When Life Hands You Leftovers

Monday found me with a fridge full of:

3/4 c refried beans

1.5 c cooked chicken

1/2 c chili mac

1.5 c butternut squash gratin

That is, not enough of anything to make a complete second meal. Most people in these circumstances would either (1) toss everything in the yard waste or (2) make rock soup. However, (1) I hate to waste food, and (2) my teenage son has complained so bitterly lately if I make soup (it’s not filling enough for a swimming boy) that I didn’t dare.

Enter, enchiladas.

These are not what mine looked like, but I forgot to take a pic. These are Alexandra’s.  [Photo by  Alexandra Golovac  on  Unsplash  ]

These are not what mine looked like, but I forgot to take a pic. These are Alexandra’s. [Photo by Alexandra Golovac on Unsplash ]

Enchiladas, after all, use ingredients commonly on hand (at least in our house). Like tortillas from the freezer. Cheese to shred. Salsa. I had no enchilada sauce, of course, and didn’t want to go to the store for it, so I whipped out this recipe I’ve used before and found perfectly interchangeable:

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

2 Tbsp oil

2 Tbsp flour

2 Tbsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne powder

2 c water

6 ozs can tomato paste

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp salt

Heat oil, flour, and chili powder in a large saucepan and cook 1-2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.


I find this recipe makes enough for two batches of enchiladas. Anyhow, for Leftover Enchiladas, you just combine your random assortment of refrigerator offerings, add a little salsa and shredded cheese, and then spoon 1/2 cup down the center of each large tortilla and roll up. Pour enchilada sauce over. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes, covered, and then remove the cover for another 5 minutes until the cheese melts. Often I’ll even broil it at the end, to make the cheese nice and toasty.

The good news? My teenage son, who wouldn’t touch the butternut squash gratin, obliviously consumed it when it was mixed with other ingredients he liked. I might never purposely make enchiladas again. I’ll just wait and see what my fridge accumulates and whip up another batch.

Have a great week, and don’t let any food go to waste!