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Leftover & Pantry Dishes; Pt 1

This will be the first installment of what will probably be me telling you all about how I use up leftovers from time to time and how I made dinner with items that were in my pantry.

*Upfront I want to tell you, this is not a recipe. If you want a recipe, I am sorry, this is not the place. I firmly believe that recipes are guidelines, you must use your instincts, tastes and smells and in this case, whatever you have on hand, to make a great meal. I hope you will continue on and become inspired to go astray from the recipes with me sometimes. If not, however, feel free to turn back now and look at one of my other posts that have a recipe in them.*

Last night the supper was a mix of both Leftover and Pantry. I had one chicken thigh left over, please don't ask me why one chicken thigh didn't get cooked when I cooked the rest of them. The answer is long and involves a person's odd working schedule, so sometimes I just cook for me.

I was also make some homemade coffee creamer, with canned Coconut Milk. We have had a pretty bad snow, ice, sleet storm this past week or two so I ran out of creamer. While not a necessity for me, I still wanted to have the option of adding that to my coffee. (Side note; I really wish I hadn't have put that in my coffee this morning, I always have hope that I'll like coconut milk in my hot coffee. But I instantly remember upon that first sip that, in my opinion, the only coffee coconut milk belongs in is a cold brew, if that.)

Not all the coconut milk would fit in the jar I was using, so as I sit there looking at this quarter cup of coconut milk, thinking about dinner my mind went two places. One was a nice seafood soup, made with the bag of shrimp shells freezing in my freezer and ending with the coconut milk. Two was a riff on a curry.

I went with the latter. Diced and sauteed up my chicken thigh, seasoned with s&p, then opened a can of chickpeas and seared them off as well. Now, I'm adding chickpeas to mine because my favorite dish at my local Indian restaurant is Aloo Gobi (but give me cauliflower over all those potatoes any day!) And because Chickpeas are extremely filling and always helps my pantry/leftover dishes go a bit further in my belly. You can use any type of legume you want in this dish. Or none at all. This is not a recipe. This is my telling you the process I went to to get the dish pictured, that was delicious.

The night before we had stir fry vegetables, having just a little of those leftover, I tossed those in the pan. So now my pan is filled with diced chicken, chickpeas, broccoli, carrots, water chestnuts and onion. This looked incredible. I tossed in some dashes of paprika, turmeric, cumin, Zatar blend, sesame seeds, more s&p and a spoonful of my fermented garlic/ginger paste I made last week. Now, it smelled incredible.

It was time to deglaze the pan and add all those glorious cooked bits on the pan to the dish! I chose to use a quarter cup of water, but by all means use broth, wine or some other liquid. Or just use more of the coconut milk, but if you remember I was working with only a quarter cup, since the rest went into the creamer. After those bits were successfully worked into the dish I added the coconut milk and let it simmer, I had to had a bit more liquid for it have the amount of sauce I wanted, but other than that it was fine. I topped it off with a bit more s&p and a dash of curry powder and then plated it with a bowl of minute jasmine rice I had in the pantry.

The bread pictured is not a Naan, I hadn't made any yesterday. I did however have some baguettes that I had made this week still hanging around, so I sliced one in half, toasted it up and made do! I hope you all take a second look around your pantry and your leftovers and attempt to make something using your instincts and your taste buds. Let me know how it turns out!

I am fully aware that this is not traditional. I am fully aware that this is not classic. I am fully aware that minute rice is not the "correct" way to cook rice. When I have the time, energy and wherewithal to do it the "correct" way, I do. But again, this is a leftover & pantry dish. These dishes are all about shortcuts and putting a satisfying and filling dish on the table. By all means take the time to do this the "correct" way if you'd like. I love making a traditional curry, but this is not that. I'm not claiming that in anyway.

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