Domestic Diva tips for "recycling" food as leftovers

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By: Jane Fountain

Quiz time! Take out your #2 pencil and mark the correct answer to the following questions…
1. Do you recycle?
OYes  ONo 
2. Which of the following can be recycled?
O A. Newspaper
O B. Glass
O C. Plastic
O D. Cardboard
O E. Food
O F. All of the above.

If you answered “All of the above,” then you get an “A.” Put your newspapers, glass, plastic, aluminum and cardboard in the little red bin at your house and do your part to make this a better planet. Recycle food, and do your part to save money. People have been recycling food for eons – it’s called leftovers.

The two biggest national recycling days have just passed: November 15 was national America Recycles Day, followed by November 23: Thanksgiving. Google “leftover turkey recipes” and 1,090,000 recipes pop up. I imagine a couple of them are duplicates, but that’s still more turkey than I’ll ever want to eat. If your Mom is like mine, I bet she knows about half of them: turkey sandwiches, turkey hash, turkey casserole, turkey soup – there’s more turkey recipes than Bubba Gump had shrimp.

I’m not here to talk about turkey recipes, though. I’ll leave that to your mom and Google. Between the two of them, you’re pretty well covered. The Diva just wants to share some food recycling ideas – some of them you’ve known since the third grade and maybe there’s a new one or two you’ve never tried.

If your family get-togethers are like mine, more than one aunt thinks she makes the best deviled eggs on the planet. Consequently, several dozen deviled eggs are present at every family gathering, usually with about a dozen or so left. Instead of throwing them away, or feeding them to the dog, recycle them into egg salad for sandwiches.

Left over veggies from the hors d’oeuvres tray? Throw them in a large stockpot or crock pot and make vegetable soup. The same can be done with cooked veggies, such as corn, green beans or peas. Any vegetable can be used. If you’re not in a soup mood for now, simply freeze them until you are. Also for soups, freeze the liquid left over when boiling chicken or turkey. Thaw it, add whatever seasonings needed, and it makes a great stock for soup. A left over ham bone will keep in the freezer until needed for flavoring a pot of beans.

Left over spaghetti sauce freezes well, and makes great sauce for meatball subs.

Save the left over mashed potatoes to make Shepherd’s Pie, (something I hear is quite good. Unfortunately, here at the Diva’s house, there have never been any mashed potatoes left over.)

With a little creativity, and a box of freezer bags, recycling leftovers will save you a lot of time and money. Containers of leftover food often get pushed to the back of the refrigerator, where they remain until they become unrecognizable, or resemble some sort of mutant Chia Pet.® If I had a nickel for every piece of Chia Cheese I’ve tossed out….

Here are a couple of recipes for recycling leftovers. Enjoy.

Meatball Subs

Hoagie rolls, or French or Italian rolls
Your choice of cheese, Provolone, American, White American, or Swiss all work well.
Leftover spaghetti sauce, thawed
Green and or banana peppers
Parmesan cheese for topping
Salt and pepper to taste

For the meatballs:

1/2 lb lean ground beef, 1/4 cup of onion, 1clove of garlic, chopped, and 1/2 tsp. of oregano in large bowl. Add cracker crumbs and 1 egg; mix well. Shape into 1-inch balls.

Open the rolls, place on oven rack (350 degrees) and toast to almost desired crispness. (“Almost” is important, because they go back in the oven to melt the cheese.)

Take out of the oven and place on a cookie pan to catch any melted cheese that might drip. On one side, place the meatballs, and cover with sauce. On the other half, place onions and peppers, and cover with cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper. Turn the oven to broil, and broil long enough to melt the cheese.

Shepard’s Pie

2 lb Ground beef, lean
1 cup each Onion, carrots, and celery; diced
1/2 cup Corn; fresh or frozen
2 Garlic cloves, chopped or pressed
Salt and pepper to taste
8 oz beef broth
2 Tbsp. butter; mixed with
2 Tbsp. flour
2 lb leftover mashed potatoes
Brown ground beef in frying pan. Add onion, carrots,
celery, garlic, salt, pepper. Lower heat and cook for 10 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Add beef broth, bring to a boil. Stir in enough of the butter/flour roux to make a thick gravy to bind the filling. Pour into large shallow baking pan and cool. The filling should be about 1 1/2 inches deep.
Cover the meat mixture in the pan with the corn and then top with the hot mashed potatoes. Smooth potatoes evenly, brush surface with butter. Bake at 325 F for 35 - 40 minutes.

Vegetable Soup

Apparently, vegetable soup is America’s favorite soup. Just for fun, I Googled “Vegetable Soup Recipes” and found more recipes (1,590,000 more for it than I did for the turkey. Vegetable soup is subjective, depending on which vegetables you prefer. (No cauliflower, turnips or Brussels’ sprouts in mine, thank you) These are the ingredients I use, and it varies depending on what I have on hand, and what flavor I’m in the mood for. The only thing that remains constant is the large can of V-8 juice for flavor.
In my largest stock pot, I throw in:
Browned beef (hamburger, or steak cut into small cubes.) Diced tomatoes, onion, a clove of garlic, a potato or two cubed, depending on size, chopped cabbage, green beans, carrots, green peas, limas, ½-3/4 cups of uncooked rice, and a big can of V-8 juice for a little extra flavor. The amount of V-8 depends on how many vegetables I use – I prefer a thicker soup. Simmer at least until the rice is done if you’re in a hurry, a couple of hours if you have the time.

Cornbread is great served with the soup, especially on one of these cold winter nights. This soup is one of those that tastes even better re-heated the second day.

Recycle your trash, recycle your leftovers. Go cook something, clean something – make your Mother proud.

With the holiday season right around the corner, chances are, you’ll have more Christmas candy than your diet allows. Chocolate covered cherries are Diva’s weakness. Remember your pets at Christmas, and fill their stockings with dog biscuits, rawhide chews, and squeak toys, but remember – Chocolate is poison for dogs. They can’t digest it, and it can make them very sick, or worse, kill them. So, no matter how pitiful their little faces are when they beg for chocolate, just say no.