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May 11, 2012

Tales of Subversive Leftovers


I have never been a fan of leftovers.  My reasons rage from boredom to questioning the safety of food that's possibly been left out a little too long before being refrigerated and now looks....suspect.  But in an effort to be frugal and reduce our overall waste, I've attempted to make up with leftovers.  It's not a loving relationship.  It pretty much requires that they be unidentifiable in a new dish, but it's a start!

Witness the above beauties.  Leftover shish kebob veggies the hubby grilled the night before got chopped up and stirred in at the tail end of veggies and scrambled eggs.  I stirred in some turkey sausage, gave a gentle topping of grated cheddar and viola!  Leftovers anew.

This is such a versatile recipe, you could really take it anywhere you like.  I'm hesitant to even call it a recipe, more like a shell.

To get the toasty crunchy cups, preheat the oven to 425-degrees F.  Cut 9-inch flour tortillas in half to form semi-circles.  Brush lightly with olive oil and kosher or sea salt or other herbs, if desired.

Using a cupcake pan, form the semi-circles into a funnel shape and squish the pointy end into the cupcake pan until it lies flat.  The edges should retain the cup shape, and stick to each other via the olive oil.

These get baked until the desired shade of golden, about 7-10 minutes, but check early, because there is a "perfect" somewhere in the middle and you don't want to cross it.  That will depend on your oven and pan, how much oil you used, etc.

While these were baking, I scrambled up some eggs, and in a separate skillet, reheated my chopped grilled vegetable leftovers (red & green peppers, sweet onion, tomato and zucchini), already-cooked turkey sausage, and some broccoli florets which had lost their crispiness in the fridge.  I added kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste and threw in a few fresh herbs from the cutting garden, such as cilantro and fennel.

You could probably do all this in one pan, but I don't like my eggs over-scrambled.  To leave them nice and puffy, ideally you let them sit a bit, like you were making an omelet, and towards the end you flip them around a bit until they're in 'scrambles.'  But the veggies I like to stir frequently, to make sure nothing is over-cooking and my seasonings are nicely dispersed.

I mixed the veggies/turkey sausage to the finished scrambled eggs, spooned them into the tortilla cups and grated some cheddar on top.  The crunchy cup made them transportable (we ate them while walking around outside) and gave such a nice texture that veggies and eggs alone couldn't match.

They are also freezable, and you can pop them back in a hot oven to heat them up while trying to retain as much of the crispiness as possible.  They're better than your average hot pocket microwaved from thawed, but they won't have that perfect crispiness from a microwave.

They were a big hit for the family and a friend who stopped by!

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Here is another variation I tried later that week for dinner: Fancified Fishsticks!

Same tortilla shells as above, but filled with some leftover romaine salad, fish sticks, yellow pepper, a swirl of honey-Balsamic vinaigrette and topped with fresh-grated parmesan cheese.  They tasted wonderful!  You would have never recognized those cheap little fish sticks in all that deliciousness, and it was a perfect adaptation for a kid-friendly favorite.  As in, while my 4 year old was happily munching fish sticks and ketchup (shudder) we were feasting on little cups of Fancified Fishsticks.

I served three in a row in two serving "boats" and it was really quite attractive.  A fun, offbeat version of a go-to kids classic, that used up leftovers AND didn't take any more time!


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