Random Things You May Need to Know About Leftovers
I know, could that title BE any more vague!..that was my salute to Chandler from Friends by the way. Okay, why don’t I elaborate a bit more before you stop reading. What I should really call this post is “Waste Not, Want Not.”
You see, over the last week I have come across several dilemmas that I needed to solve involving left over food. As you know, I am a self proclaimed fabulously frugal person and so I hate the idea of throwing away any leftover food. I’d much rather be able to use it for something else or at least save it for the next use. And I’m not talking about what to do with leftover meals; I’m talking random left over items, specifically evaporated milk, tomato paste and a baguette. You don’t come across these items every day but when you do use them, I’m guessing most of the time you’re left with a half a can or loaf because the recipe you’re using only requires a small amount.
So I’m here to give you some tips as to how to use up or save these random ingredients. You may not need these tips now but you’ll thank me the next time a recipe calls for a tablespoon of tomato paste and you’re left with an almost full opened can. Trust me!
My best friend gave me this tip for saving tomato paste which I thought was genius. Turns out you can freeze what’s left over! I don’t mean you can simply throw the can in the freezer, that would be way too easy, but it is freezable other ways. Simply lay out a piece of saran wrap on the counter, then take a spoon and thinly spread out the remaining tomato paste on it thinly.
Next, place another piece of saran wrap over top and then carefully lay it flat in the freezer. The next time a recipe calls for two tablespoons of tomato paste, simply pull out the thin sheet and cut out the desired amount. Put it on the counter and it will thaw quickly as it’s so thin. Or if you prefer, you can also spoon it into ice cube trays and freeze to use later. Voila, never throw that half can of tomato paste away again! And if you have a few extra minutes and a can of tomato sauce lying around, why not make some pizza sauce and freeze that for the next homemade pizza night?
This one used to stump me every time! My mom’s meatloaf calls for a cup of evaporated milk but the can comes in 370mls so I’m always left with…okay do the math…120mls of left over milk. Whew! Managed to figure that out without a calculator this time…pat on the shoulder for me!
Ahem, so anyways what can I do with this leftover milk? Turns out, plenty! For instance, I can add it to my coffee in the morning since I usually use cream and evaporated milk is even creamier than that…yummy treat first thing in the morning. Or I can reconstitute it (by adding enough water to double the volume) and then use it like regular milk. But the best way to get most out of it is to simply whip up a basic white sauce with the left over milk which you can then freeze and use for your next creamy pasta dinner. Here is a simple recipe:
- In a small, heavy saucepan, melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter over low heat.
- Blend 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour into the melted butter.
- Add 1/8 teaspoon of salt.
- Cook over low heat, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes. Cooking for this length of time will minimize ‘flour’ taste.
- Slowly add 1/2 cup of evaporated milk, stirring constantly.
- Continue cooking slowly until smooth and thickened.
Every once in a while I like to pretend I’m in Paris so I pick up a long baguette from the bakery to eat with some yummy cheese and wine (or grape juice if it’s during the day…well most of the time. wink, wink!) Anyway, unfortunately this type of bread never seems to keep past a day and a half, and ends up getting all hard and stale before I can use it again and I’m forced to throw it in the trash…as tears of frugal regret roll down my cheek!
Well, I’m sick of crying over a garbage can so I decided to find a new way to use up that extra bread and I promise you will thank me for this one. Why not make some delicious “Baguette French Toast with Apple Maple Sauce” the following morning? Here’s the easy recipe:
- 3/4 to 1 cup maple syrup
- Pinches ground cinnamon and nutmeg
- 2 medium Granny Smith or other tart apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin wedges
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/3 cup unsweetened apple juice
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 12 (1″ thick, cut on the bias) slices of baguette
- 4 Tbsp. butter