Monday, January 2, 2012

Put it in a pot and see what happens

      Leftovers and casseroles are just facts of life. Especially for my demographic, the "I have $35 to feed a family of six for a week" group. At least 4 out of 7 nights a week we eat some sort of combination of food with cheese on it. Travis dubbed my casserole creations, "Stuff in a pot" with the variation of  "Stuff in a pan". That title covers most of my creative food attempts (it also gives me a simple answer for when the kids ask what I'm making for dinner). With the post-holiday/pre-tax return state of finances I thought a series on using leftovers and creative casseroles might be appreciated. The beauty of casseroles is the flexibility of ingredients. Most veggies can be substituted for whatever you have on hand as well as most meats. Using leftovers in a casserole doubles your food dollars, something there never seems to be enough of. Also, casseroles are great for any meal!
     So read over this, go poke around in your fridge and freezer to see what you've got, put it in a pot and see what happens! 

**Disclaimer :  These are not guaranteed to be wholly nutritious and I would encourage you to supplement any casserole with a side fruit or veggie that can be measured to a serving size.

Breakfast : Sugar Free French Toast Casserole (uses that leftover stale bread!)
1lb Bread - French Bread or Dinner Rolls torn in golf ball size chunks - Stale is good!
1 C Butter or Margarine - Melted
2 cans evaporated milk (or 2C Half & Half)
4 Eggs
1 C Sweetener - I prefer Ideal (Xylitol)
2 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 C Sugar Free Maple Syrup
Optional : Any fruit you like! Note - thaw and drain frozen fruits before adding to casserole

Preheat oven to 375.
Generously grease a 9x13 baking pan and add Bread chunks. In a medium mixing bowl combine everything except Maple Syrup. Pour over bread and mix gently until bread starts to get soggy. Fold in fruit. Pour Maple Syrup on top. Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes. Enjoy while warm!
Lunch: Bean-over Sandwiches 
Leftover beans, drained

Butter your bread just like for grilled cheese sandwiches, add 1/4-1/2 cup of beans and some cheese. Easiest to cook these in a waffle iron or Foreman grill-type device but they can be done on a griddle or in a skillet. Just put cheese on both sides of the bread to hold it together and press the sandwich down with the spatula before turning. Cook till cheese is melty and bread is toasty! Serve warm, goes well with soup or simply your preferred dipping sauce (Ketchup is our favorite). 

Dinner: Stuff in a Pot  (many variables, but here's the basic recipe)

Any Veggies (mix and match to your preferences or be bold and throw all the little leftover bits together!) 
2lbs Cooked Pasta (any kind but tube noodles like Penne, Ziti or Elbows work best)
1-2 lbs Cooked Meat (Crumbled Hamburger, Chicken or Sausage cut in bite size pieces, even Pork Chops will work!)
2 cans Cream of _____ Soup (Mushroom is the most versatile)
1 C Milk
Cheese - 2 C shredded or 1/3 block Velveeta cubed (again, any kind but Cheddar and Velveeta combine well with almost anything).
**Seasonings are really all "To Taste" because it will depend on what your meat and veggies were seasoned with**
Salt and Pepper to Taste
2 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tsp Onion Powder
Dash Worcestershire Sauce
Literally, put everything except Soup, Cheese, Milk and seasonings in a large pot OR in a greased 10"x14" baking pan. Mix soup and milk, add seasonings and pour over main ingredients. Add cheese and mix everything together. For stove top, cook on med-high heat, stirring frequently. For oven, cover with foil and bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes.