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On Cooking Southern: Healthful Repurposed Holiday Leftovers

roastedpearsalad-DSCN6178By Laurie Triplette
Rode Hard and Put up Wet: A classic term referring to one’s state or condition of being worse for the wear… and looking it — like our neighboring SEC brethren by the end of the January 2 Sugar Bowl. Poor Rolled Tide. HOTTY TODDY!
The party’s over. It’s time to call it a day.
These words in the poignant Jule Stein song from Bells are Ringing (lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) reflect how I always feel after the Christmas holidays. It’s a holiday hangover without the alcohol-induced headache. You know what I mean: The family has departed, the bowl games have been concluded, and there’s no excuse to postpone returning to work.
Meanwhile, little reminders of the good times just past remain in our kitchens. Currently, the Triplette counter still contains a few cookies and spiced nuts, part of Sally Malone’s grandmother’s fruitcake, semi-stale kettle corn, and several pieces of over-ripe fruit from the Harry & David and Pittman & Davis gift packages.
They’ve lost their appeal, but are too dear to throw out just yet. Surely this culinary detritus can be repurposed into nutritious dishes. I know what you are thinking: The Old Bride has watched too many episodes of Chopped on the food network…. Perhaps. You be the judge. 
Exactly three pears remain from our Harry & David gift package. On the over-ripe side, they were still perfect for roasting and serving in a salad with honey-based vinaigrette. What makes this salad wonderful is the silky-smooth vinaigrette. The luscious vinaigrette succeeds because of the small bit of mustard, which acts as an emulsifier.
Prep the Pears:

3 pears, halved and cored (sliced if already soft)

2 T extra light olive oil

2 tsp turbinado raw sugar

Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 425˚F. Place slivers or halved pears in a small bowl and drizzle with the olive oil, sugar and salt. Gently toss to coat. Transfer the coated pears to a baking sheet lined with foil. Roast about 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool.
Prep the Vinaigrette:

3/4 c extra light olive oil

3 T seasoned rice vinegar

1 T honey

1 tsp Creole mustard

1 shallot, minced very fine

2 pinches of Sea Salt

3 twists of fresh ground black pepper

Whisk the vinaigrette ingredients vigorously in a small non-reactive bowl, seasoning with the salt and pepper last.
Prep the Salad:

11- to 16-oz pkg of spring mix greens, rinsed and spun dry

4 oz crumbled feta cheese, or blue cheese

1/2 c roasted pecans (I used leftover curried pecans)

To assemble the salad, place the greens in a large bowl and add vinaigrette. Toss gently to completely coat the greens. Serve the greens in a large serving bowl or platter, with the cheese, pears and pecans on the side. Top individual servings of greens with the pears, cheese and pecans. NOTE: Puree leftover roasted pears and use as a spread on toast.
broiledgrapefruit-DSCN6190My family hoards the last bits of our annual stash of Pittman & Davis Texas Ruby Red grapefruit. But I always love to grill a few with whatever other fruit and crumbles are lying around.

Fresh grapefruit

Grand Marnier (about 2 tsp)

Coconut sugar


Agave nectar, optional



Cut the grapefruit into halves, and use small paring knife to cut each segment. Position the grapefruit halves in a baking dish and sprinkle sugar evenly over the tops. Spoon Grand Marnier over the sugar. At this point feel free to sprinkle a small amount of granola and berries on top, with a squirt of agave. Otherwise, combine the granola and berries in a small bowl with a small amount of agave and spoon the mixture over the broiled grapefruit before serving.
Chickentostada-DSCN6209What better way to repurpose those remaining sweet potatoes and zucchini squash than to combine them with chicken and South-of-the-Border spices? NOTE: Chipotle peppers in adobe sauce are available in 7-oz cans in the Mexican section of the local grocery store. I recommend everybody keep a can in the pantry. The smoky aroma of the adobe-soaked peppers is intoxicating and the peppers are intensely flavorful. Translation: The heat component also is intensified. If trying chipotle peppers for the first time, start with a small quantity. Add more to taste. You WILL get hooked.
Chipotle Cream Topping:

8-oz container of sour cream

2 T agave nectar

1 T chipotle pepper in adobe sauce, minced


1/2 c raw agave nectar

2 T lime juice (or lemon juice)

1 to 2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper

2 T minced garlic

Chicken & Veggies:

1.5 lb organic boneless, skinless chicken breast

1/4 c extra light olive oil

2 zucchini squash, cubed

1/4 c cubed parsnip or sweet potato, optional

1 bell pepper, chopped

1/2 c chopped onion

Salt and black pepper to taste

Corn tortillas

Mild tasting oil (I use extra light olive oil)

Mix up the Chipotle Cream in a small bowl and return the topping to the sour cream container. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Whisk together the marinade ingredients in a medium nonreactive bowl. Cut the chicken into strips about a half-inch wide. Marinate the chicken strips for about 20 minutes in the agave-lime-cumin-garlic mixture. Combine all the cubed veggies and the onions in another bowl.
Heat the first oil in a skillet . Drop in the chicken strips. Sear the strips and add remaining marinade. Sauté the strips, stirring occasionally, until juices begin to thicken. Add the veggies and toss. Cover and simmer, tossing at intervals, until the juices have been absorbed. Remove skillet from heat and cover.
Heat oil in a skillet (about 1/4-inch deep) on medium-high. Drop in corn tortillas, one at a time. Fry about 30-45 seconds on each side until golden and bubbled. (It won’t take long once the oil is heated.) Lower heat to medium if needed to prevent over-browning. Remove tostadas from skillet and drain on a paper-towel-lined baking sheet.
Spoon the hot chicken-veggie mixture onto each fried tortilla (tostada). Top with a generous dollop of chipotle cream. Enjoy!
Laurie Triplette is a writer, historian, and accredited appraiser of fine arts, dedicated to preserving Southern culture and foodways. Author of the award-winning community family cookbook GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’, and editor of ZEBRA TALES (Tailgating Recipes from the Ladies of the NFLRA), Triplette is a member of the Association of Food Journalists (AFJ),Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA)  and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SOFAB). Check out the GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’ web site: www.tripleheartpress.com and follow Laurie’s food adventures on Facebook and Twitter (@LaurieTriplette).

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