Archive for the ‘Leftovers’ Category

Last Thursday, Calla suggested we eat snacks for dinner. Her menu included soy yogurt, ice cream, spring rolls and Popsicles. Lennon requested Costco-style “samples” and dim sum. I didn’t feel like cooking a full meal and neither Scott nor I were interested in the remaining items on our weekly menu. He had eaten Asian food for lunch and didn’t want stir fry, and I had eaten a burrito and didn’t want Mexican. We weren’t able to find cilantro at the Farmer’s Market so fresh spring roll salad with a peanut sauce dressing was off the menu and Falafel would take too long.

After a week of crazy deadlines, skipped lunches at work and general heat malaise, I was feeling a lack of motivation and desire to enter the kitchen. Grabbing a recipe book for last minute dinner ideas wasn’t going to happen. I liked Calla’s idea of snacks for dinner, with some healthy modifications, of course.

Calla wasn’t happy that I changed up her menu. There was some compromising from me and lots of whining from her. I eliminated all the desserts, which basically left the spring rolls. I pulled out some hummus, leftover tofu ricotta from a stuffed shells recipe earlier in the week, carrots, celery, raw broccoli and marinated tofu and put together a veggie platter. I heated up the leftover pasta sauce and threw in a handful of frozen veggie meatballs, microwaved some cashew cream cheesy sauce leftover from a macaroni and cheese casserole from earlier in the week and assembled a couple of sandwiches which I cut into quarters. And I heated up a bagful of those awesome frozen vegetarian spring rolls from Costco–snacks and dim sum all in one. A container of seaweed salad, which Lennon deemed, “too chewy,” rounded out the meal.

Snacks for dinner wasn’t bad. It wasn’t great either, but I’ve been trying to be better about using up the leftovers in our fridge. I can’t say the fusion of Italian, Asian and hummus felt particularly awesome in my stomach, but for dinner on the table in 25 minutes after a long day, a much needed clearing out of the fridge, and a win for the kiddo who suggested the idea in the first place, snacks for dinner served its purpose.

Snack managers surveying the samples.

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Dear Leftovers,

We’ve had a rough relationship. You provide good eats on some days, but too often you smack me in the face with some nasty smell you’ve kept tucked under your lid. Unless I consume you within a day of your creation, I don’t trust you to behave well towards my nose or my stomach. You’ve wronged me so many times that it’s not easy picking between you and one of those freezer-burned burritos from Trader Joe’s…although you have been winning by a small margin.

Unfortunately, you and I have been forced to become closer this past month ever since the hubby and I started tracking our expenses. Like counting my calories on the LoseIt App makes me not want to eat, tracking our expense calories in a spread sheet takes all the fun out of spending. That means you and I need to learn to get along. Normally I can bury you in the dark space of the fridge behind a suspect batch of refried beans and a bagful of veggies and try to forget about you. But ever since I instituted a ban on impulsive lunches, I’ve had to turn to you for lunchtime support.

Then yesterday, you helped me produce this:

A crunchy salad with fresh cilantro and mint, tossed with a peanut sauce.


Fresh lettuce, carrots, cilantro, mint, and rice noodles leftover from our vegan spring rolls the other night tossed together with a peanut sauce dressing and some cut up squares of marinated Wildwood Tofu made a fabulous salad. 24 hours later, I sit here in my cube eating leftover homemade panang curry (tasty but a losing second compared to that salad) and I am still thinking about you. In fact, I want to elevate your salad concoction to main course status so I can eat you again for dinner and then dream about you as my lunch the next day.

So thank you for the memorable meal and bless you for not rotting the noodles. Keep up the good behavior and you may start spending more time in the brighter side of the fridge.


Your Reluctant Eater

Peanut Sauce Salad Dressing
This recipe is an adaptation to the peanut sauce we make for spring rolls, and can serve as a fresh break from the heavy holiday meals. In your blender or Vitamix, combine the following ingredients:

2 heaping spoonfuls of smooth peanut butter (not the sweetened kind)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger
1 medium garlic clove (remember it is blending up raw, so be careful about the quantity . . . unless you want to be tasting repeats the rest of the day)
1/4 cup tamari
A splash or two of  mirin
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup orange juice

Blend together and adjust for salty and tangy. It is really hard to mess up a peanut sauce so don’t worry too much about the measurements. Serve with your favorite leftover Asian-style salad fixin’s.

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Dear Tofurkey,

You are an ugly little football, but I forgive you of your appearance or lack-thereof and love you anyway. Your salty, chewy texture goes nicely with a side of stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce. You are so unlike the real turkey my family attempted to roast on Thanksgiving day. You didn’t leave unsavory, uncooked juices on my counter. You never caused me to hide in the pantry to conceal my laughter and intermittent dry heaves while my father and brother-in-law struggled with carving an undercooked bird that sat around “resting” for two hours. With you around, I didn’t have to worry that my new vegetarian friends would have to make excuses as to why they wouldn’t eat the turkey they witnessed dying a slow death in my kitchen, nor would I have to worry about them getting sick from eating you. Nobody huddled in packs before dinner assessing whether or not they were going to take the risk and eat you.

Tofurkey, if only you looked more appetizing, then maybe my family might have been more inclined to embrace you at dinner time. As my sister tried to microwave the possible disease out of the 18 pound, karma-laden bird that refused to offer itself up as the holiday protein king, there you sat humbly waiting to be consumed. And after that unyielding turkey was boiled down for five hours into a soup that still refused to comply to consumption by staying warm even when left on a freezing cold deck to chill overnight, you lovingly and obligingly presented yourself as a tasty leftover, and most importantly, a loyal disease-free friend. You do your job as turkey substitute better than the turkey itself, and really that’s all this vegan can ask of you. Tofurkey, you held strong four days after Thanksgiving and presented yourself as a mock turkey sandwich smothered in Veganaise, homemade cranberry sauce and piled with lettuce on sourdough bread.

You make a fine substitute turkey sandwich.

Sure, you don’t look like turkey. You probably don’t even really taste like turkey. But after 15 years of not eating turkey, that doesn’t matter to me. I am just happy I can eat you in a sandwich reminiscent of what I ate every Friday after Thanksgiving during my childhood.

So thanks for being there on Thanksgiving, and Friday, and Saturday, Sunday and Monday. See you next year good friend.

Yours truly,

The Thankful Vegan


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