Tips for using leftovers

I’m breaking my rule of adding words/story associated with a recipe. I’ll share the recipe link first, but it’s worth a view past that to see ideas on how to use leftovers. Repurposing leftovers into casseroles or bowls can be one of the best ways to reduce food waste, and the combinations and ideas are endless.

Leftovers Casserole (steak, corn, potatoes, pasta, cheese)

A leftovers casserole can be just about anything you want it to be and will never be the same unless you intentionally recreate the exact dish. In this case, I'd call it a steak, corn, potato, pasta, cheese casserole. If I'd had enough potatoes, I wouldn't have included the pasta. If I hadn't had leftover corn, I would not have cooked more for the casserole. If I would have had leftover chicken instead of steak it would have been just as tasty, just different. You get the picture. I thought a 9X13 pan would be way more than my family would eat, but they devoured the entire dish within 24 hours.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: casserole, leftover casserole, leftovers,
Author: Regina Cyzick Harlow

Ingredients

For the gravy/first layer

  • 1 pound leftover grilled steak
  • 1 Tablespoon reserved bacon grease from the fridge
  • 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2+ cups chicken broth

Subsequent Layers

  • 3 medium ears corn on the cob, kernels cut off
  • 2 cups homemade mashed potatoes
  • 2 cups cooked pasta shells
  • 2+ cups shredded cheese

Instructions

  • For the Gravy/First layer
  • Chop leftover grilled steak into small pieces. Toss into skillet and add bacon grease and heat over medium heat. Add flour and mix well. Add chicken broth and stir vigoriously until thickened. Adjust broth and seasoning ratio as needed. Spread into bottom of 9X13 dish.

Subsequent Layers

  • Remove kernels from corn cobs. (See tip below.) Spread corn over steak/gravy layer. Combine mashed potatoes and pasta and spread over corn. Top with cheese and bake until heated through, 30-45 minutes.

Notes

To remove corn from kernels, place ear of sweet corn on the middle of a bundt pan. Cut kernels off with a sharp knife, and they will fall collected into the well of the pan. 

Our daughter always chooses grilled steak or bacon and corn on the cob for her birthday. Fortunately an August birthday in our area is prime for sweet corn, and we’re sure to have plenty. That’s how I ended up with the above casserole.

Turning leftovers into a casserole is easy and the combinations are truly endless. Starting with bottom layer, combine any leftover meat (sloppy joes, grilled steak, chicken, turkey, taco meat, literally anything!) Make sure it’s juicy or saucy. For the above casserole, I made a gravy.

For vegans or vegetarians, you can do the same thing with any kind of leftover beans/legumes for the bottom layer.

Next, layer whatever vegetables you have on hand.

To remove corn from cob, place the cooked ear on top of the center of a bundt pan. Cut off with sharp knife. The kernels fall collected into the pan.

Don’t have leftovers? Toss some frozen or canned/drained vegetables on top.

Add a heavier layer with potatoes (sliced/mashed/diced/baked and sliced, etc), or you can use leftover cooked pasta. I didn’t have enough potatoes to make the amount of mashed potatoes I needed to cover the layers, so I added cooked pasta creating a pierogi-style layer. (I wanted to add a little sour cream to this layer, but didn’t have it on hand.) You could also sneak cauliflower into the mashed potatoes to stretch them! Again, work with what you have on hand.

Top with cheese and bake until heated through.

Another great idea for leftovers is to create bowls. Set out heated leftovers of rice or other grain, vegetables (cooked and raw/sliced/diced/chopped,) meats or legumes, etc, and either layer them into bowls or make little compartments for each so that it makes a pretty dish. Drizzle with some kind of dressing or sauce, and viola, YUM!

What are your tips for using leftovers?

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