In Hard Times: Turn Your Leftovers Into Gourmet Dinners

Eating well while pinching pennies

Long before Wall Street forced us to relocate to Penny Lane, my husband and I had been shopping "sales" (we’re writers; translation: we’re out of work—a lot!!), cutting coupons and frequenting places like Costco or Target for deals on food, cleaning products, etc. I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t. Well, maybe not the cutting coupon thing, which I do obsessively (but only for things I really use) because every coupon is cash to me (double cash if you go to a double coupon market), and I hate to see money thrown into the recycle bin. Hell, I still pick up a penny on the lane if I see one, even if it’s tails up... but I digress...

We buy fresh salmon and trout in Costco, cut it up in serving sizes and freeze it. Sadly, we can’t buy produce there since we’re only two and most of it would go bad, but the stuff we can buy on the cheap and freeze—In. Our. Cart!!! Our freezer is packed with healthful, boneless, skinless chicken breasts, beautiful lamb chops, fish, pork chops and steaks that give us many dinners for less than $10.

We often get three meals from a 4-pound roast chicken. And then there’s my "everything but the kitchen sink" pasta that cleans out all the leftovers in our refrigerator—a delicious supper (it’s pasta!!) that’s good for you and cheap, cheap, cheap… Why would anyone rush down the lane to a Burger King when you can eat delicious, healthful, cheap meals at home?

Until recently, however, I never thought of leftovers as “gourmet": But, after we made a leg of lamb I got on sale, my husband used the leftover meat and made Montefin’s "leftover," low-carb (I’m South Beach-ing it while doing the Weight Watcher point thing) leg of lamb stew. Cheap! Healthful! Delicious! But so is my “chicken sink” pasta, right? Well, yes. But this stew kicks the leftover thing up a couple of notches to become a real gourmet leftover. I mean really… it has fennel seeds!

 (Note: montefin.com is a website my husband found that features low-carb recipes, among other ideas, to help me South Beach it.)

Montefin's Leftover Leg of Lamb Stew Recipe

Serves 2.


  • 1 - Leftover Leg Of Lamb with about 2 lbs. of meat left
  • 2 large stalks - Celery, cut into 1 1/2" lengths
  • 2 - Turnips, peeled and diced the size of Vegas dice
  • 1 large - White Onion
  • 1 Tsp. - Fennel Seed
  • 2 Tsps. - Cumin Seed
  • 2 - Bay Leaves
  • 2 - Carrots, cut into 1" lengths
  • 2 - Green Peppers (Richard’s not crazy about green peppers – so he
  •         used one green and one red bell pepper)
  • 10 - Garlic, peeled
  • 2 Tbls. - Dried Basil
  • 1 Tbls. - Lea & Perrin's Worcestershire Sauce
  • 3 Dashes - McIllhenny's Tabasco® Sauce (Richard chose not to
  •          include the Tabasco sauce)
  • 1/2 Cup - Sour Cream


Remove the meat from the leg of Lamb. Cut the meat into 2 1/2" cubes, cover with clear wrap and refrigerate.

Set the bone in a pot containing 2 quarts of cold water. Add the Celery and Bay Leaves. Cut the top and bottom off the Onion and toss them in too. Put the pot on a low flame and simmer it for 1 hour. Do not cover the pot.

Remove and discard the bone and onion pieces, but leave the celery and bay leaves.

Add the Lamb chunks, the Fennel & Cumin seeds, basil, the Turnips (the ones with the purple tops, not Rutabagas, the yellow ones), Carrots and Garlic cloves. Cut the Onion into eights and add to the pot. Simmer it all on low for 45 minutes.

Add the Green Pepper and Worcestershire Sauce and cook another 15 minutes.

Just before serving, dip out about 1/4 cup of the pot liquid, stir into the Sour Cream. Serve the stew out onto plates, top with dollops of the sour cream sauce and spritz the sour cream with Tabasco Sauce for color and zing.

Only 12 Carbohydrate grams per serving.

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Pam September 01, 2011 at 11:05 PM
Very good article. I know you have been talking about these things for awhile. Even using some of it is good advice.
Chim September 03, 2011 at 12:12 AM
So, Ilona ... would Popcorn with Lemon Pepper Seasoning and Garlic Powder be considered Gourmet Popcorn? Cuz that's what I'll be having a big bowl of after my Workout.
Ilona Saari September 03, 2011 at 05:06 AM
LOL -- definitely gourmet, Chim. Sometimes I even add some parmesan cheese. ;o)
Chim September 03, 2011 at 06:58 PM
Well, alrighty then! The Gourmet Popcorn has now been consumed. The Verdict? Well, I also normally dunk my Popcorn in a little bowl of Salsa. I was running on fumes as far as Salsa went. So, I had to improvise. It was a precarious experiment, but I slapped a couple of spoonfuls of Classico brand Traditional Basil Pesto into said little bowl. I tossed in the little bit of Salsa that I had, plus some Red Devil Hot Sauce and the juice of 2 Limes. I sprinkled in some Lemon Pepper Seasoning and Let'r Rip! The Result ........... Not bad ... in small doses. LOL What I mean is that it was very tasty, but powerful. It made for a very good and unique-tasting Popcorn IF you were only gonna be having a reasonable, non-Piggish amount. Cuz the unique taste was too powerful for attempting to eat an entire BIG bowl of Popcorn in that style.
Chim September 03, 2011 at 06:59 PM
Yesterday's Pesto Gourmet Popcorn experiment led me to try another experiment today for lunch. I was having Chili Dogs for lunch today. My curiosity got the best of me and so I spread some of that same Classico brand Traditional Basil Pesto onto one side of each of the Hot Dog buns. One one Chili Dog I used regular Mustard. On the other I used Honey Mustard. I topped them with Jalapeños. The Verdict? Very Good! Ilona, I really think you should try this. Pesto instead of the Relish. Or I'm sure it would also go well with the Relish. It's just that I know that as per your Ode to the Hot Dog Post, YOU don't like to overwhelm you Hot Dogs.


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