Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Recycling – Leftovers

Do you love leftovers? I do, sometimes, if it was good the first time around it will probably be good the second time around too. Besides, one less meal to cook; who can complain about that. However, after the second time around those reruns – as my kids used to affectionately call leftovers – may not be so appealing.

The problem at our house now that there are only two of us here for mealtimes, is that we have a lot of leftovers. I really try to cut down the amount I prepare or freeze part of it, but sometimes that is just hard to do. Enter my phobia about wasting perfectly good food and we have a situation.

Last fall when I was dehydrating everything I could find I had some leftover homemade spaghetti sauce I needed to get rid of. The problem was, it was still very tasty and not that old and because I had my dehydrator running anyway, I poured it onto one of my fruit leather sheets and dried it.

I will admit at the time I was thinking what will I do with it. Turns out I have almost used it all up. When I pulled the sheet of dry spaghetti sauce out of my dehydrator, I tore it in pieces and stored it in an airtight storage container. Whenever I made homemade soup during the winter, I threw some on. It was so good. I added some to some pizza sauce I was making and it added wonderful flavor. It tastes great added to vegetable soup too. I even crumbled some into a meatloaf I was making. I love the idea of adding the flavor of peppers and onions and great spices to any dish without actually cutting and chopping.

The point of this whole post is that it is a good practice to learn to recycle as well as to not waste food. My grandma, who didn’t have much as she was growing up in a large family used to say when we threw something out that was still good, “Someday you’ll wish you had that.” Yes, occasionally I hear voices in my head.

I have a recipe for Spaghetti Sauce that I love. It is originally a spaghetti casserole recipe. I make it several different ways. This time I made it and added meatballs and served it over spaghetti. The next day I plucked out the meatballs and made Meatball Sub Sandwiches, leaving most the sauce. Today, I’m drying the sauce, spread thin on my drying trays for use in many different recipes later on. Remember, when you dehydrate something, you are just removing the water. So to reuse it all you have to do is add it to water. Just a note: I have not yet tried drying the meat with the sauce though I know you can, I have not tried it yet.

Just for fun I’ll include the recipe today for the Spaghetti Casserole/Spaghetti & Meatballs/Spaghetti Sauce/Dried Spaghetti Sauce. Maybe you have a favorite recipe of your own. I hope this will inspire you to find different ways to recycle and maybe add to your food storage repertoire in the process.

Spaghetti Casserole
1 lb. hamburger
2-4 T. green pepper, diced fine
½ c. chopped onions
2 t. dried parsley flakes
4 c. tomato juice
1 t. salt
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 ½ t. oregano
1 package spaghetti seasoning mix (or homemade sauce mix)
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. ketchup
1 t. mustard
1-2 c. grated cheddar cheese
1 package spaghetti cooked and drained and rinsed in cold water.
Brown beef with onion and peppers. Stir in next 9 ingredients and simmer. Mix in spaghetti and put in casserole dish and cover with grated cheese, heat in oven till heated through.
*Variation #1: Omit hamburger and cheese and add precooked homemade meatballs. Use leftover meatballs in sub sandwiches adding fresh vegetables & cheese.
#2: Make up the sauce, without the cheese, and serve it over cooked spaghetti noodles, enabling you to freeze the leftover sauce without the noodles.
#3: To dry leftover sauce, remove meatballs. Spread sauce very thin on slightly oiled drying trays. Dry until sauce can be peeled from the trays and turned over. Continue drying until no moisture remains. Store in airtight container with sheets of sauce separated by wax paper or plastic wrap. Use as a flavoring in soups, stews sauces or crumbled in meatloaf for extra flavor.

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