Repurpose Your Leftovers

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By Elke Probkevitz

Sometimes I manage to make that perfect meal: just the right balance of flavors and variety, and just enough for everyone to get their full with a bit of leftovers for one more meal. But more often than not, I overdo it and make way too much food. No matter how good the food was, there are only so many leftover meals your family is willing to consume. What is a mom to do with all those perfectly delicious dishes? When you repurpose leftovers, you transform them and give them new life so your family won’t even recognize them as leftovers.

Veggies. I love roasting my vegetables to make soups, so why not take leftover roasted veggies to make a soup for another night? Any vegetable can be used: carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, butternut squash, green beans, or any combination of vegetables. Add vegetable or chicken broth and your favorite herbs and spices for a soup that’ll be ready in under 30 minutes. Keep it chunky, or purée for a creamy soup. Add shredded chicken for a one-pot meal. You can also add cooked veggies to eggs to make a frittata, use in tacos, or make an antipasto platter with crackers and olives.

Meats and poultry. Having cooked meat or poultry will save you at least half the time of making any dish. Combine cooked veggies and meat and cover with mashed potatoes for a quick baked shepherd’s pie. Use veggies and shredded cooked chicken or turkey, make a roux and add chicken stock, then cover with puff pastry for a delicious potpie. Shred or slice cooked meats and poultry and stuff tortillas. Add cooked veggies and top with salsa or guacamole.

Grains. Leftover white or brown rice, quinoa, or barley is a great leftover to reuse for another dish. Add sautéed carrots, onions, and soy sauce and make a great fried rice. Top with scallions, diced pineapple, cashews, or whatever ingredients you have on hand. You can do the same and make a quinoa or barley version. Make rice pudding for dessert.

Cakes and breads. Stale bread is great for making stuffing, French toast, or bread pudding. Take leftover sweet potatoes (baked, roasted, or mashed) and incorporate them into a cake batter or bread dough. This will add nutrition to your baked goods. Scones can be made by combining leftover mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes with flour and butter to make a dough. v

Sweet Potato-Cornmeal Bread

Makes 2 small loaves


1 cup almond milk

¼ cup sugar

1½ tsp. coarse salt

½ cup unsalted butter substitute, diced

2 packages active dry yeast

¼ cup warm water

1½ cups leftover sweet potatoes

5–5½ cups flour

1 cup cornmeal

1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp. almond milk


Place almond milk, sugar, and salt in small pot and bring to a boil, stirring till sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add butter, stirring to melt. Dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside. Place sweet potatoes in stand mixer and whip them on high speed. Add milk–sugar mixture and yeast and stir, then add five cups flour and cornmeal. Using dough hook (or hands) beat dough until stiff. Remove to floured surface and knead until smooth.

Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until it doubles, about 1½–2 hours. Punch dough down and place on floured surface. Divide dough in half and roll out each piece into an 8”×12” rectangle. Roll dough lightly, starting at shorter side, and place in 8”×5” bread pan, seam side down. Cover and let rise again, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400°F and bake for 40 minutes.

Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook that you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to, or visiting

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