We all do it, open the fridge and stare mindlessly into it, willing something edible to appear. Whether we have fresh ingredients or just leftovers, we each wonder what the food can become if it would just assemble itself.
Here are a couple of quick ideas that take little time or effort to assemble, depending on how much you are willing to put in.
Stir-fry leftover rice
That big pot of rice that looked so delicious a couple of nights ago, has been sitting and aging, unwilling to become something more appetizing. As time goes on, the rice dries out and becomes inedible. However, it is simple to re-steam this concoction, throw in a few frozen veggies and make it an Asian delight at home.
Add a couple of tablespoons of water, depending on the amount of rice, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap, heat in the microwave until the topped is domed, signifying optimum fluffiness. At the same time, take your bag of favorite frozen veggies, throw them into a hot pan with a light coating of olive oil and "fry" them until they are defrosted.
Toss with the rice, a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce, and other spices as you like, ie curry, cumin, chili pepper, garlic, etc. Then enjoy!
That large serving of cheesy garlic (or regular) mashed potatoes that you just couldn't seem to finish last night? Now it can become a simple and hearty meal for the next day.
Crack an egg, possibly two depending on the portion of potatoes left over, into the mashed goodness, add a splash of milk, and cheese as desired. Mix until it retains a consistency heavier than pancake mix but still relatively smooth.
Heat a pan, spray with non-stick coking spray, and doll out the potato mixture until it about the size of a normal pancake. Wait until one side is golden, then flip and toast the other. Be careful not to overheat or burn, no one like burned mashed potatoes. Top with ketchup or BBQ sauce and dig in. (Pairs well with leftover steak or chicken as needed.)
Italian mothers might be able to judge a portion of pasta per person, but the rest of us are not so exact in our measurements for the most part. Now, don't worry, this bake does not require a casserole dish.
Take your left over spaghetti, rigatoni, linguine, gemmeli, or bowties, with or without sauce and put into a large pot. slice up whatever meat or veggies you have handy, could be turkey, bacon, mushrooms, broccoli, doesn't really matter as long as you enjoy the combo.
Pour any extra sauce over the top, then cover with cheese (if desired), spice it up with some basil, garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake in the oven until the cheese is melted (about 15 minutes), remove foil and baked until cheese is crisp, if that's how you like it. Remove the pot and spoon out portions with a spatula.
These recipes are great for just one person or for multiple people. An easy way to get rid of leftovers and still use nutritious ingredients from your fridge.
Or you could just do as my mother likes to and create a dish called "Must-Go Soup". The concept is quite simple, everything in the fridge must-go! Put any starch you have leftover, any meat, any veggies, then add a bouillon cube or a can of tomatoes and boil until the flavors have melded. Quick and easy.
However you decide to use your leftovers, be smart about it. Don't use expired, moldy, or funny smelling items (unless they are meant to be, like blue cheese). Feel free to mix and match as you like, have fun with it, make your own creations and never fear leftover food again!