June 24th, 2010

Cooking 101: Cook Once, Use FOUR Times!

One of my favorite methods of cooking is the "Cook once, Use twice" routine. Normally, this implies doubling a recipe, usually a meat or base staple, such as potatoes, and then reusing it some way in a later meal. For example:

Day 1- Corned Beef Roast and Baked Potatoes

Day 2- Reuben Sandwiches and Smashed Potatoes

Day 1- Grilled Fiesta Lime Chicken and Roasted Corn and Peppers

Day 2- Chicken Fajitas

Day 1- Hamburger steaks, Mashed Potatoes, and Mixed Veggies

Day 2- Shepherd's Pie

See how that works? Cook the main meal and then it's less than 30 minutes the next day. I've even seen menus for it in Pampered Chef.

Well, I like to take it a little bit further.

My #1 favorite cuisine is Italian food. Seriously, I should have been born Italian. I could eat pasta every single day and not grow tired of it. In fact, I really have to be careful because pasta is nothing but carbs and is not conducive to losing baby weight.

Last week- I made Lasagna one night but, as always, made way too much cheese filling. Micah is SUPER picky about what type of filling his Lasagna has, and after two years of marriage, I finally discovered what puts a smile on his face: I mix ricotta cheese with an egg, Italian seasoning, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, and cheddar/Colby cheese. Mmm. So much better than plain ricotta, or heaven forbid, cottage cheese!

Monday night- Taking the leftover cheese mixture (it was actually Micah's suggestion- way to go hon!), I placed it in my large skillet, added a can of diced tomatoes, spices, and the leftover sauce, and left that to simmer until it reduced into a nice tomato Alfredo. Once it was ready, we mixed it with some nice al dente' twisty pasta.

Tuesday night- I took the leftover pasta, put it in a casserole dish, added some extra sauce, topped it with need-to-use bread, drizzled it with olive oil, sprinkled on some Italian seasoning, and covered it with cheese. Pretso! Baked Pasta!

Wednesday night- Bringing a big stock pot of water to boil, I threw it about six or so bouillon cube and let it simmer with spices until it had made a nice broth. After taking out the bread topping, I added the remaining pasta to the broth, paving the way for a nice, rich noddle soup. Adding diced tomatoes, broccoli, onions, and mushrooms, I let it simmer until all that was left was slurpable noddles, rich broth, savory vegetables, and some very full bellies.

Talk about efficiency! I'll have a hard time topping this one.

So, what about you? Do you ever use the "Cook Once, Use Twice" method? What is your BEST menu? How do you like to use up leftovers?