February 12, 2010

A Super(bowl) Makeover Story

I don’t know about you, but I rolled home last sunday full of chili, chips, and chicken wings.  I love Super Bowl Sunday for a variety of reasons – mainly good time spent with friends and the excuse to be overly-gluttonous.  But I forgot that on Super Bowl Sunday, even more so than on my second favorite holiday of the year – Thanksgiving – our eyes become much bigger than our stomachs.  And I came home on Sunday evening with a tupperware tub full of spicy, ginger chicken wings that needed to be consumed.

Now, wasting food annoys me more than when it is raining, you are home sick from work, and your cable goes out.  Both circumstances just seem totally unnecessary and I was determined to let not a single morsel of those drumsticks and thighs go to waste.  It was time for project Leftover Makeover.

The truth is, when you set your mind to it, using leftovers is not a difficult task and it can actually lead you to try more interesting flavor combinations than you would have otherwise attempted…not to mention save you a few bucks.  You simply have to force yourself to stick to the leftover plan and skip that dinner out, yet again, to eat another version of chicken.  But think of it this way, if you are craving something in particular, like pasta, Japanese, or good ol’ American, just use that as your inspiration.  Like my favorite fashion reality celeb always says, make it work.  You thought I was going to say “smile with your eyes” didn’t you?

So here are my three makeover stories – truly successful transformations in my mind – in which I used every inch of meat and even the bone to feed myself during the long week between momentous sport celebrations.  Goodbye Superbowl, hello Olympics!  I actually did not buy a single ingredient to make any of these and only used what products I had in my refrigerator and cupboards.  And speaking of products, I wanted to give a quick shout out to another great reader and low sodium sleuth, CS, who sent along some links for the spices and mixes she uses to make cooking easy and delicious.  One of my favorites products is a low sodium Thai Spice which just screams “unique taste found here.”  Having spice blends like this in your home will help you easily spice up your cooking and make even day-old goodies taste new in no time.  So don’t be afraid to stock up on things that can quickly add flavor to your cooking.  You deserve a break somewhere in that busy life.

Now on with the food.  Enjoy the long weekend.  I’ll be back with more recipes and tips on Tuesday.  Stay warm and chow on.

Makeover 1: Chicken Wings become a Brussel Sprout, Enoki Mushroom, and Chicken Hash

It is as easy as making an easy pie.  Just slice the chicken and the brussel sprouts and throw them in a heated and oiled pan.  We had some enoki mushrooms that were getting a bit slimy in the fridge so we threw those in too, but any vegetable will work.  These are simple flavors and since the chicken already had the spicy, ginger sauce on it, we didn’t add a single spice.

Makeover 2: Chicken Wings become Chicken Tortilla Soup

Besides the wings, I had a tub full of freshly made salsa that had not been touched.  To make the salsa, I simply roasted four tomatoes and three tomatillos in the oven and then blended them together with my immersion blender.  It was practically a tomato soup.  So I used this as my broth and then added some heat (jalapenos) and meat (the chicken) as well as some leftover chips to create a spicy soup with a bit of crunch.

Makeover 3: Chicken Wings become Chinese Breakfast Porridge (Jook)

Check out the wonderful food52.com for my Jook recipe.  If you haven’t had this breakfast, or dinner, treat before, set aside a few hours this weekend to make it.  You may find that this comfort food knocks macaroni and cheese off its pedestal…well, that is a complete exaggeration, but it is truly delicious and worth the time and effort.

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