Monday, July 11, 2011

Recycling leftovers

Every day people all over the world throw food away because it has been sitting in their fridges for too long and it has spoiled. I am, without a doubt, guilty of this. And I'm actually worse than most. I have a very low tolerance for leftovers. I generally feel that if something has sat for more than two or three days, it's no longer good. I can't help but picture icky bacteria and molds growing, eagerly awaiting the opportunity to poison my family and me. This is, in part, ridiculous. But, having suffered food poisoning a couple of times in my life, I am not eager to risk food mistakes (incidentally, my food poisonings were always caused by restaurants, not my own cooking).

But sometimes you open up your fridge and see nothing but leftovers in there and you know it's time to act. I have two ways of dealing with this. One is to throw everything in a big tupperware I keep in my freezer. Things such as rice, pasta, leftover veggies and pieces of meat are frozen for future use in a big pot of soup that will be, if nothing else, interesting. But today I opened our fridge and saw a lot of leftover mashed potatoes and half an onion. Those two things scream Shepherd's Pie to me!

I immediately looked up recipes. Most of the simple ones seemed to call for cream of mushroom soup which we don't have and my husband abhors. But we DO have tomato soup, and lots of it. When my husband got home from work I told him I was kind of "winging it" for dinner. He looked a bit concerned, and rightly so. I'm not known for my cooking prowess when not following a recipe. But I was feeling ambitious, and really, how hard can it be? Here's what I ended up making:

1.5 lbs ground beef
Half an onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
Frozen organic veggies found lurking in my freezer
Tomato soup
Salt and pepper to taste

Simmer all of this together draining off any fat as required. Put in some sort of baking vessel. I used a round casserole dish. Top with grated cheddar cheese and mashed potatoes (I put cheese both under and on top of the mashed potatoes). Bake at 400 for approximately 20 minutes.

The end result was a nontraditional, but delicious, Shepherd's Pie.

There are a lot of different recipe search engines out there and many of them even allow you to search by ingredients. Take advantage and clean out your fridge! Happy cooking. :)

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