that’s also a great option. I think I’ll be having leftovers tonight as well; you’ll get the recipe for that next week.

Banana Bread Recipe
1 cup sugar                                  2 well beaten eggs
1 tsp baking soda                         3 mashed bananas
1/2 cup shortening/butter           2 cups flour
Pinch of salt                                 Pecans or walnuts (optional)

Mix all ingredients together (I use an electric hand mixer). Pour into sprayed loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. May take up to an hour and ten minutes. Loaves are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Miniatures and Repeats

This past week was a little unusual at meal times, so I didn’t get to experiment as much with cooking. Michael was here for Valentine’s Day, so we went out for a nice dinner. My dad also came into town and we went out to dinner with my sister. By the time the weekend came around, I was dying to cook and try out the recipes I’d been getting all week in my email. I tried out five new things over the weekend and I’m excited to talk about all of them. I think all of the recipes had repeating/overlapping ingredients, which is a really great thing to look for if you have a busy week or if you’re working with a budget. For this post, I’m just going to talk about them all together and list the recipes at the bottom.

Friday night was meatloaf minis for dinner. I was a little weary about this one because meatloaf can be an iffy thing to make. I’ve always liked my mom’s recipe for it, but I’ve never made it myself. I didn’t make any changes to the recipe and they turned out great. It makes 5-6 loaves depending on how big you make them, so if you’re cooking for a family it’s great. For Michael and I, we still made the full recipe, ate one each for dinner and then put three in the freezer. Now, I can just pull one out and bake it whenever I don’t have something planned to make.

Since Mardi Gras season started, I’ve been toying with the idea of trying to make a king cake. Cooking Light always sends out seasonal and holiday recipes, so when I saw a recipe for Mini King Cupcakes, I knew I had to do it. I got up on Saturday and made them. King cake is kind of a mix between cake and bread; I didn’t know how it would work out because I’ve never made any kind of bread. They weren’t that difficult though! The only setback is that they take a little more time because you have to wait for the dough to rise. Another thing that I’ve been wanting to try to make lately is

quinoa (pronounced Keen-Wah). Coincidentally, I got an email full of different recipes to try with quinoa, so I picked one out and really enjoyed it. It was a quinoa tabbouleh, which is similar to a chilled salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, and a few other things. This is a great thing to make because you can keep it in the fridge and eat it for lunch or just have it for a snack. I made the full batch and I’m keeping it in the fridge this week to have a quick option for my busy schedule.

Saturday night, we tried Chicken and Brussel Sprouts with a Dijon Mustard Sauce. It was pretty simple to make (the usual for the recipes I try), and I used orange juice instead of the apple cider because I couldn’t find it at the store.Last night, I was starving for something filling, and I needed something that would be quick to make. I made Pasta with a Chickpea Sauce.

It had simple ingredients but was a little bland so I might recommend adding a little spice, not sure what kind though. Both of these were great too! All in all I liked everything I tried this weekend. I know this week is going to busy for me, so I might be scarce on recipes and tips next week.

Hope you can try some out!

Mini Meatloaf                               Quinoa Tabbouleh
Mini King Cupcakes                      Pasta with Chickpea Sauce
Chicken and Brussel Sprouts