December – Leftovers in a Toasted Bread Bowl

December – Leftovers in a Toasted Bread Bowl

Do you have a lot of leftovers from this week’s holiday? My contribution to the big dinner was roasted vegetables: carrots, onions, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. This was a large gathering and I made a lot, no one should go home hungry from the big dinner. Most of it was consumed but there are still some leftovers and I have been searching for ways to use them up. Their time had come, it was use or toss or compost day. My usual solution to leftover veggies is to make a stir-fried rice dish, or a soup, or just toss them all into a salad with an interesting salad dressing. But, then in my search, I happened upon this recipe from Nagi at recipetineats for Christmas Leftovers Toasted Bread Bowl. Can you say melty cheese? It’s my personal achilles heal. Leftover turkey (or rotisserie chicken), veggies, any antipasti you happen to have around, and cheese. The mix could be anything and you don’t need to wait for Christmas or Thanksgiving leftovers.

My mouth was watering.

This sandwich is based on a traditional Italian sandwich, Muffuletta, usually made in a round loaf and served cold. It’s a big favorite for picnics because it can be made ahead and the flavors only blend and become more delicious with made ahead. It is quite famous in New Orleans as well where an olive salad is a requirement and they use deli cold cuts.

Serve it hot with crispy bread and melty cheese, or room temperature. Weigh it down and let the flavors melt together for a couple of hours if serving at room temperature. If it is cold, let it warm up a bit before serving.

At Nagi says on her blog post, it’s the perfect food to take on an international flight.

Use whatever you have on hand but start with a good bread with a hearty crust, a sourdough or artisan type would be perfect. I used a ciabatta from a local bakery which I cut in half horizontally, removing most of the crumb in the middle of of the top and bottom, leaving about 1/2 inch of the crust. You want all that extra room for the filling.

I don’t have a real recipe for this, it is really about what you have lurking in your fridge. I can see it with stuffing, turkey, cranberry sauce, and mozzarella. One of my personal post holiday combinations..

There was a package of prosciutto that never made it onto the antipasto platter, some roasted garlic cloves, and the remainder of a jar of sweet relish I had served with cheese. I even found some deli chicken meat that needed to be used. Everything is a possibility. Add some slices of cheddar and gruyere cheese (also leftovers) and it looked like the beginnings of a feast.

Note: you will need something heavy to weigh down the sandwich. I used a cast iron skillet.

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Step 2: Slice the bread horizontally and tear out most of the bread from the middle, leave about 1/2 inch inside the crust. Lay the bread on a large sheet of foil on a baking dish.

Step 3: Brush the inside of each half with olive oil.

Step 4: Place a layer of baby spinach, baby kale, arugula, or other greens on the bottom half.

Step 5: Start layering, veggies, meat, antipasto, more deli meat, then top all with cheese.

Step 6: Place the top on the sandwich and brush the whole with more olive oil, wrap in the foil tightly.

Step 7: Place the sandwich in the oven with the weight on top. Bake for about 20 minutes, then remove the weight and the foil and bake for another 10 minutes to crisp the bread.

Step 8: Let it sit for about 5 minutes, then slice and serve. Or, rewrap in the foil for later.




The season of leftovers is here! Thanksgiving, Christmas, and now New Year. I bet the folks at Fiesta Friday have a lot of them judging from the delicious goings-on in their kitchens. Come visit with Angie at Fiesta Friday #256 and my co-host  Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau

Please add your own link but be sure to read the guidelines if you would like to be considered for the “Post of the Week”.

Happy New Year everyone!




January in the Kitchen – Italian Fried Rice

January in the Kitchen – Italian Fried Rice

Italian Fried Rice started as a way to use up leftovers…odds and ends of stray vegetables, a package of frozen cooked rice from the freezer, and a stray uncooked chicken breast from another meal. However, it turned out to be much greater than the sum of it’s parts. This could easily be a template for a vegetarian meal, leave out the chicken (and sausage) and make it with tofu.

Italian Fried Rice

Italian Fried Rice

Ingredients for Italian Fried Rice


  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil (more might be needed)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 spicy Italian sausages, sliced (optional)
  • 2 chicken breasts, cubed; or 1 package of extra firm tofu, cubed and drained on paper towels for 20 minutes.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 cups of cabbage, sliced
  •  4 cups cooked rice
  • 4 cups of ‘baby’ spinach
  • Pesto sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Sauteed chicken

Sauteed chicken

  1. Add the two tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet, heat to shimmering and add the chicken or tofu. Saute on medium high for about 5-10 minutes until they are beginning to brown and are mostly cooked, add the sausage to the pan if using. Cook for another 5 minutes, then remove to a plate.
  2. To any oil remaining in the skillet (more might be needed) add the onion and cook for 5 minutes until beginning to soften, add the garlic and red pepper. If not using spicy sausage, add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the mix.
  3. Add the rice to the skillet and continue to saute until beginning to brown.
  4. Add the chicken back to the skillet, then the cabbage. Continue to stir until everything is hot but the cabbage is still crisp.
  5. Lastly, just before serving, add the baby spinach and stir just long enough to wilt it.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Top each serving with a tablespoon of pesto.
Italian Fried Rice

Italian Fried Rice

Fried Rice

Italian Fried Rice

Aren’t leftovers wonderful?! They really get my creative juices flowing.

November in the kitchen – Cooking For Leftovers

November in the kitchen – Cooking For Leftovers

I love leftovers; they might be my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. Don’t misunderstand, I enjoy Thanksgiving, but what I really love about that day are the people. Our family lives some distance away, so our Thanksgiving get-together has always involved wonderful friends and their family. After so many years they have become my family as well. I am so grateful for their open arms and hospitality.

Leftovers have endless possibilities. In contrast to the meal on Thanksgiving, which is fairly traditional in most homes, leftovers let your creativity take flight. For example, in her book “The Complete Turkey Cookbook” (now out of print) published in 1971, S.I. Reese describes “The Soup”. The Soup consists of turkey stock (made from the carcass), leftover gravy, leftover creamed onions, leftover stuffing, chestnuts (if you have them), plus sautéed fresh celery and mushrooms. I’ve made a much simpler version for my family. The trick is using leftover stuffing to thicken the soup. This is a “stand your spoon up” soup, filling comforting, and warming.

I start thinking about leftovers even before the turkey goes in the oven. What is your favorite way to use them?

What about a stuffing Panini? Use a mild cheese such as Muenster, mozzarella or Monterey jack; I added a little thinly sliced red onion and some cranberry sauce. You could, of course, add some leftover turkey as well. I’m continuing in the loaded carb tradtion of Thanksgiving.

Panini with stuffing, mozzarella cheese, and cranberry sauce

Panini with stuffing, mozzarella cheese, and cranberry sauce

Panini with stuffing

Stuffing Panini

Stuffing Panini

Stuffing Panini

In case you are curious, my stuffing contains raisins and cornbread in addition to the usual sausage, onions, celery, and bread. The originial recipe came from my ex-mother-in-law who was from Germantown, Wisconsin. It’s changed over the years, but the raisins are always an essential ingredient.

Leftover pie for breakfast is always a winner. I’m usually too full by the end of Thanksgiving dinner to really enjoy it. But, the next morning with coffee it gets my full attention.

Salads are welcome after the day of feasting. Everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salad is easily adapted to suit whatever leftovers you have on hand. Brussels sprouts, leftover bread turned into croutons, turkey, chopped veggies from the raw vegetable plate, some pickles, cranberry sauce stirred into the dressing, what about a few raisins or grapes or chopped apple or candied nuts? Endless possibilities!


I’ve seen recipes for turnovers made with chopped turkey, mashed sweet potatoes, and leftover cooked vegetables. Even simpler, what about old-fashioned turkey croquettes? They were one of my mother’s ways of using up leftover turkey. They consist of chopped turkey and mashed potatoes mixed together, well-seasoned, formed into patties, dipped in egg then breadcrumbs, and fried in butter. They were yummy! I remember them as soft in the middle and crispy on the outside. A simple salad completed the meal. They would be even better with a poached egg on top! I think I’ve talked myself into making them…stay tuned for a future post.

I’ll be sharing my leftovers with at Angie’s Fiesta Friday party at the Novice Gardener. Come join the fun and see what others are cooking.