Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Snack mix

Wednesday is a very LOOOONG day for Michael and me. In addition to our busy days, we have a 3-hour committment in the evenings, from 6 - 9 pm. Last week I was absolutely STARVING by the time we got home. So...this week, I vow, will be different! I wanted to come up with something I could throw in the car on the way to work in the morning and would still be edible (and tasty!) by the time I left the office at night.

This is what I came up with...

Monday night (since I won't have time to do it Tuesday night either, due to another committment) I made a batch of snack mix that I put together out of stuff we had in the pantry, most of which was nearing the end of its shelf-life.

Mini shredded wheat cereal - 2 cups
Cinnamon cereal - 2 cups
The remnants of a can of old fashioned oatmeal - probably about half a cup
The remnants of a can of cashew bits and pieces - probably about 1/4 of a cup
About half a can of toasted almonds - probably about 1/3 of a cup
Homemade peanut butter - About 4 Tbsp
Vegetable oil - About 4 Tbsp
Orange blossom honey  - About 4 Tbsp
A bag of dried cherries
Kosher salt

After heating the oven to 250, I mixed the peanut butter, oil and honey in the bottom of a glass baking dish and put it in the oven until melted. Meanwhile, I put the "dry ingredients" into a big popcorn bowl and mixed them all together by hand. Then I took the melted mix out of the oven and added the dry mix to it and mixed it all up with some tongs that I had oiled. Put it back in the oven for about an hour, mixing every 15 mins.

Let it cool and this was the result!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

This Just In...Our FIRST Ear of Corn!!

Whooo hooo!!!
I am unbelievably excited about this!!! Yesterday Michael picked the first ear of Silver Queen corn from the corn he planted in our small garden!


Now, I know...it may not look like much to YOU...but to us, it was a thing of beauty! Yes, it's a little less than completely filled out at the top end...but he picked it in an effort to save it from a cornworm that was trying to set up camp. No problem...we just cut off that end anyhow. After steaming it in some boiling water for about 8 minutes, I cut if off the cob so we could share it, and slathered it with some butter and salt.


I've always been extremely partial to Silver Queen corn, since we grew it when I was a kid, and it was the best tasting corn ever. Mike was always a little dubious of that claim, but after tasting it he had to admit it was pretty darn good. "Sweet!" was his exact word...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

First off, I need to say that technically, what you're about to see is Cottage Pie since it's made with beef, and not Shepherd's Pie, which is made with lamb. That said, I think "Shehperd's Pie" is a more well known name here in the U.S., so that's what I'm calling it.

This has to be one of the greatest "clean out the fridge" dishes you'll ever find. This particular incarnation began its life as Salisbury Steak with mushroom and onion gravy, served along with mashed parsnips/potatoes. Up to this point, I'd always made Shepherd's Pie out of left over meatloaf and mashed potatoes, so using Salisbury Steak seemed like a natural progression.

Here's the finished dish...isn't it pretty? I like to make "individual pies" for each person (and believe me, neither of us ever finishes one at one sitting, so they make great lunches the next day too!), so I use my stoneware bowls, since they are oven-safe.

Now, how'd it go together?
First...I chopped the leftover salisbury steak paddy into cubes and distributed it in the bottom of the bowl. I've found that using one whole piece of meatloaf, or in this case, one whole steak paddy meant that the first few bites around the edge of the bowl may not have much, if any, meat in them.This way fixes that problem!

Next I put some chopped fresh carrots, green beans and leftover mushrooms on top of the steak. Usually I use frozen mixed veggies, but since I had fresh stuff on hand, I used them instead. This meant it had to bake a little longer in the oven, but that's ok.

Now for the mushroom and onion gravy from the salisbury steak meal. I wish this came across better in a picture, but it is what it is!

I had never had parsnips before, and wanted to try them, so I added them in with the potatoes when I made mashed potatoes to go along with the salisbury steak. They were very tasty! I will be using them again in the future. But for now, I took the leftover mashed parsnips and potatoes, and generously spread them on top of the pies. I feel it's important to get a good "seal", so be sure to get the pototoes all the way to the edge of the bowls!

One thing I do differently than most Shepherd Pie creators is top the potatoes with some cheddar cheese. I mean, how can adding cheese to meat, veggies and potatoes be a bad thing??

And here it is again, after being baked at 350 degrees for about a half an hour. After that, I turned the broiler on over them to brown the cheese and potatoes a little bit. KEEP AN EYE ON THEM WHILE THEY'RE UNDER THE BROILER!!! You want them slightly browned, not charred!

And in case you're wondering, here are two pictures of the Salisbury Steaks from which this 2nd Day Gourmet meal originated.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Garden Goodies

One of the things that makes turning leftovers into gourmet meals so easy and "fun" is the availability of fresh herbs and vegetables that we are able to grow in our "Square Foot Garden" just outside of our townhouse. Trust me, it's quite a feat to be able to grow veggies in a space that I always considered too small to even hold a small table and two chairs! But Mike worked his magic, building two 4 ft. x 4 ft. beds, and we've been able to get an amazing amount of produce from this small space!

These pix were taken on Sunday, and I've already picked most of the red tomatoes shown.

These next pictures really are a source of pride. I was thrilled to see our corn growing as well as it was, especially since I regard all of our gardening, and a lot of my cooking, as a "Great Experiment". Believe me, my pride-filled ego isn't hurt any by remembering that when we mentioned to a professional gardener that we planted corn in our small garden in central Florida, she laughed and said "Good luck with that!".

And just to show you I'm not kidding about this being a small space, and right next to the house...look at our AC unit next to our garden!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mahi Mahi Burrito

Thursday evening, Michael surprised me with a beautiful dinner when I got home from work. He had prepared Mahi Mahi served on a bed of wild rice with a fantastic compote/slaw made of mandarin oranges, pineapples, corn and tomatoes. It was delicious!

So, thought I on Friday...this could be the first entry on 2nd Day Gourmet! Looking in the fridge, I found tortillas left from some meal in the past, tomatoes and onion left from making guacamole, lettuce from various salads, some sharp cheddar cheese, the compote and of course the mahi and wild rice.

Here are the players:

So I decided I would make a Mahi Mahi Burrito, taking inspiration from the fish taco.

1. First I prepped each of the players. Here's my mise en place, with all my little soldiers ready to step up.

2. Next I placed some of the wild rice in a small skillet to gently heat up over medium heat, and when it was warm, I added the chopped mahi mahi to the pan to slightly warm it.

3. I covered the pan and turned my attention to the rest of my players. I lined them all up with a tortilla on each plate, ready for the build.

4. And now the build:
First...the wild rice and mahi mahi.

Next, the cheddar

Now for the tomatoes, and onions. Sorry, the lettuce covered everything up, so I decided to leave that picture out.

And now, finally, the finished plate...the Mahi Mahi Burrito topped with fruit compote, with a side of macque shoux.

Thanks for looking in on my creation. Let me know what beauties you are creating from your lovely leftovers!


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Welcome, friends and foodists!


Allow me to introduce myself...my name is Jackie and I will be blogging the creative ways my fiance, Michael, and I find to refashion our leftovers so that they are just as appealing and tasty, if not moreso, on the second day as they were when they first came to the plate. 

I hate to waste food, even leftovers. We all have them, but let's face it...with some rare exceptions, nobody really gets too excited about the prospect of eating leftovers.

We fancy ourselves "foodists", and we each know our way around the kitchen. But I have to say, Michael has a gift for turning our leftovers into gourmet delights. So much so that I have long called him "The Second Day Gourmet".

Join us for a trip down the kitchen counter...