The Best New Way to Use Leftovers

Photo: ThinkstockPhoto: ThinkstockBy Lynn Andriani

Resourceful cooks know that if you have eggs, cheese and some sort of grain, you can probably assemble a decent dish out of leftovers from last night's dinner. Frittatas, stir-fries and soups are all in the repertoires of anyone whose mantra is "there's no reason to toss this perfectly good food." Except sometimes, there is a reason: you're sick of frittatas, stir-fries and soups.

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The solution is as easy as a hand-held treat that also happens to be one of the most foolproof baked goods you can make. I'm talking about muffins, which allow for infinite variations. While they're best known in their sweet form--blueberry, lemon poppy seed, banana-cinnamon-nutmeg-applesauce-walnut--savory muffins are just as delicious. Here's how to turn three common leftovers into the perfect breakfast, snack or lunch or dinner side.

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Roasted or mashed sweet potatoes: Use these beta-carotene-rich vegetables in place of pumpkin in this recipe (one-and-a-half to two medium sweet potatoes will give you a cup of sweet potato puree), and try adding chopped dates along with the pecans or walnuts.

Steamed broccoli: Provided the florets aren't coated in soy sauce, chop them and mix, along with a half-cup of shredded cheddar, into corn muffin batter. Art Smith's recipe is a perfectly simple one to tinker with; just use muffin tins instead of a cast-iron skillet.

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Oatmeal: All you need is a cup of cooked oats; the rest of the ingredients are staples. Blogger Amanda Soule has the simplest recipe ever: 1 cup cooked oatmeal, 1 egg, 1 Tbsp. melted butter, 1/2 cup milk, 4 Tbsp. sweetener (honey, sugar or maple syrup all work well), 2 Tbsp. baking powder, 1 1/2 cups flour, and 1/2 cup "extra somethings," whether raisins, chocolate chips, berries or nuts. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.

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