Land of Leftovers

After the holidays, many people find bill collectors at their doors and thoughts of being frugal can replace the carefree mood that reigned during the recent holiday season. So, for those of you who are feeling a tad more frugal this month, I humbly offer some hints and tips on how to use leftover liquids. They can add pizzazz and extra flavor to your favorite meals, snacks and desserts.

Here's a list of my favorite leftover liquids and some of the ways that I use them:

  • beet juice: Whether you are using a canned variety or making them from scratch, beets inevitably offer you leftover juice. This sweet, slightly tangy juice is famous for staining everything from cutting boards to hands to clothing, but it's also a great cooking tool. One of my favorite ways to use leftover beet juice is to add it in a one to two ratio to my homemade horseradish. (Of course, you can opt to use any brand found at your local grocery store also!) This sweet and spicy deep red mixture is an absolutely heavenly accompaniment to corned beef hash, roasted beef and pastrami sandwiches.
  • water from boiling pasta: If you ever find that the sauce you've made for your pasta is a little too thick, add some of the water that was used to boil your pasta to the sauce. It will already be hot and have some of the wonderful flavor from your pasta.
  • pickle/olive juice: Anyone who throws away a jar of pickles or olives after it's finished without taking advantage of the leftover juice is missing out on a great opportunity. If you enjoyed the pickles or olives that came out of that jar, why not enjoy that same flavor elsewhere? Since there's bound to be some vinegar in the brine, it can become a wonderful marinade. I am particularly fond of studding portabella mushrooms with garlic and marinating them in leftover dill pickle juice for a couple of hours before grilling them and serving them on a bun like a hamburger. A nice jar of olive juice can transform a roast into a meal with a Meditteranean twist -- just add a Greek salad and couscous!
  • drippings from meat: I usually pour the drippings from roasted meats into a small container and allow them to cool. Then, after skimming the fat from the top of the container, I save the remining liquid for flavoring everything from gravy to soup.
  • salad pepper juice: My husband discovered his love for salad pepper juice quite by accident. After slicing some salad peppers on a cutting board, he sliced a ripe tomato on the same board. The juice from the peppers soaked into the fresh tomato and he was hooked! In addition to adding a delightful spark to fresh tomatoes, salad pepper juice also makes a wonderful low calorie salad dressing.
  • fruit juice (canned or fresh): Freeze leftover fruit juice in ice cube trays to have sweetness on hand always. If you want to add a little fruity pep to your marinades, add a cube or two of the frozen juice. If your drink needs to be kept cool, don't worry about diluting it's flavor -- use frozen fruit cubes instead of ice cubes! You can also use them to make your smoothies and other frozen drinks more flavorful and extra-chilled!
  • water from cooking veggies: I like to save the water I use to prepare fresh vegetables for vegetable stock. My favorites include water from carrots, cabbage, green beans and sweet corn.
  • tomato juice: If you find yourself with too much tomato juice on hand to drink, try using it in soups, as a tomato sauce thinner or even as a braising liquid. If you're worried about not being able to use it before it goes bad, try freezing it in ice cube trays and storing the cubes in a freezer bag. Then, when you need a little tomato juice, just pop out a few cubes!

As always, I look forward to hearing from you about your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at .

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