Category Archives: Reinventing Leftovers

Turning your extra food into a delicious meal. Worthy of NOT calling leftovers

Grilled Steak Reinvented

Made steaks at my mom’s house and brought home the leftovers. Yum.

We visit my mom often. This one particular weekend we decided to go all out and really cook. We grilled steak, made a blue cheese onion sauce, creamed corn (the real stuff – from a garden). And broccoli. My favorite veggie! Then when I was so full I couldn’t keep my pants buttoned I decided instead of making myself sick, I’d pack it up and take it home. Once at home, a few days later, I sliced the steak, added the onion sauce, a few fresh blue cheese crumbles and thinly sliced potatoes with butter and thyme, fried in a pan and then put under the broiler.

Leftovers are sometimes just as good, if not better, than the first meal. Yum. Again.

I don’t have any recipes here or anything. I just wanted to challenge you to think about using your leftovers in new ways. Oh and topping anything like this with a dippy egg (over-easy egg) makes it awesome-er. ;-)

Ramen – My Interpretation

My version of easy home-cooked "Ramen" using store-bought Ramen noodles. Cheap, easy, tasty.

My version of easy home-cooked “Ramen” using store-bought Ramen noodles. Cheap, easy, tasty.

Most evenings I have a plan. But this one evening I did not. I ate leftovers for a very late lunch so by the time dinner rolled around I had no desire to cook nor did I have ANY clue what to make. Usually on nights like this the kids eat cereal and I make something special later after the kids are in bed for daddy and mommy. But this evening Josie asked for Ramen noodles. So I got out two packages. I had an idea!

My version of Ramen was born. Now, I am fully aware this is not a traditional Ramen noodle dish that you would eat in an authentic Asian restaurant. The broth and noodles are homemade in a true Ramen dish. This is simply MY version. Frugal, quick, and tasty.

Ramen – Jessie’s Asian Noodle Experience


Check your fridge for yummy goodies to add to the soup. I used sliced leftover baked sweet potato, which I reheated a bit. Very thinly sliced beef barely cooked in a bit of olive oil with a splash of  low-sodium soy sauce. (If you check the butcher case you can find thinly sliced ‘steak sub’ quality steak. That will be perfect for this dish.)

Bean sprouts would be good. Sliced mushrooms would be good. Slivers of carrot would be good. Finely diced jalapeno pepper or pickled banana peppers would be good.

  • Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan that has a lid.
  • Add 2 packs of Ramen, BUT ONLY ONE packet of flavoring.
  • Turn the heat to low and sprinkle in a handful of baby spinach and submerge the spinach so it wilts.
  • Add a tablespoon of fresh lime juice OR rice wine vinegar to the pot and place a lid on it.
  • Meanwhile, get two big bowls ready because this comes together quickly.
  • Poach or pan fry 2 eggs. You want that yolk to spill out into the broth.
  • Place the broth and noodles in the bowls. Top with the sliced sweet potatoes (or whatever veggies you have), the steak, and the egg.
  • Drizzle the whole dish with toasted sesame oil, a few shakes of red pepper flakes, and some prepared teriyaki wok sauce/marinade. (I have a bottle of prepared stuff. The prepared stuff is thicker than straight teriyaki and is often blended with other flavors like sesame or sweet chili or mandarin orange.)

This isn’t really as much of a recipe as it is a suggestion.

The end result is bursting with flavor and makes you think you are eating a fancy restaurant quality meal. Don’t forget to eat it with chopsticks! It’s Umami at it’s finest. That ‘fifth taste’ that is hard to describe. It’s rich, savory, deep, mmm…. so delicious.





Sausage and potato soup from Homemade Ham Stock

Find the recipe for Sausage and Mixed Potatoes here.

Take leftovers of that meal and add ham stock to it. Voila. Soup. Seriously. That’s it.

Of course, if you want to know how to make a delicious ham stock you can do this:

Baked Spiral Ham and Ham Stock Recipe

Place a seven to eight pound spiral sliced ham (with bone) into a roasting pan. Drizzle the ham with 1/4 cup of honey and smear dijon mustard all over the outside. Add 1/2 cup of water to the base of the pan. And about 1/2 cup of white wine (water, beer or lemon lime soda would work too). You need one cup of liquid. Seal the pan with heavy duty aluminum foil and baked at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours. (Usually it’s 15 minutes per pound of meat.) Check the label. Make sure you are reheating a ready-to-eat ham and not cooking a RAW ham. If it’s a raw ham, I can’t help you. I’ve never made one of those. Follow the directions. ;-)

Once it comes up to temp you are ready to EAT the ham. Or pull the ham from the bone and freeze for future meals. Pour the broth from the roasting pan into a fat separating measuring cup and pour the broth into a large stock pot (discarding the fat) and add 4 cups of water. Stir and simmer for 15 minutes with the lid off. Taste it. It could be REALLY salty. If so, add more water and stir and simmer again for 15 minutes. There ya’ go. Ham stock.

Allow to cool a bit and place into quart size canning jars (leaving a full one inch of space from the top of the liquid to the rim of the jar) and place in the fridge. Once completely cooled you can place in the freezer for up to a year. I made the ham the same day I made the Sausage and Mixed potatoes so I used the broth and the leftovers and made soup. It’s a very loose broth. Crackers are this soup’s best friend.

Baked Mac N Cheese with Ham

After the holidays, be it Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Fourth of July, New Year’s Day, I always try to stock up on the foods that were overstocked in the grocery stores. Many times you will spend three dollars a pound for a turkey but after the holidays you might see them for $ .89 a pound! So keep your eye on the ham after Easter and Christmas, the pork after New Year’s, and the beef and chicken after Fourth of July. Also, check the produce after the 4th too. Often those watermelons and cobs of corn are on the ‘not the best but still a good buy’ rack. AND the corn on the cob is usually husked for you when it’s on the day old rack! Woo hoo!

Anyway, my father-in-law came to our house for Thanksgiving. I made a turkey. But he brought a ham that he got for free through his local grocery store and I put it in the freezer. I recently got it out and thawed that bad boy and threw it in a roasting pan with a splash of pinot grigio, honey drizzled over the ham and some dijon mustard brushed on it. (Tightly sealed with foil and baked 15 mins per pound). We ate it hot that night for dinner. We ate it cold for quesadillas the next day. We ate it for breakfast piled high with an over easy egg on an English Muffin. The best part is, I pulled a bunch of the slices off for Josie’s lunches. I make her a real life “lunchamajig”. You know. Those prepackaged plastic trays with crackers and cheese and a cookie and that meat that’s perfectly round but not really identifiable. What is this? Ham? Turkey? One is the same color as the other and it almost looks like sliced hot dogs. Gross. Yeah, momma’s making Josie her own “lunchamajig”. That’s what I’m calling it.

I had a ton of ham left so I picked it all off the bone and chopped up one cup of the salty sweet goodness for the following recipe and put the rest in the freezer for many many more meals to come. Thanks father-in-law for the free ham! Maybe I’ll bring a casserole the next time we visit which includes some of your generous Thanksgiving donation!

Baked mac and cheese with ham

finished mac n cheese w ham

This recipe calls for 1 lb cooked pasta – your choice. I used mini shells. Cook until just under al dente. It will bake for awhile too so don’t over cook it at this time. A pointer: add some chicken bullion to your water before adding the pasta. Or just a tablespoon of salt. It adds so much to the flavor of the pasta if you flavor the water.

drain the pasta and put back in the pot (or in a big bowl) and add:

1 Cup sharp cheddar cheese and 1 Cup of the diced ham and toss to distribute the ham and cheese evenly.

Place the mixture into a greased 9×13 casserole dish.

Top with 1/3 Cup of dried Italian Style breadcrumbs and 1/2 Cup of sharp cheddar cheese

Top that with a couple pats of butter. Slivers of butter distributed over the breadcrumbs helps to brown the topping.

mac and cheese w ham before baking

Top with slivers of butter and drizzle with milk.

Now, pour one cup of milk (I used 2%) gently over the top of the pasta and breadcrumbs. It also helps to make the top moist and helps it crisp up in the oven.

Bake uncovered at 350F about 45 – 60 minutes until top is golden. Allow to rest for ten minutes before serving.

The creamy soft noodles and the salty ham is so yummy together. And if you chop the ham up in small enough pieces you often get a crunchy piece from the top that is a lot like BACON! Yum.




A Pan Full of Deliciousness

I kind of feel like I’m always running to the store and looking for ‘what’s on sale’ in the flyers when planning my menus. And then I realize, “I already have a bag of onions, a bag of sweet potatoes, a bulb of garlic in the pantry, … oh …. and five chickens, 9 pounds of ground meat, a dozen packages of hot dogs and 5 bags of frozen broccoli in the freezer. Why do I keep buying food??” So tonight I used leftover rice, a pound of ground turkey and some pantry veggies and created a pan full of deliciousness. I don’t even know what to call it. Goulash? Hash? Or do I just call it what it is?


Sweet potatoes, ground turkey, rice, and broccoli roasted… in a pan… No. That’s boring. I think I’ll call it A Pan Full of Deliciousness.

pan full of deliciousness

pan full of deliciousness

You need to be able to brown on the stove top and then put the pan in the oven to finish roasting so consider using an oven safe pan or wrapping the handle (if it’s plastic or rubber) with aluminum foil to protect it.

This is all you do. The idea is to allow each item to cook a bit in the pan as you are chopping the next ingredient. So while you are chopping the onion the turkey is browning. While you are chopping the potato the onion is softening. So don’t try to prep all these ingredients and toss them all in. This is a methodical but simple recipe.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Enter the following items into the largest pan you have, placed over medium heat …IN THIS ORDER….

1 tsp olive oil

1 pound ground turkey

3 small cloves crushed garlic

1 small sweet onion or half a vidalia onion finely diced

1/2 tsp salt

12-15 cranks cracked black pepper

one medium diced sweet potato

1 tsp dried thyme leaves crushed between palms to release fragrance

pinch of cayenne pepper

1 tbsp worcestershire sauce (3-5 heavy splashes)

1 Cup (or so) frozen broccoli florets

sprinkle broccoli with some more salt, just a sprinkle

toss well and then flatten into the pan so the bottom layer gets all toasty on the stove and then once entered into the oven the top gets roasty and toasty, too.

Place in oven for ten minutes, uncovered. Stir and flatten ingredients again. Roast again, ten more minutes.

Now add 3/4 cup to 1 cup of leftover rice, if you have it. If not, leave it out. I had it so I added it.

Heat through until you are satisfied with the roasty toasty deliciousness. Then stuff yo’ face.