fun with leftovers – the ultimate cage fighting of the cooking world

to follow up on my food politics and cooking post, i’m going to try to write a bit about easy, affordable, healthy, and hopefully sustainable ways to cook. one way to keep things free and sustainable is by recycling the items already available in your fridge! if you find yourself in the somewhat-unlikely-but-always-possible scenario of having a fridge full of leftovers from a bacon smackdown, you may not be able to cover the healthy part, but hey, animal fat is good for you, right? right?

the thing i like best about cooking with leftovers is that there are no rules. it’s like the ultimate cage fighting of cooking  – you can forcefully fish-hook someone in the nostrils or make brown sugar pork pie if you that’s what you fucking feel like doing. you’re not trying to follow a predefined recipe or get your souffle to rise, you’re just tossing together what you’ve got in a way that hopefully tastes delicious. so what if it’s not an actual dish? when you’re done mixing shit up, it will be.

food porn and alien pigs after the jump.

for my leftover cooking challenge (to myself), i found myself with the following ingredients: a huge bag of king trumpet mushrooms, a cup of plain cream cheese, some chipotle-bacon-jalapeno cream cheese, half a can of chipotles in adobo, half a pound of ground pork, and a box of fresh chives. i also had some pantry staples bought for the smackdown like garlic, onions, and eggs and a half a can of artichoke hearts from dinner last week.

here’s my manifesto for leftover cooking – come up with your kitchen rules and cook by them. if you find they aren’t working for you, make new ones. what do i mean by kitchen rule? i mean ideas about food that almost universally hold true for you and the food you like to eat. some of mine are 1) mushroom and eggs taste good together, 2) cream cheese is good with just about everything, 3) you can start almost every savory dish by sauteeing garlic and onions, 4) a splash of soy can do wonders, 6) frying things makes them delicious, and 7) you already know how i feel about chipotles.

i hate to let anything go to waste, which is why i enjoy a leftover cooking puzzle challenge.  i started by trying to figure out what to do with the king trumpet mushroom, also known as the french horn, the king oyster mushroom, and the surprisingly erotic-sounding pleurotus eryngii. i figured based on rules 2 and 6, that fried mushroom chips with chipotle-bacon cream cheese on top would be delicious. i sliced the mushrooms into discs, fried them in some olive oil until they were like crispy chips, then spooned some cream cheese on top.


yes, that weird elephant trunk looking thingy is a king-size mushroom. the mushroom chips were nice and crispy on the outside, but a little rubbery in the center, so next time i’d try to sauté them or something. obviously the cheesy bacon-chipotle part was awesome.  they’d make cute hors d’oeuvres.

the next recipe is called mix-a-bunch-of-tasty-shit-into-cream-cheese-and-it-will-be-deliciouser. i feel like most savory items can be chopped up and stirred into cream cheese to become an impressive dip. i had a few leftover artichoke hearts, which are great to have around all the time (you can buy them canned pretty cheaply) for adding to salads and pasta, frying with eggs, mixing into cream cheese, and various other endeavors.  i cut a few up, chopped some chipotles, diced some chives, and mixed them all up together. delicious with tortilla chips.

lastly, a recipe featuring almost every one of the above-mentioned kitchen rules. i love mushrooms and eggs together (mushroom and egg on pizza…fuck yeah. mushroom pasta with an egg on top…GAAAAH), so i decided to do a corned beef hash-inspired ground pork and mushroom dish. i diced some onions and garlic and threw it in the pan with some sesame oil (although you could use pretty much any oil here), then threw in some diced trumpet mushrooms. Gave it a splash of soy to flavor the mushrooms, then added some ground pork and chipotle pieces. once all the pork was cooked, i put it on a plate and made a fried egg. my friend olivia taught me to always cover your eggs when cooking sunny-side up so it gets heat from all sides and doesn’t get that snotty shit on the top. when it’s done, put it on top of your mound of fried-up tastiness, then crack the yolk and watch the deliciousness flow.


music piggy, stop looking at my breakfast like that! it’s fucking twisted, that hash is made of ground pork!  just because you are a weird alien pig with music coming from your eyes does not mean it is okay to eat your own kind.

btw, i also had a variation on this dish for lunch and midnight snack.  rule 8) fried eggs are good all the time.

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3 thoughts on “fun with leftovers – the ultimate cage fighting of the cooking world

  1. otown brown says:

    fried eggs for dinner. right now. mmmrrmph! ALWAYS DELICIOUS!!

  2. Steve G says:

    Your rules are my rules. Finding myself with a pot of brown rice in the fridge to which I’d already added some nice chicken stock to make it more interesting, I had brown rice warmed with salsa topped with eggs fried in butter for breakfast. Sometimes I use goose fat if I’m worried about getting stuck in a rut.

    Honestly, there are few things I like better than salty rice swimming in running egg yolk, especially if they’re pastured eggs. Mmmm.

    And about pastured eggs: why do people thing 7.50 a dozen is expensive? That’s delicious protein for 6 meals, and so much satisfaction.

    • mei says:

      haha. good call! salsa is one of those things that you always have in the fridge and tastes good in a gloppy mess on top of pretty much everything. salsa and eggs. yum. and i totally agree on the eggs. you can find such good eggs for even cheaper than that and they’re quality protein and edible in a bajillion delicious ways.

      mmmm. goose fat. i need to try me some of that.

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