The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

On The Table

July 4, 2012

Cheryle Finley: Chefs cooking with gas, inside their own cars

JOPLIN, Mo. —

Hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk? How about hot enough to bake cookies in your car? In Hutchison, Kan., two Hutchinson News staff members held their third annual “car-b-que,” cooking food in their hot vehicles.

It sounded like fun and I had a hot vehicle, so I decided to give it a try. I put chocolate chip slice-n-bake cookies on a cookie sheet, then placed the sheet on my car dash, making sure the windows were up for ultimate heat. Six hours later, baked cookies. They turned out pretty hard, but were definitely similar to what you would get right from your oven. I probably started too early in the morning for perfect results. Next time, I’m going to preheat the cookie sheet on the dash during the morning then put the cookies on the hot sheet in the afternoon. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Can’t wait for that info, can you? I can see it now. My new cookbooks: “Cooking for Cars.” Or “Dashboard Dishes.” Or “Food in My Ford.” Or “Sunroof Suppers.”

Whether you celebrated the Fourth of July last weekend or have festivities set for today, chances are good you will have leftovers. Looking for some creative ways to use these leftovers? I have a few to share with you.

Chopped up hamburger patties, Polish sausage or hot dogs can be used in lots of dishes. Add a little salsa and you can make just about any dish Mexican and tasty. Cut the grilled meat into cubes and skewer them with chunks of cheese and cherry tomatoes for a quick kabob. You might be surprised what a great pizza you can make with these leftovers, too. Place those hamburger patties in a skillet and cover with canned beef gravy and a can of mushrooms for a Salisbury steak dinner. Chopped burgers or Polish sausages added to marinara sauce and cooked pasta, topped with cheese then baked until hot makes you glad you have leftovers.

Use the burgers for making stuffed peppers, sloppy Joes or taco salads. Chop up the hot dogs and add them and some chopped jalape–os to a cornbread mix, then bake for a one-dish meal or add the chopped pieces to your leftover baked beans or mac and cheese. You can also add chopped up hamburger patties to those beans.

Try today’s chili cheese dog crescent casserole recipe from allrecipes.com. It uses one of my favorites, crescent rolls, to cover the chopped up hot dog and chili mixture and makes the perfect crust.

Leftover grilled steak can be the basis for a nice beef stew cooked in the slow cooker, or slice it thin for addition to a salad or barbecue sandwiches.

Grilled chicken is the perfect leftover. You can make chicken salad, a pot pie, chicken and noodles, chicken tacos or enchiladas. Add some diced chicken to some cooked spaghetti, cream of mushroom soup and cheese, then bake for a nice tetrazzini. Or spice that up with some Ro-Tel tomatoes for Mexican chicken spaghetti. I’ve included an easy chicken enchilada recipe for those who need an idea for their leftover chicken.

What about leftover potato salad and coleslaw? Put the slaw on your barbecue sandwiches and use the potato salad for latkes. Add a little tuna to the potato salad, fry it up in patties then top with sour cream. Doesn’t that sound delicious? This one will surprise you. And those leftover deviled eggs? They’re perfect chopped up and eaten on a piece of toast for breakfast or lunch because, after all, they contain the same ingredients as egg salad.

If your plan includes grilled vegetables, use them later chopped in your scrambled eggs or in a dinner casserole. Cut the grilled corn on the cob off the cob and mix with tomatoes and herbs for a nice corn salsa.

Leftover hamburger and hot dog buns? Make garlic toast or cut them into cubes, drizzle with olive oil and herbs and bake or fry up some croutons. Another option is to make the hot dog bun bread pudding for dessert using the recipe I’m sharing today. It’s from Robert Irvine, and the smell of this baking will make your mouth water. Use your imagination and use up those leftovers this week or anytime you end up with extra food.

Last week, Kay Kleeman and I tried the new Japanese Kitchen at 1301 Broadway in Joplin. They just opened but are up and running and ready for dine-in or carry-out, and assistant manager Codey Ritter makes sure to take good care of all the customers. I picked the spicy chicken with fried rice from the main dish menu and it was just right -- not too hot but with enough kick to live up to its spicy name. Kay chose the teriyaki chicken and said it was delicious. She also decided to try the sushi, ordering the spicy crab roll. That serving, like our main dishes, was almost too pretty to eat, and I can’t wait to go back and try something with noodles.

Happy Fourth of July and happy eating!

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