Week 29: Leftover Mystery Basket Challenge

Last weekend I hosted a party to celebrate my brother’s 40th birthday.  It was a casual family affair of twenty or so, but this is only the second or third time I’ve hosted a gathering of this magnitude so I still struggle with the age old question of how much food to get (read: I may have overdone it).

My Mother is the eldest of five and generally family gatherings throughout my life have been at my Grandmother’s house with all the aunts, uncles and cousins.  Of course, the older we all get the larger the family gets since my Mother and her siblings each had two children and now the great grand children are nearing double digits.  None of this ever seems to concern my grandmother who somehow always manages to have plenty of food without excessive leftovers.

I don’t think this talent has passed onto me, or maybe I just need more practice!  I certainly don’t think anyone was hungry, but most went home with goodie bags of leftovers and I had to come up with some creative ways to use up the rest.  Luckily, I love a good challenge and I had some great fresh ingredients to work with.

The Mystery Basket (any other Chopped fans?):

  • Homemade salsa – I don’t really use a recipe; I just dice tomatoes and onion and add basil, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper
  • Olive tapenade – for sandwiches or with crackers
  • Sun-dried tomato & roasted red pepper spread – for sandwiches
  • Raw Vegetables – I had bought a vegetable platter from Wegman’s (it was worth it to save time putting it together myself!) and had leftover peppers and broccoli
  • Grilled Vegetables – zucchini, squash, red onion, eggplant, and red/yellow/orange bell peppers marinated in the Forks Over Knives grilled vegetable kabob marinade

The first and most obvious to me was a pasta.  For this I took the fresh salsa, olive tapenade, grilled zucchini and squash and heated it on the stovetop.  It looked like it needed some more of a sauce component so I added some of the sun-dried tomato spread and a bit of water to thin it out before I tossed with fettuccine.  I was worried about mixing the lime/cilantro salsa with the balsamic of the grilled veggies but  the flavors were a good combination and the dish made for a quick and satisfying dinner.


004The grilled peppers and onions made me think fajitas.  I bought a couple of portabellos and followed the Forks Over Knives Grilled Portobello recipe for the “meat”.   Happy Herbivore Abroad has a fajita recipe so I used this for the sauce of the fajitas.  Technically, I didn’t follow the whole recipe but I’m counting it as my new recipe this week for being resourceful and saving on ingredients.  The sauce was spicy and really transformed my leftovers into a whole new flavor profile.  My chili powder is an Indian chili powder  from the International aisle of my grocery and is much spicier than others I’ve had so this may not be as spicy depending on your source of spices.

Even after fajitas, I still had some peppers and onion left.  A grilled naan pizza makes for a great lunch.  I start out with fresh spinach on garlic naan so the wet ingredients don’t make the naan soggy.  I layered with thinly sliced tomato then the leftover grilled peppers and onion; a few banana peppers add some zest.  My favorite weekend lunch in the summer time!


After all of this I was left with broccoli and peppers from the raw vegetable platter.  Any excuse for Happy Herbivore Cheater Pad Thai is a good one.


Finally, left over sangria transforms well into ice pops 🙂

New Recipes Made This Week: 1

New Recipe Tally 2013: 77


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