11 October 2011

Birds Nests, a yummy way to use leftovers

Leftovers can be just last nights dinner re-heated and dished up again or they can be a whole new dinner.  Birds nests (that's what my Mum calls them) are a fun and tasty way to serve last night's leftovers for tea tonight.

3 cups cold mashed potato
1 egg
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp margarine, melted
2 cups cooked savoury mince
1/2 cup grated cheese

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Combine the egg, parsley and mashed potato and mix well.  Shape half a cup of the mixture into a ball. Place on a well greased or baking paper lined baking sheet and flatten slightly.  Using your thumb make a shallow hollow in the centre of the ball to make a nest shape. Brush with melted butter.  Bake for ten minutes, until the potato is golden.  Heat the savoury mince and fill the centre of each nest. Sprinkle with grated cheese and return to oven for a further 5 - 7 minutes until the cheese melts and is golden.

When I opened the fridge this morning it was chokka block, full of containers of sauce, slice meats, fruit, cut onion and tomato, grated cheese, a little of this and a little of that.  Leftovers.  And all of them needing to be used up or they'll end up in the compost, and that's just money thrown away. I'll take the blame for the mess in the fridge. I've been so busy getting the book finished and sent off that keeping a track of the food we've been using hasn't been a priority - it hasn't even been on my list.

I've done a quick tally and I estimate that if all those little bits of food get composted, I'll be putting around $23 into the garden. Which isn't to say I don't like composting, I do. I'd just rather compost things that can't be used to feed my family.

Using leftovers is an important  step in keeping the grocery budget under control.  The trick is using them so they aren't leftovers, but a delicious new meal.

My favourite way to use leftovers is to turn them either into a jaffle or a pie.  Almost any type of leftover can be turned into a pie and pies are always popular, either on their own or with vegetables or salad for a complete meal.  Pies are really easy to make and if you have a pie maker (the wonders of modern life) they are downright simple.  Even without a pie maker they really are simple.

All you need is pastry, a filling and a container to bake your pie in.  Use Easy Pastry (it is such a good pastry for pies) or bought sheets (generic are fine) for a pastry case. If you don't have pastry use cooked  rice or mashed potato, they both make lovely pie crusts.  Oh, and pie crusts are a good way to use up stale bread too. After all, there are only so many ways to use breadcrumbs, which seems to be the most popular way of using stale bread.

I especially like pies because the kids can make their own for lunch, which leaves me free to do other things. They're all very proficient at cutting circles of pastry or bread and adding fillings and they all have their favourites.  Hannah loves spaghetti pies and I'll often deliberately make an extra serve of sauce and freeze it for weekend pies.  AJ's specialty is chicken - leftover chicken meat, grated carrot, a little grated onion and cheese. Tom makes his with leftover taco filling, adds a little extra diced tomato and grated cheese.  He uses Mountain Bread or a tortilla as the pastry case.

So this afternoon I'll be making pies. Thank goodness they freeze because there will be lots of them. And weekend lunches will be covered for a few weeks for the grand total of absolutely nothing, my favourite price.

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