February is our family’s only month that doesn’t entail making a birthday cake. For all other months, there is a birthday…and there is a cake. And this, of course, does not include the cakes that usually are made for events such as graduations, sacraments, Mardi Gras, etc. Summary: in our house, there are a lot of cakes. This means that there is often a lot of leftover cake that just hangs around the kitchen until all of the cake is gone. What I learned very quickly as our family grew was that we only needed ONE day of cake because “sugared up” kids were no fun to manage. Since I am not one to waste, the “recycled cake” was invented in our home and has been here to stay. And as time went on and batch cooking became daily cooking the need to figure out what to do with leftovers became another essential part of food preparation.
Here are a few things we have learned in our quest to “recycle” our main dishes. Please share your recycling leftover ideas with us and we will send out an updated list/article for all.
The Recycle Cake
This is pretty much a winner no matter what cake/icing combination you use. Cupcakes can be used as well, icing and all. Just put the entire cake or all the remaining, unwrapped cupcakes in a gallon freezer bag. Once the bag is full, zip it up and mash it all together, and put it in the freezer. When you have company that comes unexpectedly, this is the time to pull out the frozen cake. Let it thaw, then mash all the cake/icing mixture into a 9×13 baking dish. Once mashed down, this does not look very appealing. BUT, grab your favorite ice cream and set it on the counter to melt to a thick, milkshake-type consistency. Pour the ice cream over the mashed cake and freeze. Once the cake is frozen and before it is served, you can add your favorite toppings: sprinkles, drizzled chocolate, m&m pieces, chocolate chips, etc.- the options are endless. I can assure you that your cake will be a crowd-pleaser. One of our relatives who had an “original cake” and then at some point later, was served the “recycled cake,” was clear that the recycled cake was the more delicious option.
SIDENOTE: One of our friend’s local bakery sells (very affordable) gallon-sized bags of thinly sliced wedding cake tops (all flavors). This is the BEST hidden secret for a recycle cake. Simply thaw the bag of cake tops, mash them into any cake pan or pie dish, spread on your favorite icing, and top with sprinkles. It is amazing!
In addition to the recycle cake, we have learned that when serving leftovers, it is all about the presentation and less about the food being served.
A few tips to consider:
-pretty much anything is good stuffed in a tortilla, drizzled with butter and covered with cheese. This is often done with leftover red beans and rice, taco meat with beans, scrambled eggs, and bbq meat.
-leftover biscuits are the foundation for a hearty sausage, biscuits, and gravy dish
-leftover bread: bread pudding and egg casserole
Clean out your fridge and make:
-shepherd’s pie with any combo of meat and veggies…just add onion soup mix, milk and butter
-stir fry using scrambled eggs, ham, and your leftover vegetable collection
-pizza toppings: any leftover chopped meat and veggies covered in cheese
-cooked down those leftover veggies in olive oil, puree them and add to a red sauce or use them to thicken a soup
-Use your bones: crockpot your ham bone, turkey or whole chicken carcass in a water for 24 hours…strain and save the leftover meat for any type of chicken salad type dish or add to your next pot of red beans or gumbo. Use your broth (instead of water) for tacos, jambalaya, gumbo, soup or red beans.
-Crisp up your pretzels or chips: throw the stale ones in a big bowl, sprinkle with oil and stir..add salt or sugar and bake until crisp. The bowl will be empty as soon as the snack cools.
-leftover chips or cornbread prepared as mentioned above can be crumbled in a food processor and used as a topping for almost anything
-leftover pancakes, biscuits, cornbread and muffins can be processed into “flour” and added to any pancake or waffle mix to add flavor
-you can freeze your milk! If you are going out of town, freeze your milk and use it the next time you make: shepherd’s pie, pancakes, egg casserole
-reminder: sprinkle water on leftover pizza or pasta or other bready items and warm up in the oven. This small amount of moisture makes it fresh again.
Leftovers don’t have to be just reheated dinner from last night. There are all sorts of meal possibilities sitting right there in your fridge. Email your top 5 favorite uses of leftovers to share with our Red Stick Moms. We look forward to hearing from you.