Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Ideas for Never-Ending Chili Leftovers
Dinners: March 21 & 23
A few days ago, I made my first pot of chili. What I didn’t mention was that I made enough for a week of leftovers on purpose to cut down on food decisions and grocery bills for the week. While that sounded great in theory, leftovers are still leftovers and become more unappealing by the day.
I decided to try some different things to excite my refrigerated chili. And they worked!
On Monday night, I chose to put a bit of a Midwest spin on my chili. Some call it Cincinnati chili, others call it chili 3-way, and I grew up calling it chili mac because it was usually made with macaroni. But regardless of the name, I wanted some pasta with my chili. I simply boiled a handful of spaghetti and mixed it with my warmed bowl of chili, and topped it with some freshly grated parmesan cheese (after the photo). It felt like I was eating an entirely new meal.
Tonight, I wanted to do something else but didn’t know what to add besides some other form of pasta. That led me to a few sheets of lasagna leftover from a previous meal. I took a small baking dish, layered it with chili, lasagna, milk, and some mixed shredded cheeses (leftover from tacos). I made a few layers and cooked in the oven at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. Though it may seem like an unexciting mish-mash of ingredients, it was terribly interesting! It seemed like a new meal and gave the leftover chili new life.
I also had some gorgonzola cheese in the fridge that I needed to finish, so I used it to cover a few slices of bread, threw it in the oven for a few minutes, and created a bruschetta. It went perfectly with my chili lasagna.
A few months ago, I would never have been able to think of ways to incorporate foods this way, much less be inclined make the attempt. The more I cook, the more comfortable I become with the foods in my kitchen and the more often I'm willing to try new things. I should also mention that these experiments are saving money, as the “old me” would have thrown out the chili after a day of leftovers and trucked it over to the nearest take-out place to grab dinner. This process of trial and error in the kitchen has led to new ideas and confidence that I never knew existed.