Leftover Lunch: Fourth of July Edition

barbecue, fourth of july If you celebrated the fourth of July this past weekend, you probably had a cook-out, and if you had a cook-out, you probably have some leftovers.  And if you have delicious leftovers, you probably don't want to let them go to waste. If you're stumped, try out some of these ideas, or get inspired to come up with something new.

Grilled Meat and Vegetables:

  • Sandwiches: This may seem obvious, but using pre-grilled meat and vegetables takes the work out of making a beautiful, work-intensive sandwich.
  • Tacos: Shred your grilled meat, and add it to sautéed peppers and onions. For vegetables, slice into small strips.  Serve with fresh vegetables and whatever fixings you like.
  • Quesadillas: Same as above, but add cheese.
  • Soups, stir-fries, salads, pastas, omelettes, and chilis: Add whatever you've got to anything that could use the smoky, complex grilled flavor of what you've got on hand.
  • If you've got leftover corn, try some of these ideas.

    barbecue, leftovers, fourth of july, chicken

Hamburger and Hot Dog Buns:

  • There are always options when it comes to leftover bread, but consider making bread pudding, croutons, or bread crumbs for future use.
  • I love making grilled cheeses on hamburger buns-- invert so that the insides of the bun get crispy.

Fruit chunks:

  • Freeze it, and blend it into smoothies or use in place of ice cubes.
  • Puree to make a chilled, fruity soup.
  • Make sangria! (Not for lunch, perhaps, but why not a cocktail after work?)

fruit, fourth of july, leftover

What do you like to make with your cook-out leftovers?

For more Leftover Lunch ideas, click here.

Win Free Tickets To The Summer BBQ Blowout

Want to know how you can attend the Summer BBQ Blowout Festival on August 6th, for free?

Check out Food Republic's Facebook fan page for more details about their sweepstakes that can win you two free VIP tickets to the first annual Summer BBQ Blowout Festival in New York City. The festival takes place behind City Winery, located at 155 Varick Street in NYC, on August 6th from noon to 4 pm. This delicious dance party & feast will feature some of NYC's best known chefs, bands and DJs.

It's definitely an event not to be missed and Food Republic can give you VIP access to it all. For more details about the contest, click here.

Marcus Pop Food: Food in Ft. Worth, Texas

Learning more about regional differences in American food is one of my favorite reasons to travel. In the South I have been to Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, and getting to taste the regional variations in barbecue has been a great experience. I'm slowly getting this understanding of barbecue, this special cuisine, which isn't common for a lot of chefs in the North.

Last week I was in Ft. Worth, Texas. Every time I go down South, I learn a lot about food. Not just how you cook something, but about the culture of it. In Ft. Worth, the food is authentic and real. I sat with the pitmaster at Angelo's barbecue restaurant and spent three hours just eating ribs, brisket, and delicious sides. When you're at Angelo's, you are in and of a place; it's like a time warp.

Tex Mex is itself a reason to visit Ft. Worth. We had a great experience at Juanito's taqueria. When you walk in, the aroma immediately confronts you and you know the food will be amazing. The menus were all in Spanish, and the food was completely authentic. We had tacos with tripe and pig ear tacos, two things you don't see often in New York, only in the most authentic places.

Thanks to Tim Love and his team of cooks. They were great hosts and all his guys were excellent help at the Texas Restaurant Association's Show. Thank you also to Remington College, whose students were all-star helping hands. I am always struck by Texan hospitality and friendliness whenever I visit. I can't wait to get back down South to learn even more.

Master the Grill with These Outside-The-Box Techniques

Today's New York Times Dining section had two great articles about grilling. One was all about campfire cooking which we covered last week, and the other was about fire. More specifically, author Steve Raichlen-who literally wrote the book on grilling-took an in-depth look at how a few chefs around the world have been doing some really interesting things to take grilling to the next level.

Even though the article featured techniques from very talented chefs, there are a number of really great ideas that you could take and use for your summer grilling, especially on this upcoming Fourth of July weekend.

One of the simplest and coolest techniques in the article was how chef Peter De Clercq of the Elckerlijc restaurant in Belgium "flavors" his fire. At his restaurant, Chef De Clercq will throw a handful of spices on the flames to infuse flavors into the fire under the grill. De Clercq uses things like junipers berries, coriander seeds, olive pits, and chips of beer barrels to add new dimensions to the food on the grill. This would be a great healthy grilling alternative (link here), since you could add a lot of flavor to your food without packing on the calories. In fact, De Clercq can add so many flavors through his fire seasoning, that he rarely flavors the food with anything other than a spritz of olive oil or a dash of sea salt.

The article also highlighted how different chefs using different fuels and amounts of fuel for their fire. Victor Arguinzoniz, the chef and owner of Etxebarri in the Basque region of Spain, uses very delicate heat produced by wood and not charcoal and a precise amount of coals to perfectly control his cooking. Chef Arguinzoniz also uses homemade tools like a metal steamer or a pan with wire screening to delicately steam his foods. If you were cooking something delicate, this would be a good way to avoid overcooking your food on the grill.

Another part of article that really interested me was how the culinary-forward iNG restaurant in Chicago serves edible charcoal. Along with a number of other crazy creations at his restaurant, chef Thomas Bowman makes edible charcoal by dipping bread in squid ink, pan-frying it in oil to get a crisp texture, and then plunging it in liquid nitrogen to give it the appearance of white ash. This might not be something you'll do at your next barbecue, but it definitely can inspire you to think outside the box with grilling and try something completely new and different.

Do you have any outside-the-box grilling techniques?

Healthy Grilling Alternatives

With summer getting into full swing and July 4th around the corner, cooking is moving from indoor kitchens to outdoor barbecues. But that doesn't mean you have to stop eating a healthy diet. Whether you're a vegetarian looking for some ideas for vegetarian grilling or just want something a bit lighter on the grill, take a look at these ideas.

Go with lots of flavors, less meat - If you pack the flavor into a marinade or sauce, you'll be able to enjoy a helping of meat without needing seconds. Tomato paste, soy sauce, chili sauce, and Worcestershire sauce can all add a lot of depth to a marinade. Adding something sweet like molasses, brown sugar, or honey is also a great way to sweeten-up your marinade. Just make sure not to over do it or you'll risk burning your food. Also, use resealable plastic bags or plastic wrap when marinating your meat or vegetables to lock-in as much flavor as possible. For easy and delicious options, check out these marinade recipes from my appearance on NBC's Today Show.

Stick to leaner meats - A barbecue doesn't necessarily have to be about beef and pork-leaner meats like turkey and chicken are great alternatives. For an even leaner meal, remove the skin before grilling. You can also get a lot of flavor out of grilled squid with just a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Also from the sea, swordfish or salmon grill well and are extra delicious after soaking in a marinade.

Fill up on sides - Being at a barbeque doesn't mean you only have to eat meat. Sometimes, the sides can be the best part of the meal. You'll be safe piling your plate with a green summer salad or a vegan watermelon and radish salad. When your focus is mostly on the grill, try some of these no-cook vegetarian options. A crisp salad or vegetable can perfectly offset the heavier barbeque offerings.

Grill something new - You might think there are only a few things to grill: meat, vegetables, or fruits. But if you think of your barbecue in a different way, you can cook all sorts of things. Trying grilling a grilled cheese filled with healthy vegetables and condiments. Or you can grill a quesadilla, like this eggplant and pepper variation. A thin-crust pizza will also benefit from the charred and smoky flavor if you choose to grill it. To keep it healthy, try this whole-wheat kale and mozzarella pizza.

What are your healthy grilling tips?

Photo: woodleywonderworks