April 4, 2012

Restaurant Magic Revived At Home

No matter how good you are at cooking or how much you enjoy it, sometimes it's nice to just go out to a restaurant and leave all the cooking (and cleanup) to someone else. Casey and I went out to PF Chang's last night, and like most restaurants, their portions are huge. As you can imagine, we took quite a bit of food home with us.

Leftovers are great, since you get a little more for your money. Sadly, they are often disappointing when you reheat them the next day. I have a couple of tricks to help you get the most out of your leftovers, and therefore the most bang for your buck.

Almost as good as it was last night!
First, you must resist the urge to microwave your leftovers. This is a recipe for disastrously lame food. Even for homemade leftovers, I rarely microwave them because you're often left with dried out, unevenly heated food. Instead, break out a small frying pan and turn it to medium-low.

Here's where the fun begins. You're going to want to add a little liquid to the pan. For the Mongolian beef (pictured above), I added about 1/4 cup of water and a bit of soy sauce. For the Honey Chicken, I added that same 1/4 cup of water, but also a little honey. Water is a good choice for meats, just make sure to only add a little water, you don't want to make it soggy.

If you have some pasta leftovers instead, say with a nice creamy Alfredo sauce, adding a little milk is the ideal choice. Alfredo sauce is always the worst to microwave, because the oil separates from the sauce. To avoid this problem in the pan, make sure you just keep a nice low heat. Stir your leftovers for 8-10 minutes, until thoroughly heated and the liquid is absorbed.

When adding some extras, like the soy sauce I added to the beef, follow your instincts. Anything used in the original recipe is always a good choice to help freshen up the dish. A little Parmesan cheese will go a long way in that Alfredo sauce and do wonders. But don't be afraid to get a little creative and add something else, like the carrots I sliced up.

Your dish will never be quite as good as it was when fresh, but this will help you get the best results you can.

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