Splendid Leftovers: Getting Creative with Leftover Foods

By Eneris Aymée Bernard Santos

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We all know the routine of cooking our daily meals: food gets cooked and leftovers are either refrigerated and forgotten or thrown away. Here is some “food” for thought: Americans discard about 150,000 tons of food every day. Rather than letting delicious food go to waste, why not reuse our leftovers for future or different functions?

 

Here are some recipes or ideas you can follow to reuse your leftovers:

Fried Rice

Story:

My sister first made this concoction when she made too much rice and the family didn’t eat much from it in the first place. The next day she took it out of the fridge and started thinking “What can I use all this rice for?” and thought of trying her hand at making fried rice. Ever since then, it’s become a staple in our household.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of rice
  • Meat, to your liking
  • Soy sauce, to your liking
  • Peas, carrots, green onions
  • Vegetable oil or sesame oil, to your liking
  • 2 eggs

Instructions:

– Add vegetable or sesame oil to the pan. Let it warm up before adding the vegetables

-Incorporate the eggs into the pan and scramble them with the vegetables

-Add meat until heated before adding the rice

-Once the food has warmed up to your liking, add the sesame oil and fry them all together

Buttered Shrimp

Story:

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My sister realized that she had a half an onion leftover from her previous cooking endeavours. Instead of putting it in the fridge, she decided to cook a little extra for dinner. She remembered our mom making this many years ago in Puerto Rico and decided to recreate it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of shrimps
  • Butter, to your liking
  • Half of an onion
  • Oregano, thyme
  • Small amount of salt, optional

Instructions:

-On a small pot, add butter to your liking on low heat

-After thawed, incorporate the shrimp in the butter

-Add thyme, oregano, and the onions to cook in harmony with the shrimp

Meringue Cookies

Story:

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For the past two years, I have been making coquito for Christmas. This is a holiday tradition done by many families in Puerto Rico. I decided to try my hand at it and gift it to my friends. However, I always am left with an egg white too many. Therefore, we make another sugary treat: meringues.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/3 cups of sugar
  • 1/3 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Instructions:

-Preheat oven to 275 degrees F

-In a large bowl, whip the egg whites with salt, vanilla, and cream of tartar until they can hold a soft peak. Gradually sprinkle in the sugar while continuing to whip.

-Drop spoonful’s onto prepared baking sheets

-Bake for 35 minutes or until they easily peel off the sheet

Pico de Gallo

Story:

My abuelita has a garden in the back of her house. She harvests vegetables and herbs such as peppers, onions and cilantro, and picks an array of fruits that grow on trees around the home like passion fruits and lemons. Whenever she makes sofrito, abuelita is left with a little too much cilantro, which she uses to make her yummy pico de gallo. She eyeballs her measurements.

Ingredients:

  • Finely cut onions
  • Chopped cilantros
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Shredded peppers
  • ½ salt
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice

Instructions:

-In a medium bowl, add the onions, cilantro, tomato, pepper

-Mix the lime juice and salt with the rest of the ingredients and enjoy!

Arroz Mamposteao

Story:

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The mamposteao rice is a traditional dish from Puerto Rico. What makes this dish so special is not only the start of the plate, which is the rice, but also its co-star, the beans. Both blends to create a flavorful dish fit for any occasion with any leftover ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp of corn oil
  • 1 chopped green pepper
  • ½ chopped onion
  • 1 tsp of diced garlic
  • 1 cup of stewed beans
  • 4 tsp of tomato sauce
  • 2 ½ cups of medium grain rice
  • ¼ cup of cilantro

Instructions:

-In a big pan, warm the corn oil on medium fire

-Sauté peppers, onion, tomatoes and garlic until caramelized

-Reduce heat and include cilantro and beans

-Season the food with anything you desire

-Lastly, add the rice and blend together until everything is mixed perfectly

These are just some of the many great dishes one can make with leftover foods. Use the kitchen as an opportunity to let your creativity flow or to relax. Who knows, you’ll be surprised by what you might cook up.

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