Land of Leftovers

While this month's column doesn't fit into the traditional version of leftovers, I've decided to present it because it focuses on an under-used resource in our kitchens -- fruit juices. Canned fruit has helped us all out at one time or another. You might have added some sliced peaches to a fruit salad when the fresh ones weren't available or smothered our Easter ham with crushed pineapple.

Now, here's the question: What did you do with the juices you drained off of the fruit? You might have added it to a pitcher of juice in the refrigerator. Good for you! Or you might have thickened it and used it as a sauce for a dessert or fruit salad. Very creative! Or you might have poured it down the drain. Shame on you! It's for the drain people that I'm writing this month's column.

Don't under-estimate the usefulness of the juice you drain away from your canned fruit. It can be used in so many recipes that I couldn't begin to do the subject justice. As pointed out earlier, they can always add a little more zip to the pitcher in the fridge or end up poured over a nice pound cake. They are versatile and keep well in the refrigerator for about a week.

The recipes in this month's column focus on two canned favorites -- peaches and pineapple. Feel free to experiment with others and pass your results on to me. There are two peach recipes that end up using two cans of peaches -- juice and all! The pineapple recipes use 1 can of crushed pineapple between the two. You end up using everything -- except the cans! You can recycle those!

And now, the part you've been waiting for -- the recipes:

So next time you get a recipe that asks for drained canned fruit, hold onto those juices! They might be the making of your next masterpiece!

Peach Cobbler

This healthy dessert gets much of its sweetness from fruit and fruit juices. The fruit juice also helps keep it moist and helps avoid the addition of eggs.
  • cooking spray
  • 1/4 c. margarine, melted
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans sliced peaches in light syrup
  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. skim milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat an 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Pour margarine into the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

Drain the peaches and reserve 1/2 c. of the juices. Set aside.

Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the peach juice and milk. Mix well.

Carefully pour the batter over the margarine in the baking pan. Spoon the peaches over the batter. Do not mix. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden. Serve immediately with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 50 minutes

Peach-Glazed Ham Steaks

After you've made the peach cobbler, you're bound to have about 3/4 cup of peach juices leftover. Using the juice as a marinade and glaze adds a perfect touch to this smoky ham.
  • 3/4 c. peach juice
  • 2 tsp. honey mustard
  • 2 tsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 lb. boneless, fully-cooked ham, cut into 4 slices (1/2-inch thick)

Combine the first three ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until well blended. Place the ham steaks in a large plastic bag and pour peach juice mixture over them. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours.

Prepare grill. Grill ham slices over hot coals 8-10 or until nicely browned, brushing with peach juice marinade occasionally and turning once. Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes, plus marinating time

Hawaii Bars

These quick bars use pineapple, coconut and nuts. What a perfect texture for your next informal gathering.
  • cooking spray
  • 1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple
  • 1 pkg. yellow cake mix
  • 1 1/2 c. quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1/2 c. margarine, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 c. pecans, chopped
  • 1 c. coconut
  • 1 c. vanilla chips -- optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9X13-inch pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

Drain the crushed pineapple thoroughly, reserving the juice for another use. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, rolled oats, margarine and egg until crumbly. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the crumb mixture. Press the remaining mixture into the prepared pan.

Mix the flour, sweetened condensed milk, drained pineapple and nutmeg in a large bowl until well blended. Pour into pan over the crust.

Add chopped pecans, coconut and vanilla chips to reserved crumb mixture. Toss well to mix. Sprinkle evenly over the pineapple mixture.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely.

  • Yields: 1 9X13-inch pan of bars
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour

Hawaii Chicken

You can enjoy your leftover canned pineapple and juices in this tasty grilled sensation! If you want to add more pizzazz, grill some red peppers alongside the chicken.
  • 1/4 c. pineapple juice
  • 2 T. sherry
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Combine first five ingredients in a large plastic bag. Add chicken breasts to marinade and turn to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

Prepare grill. Remove chicken, reserving marinade in a small saucepan. Bring marinade to a boil; cook for 1 minute. Place chicken on the grill. Brush the marinade over the chicken. Grill the chicken 16-20 minutes, turning and basting frequently, or until no longer pink in the center. If desired, serve with roasted red peppers and a fresh salad.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes, plus marinating time