Today I am talking use it or loose it. Now that I am cooking for just my husband and me coupled with a crippled income toward the latter part of this winter, it has become more necessary than ever to come up with great dinners using what I have on hand. There was a night where we cooked more spaghetti than we could consume, some pasta sauce and 2 large Italian sausages along with a partially used ball of fresh mozzarella cheese that came together in this individual gratin pasta bake.
Instead of just the spaghetti sauce and sausage over re-heated pasta, I baked it all together in individual gratins topping with the fresh mozzarella and some dried herbs. It turned out splendid and the creaminess of that fresh mozzarella was so delicious.
When you are cooking for one or two it is sometimes hard not to dummy down portion sizes especially when you are so used to cooking for other family members for so many years. The empty nest syndrome seems to follow you in the kitchen, doesn't it? And, it seems difficult at times not to cook large dinners because that is what you did for years and years.
Finding yourself in a similar situation because of family down sizing (kids have left the nest) and budget constraints we all must do the "use it" or "loose it" in the kitchen. Meaning - use up what ever you have left over and put together a palatable dinner foregoing another trip out to the grocery store. Although it may be frustrating for some, look at it as a creative challenge for finding ways to jazz up dinner time.
This is so simple to throw together and all you need is the following:
- left over red sauce
- left over sausage or meatballs
- left over pasta
- left over mozzarella cheese - fresh or shredded (Monterey Jack cheese would work also.)
- dried herbs: parsley, basil
- If you don't have a lot of sauce for two gratins, use a bit of water to stretch it and thin the sauce out - not much is needed, just add a little at a time.
- In individual gratins or oven proof dishes, add a thin layer of sauce on the bottom.
- Place your left over pasta over that bottom layer of sauce.
- Slice your sausages lengthwise as thin as possible and layer over the pasta. Top with more sauce, the cheese and a sprinkling of your favorite dried Italian herbs.
- Bake loosely tented with foil in a preheated 350° oven for about 25 - 30 minutes until the cheese is melted.
And there you have another make over meal using up what you have available.