Inspired Leftovers

Have you ever looked in the refrigerator around lunchtime and gathered together all of those odds and ends living there to come up with an inspired meal? You know what I mean: the third of a cucumber and the tiny block of cheese, the quarter cup of chili and the two lonely corn tortillas, or the last bit of crushed potato chip crumbs and a half a bagel. Those items that, left unnoticed, will end up in the trash.

Today, I'm suggested giving those items another look. Sometimes they just aren't going to work together. That happens and maybe some or all of what's looking back at you from your refrigerator or pantry are gonna be items to have on their own as a snack or side dish. But you'd be surprised at what a little thinking outside the box can yield. Take a look at this pretty hash-like lunch dish I made the other day:

It was born out of a handful of leftover steak fries, maybe a half cup of leftover chili, a few roasted veggies that hadn't been finished alongside a recently roasted chicken, and two different small chunks of cheese that were too small to slice for sandwiches. The steak fries got cut into cubes and tossed with a little garlic oil and fried over medium-high heat in a pan until they were pretty crisp. Then the roasted veggies were added and the chili, which had been warmed a little in the microwave, was poured evenly over the top. The little chunks of cheese got grated and sprinkled over the top of everything and then the pan went under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese was bubbling. Ta-da! A yummy lunch that was reminiscent of a meat hash was born. And, on their own, none of the ingredients used in this particular dish would have made a good lunch for one, much less two. Combining them in this way gave lackluster leftovers a chance to shine as a yummy lunch with a comfort food twist.

So the next time you are looking at your refrigerator and wondering what's for lunch (or breakfast, brunch, dinner, snacks, dessert, etc.), don't assume that the little lackluster leftovers there have nothing to offer. Your next favorite meal might be waiting for them to play a starring role!

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