using leftovers

Chocolate-Banana-Applesauce Cake

fullsizeoutput_97d5.jpeg

When I was a kid my mother sometimes made macaroni-and-cheese using somewhat older, hard-around-the-edges American cheese that didn’t look fit to eat. I thought it was appalling.

But she told me that these cheese wasn’t spoiled, just hard because maybe it wasn’t wrapped quite so well, and that in any event she would never make any dish for us using an ingredient that could be harmful.

Of course.

And also, why waste perfectly good cheese that’s going to melt anyway. So if it isn’t perfect to eat cold, as is, it is perfectly fine for macaroni and cheese.

And it was. She made delicious macaroni and cheese.

My children are appalled if I use an ingredient that’s past its sell-by/expiration date. I feel the same way my mother did. I would never use an ingredient that is spoiled or harmful. But some of those expiration dates are meant more as a “use them soon because the flavor or texture won’t be perfect” than “do not eat this EVER!”

So recently, I noticed that in addition to some fresh bananas turned black-spotty, my snack packages of applesauce were a month beyond their expiration date. Rather than give the applesauce to my grandkids and have my daughters feel appalled, I used it in chocolate cake, in the place of eggs.

Not only was I able to use up a perfectly good ingredient, the cake was delicious and also a good vegan choice.

So there.

Chocolate-Banana-Applesauce Cake

  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate

  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 medium ripe bananas

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup applesauce

  • 1/3 cup apple juice (or orange juice)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8”x8” cake pan. Melt the chocolate and set it aside to cool. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set the flour mixture aside. Mash the bananas and place them in the bowl of an electric mixer (or use a hand mixer and bowl). Add the sugar and mix at medium speed for a minute, or until well blended. Add the applesauce, juice, vanilla extract and melted chocolate and beat for 1-2 minutes, or until thoroughly blended. Add the flour mixture and beat for 1-2 minutes, or until throughly blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Makes 9 servings

Rhubarb Oat Bread

fullsizeoutput_93cc.jpeg

You know how, when you have company for dinner and you make a lot of food, you sometimes forget to serve one (or more) of the dishes you cooked?

I did that recently. I made stewed rhubarb because my brother was coming to my house for dinner and it's one of his favorite things to eat.

Not only did I forget to serve it, I forgot about it in the fridge for a couple of days.

It was still good, of course, and we ate some, but there was some left over too.

So I made banana bread but used the stewed rhubarb instead of mashed bananas. (Also added some lemon peel which I thought would work nicely with rhubarb.)

Voila! This is sometimes how good recipes are born. It was well-loved.

And if you don't have stewed rhubarb, you could use applesauce or mashed banana.

 

Rhubarb Oat Bread

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon peel
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1-1/3 cups sugar
  • 1-1/3 cups stewed rhubarb
  • 4 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch (8-cup) bundt pan. Mix the flour, oats, baking soda, salt and lemon peel together in a bowl. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the coconut oil, vegetable shortening and sugar at medium speed until well blended, about one minute. Add the rhubarb and blend it in thoroughly. Add the eggs and beat the ingredients well. Add the flour mixture and beat until batter is well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove to a cake rack to cool completely.

Makes one bread, serving 12-16

 

 

Stuffed Squash with Thanksgiving Leftovers

fullsizeoutput_85ba.jpeg

Turkey leftovers? 

Sure, there's sandwiches, salad and so on. 

How about a one-pot meal-in-one you can get ready way ahead and pop it into the oven a few days after Thanksgiving? Something tidy, compact, with a profusion of appealing color? That includes so many food groups?

Like this Stuffed Acorn Squash.

Note: you can make the squash and filling ahead separately. These are good hot or at room temperature.

STUFFED ACORN SQUASH

  • 4 small acorn or carnival squash
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped yellow squash 
  • 1-1/2 cups finely chopped cooked turkey
  • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 2 large eggs
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way down and remove the cap (you can bake it and serve it for decoration). Scoop out the seeds (you can rinse them off and roast them separately to use as a snack). Wrap the squash in aluminum foil and bake for about 35-45 minutes or until tender. Set aside. Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees. While the squash is roasting, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook for 3-4 minutes, to soften them slightly. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the squash, turkey, spinach, cranberries, breadcrumbs, parsley, thyme and cayenne pepper (if used) and toss the ingredients to distribute them evenly. Mix in the eggs and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon equal amounts of the mixture into the baked squash hollows. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 4 servings

Banana Marble Cake

fullsizeoutput_828e.jpeg

Whenever my mother had leftover sour cream that was still safe to eat but had been hanging around the fridge for too long for it to taste fresh, she would use it to bake something. Like her marble cake. 

That cake was a simple wonder. Tender, vaguely sweet, with just enough melted chocolate swirling through the vanilla crumb. Rarely frosted, we ate it like coffee cake, just as is.

I've made that cake many times, and for the same reasons. Leftover sour cream (I also use leftover plain Greek yogurt when I have some). I've made it the original way and with coconut oil in place of shortening. 

Recently I had sour cream and yogurt leftover, the not exactly new kind.

I also had bananas left over. I always have bananas left over. I usually make banana bread with the leftover bananas.

So I took a cue from my mother and decided to bake marble cake. Using bananas.

So good.

Banana Marble Cake

  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 very ripe medium bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup dairy sour cream or plain Greek yogurt 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a (10-inch) 8-cup bundt pan. Melt the chocolate and set it aside. Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda together in a bowl and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer set at medium speed, beat the sugar and eggs for 2-3 minutes or until well blended. Add the vanilla extract and vegetable oil and beat for 1-2 minutes or until thoroughly blended. Add the bananas and sour cream and beat them in. Add the flour mixture and beat for 1-2 minutes or until the batter is well blended. Pour half the batter into the prepared pan. Pour in half the melted chocolate and swirl it into the batter using a knife or wooden spoon. Repeat with the remaining batter and melted chocolate. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove to a cake rack to cool completely.

Makes one bread, serving 12-16

 

 

 

 

Chicken Soup Burgers

My daughters are not big meat eaters, so when they were young kids and still living at home,  I never made stuff like roast beef or beef stew or meatloaf. They just didn't want any of it.

They didn't even eat hamburgers.

We were basically a chicken and turkey family (including chicken and turkey burgers).

Also, I would make burgers out of all the vegetables I used for chicken soup, which I cooked more often than almost everything.

That was a kid favorite. They still talk about those burgers.

Recently I made some chicken soup because, well, it's been rainy and gloomy in my part of the world and soup is like magic to help get you in a good mood. I used the leftover vegetables for burgers, just for the two of us. Fabulous not-quite-meatless dinner. Of course you can make this a vegetarian meal with regular cooked vegetables not from soup!

 

CHICKEN SOUP BURGERS

  • 8 cooked carrots, cut up
  • 6 stalks cooked celery, cut up
  • 2 cooked parsnips, cut up
  • 1 large cooked onion, cut up
  • some sprigs of cooked dill
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup matzo meal
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • vegetable oil

Place the cooked vegetables and dill in a food processor and pulse to combine them and chop them into very fine pieces. Spoon the contents into a bowl. Add the egg, matzo meal and some salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly to combine the ingredients evenly. Shape portions of the mixture into patties about 1/2-inch thick. Heat about 1/4-inch vegetable oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot enough to make a crumb sizzle, add the patties, a few at a time, leaving space between them in the pan. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the patties for about 3 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels. 

Makes about 12

 

Chocolate Challah Bread Pudding

I usually don't have leftover challah, even when I make my giant size recipe

But for Yom Kippur I make TWO giant size challahs, one for the pre-fast dinner and one for break-the-fast.

So, for the kids, there's usually a hunk or two left for French toast.

But this year I had bits and pieces left over: crusts from the pieces that went into the French toast (for the kids who don't like crust). And a few pieces of "insides" left from the grownups who picked off some of the crust.

I hate throwing food away, especially something as delicious as challah.

Waste not, want not.

I put all the leftover pieces into a bowl and made it into chocolate bread pudding.

You can't go wrong mixing challah, milk, sugar and chocolate.

 

Chocolate Challah Pudding

  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 12 ounces leftover challah,including crusts, (about 7-8 loosely packed
  •                                                                         cups of small pieces)
  • 3 cups whole or 2% milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Butter a large, deep baking dish or (8-cup) souffle dish. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the chocolate and set it aside to cool. Break the bread into pieces into a bowl. Pour the milk over the bread and let it soak for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally so all pieces of bread absorb some milk. In the bowl of an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat the eggs with the sugar for 4-5 minutes or until the mixture is thick and pale. Stir in the vanilla extract. Stir in the melted chocolate. Mix in the bread-milk mixture. Pour the bread mixture into the prepared baking dish. Place the dish inside a larger pan. Add enough water to the outer pan to come up one-inch of the sides of the baking dish. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Makes 8 servings

 

Honey Poached Plums

When my kids come for a few days I buy a ton of fruit. And then usually have to shop again during the visit to get more, because there's none left. 

When my kids don't come I buy much less fruit but never run out of it. In fact, the fruit I buy frequently sits there in the fruit bowl, washed and waiting. Then gets too soft for actually eating out of hand and winds up in a banana bread or cold, summer fruit soup or some other recipe that works well when fruit is past its prime.

Like these plums. They looked so good when I bought them. Alas, they were not as compelling this week as the chocolate covered cherries or the chocolate covered almonds or the NoMoo Cookies I bought.

However -- when I poached them in a little honey, added a few cardamom pods and some orange peel, well, then the plums seemed more like real dessert and therefore more welcome. Especially when drizzled with boiled down poaching juices and accompanied by yogurt (plain, mixed with some of those boiled down juices) and chopped, roasted almonds.

So the fruit did get eaten after all. No leftovers.

 

Honey Poached Plums with Yogurt and Roasted Almonds

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cups water
  • 12 slightly crushed cardamom pods (or use 2" cinnamon stick)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange peel
  • 6 large plums
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds

Place the honey, water, cardamom pods and orange peel in a saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Wash the plums, cut them in half and remove the pit if possible (if not it will be easy to remove after poaching). Place the plum halves in the poaching liquid. Mix in the vanilla extract. Let rest until the liquid cools, at least 2 hours. Remove the plums and set them aside. Bring the poaching liquid to a boil over high heat and cook for 4-5 minutes or until thickened to the consistency of maple syrup. Let cool. Place 2 plum halves per person on dessert plates. Mix a small amount of the boiled down liquid into the yogurt and spoon some of the yogurt next to the plum halves. Drizzle the plums with the remaining poaching liquid. Scatter the nuts on top of the plums and yogurt.

Makes 6 servings

 

 

 

 

How Many Servings Was That?

Last night my sister-in-law Eileen and brother Jeff were supposed to come over for dinner and watch the Oscar show with us, but she has a cold and needed to stay put at home.

I had already prepared dinner -- breaded some turkey cutlets, cleaned some string beans, mixed the batter for vegetable fritters and fried them to a crisp.

Ed came in to the kitchen and sampled a hot fritter fresh from the pan and declared it fabulous.

About a minute later he came back for two more.

I was about to say something trite like "you know, these are for dinner," but realized we had plenty and why should it matter if he eats them first instead of with ....

The recipe makes about 10 pieces, (serves 4-5 people) and now there would only be the two of us to eat the remaining 7.

We finished them all. 

Vegetable Fritters

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped cooked vegetables (I used carrots, broccoli and sauteed mushrooms)
  • vegetable oil for frying

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. In another bowl, beat the egg, stock and olive oil. Pour the egg mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Fold in the vegetables. Heat about 1/8-inch vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Pour about 1/4-cup of the batter into the pan for each fritter, leaving about 1-inch space between the pieces. Cook for about 2 minutes per side or until browned and crispy. Do not crowd the pan. Repeat with remaining batter. Drain the fritters on paper towels.

Makes about 10 pieces