[recipe difficulty=”easy”]



 I got home from work just before 6 tonight.  I took  one pound of  stew beef out of  the freezer and got right to work. 

1. Defrosted the beef in the microwave and cut it up into small chunks. (Beef optional)

2. Fried the beef in olive oil until just browned

3. Peeled and cut up 2 carrots, 2 celery and  1 cleaned leek and threw them into the pressure cooker 

4.  Added the beef and one can of diced tomatoes, a bay leaf, salt, pepper and 36 ounces of chicken or vegetable broth.

5.Cleaned half a pound of lentils and added them to the pot.

6.  Deglazed the frying pan with 1 cup of water and added that to the pressure cooker.

7.  Heated up my stove top pressure cooker to pressure and then cooked for 8 minutes.

8.  Meanwhile chopped up and fried a large sweet onion.

9.  Brought the pressure down in my cooker under cold water, opened it, and added the onions.  Tasted for seasoning and checked how tender the beef was.

10.  Closed up the pot, brought it back to pressure and cooked 3 more minutes.  

AND VOILA,!  An excellent meal with some crusty bread and salad.  And the leftover lentil soup will be even better tomorrow!





Turkey chutney salad

Turkey Barley Congee

Corn Chowder

Crispy Corn Fritters

Fried Rice


Salsa soup with tortilla chips

Leek mushroom bread pudding


I actually love leftovers.  On my way home from work I’ll picture what is in my fridge and then figure out how to combine them and transform them into tonight's feast.  And many of these creations have become favorites.  Some of these recipes don't give exact quantities because that is not the point.  With these dishes you use what you have and use your creativity to make it all work so that often the new leftover creation is even better than the original!



This is what I make with leftover turkey. Of course first on my list is sandwiches:  hot when you still have gravy left and cold when you’ve run out of gravy.  But there are two other dishes I love to make with turkey. 

·         Turkey (smoked or roasted):  Mix mango chutney with some mayonnaise and curry powder and a drop of toasted sesame oil.  Mix with some celery (or other crunchy vegetable) and scallions if you have them.  This is good served for lunch with bread or as a salad course with a some lettuce.

·         Roast turkey (not smoked):  Right after a turkey dinner I jump into action and take all the meat off the bones.  I throw the turkey bones into a big pot and it can be the same pot that I boiled the potatoes in for mashed potatoes.  Add an onion, a carrot, and some celery and plenty of water and boil for an hour until you have a nice broth.  Add as much salt as you like.  Strain out all the solids and put the broth aside.

·         With the broth I make one of my favorite soups and a family favorite as well:  Turkey Barley Congee.

·          Leftover turkey has many tasty reincarnations. Turkey barley congee is one of my favorites that I make every year after Thanksgiving. It starts off by using the turkey carcass to make a rich broth. Congee is a nourishing and healthy one dish meal which I’ve adapted from the recipe of one of my favorite cookbooks: A Spoonful of Ginger: Irresistible, health-giving recipes from Asian kitchen, by Nina Simonds. She references the healthful or medicinal qualities of each recipe so you feel good about what you serve your family and guests.

Adapted from the cookbook, “A Spoonful of Ginger” by Nina Simonds.
For the broth:
1 Turkey carcass from the Thanksgiving dinner
12 cups water
1 peeled onion
1 celery stalk
1 slice ginger
For the marinade:
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 ½ Tbs rice wine
1 tsp sesame oil
For the soup:
1 pound or more leftover turkey meat, cut into bite size pieces or use uncooked turkey meat. if you don't have leftovers.
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
1 cup whole grain or pearl barley, rinsed and drained.  (whole grain barley is healthier)
3 carrots,  peeled and cut into ¼ inch dice
3 stalks celery , cut into ¼ inch dice
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup rice wine (or dry sherry)
1 tsp.-1 Tbs.   grated fresh ginger (depending on how much you like ginger)
8 ounces shitake mushrooms, sliced (fresh) or/and dried shitake:  5-6 reconstituted in water
1-2 cans chicken or turkey broth as needed (optional:  see note).
  1. Combine the broth ingredients and bring to boil in large pot. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for an hour.  Strain and check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as necessary.
  2. Meanwhile, combine ingredients for the marinade, add turkey and coat with marinade. Refrigerate.
  3. Fry onions in oil or butter until soft and lightly brown and set aside.
  4. Fry mushrooms in butter or olive oil until lightly browned and set aside.
  5. Add barley to the strained broth and cook for 45 minutes. If necessary, add more water or broth.
  6. Add carrots and celery (and turkey meat if it is uncooked) and cook another 15 minutes, checking to make sure there is enough liquid.
  7. Add browned onions, cooked turkey, rice wine, browned mushrooms and grated ginger and cook another 15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
  8. Taste for seasoning and add more broth if necessary and a little sesame oil to taste.
Note: This is meant to be a thick, porridge like soup. I prefer it a little soupier and so I have some broth set aside to add if necessary.





 I often buy extra corn on purpose and then leave it out (if the house isn’t too hot) because refrigerating it will diminish the sweetness. I then make a great summer soup.


        Take the cooked corn off the cob.  Meanwhile fry a large sweet onion until soft and slightly browned.  Peel a medium potato and cut into small cubes.  Cook them in the broth for 10 minutes until almost cooked.  Add the corn and the onion.  Thicken with a little corn starch,  add ½ cup of  ½ and ½  or milk, adjust for salt and add some cayenne pepper. 







  • Kernals from 2-3 ears of leftover corn (cooked or raw)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup corn meal
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Mix everything together and let sit a few minutes.  Add more water if too thick.  It should have a thick pancake batter consistency.  
  2. Heat a frying pan with some vegetable oil.  Fry a sample 1 tablespoon size fritter and taste for seasoning and adjust with more liquid if necessary.  You want to cook them hot and brown them on each side.  They should be nice and crispy.  Make them any size you like but I like them to be around 3 inches in diameter.
  3. Serve for breakfast with maple syrup or as a side dish to your dinner.  These go well with a pork barbecue.



Left over rice from the Asian restaurant? I always bring the rice home.  Day old rice is perfect for fried rice and homemade fried rice is in a class of its own.  This is miles better than restaurant fried rice


Fried rice:

·         Start with one of those little boxes of rice from the restaurant or 2 cups cooked rice.  Sushi rice isn’t so great because it’s a little too sticky.  Anything goes at this point but the very best fried rice needs:  cabbage, zucchini, peas, onions, shrimp and some meat.  Start by frying up some chopped sweet onion until its soft and beginning to brown. Put it aside.  Then cube  one or two smallish zucchini and fry until not quite cooked through. Set aside.  Slice about a cup or so of cabbage finely and fry very hot until browned and set aside.  Chop up a few shrimp if you have some frozen and fry them until cooked through and set aside.  If you have broccoli or another vegetable you’d like to add, be creative. Any meat works:  a little cut up ham, beef, pork, Chinese sausage.  Whatever you add, cut it into small cubes and cook it through.  I usually add leftovers rather than buying something fresh. Meat or shrimp is not necessary.


This is sort of like “stone soup”.  The rice is the stone and then you start adding and the more you add, the greater the dish.  Now add the rice to the frying pan or wok and cook in some oil until the kernels are separated and heated through.  Combine everything with the rice and cook it through.  In a separate bowl mix together some soy sauce and some oyster sauce.  You can buy vegetarian oyster sauce if you’d prefer.  I can’t tell you the quantities since this is all about getting inspired by what is hanging about in your fridge and freezer”. But I would start with ¼ cup of soy and 2 TBS of oyster sauce if you started with a cup or so of rice.  Start easy and add more if you want the flavor to be stronger.  Don’t salt until after you’ve added the soy and oyster sauce.


Heat it all together and add the frozen peas at the last minute and cover for a few minutes until the peas are cooked through.  IF you'd like to scramble an egg seaparately, chop it up and add it to the fried rice, this is delicious and authentic. At the last minute you can also garnish with scallion. This dish is great on its own or as a side dish.  And believe it or not, it tastes even better the next day as a leftover.  My husband likes it with the chili garlic sauce as a condiment.





·         This is my go to meal when I have a little bit of leftover steak or venison or bison.  Next night for dinner or for breakfast you start again with fried chopped onions.  Fry them in olive oil until soft and caramalized.  Set aside.  Peel and chop potatoes or sweet potatoes (or both) into small cubes. Fry them in olive oil over medium to high heat watching closely so they don’t burn.  Once they are beginning to brown I cover them for a few minutes until they are cooked through. This should take 10-15 minutes.  Add the potatoes and onion and meat that you have cut into pieces the same size as the potatoes.  Heat all together and add plenty of pepper and adjust for salt.  Next break an egg per person into the hash and cook them as you like.  This beats any hash you’ll get in a diner.  Guaranteed.












Salsa soup with tortilla chips:

·         So how many times do you find yourself with some salsa that has been  hanging around a while and you want to use it up before opening up a new one?  This soup is a hit with everyone.  Again, no exact quantities and you can spice it up to your liking.  But the basics are tomatoes, salsa, black beans and corn.  I start with about a cup of salsa and throw it in a pot with a can of broth (chicken or vegetable) and then add a can of black beans, and a can of corn or I have  fresh or frozen corn .  A can of small diced tomatoes works or you can use up some whole canned tomatoes that are hanging about the fridge like I did tonight .  Or you cn  use fresh peeled tomatoes.  Just chop whatever you have into small pieces.  Bring it all to a simmer and add some hot sauce if you need it hotter or some chili powder.  I also add some smoked paprika.


            Simmer for 10-15 minutes while until the corn is cooked.  Now this is the fun part.   

            Arrange some garnishes on a side platter for people to add to their soup as the like:   

·         scallions

·         Avocado

·         Sour cream

·         Cilantro

·         Lime

·         and don’t forget tortilla chips to crumble on top the last minute.




      I just found this recipe in the October 2012 issue of the Food Network Magazine and it was an instant hit.  The recipe is also on the Food network website, one of the Contessa's recipes.  I have adjusted it a bit:  No 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream for instance.  The first thing I try to do in any recipe is cut down the fat, sugar and salt.  So here is my version of this recipe but the original you can find as well by clicking on the recipe title.


     I use really good bread that has gotten stale because we didn't eat it fast enough.



Mushroom & Leek Bread Pudding

Adapted from  from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust. Copyright (c) 2012 by Ina Garten. By Arrangement with Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc. for Food Network Magazine

Serves:   4-6 servings



·       2-3 cups (1/2-inch-diced) bread cubes from a rustic country loaf  

·         1 tablespoons good olive oil

·         1 tablespoons unsalted butter

·         2 ounces deli ham, leftover ham or pancetta small-diced

·         2 cups sliced leeks, white and light green parts (2 medium leeks)

·      1 -8 oz. package crimini, baby bella or white mushrooms, 1/4-inch-sliced

·         1/4 cup medium or dry sherry

·         Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

·      ·         2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

·         2 extra-large eggs

·         ¾ cup milk

·         ½  cup chicken stock

·         1 cup grated Gruyere cheese (3-4 ounces), divided


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the bread cubes on a sheet pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook for 5 minutes, until starting to brown. Stir in the leeks and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until the leeks are tender. Stir in the mushrooms, sherry, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until most of the liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally.  Off the heat, stir in the parsley.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, chicken stock and ½  cup of the Gruyere. Add the bread cubes and mushroom mixture, stirring well to combine. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes or longer  to allow the bread to absorb the liquid. Stir well and pour into a 2 1/2-to-3-quart gratin dish (13 x 9 x 2 inches). Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Gruyere and bake for about 30 minutes, until the custard is barely set. It should still be very moist but with a crunchy top.  If you need to, put it briefly under the broiler.  Don’t overcook this or it will be dried out. Serve hot.  This is great the next day reheated in the microwave.