Best Leftovers EVER.

Monday night we had one of Mike’s profs over to dinner. He’s newer to town than we are, and a really great guy. We had a fun time, made even funner by the bottle of wine he brought. (Our only alcohol source is guests lately, cuz it’s just not in the budget.) He’s vegetarian, so I took the opportunity to try out a recipe Smitten Kitchen had just blogged, Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes and Mint. Except because I’m poor, there was no mint and there were no capers. Instead I used some dried oregano and some diced yellow bell pepper to make the color interesting. I served it with a nice salad and this Risotto, which let me just say I might never make risotto again. It is more work than I am ever willing to invest and I didn’t think it turned out great. Oh, did I mention I also made french baguette and served it with two little dishes of olive oil for dipping, one with cracked pepper and one with a clove of garlic sliced thin and left in the bottom of the bowl? The two different flavors infused the oil and it was lahvly. (That’s the British spelling.) Anyway, fun meal. Fun company. Dulce de Leche cheesecake for dessert compliments of my birthday and our new Sam’s Club membership. As long as we’re being thorough, the salad was my strawberry-tarragon-balsamic dressing with clementines, grapes, craisins, and Becky’s Glazed Pecans with a Kick.

But making a nice big meal like that for 3 people, eating at the late late hour of almost-8:00, means there were lots of leftovers, even after gorging ourselves. I had 5 pieces of eggplant leftover, already topped with the bruschetta and nice and cold and soggy by the end. Yuk. And the not-great risotto was not really sounding like a great tomorrow’s-lunch.

Fast forward through the craziness-that-was-Tuesday to last night. It was date night, according to The Schedule, and Mike was due home at 6:30, the end of two crazy days just before a third crazy day. Thank God for giving him Friday afternoons! I knew we weren’t going to be able to pull off anything adventurous for a date night since we had to be our own babysitters and the chances we’d stay awake through a movie were, well, no chances. So I decided to make a nice dinner complete with candles and Chopin.

The leftover soggy eggplant and bruschetta got coursely chopped, tossed into a little saucepan with some water and red (cooking cuz I’m cheap) wine, and simmered for an hour and a half. I was busy dividing up and freezing my Sam’s club meat and saved out 8 oz. of ground beef. Mixed that with an egg, about 1/4 c. parmesan, 6-7 smushed up Triscuits, oregano, parsley, salt, and a splash of red cooking wine. Formed 4 big meat balls and baked them in a greased muffin pan. They came out soft, tender, and very crunchy on the outsides. Lovely. The risotto got divided into 6 3-oz portions and shaped into 1/2 inch thick discs. The leftover dipping olive oil went in my skillet with some butter and I fried up the discs. 3 discs of fried risotto, 2 meat balls, and a big sloppy pile of eggplant sauce-stew-garnish-gravy all over the top. And little brownies, warm from the freezer microwave, for dessert. We woulda paid through the nose for a meal like that if we’d gone out, and it was leftovers!

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