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Sunday Favorites: Repurposing with a Purpose

Meat, bones and veggies can be frozen and used in soups. 

Celebrating the holidays typically means gathering with your family and friends, exchanging gifts, and eating a feast that would impress Henry VII. But what do you do with all the leftovers? Here are some ideas reuse the food you don't finish.

When it comes to Christmas dinner, some people go all out. My aunt and uncle cook three birds in various ways, smoked, fried and baked. Completely consuming a meal of that size is unachievable, even with a party of about 20 people. But what do you do with the leftovers? 

Leftover meat, like turkey or hambones, can be frozen and saved until you stock for a recipe or soup. You can also do this with vegetables. 

If you’re making vegetable stock, just thaw out your veggies and throw them into a pot with some boiling water, salt and pepper. Let simmer for at least one hour and strain. The longer it simmers, the more concentrated the flavors will be. 

For meat stock, put bones and vegetable scraps into a roasting pan and add some salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees until bones are well browned. For a low calorie version, drain the fat; if you’d prefer more flavor, leave it in. Transfer bones and veggies into a pot, fill with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for at least three hours, strain and enjoy.

Save your stale bread and make croutons.

One of the easiest and tastiest things I like to home make are homemade croutons. A baguette typically goes stale after a couple of days, but instead of throwing it out, I use it to make salad toppers. All you have to do is cut the baguette into squares, then put them in a plastic Ziploc bag with a healthy dose of olive oil, garlic salt, Italian seasonings and Parmesan cheese. Zip the bag and shake it up until the bread squares are coated then transfer them to a cookie sheet and bake for 5-8 minutes. You will end up with the best croutons you’ve ever tasted.

As for the breadcrumbs, don’t throw them away, save them for your next casserole or baked dish. Fruit and veggie skins can also be used in one pot concoctions. 

The skins of apples, pears or peaches can be used in chicken, pork or tuna casseroles. They become crunchy when baked and add a hint of fruity flavor, jazzing up the simplest one-pot dishes. Potato skins and carrot skins can also be used in a casserole; just be sure to sauté them with olive oil and salt and pepper, then finely chop before adding them to your dish. 

Fruit and veggie skins offer a wide array of nutrients and can be stored in the fridge for up to one week when covered with water. Adding a bit of lemon juice will keep them from turning brown.

Dried citrus  and fruit rinds are great in teas and casseroles.

Citrus rinds can also be dried for an added bonus in teas or as food seasoning. Just dry citrus peels on a drying rack for 2 or 3 days until they are completely dehydrated. Then scrape the inner pith, the white part on the inside of the peel. (The pith can have a bitter taste so it’s best to get rid of it). Use a food processor to cut the peels into tiny flakes and store them in your cupboard for up to a year.

So next time you have lots of leftovers, get creative! There is no better feeling than knowing you’ve repurposed your scraps into something delicious!


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