So now that the party is over, we are faced with the same challenge we have every year – a random assortment of leftovers!
It’s funny, because I can almost always predict what they will be, but there is almost no way to stave it off. There will always be some vegetables left over from the veggie trays. But we can’t not offer a veggie tray because of the high percentage of our friends who are gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, pescatarian, or vegan, or some-other-specific-diet oriented.
We almost always have leftover cheeses and meats. We always have tons of leftover crackers and chips. All of these tend to be due to the fact that they are sold on specifically large quantities to begin with. And it is 100% sure never to be a flat number that is consumed. The guests either eat 1.5 or 2.5 or 3.5 packages of whatever it is at the party.
Nevertheless, I have developed some good methods of dealing with these leftovers over the years. My experience has been that after a large party where tons of finger foods were served, leaving them in finger food form (and putting out small veggies and dips every night for dinner is the most unappealing option. And there is also a 90% chance they will just sit in the fridge and slowly decay. So, I have developed a few methods of using them a ingredients for other meals instead.
Here are my most successful (according to trial and error, in our house) recipes utilizing party leftovers:
Recipe: Broccoli Casserole
Leftovers Used: Crackers, Broccoli, Prosciutto, Cheeses
Additional Ingredients: 1 can Cream of Chicken Soup, Chicken, Sour Cream
This is a variation on this classic recipe. Break up any leftover party crackers into crumbs. Spread some on the bottom of a casserole dish. Set some aside to use as the crust on top. If you still have some extra crackers, mix some into the casserole itself. Cook the chicken and cut into tiny chunk pieces. Chop the broccoli into tiny bits. Cut up left over cheeses. Mix 2/3 of the cheeses into the mix. Save 1/3 to spread on top. Cut up left over proscuitto into tiny scraps. Mix everything together into a large bowl with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into casserole dish. spread remaining cheese on top. Spread remaining cracker crumbs on top of that. Heat oven to 420 degrees. Cook for 20-30 minutes (until bubbling throughout). Let cool. Serve!
Recipe: Roasted Tomato Bites
Leftovers Used: Cherry Tomatoes, Proscuitto (or other cured Meats), Cheeses
Additional Ingredients: Basil, Olive Oil
Follow this recipe, except add proscuitto, and heat in oven like this recipe. (Scoop out the tomatoes, stuff insides with a bit of cheese (mozzerella works well, but any cheese will work) and a bit of left over prosciutto (or other cured meat) and basil leaf. Put onto cookie pan. Bake at 375 for about 5 mins (just enough to warm them and melt the cheese a bit. Don’t cook too long, or the tomatoes start to liquefy!). Eat them hot!
Recipe: Caprese Salad (or Skewers)
Leftovers Used: Cherry Tomatoes, Mozzerella Cheese
Additional Ingredients: Basil, Olive Oil
Follow this recipe for skewers. Or just toss the ingredients into bowls with some balsamic vinegar and olive oil for salad instead.
Recipe: Roasted Baby Carrots & Cauliflowers
Leftovers Used:Baby Carrots & Cauliflowers
Additional Ingredients: Olive Oil (Meat if desired)
The 2nd easiest of all possible my party leftover recipes. Simply place your baby carrots on a cookie pan, brush with olive oil. Pop in the oven at 425 for about 30 minutes. Then salt and pepper to taste. They come out roasted and delicious! Same for the Cauliflower (though you may want to cut into single bite sizes). Eat on thier own, or use as the side dish for the meat of your choice. Personally, I get a rotisserie chicken from whole food, and – DONE!
Recipe: Wok-fried Veggies
Leftovers Used:Baby Carrots, Broccolli, Cauliflower, Celery, Peppers
Additional Ingredients: Noodles/Rice/Tofu (or Nothing at All!)
The easiest of all possible my party leftover recipes. Simply throw all your left over veggies (except tomatoes) into a wok pan. Add some Soy sauce and a bit of olive oil. Toss over medium heat until they are all cooked. you can eat them alone, or pair with cooked noodles, rice, tofu, or a meat of your choice. DONE!
Recipe: Bread Crumbs / Panko
Leftovers Used: Crackers/ Chips
Additional Ingredients: Olive Oil (or Nothing at All!)
If you are left with tons of (stale) crackers from your party, you can always use them for breadcrumbs (panko) later! Easiest method is to just put them into a large ziplock bag and then enjoy smashing them to bit with your own hands, and then save for later. One note: you may want to separate them by type (flavor) of cracker. Some recipes may work out better with the bland water-cracker type. While others may taste great with salted wheat crackers. Corns chips can be used for this purpose too, although their distinctive flavor will definitely add a “corn” flavor to your dish. So they may a great addition to any south-west style dish. If you want to really flavor them up a bit, you can also toast them slightly under the broiler, with some salt and pepper and olive oil like this recipe, but toasted versions should be eaten right away.