Monday Recipe Love MMM Your Review Leftovers

I know it sounds confusing……but it’s really not.  It’s a Monday Mmm Mmm Mmm, Recipe Review and Love Your Leftovers post all rolled into one!!! Except….oh, no….the holiday weekend has messed me up…..Jeff just reminded me, IT’S NOT MONDAY.  Ugh….Ok, so it’s a Tuesday Mmm Mmm Mmm, Recipe Review and Love Your Leftovers post!!!

Coming up with new and creative ideas for dinner can be just as difficult for someone with a passion for cooking, eating and entertaining as it is for the Average Jane or Average Joe.  Sometimes the creativity just isn’t there and/or sometimes you just don’t feel like cooking.  But when you’ve got leftovers on hand and you’ve just tried a RRREEEAAALLLYYY good recipe, it’s a bit easier.

On Sunday Jeff and I went the home of our friends Lu and Mark for a cookout.  A bunch of folks gathered for an impromptu celebration of Mark’s birthday. And of course, when friends get together you can count on two things – at least with our group of friends – lots of laughs and some darn good food.

Lu made an appetizer platter with a few new-to-her recipes including Pickled Deviled Eggs and Pickled Brussel Sprouts – both mmm mmm mmm.  I made an Ina Garten / Barefoot Contessa recipe that I recently wrote about when our friends Barb and Scott invited us to their lovely home for dinner.  The recipe is Crostini with Whipped Feta and Tomatoes…….I raved about it when Barb made it and my friends raved about it when I did too!

crostiniLu and Mark also grilled hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, Maureen and Andy brought their yummy mac and cheese, Ev and Jeff brought peach cobbler, and Tim and Jack ran out for glazed donuts when everyone was talking about the Luther Burger craze.  Luther Burgers are allegedly named for Luther Vandross and are cheeseburgers served on sliced glazed donuts.

Well, my assessment of the Luther Burger – five M’s – MMMMM!

But I digress……

Tonight I was stumped about what to make for dinner, so I did what all self-respecting cooks do when they don’t know what to make….I stood in front of the open fridge hoping inspiration would jump out at me….and it did. I spied the container with the leftover whipped feta, a package of chicken, the leftover marinated tomatoes and a head of broccoli Jeff picked from the garden yesterday.

Here’s what I did:

1. I cut the chicken into cutlets – with my palm on top of the chicken piece and my knife parallel to the cutting board I cut on a very slightly downward angle (to avoid the knife going into my hand).  Then I pounded the cutlets, breaded them (first in seasoned flour, then in egg wash, and finally in seasoned bread crumbs), shallow fried them and set them on paper towels to drain.

2. I ran out to the garden to pick a few extra tomatoes and followed Ina’s recipe to make some extra marinated tomatoes.

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3. I made the pesto with some arugula, spinach, the broccoli, lemon juice, lemon zest, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  I tasted it for seasoning and then set a pot of water on the stove to boil so I could cook the pasta.

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4. While the water boiled and the pasta cooked, I spread the remaining whipped feta onto the cooked chicken cutlets and placed them in a 250 degree F oven to stay warm and for the cheese to soften.

Chicken with Whipped Feta

Just after I drained the pasta and mixed in the pesto, I heard the garage door go up.  Jeff’s timing is exceptional – particularly when food is involved!  While he changed, I plated our food – the pesto pasta next to the feta smeared chicken, which I topped with the marinated tomatoes.  We both raved dinner and Jeff complimented me on taking Ina’s Crostini recipe and adapting it for a main course.

Chicken with Whipped Feta and Tomatoes

As far as the recipe goes, Barefoot Contessa’s Crostini with Whipped Feta and Tomatoes gets 5 M’s out of 5!


It is easy to make, takes only a few ingredients, yields incredible flavor, pleases a crowd, adapts well to other preparations and holds well for leftovers!!!  So, whether it’s Monday or Tuesday, I hope you love your leftovers, try a new recipe and end up with an MmmMmmMmm!!!!!

 

Dinner Mmm

Barefoot Contessa Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta

Ingredients

  • 6oz good feta cheese (crumbled)
  • 2oz cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 2/3 cups good olive oil (divided)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed (I also used the zest of one whole lemon))
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons shallots (minced (2 shallots))
  • 2 teaspoons garlic (minced (2 cloves))
  • 2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
  • 2lb ripe heirloom or cherry tomatoes (1/2 inch dice)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves (julienned)
  • 20 - 25 diagonal baguette slices (toasted)
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts (toasted)

Directions

1. For the whipped feta, place the feta and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the cheeses are mixed.
2. Add 1/3 cup of the olive oil, the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and process until smooth.
3. For the tomatoes, up to an hour before you're serving, combine the shallots, garlic, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes.
4. Whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
5. Add the tomatoes, stir gently, and set aside for 10 minutes.
6. Stir in the basil and taste for seasonings.
7. To assemble the crostini, spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of whipped feta. With a slotted spoon, place the tomatoes on top. Put the crostini on plates and scatter with the pine nuts. Sprinkle with extra basil and serve.

Love Your Leftovers (and your garden): Veggie & Chicken Topped Zucchini Pancakes

What’s for dinner?

I’ll bet this question is uttered in every household in the world at least once a week, if not more often. And if you answer this question, I’ll bet what happens to me also happens to you – you get in a rut. We all get in ruts from time to time, whether it’s with the food we eat or in some other area of life.

For Jeff and I, the dinner rut has been quesadillas for quite some time. If we can’t decide what to make for dinner, we fall back on quesadillas. We scrounge through the fridge and fill them with whatever we find. The beautiful thing about quesadillas is that they are soooooooo incredibly flexible. They can be filled with any kind of meat (or none), any kind of veggies (or none), beans, sauces, cheeses, etc.

In keeping with our rut, Jeff suggested chicken quesadillas for dinner on Thursday night. And I agreed…..that is until I looked in the fridge.

But I am getting ahead of myself. I began my dinner preparations in the garden. I picked a zucchini, an eggplant, some Hungarian peppers and some cherry tomatoes. These things would make a great veggie filling for the quesadillas. I also had two ears of cooked corn on the cob left over in the fridge, which I knew I would add to the veggie filling.

One the way from vine to table (800x530)

After I came inside, I washed the produce I had picked and set it all on one of the dining room chairs to photograph. I know that stopping to take pics during a recipe is not “normal” for everyone, but in our house nearly all food prep stops multiple times for photo ops. So anyway, I photographed the produce and turned my back for just a second to put the lens cap on my camera and make sure it was securely stored out of harms way. MISTAKE. When I turned back around, the cherry tomatoes and one of the Hungarian peppers were missing from the chair and there was dog “schlark” (drool) all over the chair. Kissy, who has been known to eat tomatoes right off the vine, decided she needed a snack. Ugh…….

from Vine to Plate (800x530)So I must admit, I was too lazy to pick more tomatoes so I scrapped them from the recipe. But I was not too lazy to re-wash the produce!

Sauteed Veggies and Chicken (800x530)

Back on track, I began sauteing the veggies and cutting the chicken to add to the saute. I also grated three kinds of cheese – Monterey Jack, Cheddar and Parm – for the quesadillas. Finally I reached into the fridge for the tortillas and a container of leftovers caught my eye. Hmmmmmm ……. interesting ….. zucchini pancakes – my mind started spinning.

For something different, I decided to reheat the pancakes and top them with the veggie and chicken saute and some grated cheese. As I was building my pancake stacks, I realized they might need a little zing, so I pulled out some BBQ sauce from The Shed which is now available at Karn’s (a local grocery store).  The discovery that Shed Sauce is available locally has my Facebook newsfeed atwitter (haha).

Reheating Zucchini Pancakes (800x530)

Reheated Pancakes Topped with Veggies Chix and Cheese (800x790)

with a splash of BBQ and a slice of tomato (800x530)

Many folks from our church – Daybreak Church in Mechanicsburg – have had the opportunity to eat at The Shed while on missions trips to Biloxi and because they loved the sauce so much have been ordering it online. So now that it’s available in a local grocery store, all those Shed lovers are really excited – Jeff included. As an aside, food network is launching a new show about The Shed on August 4th (tomorrow).

Anyway…..I topped my pancake stacks with a drizzle of “shed sauce” and out of the corner of my eye I spied a full-sized tomato on the counter. I thinly sliced it, added it as the final layer of my stacks and seasoned the tomato slices with salt and pepper.

I slid the stacks into a 350 degree F oven, set the timer for 10 minutes and sat down with a book.  After 10 minutes I checked the stacks and decided they needed a little time under the broiler.  I turned on the broiler, set the timer for 3 minutes and waited.

Well, I’m sure you know what I’m going to write and what Jeff said in reaction to dinner……..mmm mmm mmm!

Veggie & Chicken Topped Zucchini Pancakes (800x530)

 

Close Up LYL (800x530)

Don’t dread your leftovers…….love ’em!

Love Your Leftovers: Savory Veggie Waffles

Those of you who have been reading for a while know that I often go on a bender, cleaning out my fridge and making dinner from the dribs and drabs in small containers.  It’s both a culinary challenge and a great way to avoid wasting food and money!

Last night Jeff gave my dad a ride to pick up his car.  Finally – and just in the nick of time – the air conditioning is fixed!  Woooohooooo!  While they went to pick up the car, my mom and I turned leftovers into a delicious meal.  Savory veggie waffles and a refreshing summer salad.

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Love Your Leftovers

I LOVE LEFTOVERS!  I know there are people out there that subscribe to the “I don’t eat leftovers” way of thinking, but I am not one of them.  I don’t even pretend to understand people who don’t like leftovers! I believe that most foods get better when they have time for the flavors to meld; therefore I think leftovers are often better than the original meal.  Combine my love of leftovers with my love of COLD leftovers and my distaste for sweet breakfast, and you’ll often find me eating last night’s food for breakfast – straight from the container.

Love Your Leftovers 2

I also enjoy the challenge of what I call “kitchen sink cooking.”  You’ve been there – it’s when you clean out your fridge…you know, the multitude of little containers of items from previous meals or items that didn’t get used…and make a meal from what’s there.  Last night was one of my “kitchen sink” nights.  The results were soooo good that I couldn’t resist letting you in on my “recipe.”

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