Get in the LOOP

When I was a child I often told my mom there was absolutely no reason for me to learn to cook.  To say I had no desire would be akin to saying the Rocky Mountains are nice, small, hills.  I have had more than my fair share of cooking mishaps. All can be traced back to my huge dislike of all things related to cooking, well except for the eating part. I’m rather partial to that.

I had a friend tell me a few years ago that I most definitely did enjoy cooking because “you experiment in the kitchen too much to not like to cook.” Or I’m just by nature a rule-breaker and I can’t follow a recipe to save my life.   Not long after I was married I had a nice, long, good ol’ ugly cry one afternoon because it dawned on me that I would have to cook every day for the rest of my life.

I mentioned the other day that I get tired of cooking (and eating) the same things over and over. I get tired of roast beast, roast chicken, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, goulash etc. And I get so tired of leftovers I could cry.  What I need is a cook….a way to cook less and have more food.  If I could only cook once and not have leftovers to eat as just leftovers.

I thought I was doomed. Doomed to a life of leftovers as reheated leftovers. And then Kathi Lipp entered my life. She has what she calls LOOP meals, Left Overs On Purpose.

I knew she did this but really thought it would never work here. Just why I thought that is anyone’s guess. I kept putting off trying it until desperation drove me to it.

Last week I put two roasts in my slow cooker. We ate part of one that night, had roast beef sammies the next day for lunch. The other roast was turned into two completely different meals!

Beef and Orzo with fresh cucumber slices

I cooked once, and used leftovers for 2 additional different meals. EUREKA!! This is exactly what I was looking for. I made “Beef and Orzo”…a quick and easy meal that will leave your family singing your praises.   Simple? Oh my word yes!!  Quick? You bet your sweet patootie!

Here’s how:
1 pound leftover roast, shredded (We found it a lot easier to shred when I warmed it up for a couple of minutes in the microwave. But save time and shred it when you’re putting it away as a leftover.)
1 14.5 ounce can stewed tomatoes, undrained. (Now I didn’t have stewed tomatoes, so I used 2 cans diced tomatoes)
1/2 cup celery stalk, sliced                          1/2 cup Orzo
1/2 tsp salt                                                    2 garlic cloves, pressed. ( I didn’t have whole garlic cloves, and I don’t have a garlic press, I substituted 2 tsp minced garlic)

Put all ingredients in a 10-in skillet (I used a saucepan because my skillet is huge) sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 12 minutes, stirring frequently, until liquid is absorbed and pasta is tender.

Make this dish on a Saturday night and I’ll guarantee Burger King will have no hold on you for lunch after church on Sunday. You will want to rush home and heat this up. In fact, I heated it up for breakfast and then finished it off for lunch the next day.

I then used the remaining roast to make Easy Cottage Pie. (We called it Shepherd’s Pie when I was growing up.) Don’t let the word Easy fool you. It’s really easy.  I was going to give you the recipe but really, I think you should get the book.

If you get tired of leftovers like most people, and if you’re tired of throwing out food, if you’re tired of wondering what on earth can you do with the food you have leftover that isn’t just reheat-and-eat, and isn’t wait-for-fall-when-you-can-make-casserole-surprise and hope it’d edible, get the book. Kathi has a whole chapter on LOOP meals. A whole chapter on freezer cooking. A whole chapter on cooking Pantry meals.

You might just get to avoid going to the grocery store so long you’ll forget where it is. So go your bookstore, or and get the book, The What’s for Dinner Solution by Kathi Lipp. And wonder no more at 4pm what on earth you’ll have for supper.


(This is NOT my normal book review of the book. You can read that here. This is my “I have to tell you how this book changed my cooking life!” post.)