Category Archives: Leftover Magic

7 ways to use old citrus

7 ways to use old citrus

 

It happens to all of us. Maybe you vowed that this was the year that you’d eat half a grapefruit for breakfast every day. Maybe you saw that gorgeous stack of oranges at the grocery store and had to have some.

So you end up with surplus citrus. And sometimes you might end up with an orange or lime that’s a little bit old. Not moldy or gross, mind you. But just a little. . . sad. When we have fruit that starts to look this way, everyone in the family shuns it.

But there’s still a way to salvage it. Here are seven ways to use up your old citrus:

Marinades

Juice your citrus. Then toss chicken breasts in a freezer bag and the squeezed juice. Freeze for later thawing and grilling. Some flavor combinations that I love:

  • Grapefruit juice, a few sprigs of rosemary, and a garlic clove
  • Lime juice, sliced onion, chopped fresh cilantro
  • Lemon juice, lemon zest, and thyme

Freezer meals

But why limit the juice to marinades? You can make some great freezer meals from fresh-squeezed juice.

Try either the Orange Ginger Chicken or Lemon Pepper Chicken from New Leaf Wellness:

6 Crockpot Freezer Chicken Meals

Fresh-squeezed orange juice tends to be sweeter than concentrate, so if you make this yummy recipe from Freezer Meals For Us, taste the orange sauce before adding the brown sugar and adjust to taste.

Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

Drink spritzes

You can’t get more than a half-cup of juice from most citrus, making it tough to get a good fresh-squeezed glass of OJ from one orange. However, you can use a splash of squeezed juice to freshen up a drink. Freeze the juice in ice-cube trays. When frozen, you can drop a cube in plain water. The juice cubes can add zing to other drinks too. I once put a blood tangerine cube in a Diet Coke. . .ah heaven!
Beats Diet Coke and lime any day.

Smoothies

This works best with oranges, of course. Peel the oranges and lay the segments on a wax-paper lined cookie sheet. Freeze and pop the frozen segments into  a freezer bag for use. These make the freshest tasting Orange Julius!

Green cleaner

You can also take citrus peels and steep them in vinegar. Strain the liquid after a few weeks and pour it into a clean spray bottle. There are lots of how-tos on the Internet, such as this one from  the Shabby Creek  Cottage. Just remember, you can use more than orange peels. Lemons, limes, and grapefruit peels also make a nice natural cleaner.

Sometimes the citrus is just too far gone to be edible. Don’t worry. You can still squeeze some life out of it before tossing.

Air freshener

Cut up your citrus and toss the pieces into a slow cooker or pot of simmering water. You can also add aromatic herbs and spices, like rosemary and cinnamon sticks. It’s especially great to get rid of those musty late-winter house odors.

Disposal cleaner

Finally you can always use it as a disposal cleaner. Cut up the citrus and toss a few slices in the disposal along with a few ice cubes. Grind them up. This is a great way to clean the disposal and keep it fresh. I know that many people like to freeze slices in chunks like hockey pucks, but I’d rather keep my freezer free for other things.

What’s your favorite way to deal with old citrus?

 

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5 Minute, No-Measure Crockpot Soup

5 Minute No Measure Crockpot Soup leftovers

Crockpot soups are soooo nice to come home to. They’re warm, comforting, and easy.
But trying to follow a recipe at seven in the morning is a little too much effort for me.
I know, I know. You can put all the ingredients in the crock pot the night before and refrigerate the crockpot until morning.
But that involves planning. And some days, that’s more planning than I want to deal with.

For those days when mornings are hectic, I rely upon the 5 minute, no-measure crockpot soup.

You can throw together this soup in five minutes, plug in the crockpot, and leave it to simmer. Come back — instant dinner.

Carl Weathers Baby you got a stew going on

Carl Weathers would approve

To make 5 minute, no-measure crockpot soup, just follow the chart below. Start with a liquid, like chicken broth, add a few vegetables from column A, protein from column B, add some spices. And baby, you got a soup going on!

I’m serious about the no measuring. . .you just eyeball everything. And this recipe scales — you can make it in a small 4 quart crockpot enough for two with leftovers, or feed the block with an 8 quart crockpot. Just follow the ratios: 1/2 liquid, 1/4 vegetables, 1/4 protein.

Crockpot soup is very forgiving. Here are the details:
broth

Liquids – Pick the flavor you want and fill the crockpot up half way. Spaghetti sauce is good for minestrone type soups, milk for chowders, and clear broths for almost anything. If using milk, be sure to use skim or 2% milk. Higher-fat milks tend to curdle.

 

tomatoVegetables – You can fill the crockpot 1/4 full with bite size chopped vegetables. Frozen vegetables work great, as well as leftover vegetables from the night before. Limit it to three kinds of vegetables to avoid weird combinations.

 

meat

Meats and other proteins – I always have a few bags of precooked chicken or hamburger stashed in the freezer. Cans of beans are even easier to add to your soup.  Just dump your protein in, filling up the crockpot, leaving 1-2 inches headspace.

 

spicesYou can be a lot less exact with spices than other types of cooking. Toss in a chopped onion, some minced garlic, and some celery. Feel free to leave out the onion or garlic if you don’t like. Toss in the other spices, a good pinch, depending upon how you want the soup to turn out. I just grab a small spoon from the silverware drawer and use it to add the spices.

I like to salt the soup just before eating. It’s lots easier to adjust salt and heat at the end of the cooking time.

 

cheeseThese are the finishing touches that really makes the soup. Add them just before serving. You can stir them in or top your soup with them.

 

And finally, give your soup a good stir before leaving it unattended. I confess, I tend to forget this last step. Often I’ve come home and lifted the lid to view an island of dried out vegetables and meat in a pool of liquid.

 

Here’s your handy chart:

crockpot, leftover magic, soups, freezer cooking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Cooking, Crockpot Cooking, Leftover Magic, Soups