November 1, 2011

How to Use Up Dairy-Based Condiments {Naptime Simple Tips}

Condiments

About once a month I open my refrigerator to see half-used containers and cans of condiments that are perilously close to their expiration dates. It may be a tub of sour cream that I used for a cake two weeks ago, or a tub of yogurt we haven’t quite finished up. Whatever it is, I hate (hate!) to waste it. My parents always taught me to “waste not, want not” when it came to cooking and baking and that included the simple things like basic dairy-based condiments. Sure, it would be easy to flush them down the drain before they go rancid, but I find it easier, and less wasteful, to build recipes specifically around what I need to use up. This can be tricky to do with dairy which is why I thought I’d share some of our favorites for using up little bits of this and that lingering in the fridge instead of letting them go to waste.

How to Use Up Sour Cream:

I usually buy large tubs of sour cream when I am tackling a big recipe like a sour-cream based cake or making a sour-cream sauce. After scooping the necessary amounts for the recipe out of the container I often find about one cup, or a little less, is left in the container. Here are some of the things I make with the sour cream to use up the last bits before it goes bad!

* Lucinda Scale Quinn’s Sour Cream Waffles: These Scandinavian-style eggy waffles are dense and tangy because of the addition of sour cream. We love to cook them up on weekends, my daughter eats hers topped with maple syrup and sliced bananas.

* Topping for Chicken Enchiladas: Our enchiladas are never complete without a dollop of sour cream on top. Using the sour cream as a topping for enchiladas is a great way to use it up leftover sour cream and add flavor your favorite Mexican dish!

* Baked Potatoes with Sour Cream:  This timeless dish never fails to please everyone at our table and it does not require copious amounts of sour cream.  I often just scrape in whatever is left in our container into a bowl on the table and let people dollop whatever they want on to their potatoes.

* Sour Cream Salad Dressing: This tasty salad dressing only requires two tablespoons of sour cream and makes enough to dress a whole salad. Plus, the dressing will stay good in the fridge for several days.

How to Use Up Large Tubs of Yogurt:

I buy yogurt in huge amounts because we go through phases when we use it everyday for a little smoothie, binding for chicken salad or to bake simple French loaf cakes. But then…the phase is over and the remaining bits of yogurt are left behind. What to do before it goes bad? Here are few things I make that call for less than a cup of yogurt and are a fabulous way to use it up:

* Yogurt Blue Cheese Dip: I cut out this recipe from the Times years ago and still use it to this day. It is so easy to cut in half if you only have half a cup of yogurt remaining. I use this dip for chips, crudite or even as a topping for an iceberg wedge or steak!

* Mini Yogurt Parfaits: Layer up some yogurt with pumpkin granola for a fun, easy breakfast.

* Brownies with Vanilla Yogurt: Did you know you can substitute yogurt for oil in brownie recipes? It is so easy to do and doesn’t require much yogurt, usually about 1/3 to ½ cup. This is a fabulous way to use up yogurt and makes those brownies much healthier, too!

Pancakes

How to Use Up Evaporated Milk:

Evaporated milk is often used in pies and tarts, but sometimes the recipe doesn’t call for the entire can. It is so frustrating to have half a can of evaporated milk in the fridge when there are so few everyday things I can use it for. Here are the three main things I use it for when I just want to get rid of it:

* Evaporated Milk Pancakes: Did you know that substituting evaporated milk for regular milk in pancakes makes them much tastier? I only do this when I have leftover evaporated milk hanging around – it does increase the calorie count of the pancakes – but it is a welcome treat when it happens!

* Evaporated Milk Mac & Cheese: A few years ago I stumbled upon this recipe which calls for evaporated milk to make the traditional mac and cheese sauce ten times more luxurious. It is a great way to use up that lingering half can and make a terrific dinner in the process!

* Brown Sugar Fudge: Many fudge recipes often call for evaporated milk recipes, but never a whole can’s worth. This delicious fudge recipe is a great way to use up that pesky half can and make a great gift for a friend in the process. We all know someone who could use a few squares of fudge as a pick-me-up about now, right?

How to Use Up Cottage Cheese:

Crunchy crackers topped with cottage cheese is one of our favorite snacks. I usually by big tubs and find myself dipping in to them with crackers whenever a salty snack craving takes hold. The only problem with this method is that I go through very little of the tub throughout the course of the week.  Sometimes I find I have to get rid of the cottage cheese before a big trip where it would bad while we were gone. That means I have to use it up in one fell swoop instead of snack by snack. Here are some of our favorite cottage cheese recipes:

* Grandma’s Cottage Cheese Pancakes: There is no better way than to use up cottage cheese than with my grandmother’s crepe-like pancakes. They are thick, packed with protein and always a crowd pleaser.

* Eggplant Parmesan with Cottage Cheese: In this recipe cottage cheese is added to the lasagna for increased flavor and texture. It calls for nearly a container of cottage cheese.

* Berry Blintzes with Cottage Cheese Filling: I’ll admit, sometimes I serve these for dinner! They also make a great breakfast and are an easy way to use up cottage cheese and any fresh fruit you have on hand.

End Note: When I’ve used up all of these condiments I often wash the containers in the dishwasher and either recycle them or give the plastic containers to my daughter to use in her play kitchen.