Pumpkin Custard and How to Use Leftover Ingredients

Let me tell you something about myself:  I hate wasting food.

One of my pet peeves used to be recipes that only used a small amount of an ingredient, as in one tablespoon of chopped, fresh parsley or two tablespoons of tomato paste, etc.  The leftovers would languish and eventually go bad in the refrigerator — only to be discovered later.  I say “used to be” because I’ve found ways around wasting the rest of the ingredients through various methods.

I realized I did not clarify that with the last recipe I posted! The pumpkin granola bars only call for 1/4 cup each of pumpkin puree and applesauce.   So I wanted to use this as an opportunity to share some tips for using leftover ingredients.

Whenever I have extra, I either use it up right away (e.g. we ate the leftover applesauce over the next days), or I freeze it.  It can drive my patient husband crazy, but I’ve been known to fill our ice cube trays with all sorts of leftover ingredients:  Coconut milk (leftover from curry —  frozen coconut milk is great in smoothies!), tomato paste, marinara sauce, chicken and beef broths, apple sauce, milk and coffee creamer (before we go on a long trip and I know it would go bad otherwise — these are also great in smoothies and frapuccinos!)  Yes, I’ve even frozen pumpkin puree in ice cube trays.  The resulting pumpkin cubes are great in smoothies and this terrific pumpkin frappucino (I use the frozen pumpkin and less ice, so it has more flavor).

My ice cube molds hold about 2 tablespoons.  I freeze the food in them and then transfer the cubes to a labelled freezer bag — the key word being labelled!
Don’t skip this step — believe me, frozen chicken broth looks a lot like applesauce.  To defrost, I zap them in the microwave.  I know each cube is 2 tablespoons, so two cubes are 1/4 cup and four cubes are 1/2, etc.

Frozen coconut milk cubes.

For the leftover pumpkin from the pumpkin granola in the last post, I decided not to freeze the rest of the pumpkin puree and instead made a simple pumpkin pie dessert minus the crust.

I blended the pumpkin, sweetener (I used stevia), cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and milk to taste  in a blender.  Then I added an egg and blended some more. I transferred the mixture to little ramekins and nuked them in the microwave for 2 minutes, then 1 1/2 minutes each until they looked done.  They were delicious with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice on top.

A less decadent pumpkin “pie” dessert.

For leftover ingredients that do not lend themselves easily to freezing, I make other things.  For leftover parsley, I always make tabouleh.  Here is a crunchy version inspired by Mark Bittman.  When I have leftover basil, I always make fresh pesto (which you can freeze or use immediately).  Here’s a recipe that I used when I had leftover basil after making stuffed zucchini.

Recently, I threw together a shrimp curry and had leftover coconut milk (which I froze as mentioned above) and chick peas.  A great way to use leftover chick peas is to puree them with tahini, lemon, garlic, salt, and olive oil to taste and make hummus.  If you only have a little bit though, I would recommend roasting them at a high temperature.  They make a yummy snack or salty treat to throw on your salad.  Just coat with oil or nonstick spray, kosher salt, and/or other seasoning and roast at 400 degrees, stirring every 15 minutes or so.  Roast until they are crunchy.  They are SO good.  I usually end up eating them all in one sitting.  They would probably be good mixed with popcorn, but I never save enough to try it out!

Do you have tricks for using up or saving leftover recipe ingredients?  Do share — I’d love to hear about them!

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On a literary note — I just want to let you all know that this weekend Denis and I will be on a panel with other authors of Halloween themed books at the wonderful Books of Wonder this Saturday at 12-2 pm to share Hush Little Monster.

Oct 27th
Saturday

12pm -2pm
HAUNTED HALLOWEEN FUN!
KARINA WOLF – The Insomniacs
MICHAEL LEVITON- My First Ghost
LEO LANDRY- Trick or Treat
DENNIS MARKELL – Hush, Little Monster
MELISSA IWAI – Hush, Little Monster
GIANNA MARINO – Too Tall Houses

On Sunday, we will be at Book Court in Brooklyn at 11 am.  I will be bringing these (mini) monster cookies to pass out.  If you are in the area, please stop by and say “boo!” 🙂

For info on upcoming events, check here.

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Now for the “recipes” — these are really just guidelines!  It depends on how much of the ingredient you have.

Pumpkin Custard

almost a can of pumpkin puree

sweetener of choice to taste

cinnamon to taste

pumpkin pie spice to taste

1-2 tablespoons or more milk, depending on how thick you like it-for a richer flavor and texture, use heavy cream

1 egg

1.  Blend everything in a blender except egg.  Then taste and adjust spices and milk.  Then add egg and blend some more.  You could also do this in a food processor.

2.  Transfer mixture to ramekins.  Microwave for 2 minutes.  Then again for about 1 1/2 minutes until custard looks cooked.  Serve with whipped cream and extra cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.

These are quite addicting. If you like them a lot, just go for a whole can!

Roasted Chickpeas

Leftover chickpeas

Non-stick spray

salt and or other seasonings of your choice

1.  Spray chickpeas with spray and sprinkle with salt on foil or parchment lined baking sheet.  Roast at 400 degrees F, shaking pan every 15 minutes, until chickpeas are crunchy — about 30-45 minutes.

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15 Comments

Filed under Books, Desserts, Sides, Vegetarian

15 responses to “Pumpkin Custard and How to Use Leftover Ingredients

  1. Yum, that custard looks fantastic! Great tips, too. Thanks!

  2. This is kinda off track, but pumpkin is good for doggies with an upset tummy. So I freeze any leftover pumpkin in icecube trays for my pup.

  3. Love anything pumpkiny! Thank you…

  4. Thanks for the great tips and delicious recipe 🙂

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  5. Ooh your pumpkin custard look amazing! And I totally agree with you, I hate wasting food too!!!

  6. Wonderful pumpkin custard recipe. I think it’s great that you’ve found such unique ways to use the remaining ingredients.

  7. A lot of leftover bits make it into the soup pot around here, or get used as toppings on pizzas or pizza-like concoctions involving flour tortillas, leftover French bread, etc. I do freeze leftover coconut milk — I usually just leave it in the can so I know what it is, rubberband a plastic bag over the top and leave it on the freezer door. I will freeze cubes of pesto or tomato paste. I also freeze things for stock — fennel tops, mushroom trimmings, winter squash innards.

    Your pumpkin pudding sounds delicious — especially with whipped cream.

  8. You have addressed an important issue when you talk about using leftovers. I have so many obscure leftovers like hemp protein powder and rice flour, plus the less-obscure ingredients like fresh herbs. I have heard that you can put herbs in ice cube trays, fill them with water, freeze, then remove and save in labeled freezer bags; that sounds like too much work.

  9. yummmmmmmmmmmmy i wish i could have all of that thank you 🙂

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