Welcome To The Shakin 'N Bakin Blog!

Welcome to my blog! I love to cook and bake for my family. I hope you enjoy the recipes, foodie reviews, foodie giveaways and cooking tips posted on my blog.

How to Print Recipes: You can print out each individual recipe featured on this blog by clicking the "share" button at the bottom of each post. It will open up to show you options, click on print and another window will open up with the recipe inside it for printing. You can also use the SHARE button to email a copy of the recipe to yourself for printing later.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Leftovers and Unwanteds: Making Great Meals from the Back of the Pantry

Grocery day is a day of so much potential. With so many fresh ingredients and so many meals to make, it’s easy to forget that later in the week you'll be scratching your head in front of the fridge trying to make sense of all that is left over. Early in the week is the time to assemble feasts, but in the sparse days before the next grocery trip it is time to dig deep in the cooking arsenal and improvise your way to great meal.

Soup, of course!

Some people love leftovers straight from the refrigerator, but if you want to spice up your dining, get creative and transform your leftovers into a totally new meal. Soups are a great option, especially if small quantities of various ingredients haunt your cabinet. Last night's grilled chicken leftovers can be combined with that close to expiring spinach and mushroom into a hearty and healthful soup. If you have half a bunch of celery, a few leftover carrots, some onion and a food processor you can fashion a delicious mirepoix to use as the base of your soup and build in other leftover ingredients from there.

Food processors cut kitchen time in half especially when making soups and sauces. Take advantage of online Williams Sonoma coupons over at NerdWallet to add this kitchen must-have to your culinary toolkit as soon as possible.

Leftover pastas and sauces also make great soups. Make them more robust by incorporating canned beans or cheeses. You may also add new veggies and spices to change the flavor profile.

Pizzas & Pockets

Get in the habit of keeping a bit of dough in the refrigerator (that Williams Sonoma food processor will come in handy for dough-making, too!) and fashion seemingly random ingredients into delicious personal pizzas. A can of olives, a handful of seasoned ground beef from taco night, and a little mozzarella or shredded cheese makes a full meal that beats anything that you can get delivered. For the extra ooh-ahh factor, fold the dough around the ingredients into a calzone-like pocket and bake. Non-traditional pizza ingredients make great pockets: try green peas and tuna or grilled onions and vegetables for delicious alternatives.


Leftover meats make great additions to lunch salads, as do cooked vegetables. You can also throw together non-traditional salads from leftover lentils, quinoa, fruit, and nuts. If it tastes good together, stir it in a bowl and toss with a vinaigrette—the results will be a delicious alternative to your average salad.


The turkey sandwich is a staple of post-Thanksgiving leftover meals. Leftover brisket, meatloaf, ham, on a sandwich is just as tasty. Two slices of bread and mustard, or mayo makes the day-old seem fresh. Or for a lighter option take last night's entree, wrap it in a tortilla with some lettuce or vegetables to make sure to keep some green in your diet.

Leftover Free For All

Of course, you can always make leftovers a game. Let the kids choose numbers, and the highest number gets first pick of the week's leftovers. Teach the kids some of the above cooking tips and tricks and increase their appreciation of different foods and cooking will grow (warning: they will uniformly all make pizza at first!).

Spare ingredients are an opportunity to create something new and delicious. View each leftover challenge as an experiment and find new and fun ways to feed the family throughout the week, not just on grocery day.