What to make with leftovers: quick, easy mini fritters

what to make with leftover chicken - mini fritters

I picked up this idea from food writer Mark Bittman: he calls them “tiny pancakes.” (Here’s his original recipe.) It was born out of wanting to make himself something quick to eat, and finding some leftover scallops on hand. Don’t worry; you don’t need scallops to make this! Just about any leftovers will do, and you could do this for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Or brunch. Or appetizers. Or a midnight snack.

You make a quick, simple batter, and whisk in some finely chopped meat, fish, veggies, fruit — don’t be afraid to experiment! Then you pour them in a hot skillet and fry them up quickly. Drizzle or sprinkle them with something if you like, and gobble them up! Total time from “what’s in the fridge” to “yum, that was good!” – 15 minutes, tops. Unless you need to cook some of the meat or veggies first. But choose the right ingredients, and you won’t need to do any prep except maybe to quickly chop them down to a small dice.



what to make with leftover... mini-fritters - photo by NYT

 

I’ve made them a couple times. Shown in the featured image at the top of this post: barbeque chicken. I had less than one serving leftover from last night’s barbeque chicken, and some already-diced onion and bell pepper. I sauteed the veggies until the onion was translucent (optional, depending on the texture you want), then pulled them out and mixed them into the batter with the chicken. For my drizzle — are you ready? this is going to sound weird! — I mixed some barbeque sauce, a squeeze of lime juice, and a wee dab of adobo sauce into some mayo. Hey, it worked!

Next up: my spin on a Denver omelette…

what to make with leftover ham - mini fritters

On another day, I mixed diced ham, raw bell pepper, and sliced green onion into the batter. My drizzle that day was 2 teaspoons of mayo and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. I put them on top of a bit of baby spinach to up the veggie quotient.

Mr. Bittman makes eight tiny pancakes from his recipe; I make four or six. Making them any of these small sizes means they cook up quickly and evenly.

Here’s the core recipe, with my own tweak for those who are gluten-free.

Mini-fritters recipe

fat for the pan, your choice: butter, olive oil, coconut oil, bacon fat, ghee – it’s all good!

1 egg

2 teaspoons water

2 Tablespoons all-purpose (wheat) flour OR 1.5 Tablespoons rice flour, for gluten-free

diced ingredients of your choice; all the ingredients together should total 1/2 cup or less

optional: something to drizzle or sprinkle over the top

 

Preheat a small skillet over medium heat.

Whisk the egg, water and flour till fairly smooth, then gently whisk in the diced ingredients.

Test the pan to see if it’s “pancake-ready.” Dip your fingers in water and flick them over the hot pan. If the water droplets just sit on the pan, it’s not hot enough yet. If they hiss and evaporate quickly, it’s too hot. If they skittle around a bit before evaporating, it’s just right. Add the oil or fat of your choice, enough to cover the bottom of the pan, and give it a minute to heat up.

Spoon the batter into the pan, making four to eight equally-sized dollops. Once they start to pucker a bit around the edges, check the underside. When the underside is nicely browned, flip them over and cook till browned on the second side. It will probably be a little less time than the first side.

Here are some of Mark Bittman’s variations, including a couple desserty options:

what to make with leftovers - mini fritters

Here are some variations I’ve dreamed up but haven’t tried:

  • Bacon, deli turkey and/or deli ham with chopped drained tomatoes. Drizzle with honey-mustard or Ranch dressing.
  • Leftover roast turkey and chopped veggie of your choice — Brussels sprouts or green beans, maybe — and schmear with cranberry sauce.
  • Leftover taco meat and green onions. Pour on some salsa and/or dollop some guac.
  • Any leftover stir-fry. Drizzle with the Asian sauce of your choice. Sriracha, anyone?
  • Salmon and onions. Top with chopped tomatoes, and drizzle with a vinaigrette or honey-mustard.

What could you come up with? If you try something new and love it, please come back and share!

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Notes about flours. You may be wondering, “Can I use almond or other nut flours? Coconut flour? Arrowroot or tapioca starch?” I haven’t actually tried them, but here’s my best guess, based on using each of these in other recipes.

Nut flours won’t soak up any moisture and will add a graininess to the texture, so I don’t think they’d work great. Coconut flour is different than any other flour: it soaks up a lot more moisture. So you could try it, but use way less — maybe just a teaspoon?? Tapioca and arrowroot tend to make things kind of gummy, and I’m not really sure what they’d do here. But if you’re willing to risk one egg and ten minutes, give it a try. That’s how you learn!

Life change success story: Linda’s eating clean

Linda's eating clean - before and after - whole30 weight loss success

Today, I’d like to introduce you to one of my Instagram friends. We’ve never met in real life, but I was so impressed with her story when she shared it on IG, I asked to share it with you.

I love that her story includes backtracking without giving up; that she kept trying till she found what worked. And of course, that she’s discovered how great it feels when you eat real food!

Here’s her story in her own words:

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All my best food tips (so far) for easy healthy meals!

tips for easy healthy meals

So New Year, new you? Thinking of quitting sugar, quitting processed food, eating more real food, trying gluten-free, grain-free, or going Paleo? I’ve done all of those, and while I’ve landed on a real foods, mostly-veggies-and-meat formula, I’ve collected quite a few tips that work for a wide variety of healthy diets.

Making the switch from convenience food — whether from restaurants or frozen meals — to a whole-foods/real food/homecooked lifestyle does have a learning curve, but once you learn a few tricks and practice them until they become habits, it’ll be a breeze!

Set yourself up for success by trying a few kitchen stocking and ingredient tricks. Here are all my best “tips for eating healthier” and “meal plan” posts:

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Cookbook review: The Dude Diet

The Dude Diet book review

After graduating from college, Serena Wolf packed up and headed to Paris for a three-month basic culinary course at Le Cordon Bleu. Not because she loved cooking — she was only semi-adept at making grilled cheese sandwiches — but she went there on a whim, expecting to figure out what she really wanted to do with the rest of her life.

But she fell in love with cooking, and ended up staying and completing the full diploma program. Oh, and she also started a food blog.

Fast forward a few years, with Serena back in the States: when her boyfriend Logan decided he needed to lose a few pounds, she challenged herself with creating some dishes that were both healthy and appealing to her junk-food-loving, vegetable-averse boyfriend’s palate. She called it “The Dude Diet,” and posted recipes on her blog. Soon, she received an overwhelming response from men and women alike.

Now it’s a cookbook. In The Dude Diet – Clean(ish) Food for People Who Like to Eat Dirty, Serena shares more than 125 dude-friendly recipes that replace refined flour with whole grain alternatives, minimize sugar, and minimize fats.

If you’ve read my blog much lately, you know that I don’t have a problem with fat, and I do like to minimize grains. But I’m on the same page as Serena in regards to replacing factory-made food with whole foods. I’m also a huge proponent of baby steps and starting where you are with what you have, so I think this cookbook would be a great first step for someone who’s hooked on fast food, carryout, and bar food, and not ready or willing to make drastic changes in their food landscape.

And the recipes are undeniably appealing! Categories include Game Day Eats, On the Grill, Serious Salads, Take Out Favorites, Sexy Sides, and Chronic Cocktails. Here are a few dishes that should appeal to any dude or dudette:

  • Dude Diet Philly Cheesesteaks
  • Chicken Parmesan
  • Super Sloppy Joes
  • Sausage and Peppers Skillet
  • Cauliflower Puree with Parmesan and Chives

I’ve made a few of the recipes; here are a couple definite keepers we’ll make again and again:

Maple Bourbon Almonds

Maple Bourbon Almonds from The Dude Diet

This one is definitely in the “occasional treat” category. In fact, they’re a little too addictive for me! Anything that combines sweetness and nuts is kryptonite for me (or, in Whole30 parlance, “food with no brakes”), so I make these for my hubs to take to work for a snack that’s still healthier than anything in the vending machine. They’re a big hit with his coworkers, too.

By the way, if you’re opposed to bourbon, you can substitute vanilla extract. I’ve made it both ways. I like the flavor a bit better with bourbon, but it’s not a huge difference.

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Southwestern Sweet Potato Salad

Southwestern Sweet Potato Salad from The Dude Diet

I’d never made a cold salad with sweet potatoes before, but I loved this! The original recipe called for black beans, but I subbed avocado for some healthier fat with a similar texture. The original recipe would be easy to make ahead, either for dinner on a rushed night, or for a potluck. If you make it with avocados, though, you’ll need to cut and add those just before serving.

I also appreciate the well-done photography, typography, and book design!

The Dude Diet book review

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Purchase Links:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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