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The Unnatural Cook

a chronicle of weekly meal plans from someone who can't just throw a meal together

Tag Archives: leftovers

Lazarus was dead four whole days until Jesus brought him back. I only made it two.

It’s just that the pine nuts and tomatoes and mozzarella looked so pretty in the bowl I had to take a picture…And then it seemed a shame not to use the picture. And then it occurred to me that when I made up a new recipe I’d want to write it down. And then I though – why not just put it on the blog?

So here it is. Tonight’s dinner was Pasta w/Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, Toasted Pine Nuts, Sauteed Red Onion and Mozzarella. It was actually inspired by an attempt to use up leftovers in the fridge (pesto & red onion) before they went bad. And it was so good I decided that in addition to leaving one night blank on the meal plan to be inspired while shopping, I was going to plan one meal around using up leftovers before I shop. Nifty, huh?

So I don’t know what this means. I’m going to try to avoid any more grand pronouncements since the last one went so poorly. Let’s just say I hope it ends better for me than it did for the guy who brought Lazarus back. Luckily I have a much smaller following.



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I thought there’d be more leftover meatloaf to make this shepherd’s pie but we ate so much last Tuesday night that I actually had to buy beef to add to it which felt sort of silly. It reminds me of my mother-in-law who used to throw a fabulous open house after Christmas called “The Leftover Party.” But over the years the guest list became so large that she began to have to cook extra turkeys and hams for the “leftovers!”

Anyway, I did use up the extra meatloaf and I added mushrooms to the shepherd’s pie for the first time so that was a nice twist on the recipe.

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The freezer is almost empty of everything except ice cream and waffles. In the summer my mother would sometimes serve fruit salad and coffee ice cream for I think it’s time to do the same with my own kids.

I managed to cobble together a meal of arancini, onion soup and, because one kid doesn’t like onion soup, ravioli. It was obviously heavy on the starch, but no one complained. My husband hit on the genius idea of popping some of the ravioli in the oil that was frying and making some fried ravioli too. I will try to focus on the veggies when I make a meal plan on Sunday.

I’m happy I made it through the week relying totally on the freezer but I’m already starting to worry about how I’ll manage next fall when I have school and a TA job. I think things might fall apart – I’m going to have to become that person who “whips things up” in thirty minutes.  No idea how that will happen.

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We have made chili nachos, chili tostadas and chili pizza, now I have a new love: chili burritos.  The chili burrito was a favorite of mine when I first moved to New York and ate fairly frequently at Benny’s Burritos. This was pre-kids when restaurants were a regular way of life. I have always wanted to recreate those burritos I loved and never quite pulled it off – this time it really worked. I think it’s because we had a ton of chili in them. The burritos were stuffed with chili, rice, jack cheese, raw onion, avocado & jalapeno. It was a fabulous, gooey, divine mess which I would gladly eat again tomorrow if there were any chili left in the freezer.

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Okay, how great is this? Chili Pizza! My kids idea for what to do with leftover chili.

It’s store bought pizza dough, rolled out and topped with chili, jack cheese, a smattering of mozzarella cheese, scallions and jalapeños. I was skeptical of the idea for which there is no accounting. It was so good and it couldn’t have been easier. It’s beginning to look like we’d all be better off if I could just turn the kitchen over to the children.

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Chicken Indienne, Basmati Rice Pilaf & Roasted Cauliflower.

Another meal planned for quick and easy to get done after the kids get home from school. Indienne was from the freezer, and now, even the pilaf which I used to find intimidating is becoming something I can do almost by heart. Just have to remember the strange ratio of 1 1/2 cups of rice to 2 1/4 cups of water and I almost have the technique down.

The cauliflower couldn’t be easier. One or two heads of cauliflower cut into florets. Olive oil, salt, bake at 450° for an hour. 1/2 way through I check, stir and often add more olive oil. When finished, inhale.

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Writing on Saturday about Tuesday’s meal is as far behind as I’ve managed to get since I began this endeavor.

It was that kind of week – a get through get it done kind of week. Nothing original happening in the kitchen, just falling back on tried and true, with perhaps a slight increase in confidence (and thus relaxation) while doing the actual cooking.

Tuesday was Pepperoncini Sauce from the freezer with a simple roasted Brussels Sprouts and onions side dish. Two standby favorites that required no thought on my part.

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