Black Bean, Cheese and Chicken Burritos

We were at a picnic this past weekend when talk turned, as it does in the presence of flaming grills and groaning sideboards, to “repurposing” leftovers. There are two camps that take sides during these types of conversations: the “I can’t get enough” group who happily eats their way through the Tupperware jungle in their refrigerator, and the “give me something new” folks who simply can’t stand to have the same dishes night after night.

Who knew that we were introducing such a heated (pun intended) topic into the conversation! It seems that, once you’ve found your tribe, there is little that will change your perspective on eating leftovers.

Around here we have some cross-pollination of opinions and that makes for an interesting week of menu planning. My “waste not, want not” mindset gets a little trying for the rest of the family, who tire of seeing progressively wilted specimens on their plates as the week wears on.

Which is why I like the idea of “repurposing” as much as I do. It’s not the “same old, same old,” but neither have I resorted to tossing the Sunday leftovers in the trash (for shame!). Personally, I find this to be the mark of a good and frugal cook: someone who can take what they have on hand and serve it up in a new and tasty way. Element of surprise and all that — just don’t get too creative, which is a lesson we learned in the Split Pea Soup with Ham post. Plus, with the busy lives we lead, who really has the time to make a full dinner from scratch every night? Oh, what a luxury that would be, though I think I’d go broke trying to cook that way!

For those like-minded individuals who are trying to use up the last of this past weekend’s barbecue fixings I have this advice: consider the burrito.

A little bit of everything in these burritos: rice, beans, chicken and cheese

A little bit of everything in these burritos: rice, beans, chicken and cheese

I’m hardly being original here, but if you haven’t had burritos at home in a while this is your reminder to put them on the menu this week. Grab a big flour tortilla, fill it with some traditional ingredients like rice, cheese and beans, and then toss in those leftover proteins or veggies. Grilled chicken is perfect. Steak would be great. Lettuce, mushrooms, tomatoes, grilled onions or zucchini….all wonderful in a burrito.

Our Black Bean, Cheese and Chicken Burritos redeem those Memorial Day leftovers. Keep reading for the easy recipe!

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Coconut Rice Pudding with Pineapple

Pastry chefs amaze me. They are scientists, artists, and culinary masters in equal measure, capable of creating desserts that leave dinners in gastronomic and aesthetic ecstasy. Whether it’s a multi-tiered ganache-frosted cake, artfully arranged fruit tart, or spun-sugar sculpture, pastry chefs certainly know how to finish a meal.

I, however, am not a pasty chef. A far cry, really, having seized the chocolate in my most recent dessert recipe even after following the instructions precisely.

Which, perhaps, is why I like this recipe for coconut rice pudding so much. There are no tricks, no special techniques, and it is very forgiving. Stir it for one minute less or one minute more and you’ll still have a delicious dish…not a pan of “it tastes better than it looks” or “hey, I think I have enough ice cream in the freezer to be used as a back up plan.”

Sweet and creamy: coconut rice pudding, pairs beautifully with pineapple

Sweet and creamy: coconut rice pudding pairs beautifully with pineapple

Rice pudding is also one of those recipes loved the world ’round. Nearly every country has their own take on this comforting dish, from the Algerian m’halbi laced with cinnamon and rosewater, to the Indian firni with cardamom and pistachio, to the sweet orange- and clove-tinged Peruvian arroz con leche, to the Norwegian Christmas specialty riskrem, or the German Milchreis with apples and cherries.

Serve a bowl of rice pudding and you’re taking your family and guests back to simpler times. Rice puddings have an almost child-like magic to them, able to convey both love and comfort in one bite, warm or chilled. Chocolate tortes may be awe-inspiring, but rice puddings are soul-inspiring.

Get the recipe for our magical Coconut Rice Pudding with Pineapple here!