Sunday, January 3, 2010

Who wants leftovers?!?! They answered with a resounding "We Do!"

Not sure about all of you, but after Thanksgiving, Christmas, the solstice, and all the family gatherings, we have been cooking up a storm. I sort of look like the Tazmanian Devil/ Genie, swirling and creating delicious meals in the wake of the storm. What that means though, is that we also have TONS of leftovers. Our fridge has runeth over. It needs another zip code just to hold all the leftovers. These leftovers have also overflowed into the garage, coolers, etc. You get the point. We are also getting pretty sick of turkey sandwiches and the reheat and repeat routine.

So it's time for a little creativity. It is time to rethink our position on the leftovers. Change our perspective. Much like everything in life if we just alter our thinking slightly we can create something new and exciting out of something that just yesterday seemed like old news. Just as I wrote about transformation earlier, this too is a form of adjustment, however may be less dramatic than dumping your bowl and starting over. This requires a slight shift and using what we have to rethink our position. 

This is the challenge, to rethink things. Change the way we respond to things. That is the challenge in life too. It reminds me of the question, "Is your glass half empty or half full?" I remember telling a friend that she was so positive that even if her glass was empty, she would report that it was full of air! That is the positive attitude that I have adopted. I think she thought I was being funny, but in reality I admired her for her positive outlook. It is the approach that I have applied to these recipes too. Are these leftovers just that? Leftovers? I don't think so. Leftovers sounds so... ugly, doesn't it? Who wants leftovers? It's almost as bad as hand me downs. Remember those? I got hand me downs from my sister, cousin, and strangers. I don't think I owned anything new from the store until I was 15 years old and buying my own things. But to me, these hand me downs were BRAND NEW! I had never seen them and to me it was exciting. What was someone's trash was now my treasure. That is the change in perspective I am talking about. My sister and cousins might have been tired of whatever they handed down to me, but for me it was a brand new exciting gift. That is what we are doing with leftovers. What was yesterday's tired meal we are making into today's flavor explosion! What we created was Turkey Tetrazzini and "Dressed Up"Prime Rib. For these recipes, we put on our new perspective, rooted through the fridge, and found new and innovative ways to create meals with the ingredients that we had on hand, but didn't taste like yesterday's old news.

I hope you and enjoy and we inspire you to think differently, change your perspective, and create something that is new and exciting out of something that was old news just yesterday.

Terrific Turkey Tetrazzini

1 lb. whole wheat spaghetti (reserve 1 cup pasta water for the sauce)
1 green pepper diced
1/2 white onion diced
4 cloves garlic chopped
1 can black olives chopped
4 cups leftover turkey (you can also use chicken)
4 cups frozen peas

Tetrazzini Sauce

1/4 cup smart balance butter
4 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
1 cup fat free half and half
1 cup pasta water
1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
1/2 cup cheddar cheese shredded (for top)

Cook the pasta according to the package directions reserving 1 cup of pasta water. While the pasta is cooking, heat a sauté pan with 2 tbsp. olive oil. Once the pan is hot, throw in the diced green pepper, onion, and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent; about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes add the black olives and turkey and toss just to incorporate all of the ingredients, then remove from heat. Spread the cooked pasta noodles into a baking dish and swirl in the vegetable and turkey mixture along with the frozen peas. My mom loves this technique because she loves to create a swirl in the kitchen, if you know what I mean. If you are worried about creating a swirl you can also combine the pasta and vegetables in a bowl before pouring them into the baking pan.  Now that the pasta is ready, on to the sauce...

Heat a sauce pan and melt the butter. Once the butter is melted whisk in the flour one tablespoon at a time. Cook the flour and butter until the mixture begins to bubble. Next add the one cup of pasta water and continue whisking. Then add the 1 cup of fat free half and half and continue to whisk. The gravy will thicken, once it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon add the shredded cheese and continue to whisk. Yes, there is a lot of whicking involved in this sauce! Once the cheese has melted and incorporated, pour the gravy over the pasta and shake the baking dish to ensure the gravy seeps through all the cracks.

Top with another 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese and then bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. This dish will be bubbling at the edges and the cheese will be crusty on top! Delicious! This is great served with a salad and fresh veggies and crusty bread! Enjoy!

"Dressed Up" Prime Rib Pie

6 cups stuffing crumbled (we used our fabulous corn bread stuffing)
5 garlic cloves diced
3 cups prime rib cut into cubes (you can also use leftover turkey, ham, or any other meat)
1/2 white onion diced
1/3 cup jarred or canned mixed mushrooms
1 green pepper diced
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire
3 Tbsp. lite sesame ginger dressing (we love Paul Newmans; you can also use low sodium soy sauce)
4 hard boiled eggs sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large backing dish, pan the crumbled stuffing along the bottom and pack down to make a crust. In a skillet, sauté the onion, green pepper, and garlic with a little dap of olive oil. Sauté until the onion becomes transulscent which is about 5 minutes. Then add the prime rib (or meat of your choice), the mushrooms, worcestershire, and sesame ginger dressing. Continue cooking until all flavors combine, about 5 more minutes. Pour the meat and pepper mixture over the corn bread stuffing crust. Then place the boiled egg slices over the meat mixture. Let sit while you make the sauce to pour over!

All "Roomed Up" Sauce

1/2 white onion diced
4 cloves garlic diced
2 tbsp. Smart Balance oil
2 sliced bacon diced
1 Tbsp. parsley
2 Tbsp. oregano
1 can mixed mushrooms
1 Tbsp. worchestershire
1 cup red wine*
*If cooking with turkey or ham use 1 cup white wine instead

4 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white cheddar cheese grated
1/2 cup low fat milk

In sauce pan, heat a dap of olive oil and add the white onion, garlic, and bacon. Everything tastes better with a little bacon! Once the onions become fragrant and transluscent mix in the mushrooms, wine, parsley, oregano, and worchestershire sauce. Once this is heated through, whisk in the whole wheat flour one tablespoon at a time. Make sure to whisk continously to avoid lumps. Add milk and white cheddar cheese and stir in until everything is melted.

Pour the sauce over the meat and stuffing pie and bake in the oven for 25 minutes. The corners should be bubbling and the aromas delightful! Serve with cranberry sauce and green beans for a complete meal. You can also add water chestnuts or macadamia nuts to the stuffing "crust" if you so desire!

Mental Health Tip: These recipes are easy and can be pulled together using things already in the house. So don't stress, instead re-evaluate, look at your glass as always full and remember it is all about your perspective. So what is your glass full of today?  Only you get to decide that. Today mine is full of champagne! Take this moment to reassess and create the joy in your life that you deserve. You are the only one who can do it! So turn up the music and get into the kitchen. Have a little fun and don't forget the champagne!

Peace and love from our kitchen to yours!

~ "Too Lovely" Hot Messes in the kitchen

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