Category: Make Ahead


I didn’t actually get a picture of this one, but instead put pictures of two previously posted “Empty the Fridge Chowders”  Making a chowder or chili is one of my favorite ways to use up leftovers.

4-5 c. leftover meat and starch (I had about 4 or 5 cups of some delicious boneless lemon pepper chicken thighs and brown rice and black beans that weren’t getting eaten fast enough.  I chopped the chicken up into smaller pieces)

1 bag Dole Chopped salad (I save the salad toppings and dressings from the chopped salad for future use).  Broccoli slaw would also work well as the fresh add-in.

 

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Combine the leftovers with the greens from the Chopped salad, and place in crock pot.

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Add in:

1 jar salsa (I used Muir Glen organic that was on sale)

3 Tbsp. bacon jam

1 Tbsp. dehydrated minced onion

2 C. chicken broth

Any leftover meat and starch will do.  I sometime even freeze leftovers I know will work well in a chowder or chili.  Make sure you label them, though.  They are often unrecognizable when you look at them in a container in the freezer.

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To the chicken, rice, bean, and chop salad mixture, I then added salsa, bacon jam, dehydrated minced onion, and chicken broth.

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Cook on low in the crock pot for 8 hours.

Optional toppings:  Shredded cheese, nuts, sour cream, crushed chips, etc.

Optional add-ins:  Any leftover veggies or starches.

 

 

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1 package RPs Pasta Company or other fresh lasagna sheets

2-3 lb. ground meat, browned and drained (I cook and freeze cooked ground meat when it’s on sale)

2 onions, chopped

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 c. chopped sweet peppers

1 jar marinara

2 Tbsp. pesto

2 Tbsp. minced garlic

4 c. leftover cooked quinoa

1 container ricotta cheese (2 lb)

1 packet Knorr pesto sauce mix – or Italian seasoning and Parmesian cheese

1 egg

1 package (8 oz) shredded Italian 6 cheese

SAM_3070I bought some fresh gluten free lasagna noodles.  It didn’t say how many sheets are in the package, so I worried that I couldn’t make enough layers, so I decided to try something new, inspired by pastitsio. By the way, the package has 12 sheets, enough for three layers!

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I cook the sauce overnight in the crock pot.  This step isn’t necessary, but it certainly adds another layer of flavor that can’t be replicated any other way.

Day 1:  The Sauce:

2-3 lb. ground meat, browned and drained (I cook and freeze cooked ground meat when it’s on sale)

2 onions, chopped

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 c. chopped sweet peppers

1 jar marinara

2 Tbsp. pesto

2 Tbsp. minced garlic

Combine ingredients in crock put.  Cook overnight 8-10 hours on low.  The house will smell amazing.

Day 2:  The Lasagna –

4 c. leftover cooked quinoa

2 c. cooked sauce

Combine quinoa and sauce.  Add a little more sauce if it looks too dry.

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1 container ricotta cheese (2 lb)

1 packet Knorr pesto sauce mix – or Italian seasoning and Parmesian cheese

1 egg

Combine cheese, pesto sauce mix and egg.

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Spray DEEP lasagna dish, and spread quinoa mixture into bottom.  Top with layer of half of the ricotta.

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Place layer of noodles on top of ricotta.

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Top with sauce in a thin layer.

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Top with layer of noodles.

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Top with remaining ricotta.

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Layer the last of the noodles.

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Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with shredded cheese.

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Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes.

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We really loved this.  My daughter suggested stuffing peppers with a quinoa mixture like I used for the first layer and I can’t wait to try it.

I made garlic toast using Texas toast multigrain bread and premade garlic spread.

Yummy!

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Today was food preparation Sunday.  I did my shopping yesterday (following the great, inspiring sales this week), and prepared food today.  The meatballs are a combination of several meats and I made them jumbo, like mini meatloafs.

3 lb. ground beef

1 lb. ground chicken

1 lb. ground turkey

1/2 lb. ground pork  (optional)

2 tsp. baking soda mixed with 2 Tbsp. water

2 c. crumbled cornbread

2 eggs

1/4 c. sweet pickle relish

1/4 c. pesto

3 Tbsp. steak seasoning

1 lb. ricotta cheese

1 jar spaghetti sauce (I used Gia Russa)

4 oz. each ricotta salada and fontina cheeses, shredded

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Combine meats with baking soda water and add in relish, pesto, seasoning, ricotta cheese, and seasoning.

Prepare 13 x 9 baking dishes by spraying with cooking spray.

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Using large scoop, form meatballs and put into baking dishes sprayed with coconut oil.

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Bake at 375F for 40 minutes until internal temperature is 165F.

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Pour  spaghetti sauce over cooked meatballs and top with shredded cheese.  I used ricotta salada and fontina.

 

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Meanwhile as part of food prep Sunday, I browned the remaining ground meats I bought (about 3 lb. total) to freeze and use in a future meal.

I bought a variety of sauces on a clearance sale at the local market and put boneless chicken breasts and thighs into large containers and coated them with the sauces and froze the chicken for future meals.  I only used half of the meatballs I made for tonight’s dinner.  I froze the rest for another night.

 

I served the Jumbo meatballs tonight with a tortelloni that was on a BOGO sale at my local supermarket.  I also bought their spinach ricotta ravioli, and everyone loved the freshness of this delicate pasta.  I will go buy more before the sale ends!

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All in all, a successful food preparation Sunday, ending with a delicious, easy meal made of ingredients bought on sale!

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2 boxes elbow macaroni, cooked according to directions

12 leftover chicken fingers (you could use any leftover meat)

1 package broccoli slaw, steamed in the microwave (any steamed veggies will work!)

1 jar alfredo sauce (variation – mushroom soup, marinara, any sauce!)

1 c. shredded cheese (I used sliced and shredded up some cheese I had on hand)

Mix cooked macaroni and alfredo sauce.  Place half in the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish sprayed with coconut oil spray.

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Top with cooked broccoli slaw.

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Cut up chicken tenders and spread evenly over broccoli slaw.

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Top with remaining macaroni and sauce.

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Top with cheese.

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Bake at 350F until melted and golden, about 25-30 minutes.  Loved it!!

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I was sad to learn that some dear friends who are invited to our family Thanksgiving dinner aren’t going to be able to make it this year.  An amazing, any turkey for $6.00 sale intervened and made an early Thanksgiving just for them possible!

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The cranberries are simmering in an orange juice concoction.  No more can shaped cranberry sauce for me, since my daughter, Molly, showed me how incredibly easy it is to make homemade cranberry sauce!

2 bags fresh cranberries

1 c. orange juice

1 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie seasoning

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I baked the 18 lb. turkey using the inject able butter marinade from Tony’s since it was buy one get one free at the local market.  I also filled the cavity with onions and seasoned the top with some great Tuscan rub I picked up somewhere along the way.

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The turkey was frozen, and I needed it defrosted as quickly as possible.  The good old Butterball site, and Martha Stewart, etc. etc. all show two safe methods of defrosting.  The easiest being defrosting in the refrigerator, but I didn’t have 3-4 days, I had one.  I did the water defrost method, which involved immersing the frozen turkey in water in a cooler, and changing out the water every 30 minutes or so.  It defrosted in less than 9 hours, the time they recommended.

I made mashed potatoes ahead of time, so as not to have to cook in front of everybody.  I adapted a recipe from Ree Drummond.

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5 lb. russet potatoes

1 block cream cheese

8 oz. sour cream

1 1/2 sticks butter

Salt and pepper to taste.

Cut up and boil potatoes.  No peeling necessary, just a good scrub on the skin!

Mash and add in cream cheese, sour cream, and one stick of the butter.   Season to taste.

Spread into a 13 x 9 baking dish.  Cover and refrigerate up to overnight.  Bring to room temperature before baking.  Top with remaining 1/2 stick butter cut up into little pieces.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.  Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley before serving.

We had gravy we didn’t even need.  These potatoes stand alone!

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I roasted some shaved brussel sprouts in the oven with the potatoes.  I tossed the shaved sprouts with olive oil, seasoned salt and a little pepper, and let it sit in the fridge to marinate for a few hours before roasting them.  I don’t even usually like brussel sprouts, but these were delicious.

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My guests brought a yummy salad to top off the meal.  I did take a picture of my plate, but my camera has been acting up lately and I lost that shot and the one of the turkey before it was carved.

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We had a nice red blend with it, which was on sale at my local market with a BOGO deal.  Two bottles for $19.99.  So smooth and good enough to buy again for Thanksgiving!

We had an ice cream cake planned for dessert, which has been in the freezer since my son Elliot’s 25 birthday on the 10th, but he didn’t make it home in time, so thank goodness it’s an ice cream cake.

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Mahalo.com calls for steaming wings first for about 10 minutes, but I was late getting started and decided to forego that step.

8 lb. fresh chicken wings

1/8 C. Cajun Seasoning

1/8 C.  oil (I used a nut oil mix I had on hand)

After steaming wings for 10 minutes, place them on jelly roll pans sprayed with coconut oil, sprinkle with Cajun or other seasoning (such as garam marala, Tuscan, Herbs de Provence, Garlic Powder and Parmesian, etc. etc.  in a 425 F oven for about 20 minutes.  Turn and cook for 20 more.

Remove from oven, toss in a brown paper bag to absorb oil/chicken fat,  and serve with your favorite dipping sauces.

No need to fry wings ever again.  They are amazing and delicious baked.  We had them with barbecue sauce,  balsamic glaze. honey mustard, and ranch, to dip in.

You can easily make these up to a day ahead, and heat them with sauce brushed on them.

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Fresh Market had a sale on some interesting looking artisan salad mixes from Canterbury Naturals.  I bought the orzo cucumber one and it was yummy.  It’s a little higher in sodium than I like (370 mg  per 1/2 cup serving) so I will make my own from scratch next time!

1 Package Canterbury Naturals Orzo Cucumber Salad Mix (it contains whole wheat orzo, garlic, carrots, onion, bell pepper, and celery and a yummy dressing mix)

2 cucumbers, cubed

8 campari tomatoes, cut into quarters

1 can garbanzo beans, drained

2 Tbsp. Panera Tangerine Honey Dressing (too sweet by itself, but nice mixed with the dressing in the salad mix)

Cook orzo veggie mixture for 10 minutes, drain and rinse well.

Prepare dressing pursuant to directions on the package (you add olive oil and water).  Add in tangerine dressing.

Gently fold in tomatoes, cucumber, and garbanzo beans.

Everyone had seconds and some even thirds!  I can’t wait to try this from scratch!

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I had leftover corn, black bean salad, but not quite enough for a side.  I cooked brown rice in the crock pot over night and mixed it in to make a yummy salad.

Corn and Black Bean Salad:

1 1/2 c. roasted corn

1 can great northern beans, rinsed and drained

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 c finely chopped sweet onion

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, from 1-2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tsp. chopped jalapeno pepper

 

Combine corn, beans and onion.  Toss with dressing.  Refrigerate at least overnight.

In the morning, stir in the cooked brown rice.  Refrigerate for the day.

I served this with some chicken and a salad bar.

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1 Jar sauce (I used Gia Russa low sodium again) YUM

1 box Barilla no boil lasagne noodles

4 c. leftover bolognese and veggies.

2 lb. ricotta cheese

1 c. shredded cheese (fontinella is our fave)

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Spread part of a jar of sauce in bottom of a deep 13 x 9 baking dish.

Put four sheets of the lasagna on top and then spread 2/3 of the bolognese and veggies over it.

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Again put a layer of four sheets of noodles.

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Mix remaining bolognese and ricotta.  Spread in a layer over noodles.

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One more layer of the noodles, then sauce (to which I added some more leftover veggies I had on hand) and sprinkle with shredded cheese.

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Cover with foil.  Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes.  Let stand 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

No one complained about eating “leftovers” and this time, there were none!

 

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I was making some soup – Broccoli, Cauliflower, Leek, Potato to be exact – and I wanted to have sandwiches with it.  I remembered some frozen empanada dough I’d bought a while back, and decided to use some of the ground pork I’d bought and frozen to make empanadas.

1 pack frozen empanada dough (I used El Sambrador brand)

1 lb. ground pork

1/2 c. finely diced onions

2 Tbsp. garlic pepper seasoning

1/4 c. barbecue sauce

Cook seasoning, pork and onions until cooked through.

Pulse in food processor with barbecue sauce until no large lumps remain.

Lay out empanada dough.  Top with filling.  Seal with water. Press seam with fork.

Place on baking sheet and brush with beaten egg.

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Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

Everyone really loved these and I should have made more!

The texture of the dough was flaky and tender.  I will buy these again.  I can’t wait to try them with other stuffings.  This would be a great way to repurpose leftovers!  I’m going to try the Chicken Anelli I posted from il Mulino’s restaurant recently.  They use pizza dough, but I think the empanada dough will be perfect.

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