Friday, April 30, 2010

Conserving Food - Using Leftovers Creatively

I apologize to my loyal followers for not getting these recipes posted sooner, but I've been canning like crazy for the past week and well, I guess you could say I was in a pickle! - Literally.

I do want to share a tip or two about conserving food. If you're like most cooks, every night, you have leftovers from dinner. It might not be enough for a full meal, but those bits and pieces can become a future masterpiece.

Always keep a stock of quart size and smaller ziplock bags in your kitchen. When you have leftover meat, whether it be poultry, beef or fish, as you're cleaning up, slice or dice the leftover meat. Put it in a bag, press out the air and label it with a freezer marker. Keep these little bags in a basket in your freezer. They come in very handy when you are making homemade soup or casseroles. Just toss them in to your recipe and no more wasted meat! Who hasn't roasted a chicken or turkey and had tons of leftover meat. Don't toss it. It only takes a few minutes to pull the meat from the bones and freeze it.

This tip works great for vegetables too. When you have a few spoonfuls of leftover corn, carrots or other veggies, store them in a freezer container or bag. When the bag is full, defrost it in the microwave and stir in into your pot of soup or stew.

There is no easier or faster weeknight dinner than to heat a pot of chicken or beef stock (canned is fine), toss in a few bags of leftover meat, a few bags of leftover vegetables and in no time you'll have a delicious soup.Thicken it up with a little cornstarch and water and voila! stew!

Don't throw away those fresh vegetable trimmings either! Keep a gallon size freezer bag in your freezer. Toss in the ends you cut from onions and carrots, the leaves from celery, the green tops of leeks and any other trimmings you may have. When the bag is full, place a whole chicken in a pot. Cover with water and add all of your vegetable trimmings (you don't even have to defrost them!)Throw in a couple of unpeeled, whole garlic cloves and a teaspoon of peppercorns Simmer for about an hour and strain. Remove the chicken from the bones and add to the stock. Stir in a bag of noodles and cook until tender and you have the world's best chicken noodle soup!

Do you have other creative ways of saving leftovers? Please share them!

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