After the Barbecue: What to Do With All Those Leftovers

Yesterday, my husband and I threw a barbecue/potluck/housewarming—a little over a year after we moved into our house in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. Yes, a little late for a housewarming, but this was the first real party we’d hosted at our home, and we had something to celebrate: the completion of our kitchen renovation. Somebody’s got a brand new playroom!

Not the This Old House photo spread I was hoping for, but you get the idea.

Not the This Old House photo spread I was hoping for, but you get the idea.

Oooh... shiny!

Oooh… shiny!

By the end of the night our fridge was full of leftover salads, half-finished condiments, and a ton of food we didn’t even get to eat—like 5 pounds plus of hamburger meat. I froze a lot of stuff, packed up lunches for the week, filled containers full of leftover potato salad, coffee cake, and nuts to bring to the office, and still there was more food left.

Time for some re-inventing.

Leftover item: Crudité

New dish: Roasted Veggies

IMG_0019Ever notice how the veggies left over on the crudité plate are broccoli & cauliflower? There’s a reason for that: they taste better when they’re cooked. The veggies are already washed and cut, so all you have to do is slide them into a roasting dish, toss with some olive oil, salt & pepper, and BOOM: tasty, healthy side dish.

Leftover item: a dozen lime wedges & the very last of a bottle of Hendrick’s gin

Concoction: Gin gimlet

IMG_0022To be fair, I make gimlets throughout the summer, but in this case I had exactly two ounces of gin, and a glass container full of lime wedges I cut yesterday for the Corona drinkers. Squeeze enough lime wedges to yield an ounce of juice, then add an ounce of simple syrup and two ounces of gin. Stir, pour over ice, add a lime wedge, and you’re golden.

Leftover items: ground beef, sliced cheddar cheese, tomatoes, red onion, salsa, sour cream and tortilla chips

New dish: Nachos

IMG_0027I always feel like a rebel when I eat nachos for dinner, probably because if my mother knew that’s what I was eating she’d never let me hear the end of it. But how can you argue with tortilla chips layered with spicy beef, tomatoes, salsa and coated with melted cheddar cheese? #winwin

Leftover item: bread

New dish: Bread Pudding

IMG_0024Paul (that’s the husband) and I make one of two things when we’re faced with an abundance of stale bread: Ribollita, which is a Tuscan soup made with tomatoes, spinach, beans and bread (which I make), and bread pudding (which Paul makes). The thermometer hit 92 today, so there was no way we were making Ribollita.  Bread pudding is great for lots of reasons: it’s delicious, it’s endlessly adaptable (we added dried cherries and chocolate chips), it’s pretty cheap and super easy to whip together.

So there you have it: leftovers reinvented. Happy post-partying!

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