Friday, March 9, 2012

Use It Up!

Leftovers are a fact of life. This includes leftover ingredients too. We rarely use the whole bell pepper, or the entire bunch of celery. Some of the best recipes call for a little bit of an ingredient we can only find in a big portion. Since waste is just not an option for the frugal Betty's of the world, what to do with the leftovers?

I'm a big fan of "use it up" recipes. They include a base of some pantry staple (beans, rice, potatoes, oats, etc.) and have interchangeable ingredients that let you mix it up based on what you need to get rid of.

Today I made a Carne Asada Chili that let me use up several vegetables, fresh herbs, and a steak I got on sale!

Carne Asada Chili

While the chili simmered, I decided to use up some of the miscellaneous baking ingredients I had floating around the pantry in the form of a homemade granola. Trust me, the smell of simmering chili and baking granola made for a very hungry, very impatient me!

Granola before baking

Granola after baking - golden brown and delicious!

Now I have a dinner for a couple of nights and a new snack! All the while my pantry and refrigerator has been cleared out with zero waste.

What is your favorite "use it up" recipe?

Recipes after the jump!

Carne Asada Chili 

1/2 Onion, diced
2 Stalks Celery, diced
1/2 ea. Green and Orange Bell Pepper
1 Can Kidney Beans
1 Can Pinto Beans
1 Top Round Steak, cubed
1/8 cup Chili Powder
1 tsp Granulated Garlic
1 Tbs Fresh Cilantro, chopped
1 tsp Tapatio, or your favorite hot sauce
1/2 tsp Salt
Dash of Pepper
2 Tbs Ketchup (forgot to list this previously, adds that tomato-y sweetness to the chili!)

In a medium pot, sear steak cubes on medium high heat while adding the salt. Remove steak from pan and saute the onion, celery and bell pepper. When the vegetables are slightly softened, add in steak cubes and beans. Stir in the seasonings and cilantro. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.

Note: Chili is a great opportunity to try out new flavor combinations or use up miscellaneous vegetables! There is no one "right" way to make it!

Fruit and Nut Granola

4 cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
1 cup Almonds, chopped
1 cup Cashews, chopped
1 cup Raisins
1/2 cup Honey
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1/8 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/8 tsp Almond Extract
1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon

Combine all dry ingredients to get them evenly mixed. Heat honey in a microwave safe dish for about 30 seconds to loosen it up and add in oil and extracts. Thoroughly mix the honey mixture with the dry ingredients. Spread the granola on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 350. Stir the granola every 10 minutes to ensure it doesn't burn on the bottom! Let cool until crispy and break up into desired size pieces.


  1. tomato sauce, tomato paste, green beans, and potatoes,,,,was the only addition my mom made to your recipe.....we called it ghoulash. some people called it vegatable beef stew. I was suprised you didn't put tomato sauce in yours, I will have to try it. sincerely, D H. { by the way, i loved the 50's too, I was there}

    1. You're right! I forgot to list 2 Tbs of Ketchup. I liked how the sweetness played off of the spicy chili. Thanks for the tip!