April 20, 2010

Waste Not

When we have guests for dinner, we often have lots of leftovers, since it's hard to gauge the appetites of guests, and I'd rather err on the side of "too much". That doesn't mean that I'm being wasteful though. Many times I will send people home with a goody bag, and if not, I find creative ways of using what's left - and that's a very pleasant challenge!

Our last company meal included a tomato sauce made with the very last of our own stewed tomatoes that were frozen last fall, and there was also a lot of fresh basil in the sauce. (It was paired up with grilled seafood - oh, so good!) It was no problem to use the leftover sauce and pasta with homemade meatballs the next day.

We also had a big fruit salad for dessert. This photo shows the end result of using those leftovers. I added pieces of poached chicken breast, cashews, and celery to the fruit salad, and then dressed it with a curried yogurt sauce - yummy! The dressing used the leftover yogurt fruit sauce from the company dinner. I used equal parts of yogurt and mayo, then added curry powder, and thinned it with orange juice. There was already a little honey in the yogurt I used, so you may want to add a little of that to your dressing. It made a very refreshing Sunday lunch!

Along with the yogurt sauce for our fruit salad dessert, I put out dishes of raw sugar, coconut, and chopped pecans as optional toppings. I paired these leftovers with three very ripe, organic bananas today, and made a delicious banana snack cake. There are plenty of recipes for this kind of cake on the internet, and I just looked for one that made a smaller cake.
As I normally do, I substituted whole wheat pastry flour for the white flour, and I used my leftover raw sugar in place of the regular sugar called for in the recipe. Then, rather than frosting this cake, I used the coconut and pecans as a topping. I just sprinkled them over the cake batter before it went into the oven. One of the best ways to get creative with your leftovers is to be brave in your substitutions!
I truly hate to waste good, wholesome food. I use this "creative cooking process" at other times as well, like when we buy a large quantity of something at a Costco-type store, or if for whatever reason the fridge fills up and we're in danger of having something go to waste. I will list what we have in large quantity on a wipe board on the fridge, so that we purposely reach for those things first, and I also brainstorm for recipe ideas that make use of these things. I am very careful though, about how long things have been living in that fridge - I've attended too many science labs in my past to take any chances now! But hey, even if we don't use all of a fruit or vegetable before it's too late, there's always that good old compost bucket, and that's a "waste" we can happily live with!


  1. You are so good. I always try to be creative with the leftovers, but never made anything good out of it. I think we were just too caught up with our conversations, it was really good that we forgot to eat. We normally eat more than that.

  2. I think we were caught up in the conversations as well, and that's why you didn't end up with a goody bag to take home!

  3. I have to stop reading your blog before breakfast, now I can't resist raiding the icebox!

  4. HA! O.K. - no more food related posts for a while!