Archived entries for left over remix

Left-Over-Remix: Poor Man’s Enchilladas

I love dinners which can be described as everything but the kitchen sink.  I had a collection left overs from the Rice and Beans we had for dinner the other night I wanted to use up but, I also had friends coming over, so I needed to serve something appealing.   To top this off, I was also in a very lazy mood and not wanting to fuss much as well as not spend much money on more groceries.

Here’s a list of what I had available:

  • left over white rice and re-fried black beans
  • oversize burrito tortillas
  • salsa
  • sour cream

I decided with a quick trip to the corner store for a few veggies and cheese, I could whip up a quick vegetable enchilada dish.  As I said, I didn’t want to fuss, so by mixing a bit of  the sour cream into the salsa, I could make a quick creamy enchilada sauce.  Here’s what I came up with.

Poor Man’s Vegetable Enchiladas
prep time: 20-30 minutes  bake time: 30 minutes  total: 1 hour

  • 2-3 c. cooked rice
  • 2 c. re-fried beans
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1-2 peppers or chilies sliced
  • 2 small zucchinis sliced
  • 1 lime
  • 1-2 c. salsa
  • 1/4 c. sour cream
  • 8 oz. bag shredded cheese
  • hot sauce

I started out by preparing some vegetables. You can use whatever vegetables you want.  I decided some caramelized zucchini would be nice, so I sliced them up, coated with oil, salt and pepper and broiled them until they were a light brown and a bit crispy, about 15 min.  After removing the zucchini, I turned the oven heat from broil to 350 to bake the enchiladas  Meanwhile, I sliced my onions, an orange pepper and a red chili and sauteed them over medium heat.  When the onions were transparent, I squeezed half a lime over the onions and peppers and let them cook for a minute or two before removing from heat. I then mixed the zucchini in and seasoned the veg mix to taste with a bit more salt.

Next, I assembled my enchiladas.  I heated up the rice in the microwave for a minute or two, just so they wouldn’t be so firm.  Laying out my three gigantic tortillas, I layered them with a smear of re-fried beans, topped with a layer of rice, and then the vegetables.  I sprinkled about 1/4 c. shredded cheese on top as well as a dripped a bit of hot sauce over the fillings.  Wrapping them up I placed the three rolls in a baking dish.  I took the salsa I had left, and quickly mixed in about a 1/4 c. of sour cream, and then coated this on top of the tortillas.  To finish it off, I sprinkled the rest of the shredded cheese.

Finally, I baked the enchiladas. Those pups got thrown in the oven for about 30 minutes at 350.  And then, it was dinner time!  A quick garnish of avocado and yum yum.  My favorite kind of dinner, quick, cheap and easy!  Oh yeah, and TASTY!

Left Over Remix: Black Bean Salad Becomes Soup

Meena and I planned WAY too much food for our friend’s bachelorette party.  I knew we were overdoing it a bit, but when we arrived to find out we had planned for almost 2 times as many guests as were coming, we had a bit of left overs.  We had a large amount of a bean salad to take home with us.  It makes a great side dish, but the amount we had would last a long time for two people.  I decided it was left over remix time!

I love left over remixes because it takes something which you’ve eaten but is been there/done that and turns it into a new exciting dish.  It got cold this past week, so soup is on the menu again!  (I eat so much soup in the winter, I’m sick of it by summer.  But when the cold weather comes creeping back in, so does my desire for bowls of steamy  stewy soups!)

I pulled out all the items I had in the fridge, which included a bag of bean salad and half a jar of roasted salsa left over from the party.  I had some vegetable stock from making seitan and a jalapeno and some shredded cheese for making the jalapeno poppers left over from our launch party.  The stock along with some milk in the fridge pureed into the beans would make a hearty soup.  The salsa along with some tomato paste would sweeten the beans and spice it up along with the jalapeno.  Its soup time!

Black Bean Soup

  • 4 c. left over bean salad
    -0r-
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can pinto or kidney beans
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
    -added to-
  • 1/2 c. salsa
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 jalapeno diced
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 quart (4 c.) soup stock- whatever kind you prefer
  • shredded cheese to garnish.
  • optional: fresh lime

Making soup is pretty easy and I usually follow the same steps regardless of the ingredients.

Start with sauteing the onions.  I added the jalapeno as the onions were becoming translucent to reduce the heat a bit with a quick saute.

Next I added the beans as well as the salsa and let them saute for a minute or two.

Next I added the stock and allowed it to come to a quick boil and reduced it to a simmer.  The canned beans are already cooked, so I could use my immersion blender to puree the soup right away (instead of simmering until all vegetables were cooked).   If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can pour it into a regular blender, or use a food processor.

I tasted the puree and seasoned as necessary.  I added some shredded cheese and a bit more milk to make it more creamy and a bit of fresh lime to punch it up.  But you should taste and season to your liking.  A bit of honey helps sweeten or a few drops of hot sauce can help spike up the spice.

I made some quick quesadillas with the shredded cheese and a few tortillas, garnished with fresh cilantro, and bam: Bean Salad became Bean Soup!

Don’t Do The Dishes: Banana Bread in Pork Roaster

Waste not, want not. I believe that. Also, I can be lazy. These are the pillars of this post.

I’ve been testing recipes for our Polynesian supper club coming up next weekend. As part of our soup course, I need to prepare a roast pork shoulder with a papaya seed rub. This past Monday, I was experimenting with my recipe. And I was left over with a glass baking dish with some delicious drippings and grease. I swear, although its horrible for you, there is almost nothing which smells and tastes as delicious as pork fat. You think there is…prove it!


Pork shoulder roast with papaya and sea salt rub. Soooo good!

Anyway, I also had two bananas going bad which I needed to use up. I decided to make banana bread. But…I only have one loaf sized pan and it was currently being used with the small test pork roast. Hmmm….


Yes, I had two bananas, but I already smashed one before I thought to take their pictures. Oh well.

To be lazy, I don’t like doing dishes. (WHO DOES??) To waste not, I wanted to use both the delicious pork flavor on the glass dish and the bananas which were going bad. Why not put them together!! I decided to make a banana bread and just put the batter right into the glass dish once the pork roast was done!


A detail of the caramelized pork drippings on the glass dish (left) and the batter in the pork fat (right).

I left some of the pork grease in the bottom and put my banana bread batter right into the dish to bake and fuse with the caramelized porky yum.

The result: banana bread with a slight hint of the savory salty sweet flavor of pork. I also added a lemon glaze. Delish!

Here’s the basic banana bread I used:

Basic Banana Bread

  • 2 brown bananas
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 c. flour
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt*
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 3/4 c. sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp whiskey

Lemon Glaze

  • 1 c. confectioners sugar
  • 2-3 tbs lemon juice

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mash bananas in a bowl.
  3. Cream butter and sugar together with a stand or hand mixer until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs 1 at a time to butter and sugar and mix.
  5. Mix dry ingredients together.
  6. Add to butter/sugar/eggs and mix together.
  7. Add bananas, sour cream, vanilla and whiskey.
  8. Pour into your pan greased loaf pan (the pork fat is not manditory).
  9. Bake until tests clean with knife or skewer test. About 45 – 60 minutes.
  10. Prepare glaze by mixing together two ingredients.
  11. Spread glaze over cooled loaf.
  12. Eat it, obviously!

Left Over Remix: Frozen Cheese Makes Fabulous Lasagna

Yes, you can freeze cheese, as we talked about in the last post. Moving on. What did I do with the left over cheese from our wedding? Well, since, frozen cheese should be melted, a big batch of lasagna.

Lasagna is a quintessential comfort food which is always a crowd pleaser. If you’ve ever eaten one, you can probably make it. The basic recipe is a simple layering technique using noodles, sauce and cheese. A large pan can as easily be made as a small one, so making it in bulk to supply a weeks worth of lunches can save you time and money.

I often take liberties with my recipe substituting anything and everything from tortillas instead of noodles and bbq sauce instead of a marinara. However, to use up my frozen left over provolone cheese along with a jar of last fall’s roasted marinara I have left in the pantry, I decided to make the “classic” version of this recipe, which is usually comprised of layers of lasagna noodles, a meaty tomato sauce, layers of melty cheese and a cottage cheese/ricotta layer mixed with egg which acts as the glue which holds the dish together.

Before you learn to run you learn to walk, so lets walk through this classic recipe so later we can adulterate it all we want!

Classic Lasagna
for 9″ x 12″ pan, makes 12 – 16 servings

  • 16 sheets of lasagna noodles
  • 1 quart of marinara
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 16 oz. container of cottage cheese
  • 2-3 large eggs
  • 1 Tbs Italian seasonings -or- 1 tsp each dried thyme, oregano and basil
  • 2 lbs of cheese (sliced or shredded)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375.

Season ground beef with a sprinkle (1/4-1/2 tsp) of salt and pepper.

Brown ground beef in a skillet over medium heat.

In a bowl, mix cottage cheese, Italian seasonings, and eggs. I also sometimes add Parmesan cheese into the mix if I have it around.

Bring a large pot of water with 1-2 Tbs of olive oil to boil. Boil lasagna noodles until they are slightly soft on the surface but still hard at the center. They should be flexible enough to bend but not tear easily. You want them not fully cooked because they will finish cooking while the lasagna bakes.

Drain boiled noodles. If you pour a small amount of olive oil on the noodles, this will help them from sticking together.

Mix ground beef together with marinara.


lasagna with slices of defrosted cheese.

Assemble your lasagna: In a 9″ x 12″ pan, layer the bottom of the pan with 4 sheets of noodles. Then layer with 1/3 of marinara and meat sauce and then with 1/3 of cottage cheese and egg mixture. Top with slices or sprinkles of 1/4 of the cheese. Place 4 more sheets of noodles on top and continue layering until three layers are complete. Top with your final 4 sheets of noodles and top with the last amount of cheese.

Place lasagna in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Place pan on a baking sheet while baking to collect any overflow if the lasagna bakes over. or until cheese is golden.

Eat up!

Left Over Remix: BBQ Pizza with Chicken and Jalapenos

Its a creative challenge sometimes to look at a bunch of left over ingredients and think how I can make them over into something new and exciting. Looking in the refrigerator, I had a bunch of bags of left over garnish materials from Chili night; there was chopped jalapeno slices, half a red onion, a bag of shredded cheese and chopped cilantro.

While I was thinking of what I could use them for, my eyes glanced on a bottle of BBQ sauce I’ve been trying to get rid of. With the little scrap of chicken breast I knew was lurking in my freezer, one of Ira’s favorite pizza’s came into my mind. Using my pizza dough short cut, I had a left over dinner on the table about an hour later.

BBQ Pizza with Chicken and Jalapeno

  • Jalapeno slices
  • red onion sliced
  • cooked chicken breast
  • cilantro, chopped
  • BBQ Sauce
  • shredded cheese

I quickly prepared my pizza dough and got it in the oven to rise.

Meanwhile, I gave the Jalapenos a quick saute in olive oil with some cumin seed to add a bit of flavor and cut down on the spicy heat of the peppers. If you like spicy food, you can skip this step, but I have to admit, I am a bit of a wiener when it comes to spicy peppers. What can I say, I am a gringo.

I also gave the chicken a quick saute to cook through, about 2-3 minutes over medium heat. Before putting into the pan, I quickly cut up about a 1/4 of a chicken breast I had defrosted and mixed with the juice of 1 lime and 1 tsp of cumin.

Once the dough was ready, I spread out the BBQ sauce on the dough. BBQ sauce is easy to make if you don’t have any ready made in the fridge.

This is a quick mid week dinner not a BBQ competition in Kentucky, so Sweet Baby Rays or a BBQ sauce made with ketchup works just fine.

Layering the rest of the ingredients on the pizza, it was ready for the oven. 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Eat up and enjoy not letting ingredients rot in your refrigerator. Barack Obama is proud of you.

Busy Week, Quick Dinner. Chicken Salad Sandwhich.

I feel so tired right now. On weeks when I have events, I am always very busy planning and prepping. The idea of coming home and cooking dinner is too much. Tonight, I decided to do something quick and easy: chicken salad sandwiches.

I made chicken stock this weekend for my white chicken chili. I usually use chicken bones and scraps for my stock, but I had some chicken thighs which had been frozen for a bit too long I needed to use up. When making stock, most of the flavor in the meat has been infused into the stock leaving bland stringy chicken, which works great for chicken salad because the dressing and filling helps cover the bland chicken taste. Its quick, easy and nummy.

Chicken Salad

  • 2 c. cooked chicken, chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1/2 – 3/4 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/8 c. spicy mustard
  • 1/8 c. honey mustard
  • 1/4 c. sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. fresh basil chopped or 1 Tbs dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 Tbs lime juice

Mix all the ingredients together and bam! Chicken salad done. I like to mix mine in a food processor, but if you like yours super chunky, you can just whip it up in a bowl.

Slap that salad on a bun with Swiss cheese, side with some kettle chips. I like salt and vinegar.

Left Over Remix: Tortilla Pie

I always seem to have tortillas in the refrigerator left over from taco night. We love a tacos or burritos for a quick dinner on a weeknight, but between Ira and I, we don’t really finish up the whole package in one night. The tortillas get pushed to the back of the fridge and then I remember them days later, sad and stale.

A while back, my Mom suggested Martha Stewart Recipe for a tortilla pie as a good way to use up stale tortillas. Its also made primarily of ingredients I generally have on hand so I don’t have to worry about getting anything special. Easy and fast. Fun to eat. Its a good thing. Oh shit. That’s copyrighted. Its a good food object.

Tortilla and Black Bean Pie

  • flour tortillas
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped and seeded
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 32 oz can black beans, drained
  • 12 ounces beer or 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (8 ounces)

Using a paring knife, trim tortillas to fit a 9-inch spring form pan, using the bottom of the pan as a guide. Here I had large Burrito tortillas, so one was enough for each layer. Smaller tortillas can also be used, just overlap them and trim using the bottom of your spring form pan as you would with the larger.



If you don’t have a spring form pan, you could probably use a pie pan or even a cast iron, but the shape of your pie might not be as nice or as easy to cut and get out, but it will work. However, this pie would probably look awesome in a cast iron pan. Use bottom of your pie or cast iron pan as a guide.

Saute the onion, garlic and cumin in oil over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes.



Add beans and beer to skillet, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer until liquid has almost evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes.

Beer? Fancy that, I just happen to have some lying around; another perfect excuse to use up that Budweiser!



Stir in corn and scallions, and remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Fit a trimmed tortilla in bottom of spring form pan; layer with 1/4 of the beans and 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat three times, using 1 cup cheese on top layer.

Bake @ 400 degrees until hot and cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes. If you used a springform pan, remove the side mold. Garnish with extra scallions and sour cream. Cilantro is also nice. I cooked a side dish of rice made with salsa verde and coconut milk as a side dish. Yum.



**A quick note: The last time I made this, I noticed the tortillas tasted a bit mushy. I made a note to toast the tortillas over my burner before assembling. This may give it a more crispy texture, perhaps. It will give it a little more smoky flavor too probably.

Leftover Remix: Ghost of Halloween Past Becomes Peppermint Fudge

There must be a reason why every Tourist destination’s historical downtown has at least 18 Fudge and Toffy stores. Everyone loves fudge, so I usually make a batch of fudge or two at Christmas time and this year can be no different. This year I made Peppermint fudge.

I have a lot of white chocolate left over from my Halloween treats I wanted to use for the fudge. Having chunks of unused white chocolate doesn’t really count as a left over remix you say. I agree. So where are the leftovers. Well, do remember the marshmallow ghosts I made? Although a party favorite, I made way too many of them and had a bunch of leftovers.

So I’ve had them stored in an air tight container until I could melt them down and use them instead of marshmallow fluff to make my fudge. The white chocolate coating of the marshmallows would just blend right in with the rest of the melted chocolate.

Here is my Mom’s traditional fudge recipe:

Fantasy Fudge

  • 12 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 7 oz. jar marshmallow fluff
  • 5 oz. can of evaporated milk
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

In a sauce pan, bring sugar, butter and evaporated milk to a boil. Once boiling, start a timer and continue to boil for 5 minutes stirring constantly. After 5 minutes remove from heat, add chocolate and stir until melted. Add vanilla and marshmallow fluff and stir until thickened. Pour into a greased 9″ x 13″ pan and chill in refrigerator until hard. Remove from pan, cut into desired size and store in an air tight container in refrigerator.

For my Peppermint fudge, I followed my Mom’s recipe but

  • used white chocolate instead of semi sweet chocolate
  • substituted an equal amount of my melted ghosts for the marshmallow fluff
  • substituted peppermint schnapps for the vanilla
  • mixed in 6 candy canes, chopped into fine pieces.
  • 1/4 tsp of red food dye

It turned out really well. I think I used more marshmallow then the original recipe called for yet this was my most successful fudge ever. I’ve had trouble in the past with my fudge not solidifying, in fact one year, I served a tray of fudge with spoons (I didn’t pull it out until everyone at the party was well fed with drinks). However, this fudge hardened quickly and did not stick in the pan. It was very well behaved, so I think using old marshmallows instead of the fluff maybe a great way to clean out the pantry and make successful fudge.

(OK, this post is over and I am not going to write the word fudge again; that word just sort of grosses me out).

Thanksgiving Leftovers


Turkey Burritos with Salsa and Cilantro courtesy of BonAppetit.com

The days following Thanksgiving usually brings plates and plates of the same left overs. I can only eat the same thing for so long. The best make over recipes take similar ingredients and completely change the context. Turkey burritos are a far cry from the fattening Thanksgiving food we’ve been eating for days and give a welcome Mexican twist to the those boring turkey scraps. While I’m still on vacation basking in eating my Mom’s food, check out the Thanksgiving Left Overs slide show on BonAppetit.com for more awesome ideas.

Left Over Remix Recipe: Lentil Soup



Lentil Soup with Hummus Leftovers

  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs aniseed
  • 2 large onions sliced
  • 1/4 lb bacon
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 4 pears sliced
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ~1 cup hummus or 1 can garbanzo beans and 2 Tbs tahini
  • 1/2 c. orange juice
  • juice of two lemons
  • 1/4 c. chopped parsley

Optional:

  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 Tbl pomegranate syrup or brown sugar for sweetener.

Heat oil over medium high heat until slightly smoking. Turn down burner to low and add aniseed to toast. When seeds begin to turn brownish color, add onions. Stir occasionally to keep from burning but allow onions to caramelize into a nice brown color.


Caramelized onion with bacon and toasted aniseed.

In a separate fry pan, saute up bacon until crispy and drain grease. In a soup pot, add to onions: bacon, chicken stock, pears, lentils, coriander, cumin and salt. Allow to cook over low for 30-45 minutes until lentils are falling apart and pear has disintegrated. If pear still is slightly whole, take a fork and break apart.

Once lentils are cooked and dd hummus, stirring to mix. If you don’t have any hummus, you can add a can of garbanzo beans and tahini. Add orange juice and lemon juice to add a tart citrus flavor. Add salt to taste and fresh chopped parsley right before serving. For optional taste you can add milk which will give the soup a creamier flavor and/or Pomegranate syrup or other sweetener according to taste. Garnish with yogurt, preferably labna and parsley

This recipe is based off the premise of a simple lentil soup recipe which is just lentils, onions, stock, and lemon. A lot of the ingredients I used in this recipe because I had them around the house, such as the orange juice and the pomegranate syrup. I added milk because I added too much salt and needed to tone down the taste.

I always say my ingredients are approximations, but I don’t want this to scare anyone off from trying my recipes. I add this disclaimer as an attempt to empower you to understand if you don’t have one or two of these ingredients its OK. Experimenting with substitutions is a great way to explore food and make a recipe your own by changing it slightly to match your taste. Keep tasting your food as you go along and augment it to whatever you may need: if its bland, add some spice, if its flat, add some body like more stock of bullion, if you accidentally added too much salt, add a bit of cream to tone it down. Just have fun and trust your own tastes.



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