Freebs! How is the #Shelftember Shelf Cooking challenge coming?? We are head-first into the first full week, and so far y'all have been EXPLODING MY BRAIN on social media! The meals you are making, the creativity I'm seeing, it's incredible. If you have no clue what I'm talking about, see all about Shelf Cooking and the #Shelftember challenge HERE (and learn about the freezer I'm giving away!), then check out the hashtag on social media for major inspo.
Now, onto the meat and potatoes of the day.
One of the biggest challenges I see Freebs running into with shelf cooking (and groceries in general) is…
Boy, are leftovers the Great Debate or what?? There are some households who refuse to eat leftovers. Some who will pretty much only eat leftovers. And some in the middle that are fine with them as long as they taste amazing, but usually end up throwing them out. So many people get sick of eating the same thing for days on end, or they are convinced that food just doesn't taste good after it's been sitting in the fridge or freezer. Want me to let you in on a little secret?
That's true, actually. Leftovers are gross. UNLESS YOU DO LEFTOVERS RIGHT, that is!
Today I'm going to share with you some quick leftovers tips to help you utilize the to their fullest.
TURNING LEFTOVERS INTO MAGIC
Tip #1: Heat it like you mean it.
If you asked my husband for a weird quirk about me (and boy, I have many), I bet you $10 he'd say it's how OCD I am about the temperature of my food and drinks. If hot food isn't scaldyourmouthout hot, and cold food/drinks aren't hurtyourteethbashyourhead cold, I'm not interested and will complain. Greatly. So if even I with all my (lovely, unique, amazing, charming…wink wink…) quirks and love leftovers, so can you!
Here are some reheating tips:
- Microwave first. Whether it's pizza, casserole, soup, veggies, etc. I like to heat it in the micro to get things moving, melting, and melding quickly. Ain't nobody got 15 minutes to wait for leftovers to heat properly on the stove when you're so hungry you are about to eat the toddler that's screaming at your left leg! …just me? Really though. If leftovers are taking you forever, you'll find yourself opting for convenience food instead. So learn to love your micro.
- Toast, broil and boil. After microwaving it to heat it through, top it off for a few minutes in the toaster, on a pan on the stove, or under the oven broiler for a quick minute or two to top it off nicely. It adds a little crunch, browns the crust, stiffens the soggy, toasts the tush, whatever needs to be done. Magic happens with toasting, broiling, or boiling. Well, boiling was mostly tossed into this because I thought it sounded cool. So just use your imagination on this one.
The other day we had leftover pizza. The cheese had become a bit gummy in the fridge, so we first microwaved it, then toasted BOTH SIDES (yes, crust side AND topping side) on a pan on the stove.
Truth be told, this is actually how I make my grilled cheese and quesadillas too – I microwave first to melt the cheese, then toast on the stove for some crunch. Makes them in half the time. #YoureWelcome.
We even use this method when camping! We had leftover breaded chicken. Instead of eating it soft and soggy, we toasted it on the grill for a bit and it was jaw-dropping delish. Though this cell phone pic would have you believing differently…
…just take my word for it.
- Heat it thoroughly. My husband is the type to microwave something for 1 minute and call it a day. BLEUGH! Heat it, stir it. Rotate it. Flip it. Then heat it again. Make sure it's heated all the way through before eating. I always tell Bubba, “if it doesn't taste awesome, you aren't going to want to eat it again, so take the time to make it awesome!”
Now that you've heated it, here's out to take it up a notch:
Tip #2: Add seasonings, spice, or somethin' nice.
…aka, flavor it up! Here are a few things that I find to help:
- Salt & pepper (of course)
- Fresh lemon or lime, bottled lemon or lime juice, OR, crystalized lemon or lime. THIS STUFF IS MAGICAL.
- Red pepper flakes. Adds a little kick without making it too spicy.
- Sauce (see next tip)
Tip #3: Add moisture.
If you're heating up leftovers that are turning out dry…wet it up, baby!
- Dry mashed potatoes? Melt some butter and add a little milk.
- Dry rice? Add a tablespoon of water before reheating.
- Dry, crusty bread? Melt butter on it, dip it in soup, or you can even microwave it! Wrap the dried bread with a damp paper towel, nuke for 10 seconds (and then 10 seconds more if needed), and that should soften it right up.
- Salsa, sour cream, salad dressing, pasta sauce, oil/vinegar, Tabasco, Teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, butter, lime/lemon juice…if it seems dry, add some wet! 'nuff said.
Tip #4: Top it off.
They don't put a cherry on top for no reason! A little topper seals the deal. Some topping ideas include:
- Tortilla strips, or crushed tortilla chips
- Cheese! Toss some cheese on anything and it kicks it up a notch, especially when you broil it for a second in the oven. I'm obsessed with Queso Fresco (can be found at most grocery stores, but it looks like THIS) and add it to just about anything Mexican.
- Nuts. Sliced, slivered, candied, chopped, you name it, it's all good, especially on salads.
- Onion straws
- Sunflower seeds (shelled)
- Cornflake crumbs
Adding a little texture to leftovers can make all the difference. Trust me, Bubba is a texture FREAK and he's a leftovers fan…so it CAN be done, lol.
Tip #5: Repurpose.
Get creative with your leftovers!
- Loads of plain white rice? Make ham-fried rice, throw it in a soup, make Mexican rice, add it to meatballs or meatloaf, etc.
- Sick of that grilled chicken? Chop it up and make chicken salad sandwiches. Dice it for a soup. Add it to a casserole. Make burritos or enchiladas. Make a chicken stir fry. Make it saucy and put it over rice.
- Leftover hamburgers from a BBQ? Chop up the cooked patties and make hamburger soup, or cheeseburger casserole. Make mini sliders with different toppings so it feels and tastes different.
- Toss it on a salad! Enchiladas/tacos, make a taco salad. BBQ chicken salad. Cobb salad. Strawberry spinach salad. For real, you can take just about anything, put it on lettuce, and BOOM.
Get the drift? Take what you have and just repurpose it!
So there you go. Now you have no excuse for NOT eating leftovers. Again, keep your eye on my Instagram stories (if you have IG!) because it's a straight-up cooking show over there. I show what I'm eating and cooking each day, how I prepare it, and how I make it taste delicious to my ÜBER picky family.