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Clean Out The Fridge Night & Leftover Makeovers!!“…nothing beats a Woody Allen film on a Sunday night, with a glass of wine and some leftovers.” ~ Kate FleetwoodOur leftover night, that we at the Hassienda lovingly refer to as “Clean Out the Fridge Night” or “Garbage Can Soup Night”, is usually held on Thursdays while we watch Whose Line Is It Anyway, or a rerun for the fiftieth time of Law and Order SVU. Leftovers, reruns. Do we see a pattern here? Creatures of Habit we are!

In any event, we LOVE LEFTOVER NIGHT! Where else can you have beans, peas, corn, greens, four kinds of salad, pasta, pizza, chicken, fish, tacos, turkey burgers, pork chops, roast, rice AND mashed potatoes, (well you get the idea), ALL in one night? Except maybe Golden Corral, and we’re just not going there, here. I do have to agree with Kate though on the wine, and with this kind of meal, we can have red…AND white! Another SCORE! Not to mention, this saves food, grocery budget, cleans out the fridge, and makes more room for the NEW goodies you get to buy at the grocery store because NOW there is ROOM!


While I do love to just throw the leftovers on the counter like a great, big Cracker Barrel potluck, I also like to see what’s available to re-purpose as “ingredients” in my weekend meal planning and stash those back in the fridge.

The first thing I like to do is make a list of everything we have and then decide if it’s going to be Trash Can Soup, or repurposed for something else. One night I made a huge pot of veggie soup with leftover chicken stock, cabbage, green beans, field peas, some turkey gravy, mashed sweet potatoes, corn, tomatoes, squash and ham. All leftovers from the week with only 1/2 cup of each item left. That was AWESOME! I used 1/2 of a leftover ham steak for the meat, and the other half to make breakfast burritos. In the burritos I also used a leftover baked potato, two eggs, leftover diced tomato, the remnants of three kinds of cheese, the last few tablespoons of salsa and the last squirts of Bacon Ranch dressing. Breakfast for the week is served!

THEN, I came across leftover roasted chicken, cranberries and blueberries so I transformed those ingredients to a nice blueberry, cranberry, almond chicken salad with feta using the last of the Feta yogurt dressing. Holy Smokes that was good! It was something I NEVER would have thought to put together. The leftover, Leftover Soup, and blueberry almond chicken salad on lettuce beds provided lunch for the balance of the week.

On the weekends we grill extras for the week and had some leftover Salmon which was nicely re-purposed into fish tacos with leftover coleslaw made from the remainder of the leftover cabbage! LOL! Done and done! Whoo Hoo! To me, it’s like putting together a puzzle and making sure you use all of the pieces.

A new look to yesterday’s dinner:

Grilled or baked fish – Fish Stews, Fish Tacos with Slaw, Fish Dip, Fish Casserole with rice or noodles (similar to Tuna Casserole), Protein filled salad topping

Grilled or roasted chicken – Where to start? All bones and skin boils down for homemade chicken stock, chicken salad, salad with chicken, BBQ chicken sandwiches, additions to soups, omelets, pizza topping, sandwiches, chicken & dumplings, chicken & rice, Buffalo Chicken dip…honestly the possibilities here are endless.

BBQ pork – Makes a GREAT flavorful addition to Soups, burger topping, hoagies with slaw, as a WONDERFUL topping for Fried Green Tomatoes

Soft Tortillas – Sandwich wraps, quesadillas, breakfast quesadillas, breakfast burritos, pinwheels, THE BEST homemade pita chips

Shellfish – Beaufort Stew, over pasta, Stuffed Mushrooms

Shrimp – Ceviche, shrimp tacos, Shrimp & Pineapple pizza, Sweet & Sour Shrimp, Shrimp Dip

Ham – Ham Salad, soups & stews, burritos, omelets, quiche, pizza topping

Pickle Juice – Egg Salad, Potato Salad, Pasta Salad, Cole Slaw, Sweet & Sour sauce

Salsa – Omelets, Mexican Pasta Salad, Mexican Lasagna, sandwich spread, Breakfast Burritos

Vegetables – While this varies, most leftover veggies can be used for soups & stews, casseroles, on sandwiches, in a veggie lasagna, homemade salsas, smoothies, homemade salad dressings, vegetable tian, meatloaf, spaghetti sauce, and leftover grilled veggies in pasta salad rocks!

Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes – twice baked potatoes, potato soups, breakfast burritos, pureed to sandwich spreads, potato salad, casseroles, with pots of fresh beans or peas

Bread – Croutons, stuffing, bread crumbs, casseroles, Layered Spaghetti Bake, Panzanella, in soup, bread pudding y’all!

Isn’t this great!? You can also use leftover fried green tomatoes on burgers with pimento cheese and BLT’s, and you can use leftover egg salad as a sandwich spread to replace the mayo. Your family will never know these dinners are do-overs. I like easy. Bon appetit y’all!