The Left-Over Decision

As I have mentioned earlier, I am a meal planner. Every weekend I will plan meals for the week and then buy ingredients to ensure I have everything on hand to make each dish. One of the downfalls of this strategy is I often will end up with days worth of leftovers in the fridge.

I know I could build in an occasional pause in the meal plan to eat leftovers, but it is often difficult to predict when that will be needed. I could also eat the leftovers for lunch the next day. My wife rarely eats a full lunch while at work, and my boys rarely pack lunch, so that means it is up to me.

The problem is that I have been trying to eat better and if I can have a lower calorie lunch (salad), I can have a little more flexibility in what I make for dinner. So, leftovers often would mean too much of a good thing.

Some recipes, like the one below, lend themselves to being a good day 2 side dish. Who doesn’t want a scoop of cheesy pasta on the side?

This was a great dish with cheesy goodness!

A huge amount of ingredients.

I had never thought to smooth out cottage cheese. It was very cool.

Cook the pasta.

Saute the veggies.

Add the fresh chopped spinach.

Just about ready for the oven.

Doesn’t that look awesome?

Three-Cheese Chicken Penne Florentine

Makes: 8 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 3 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (16-ounce) carton 2% low-fat cottage cheese
  • 4 cups hot cooked penne (about 8 ounces uncooked tube-shaped pasta)
  • 2 cups shredded roasted skinless, boneless chicken breast
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of chicken soup, undiluted


Preheat oven to 425°.

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, and bell pepper; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add spinach, oregano, and black pepper; sauté 3 minutes or just until spinach wilts.

Place cottage cheese in a food processor; process until very smooth. Combine spinach mixture, cottage cheese, pasta, chicken, 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, milk, and soup in a large bowl. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheddar cheese and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.

Nutritional Info:

345 calories 25 % caloriesfromfat 9.7 g fat 5.1 g satfat 3.1 g monofat 1 g polyfat 31.7 g protein 32.9 g carbohydrate 2.1 g fiber 56 mg cholesterol 2 mg iron 532 mg sodium 275 mg calcium


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Baking, Cheese, Chicken, Italian, Main Dish 2, Pasta, Recipes, vegetable3

Author:The Ranting Chef

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11 Comments on “The Left-Over Decision”

  1. November 11, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    That looks splendiferous. I’m always after more interesting ways with pasta which I seem to cook less these days than I used to.


  2. November 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    I also plan a weekly menu, and can get carried away, thereby creating a fridge full of leftovers. This pasta looks great; it could even be a vehicle for using up leftover chicken and vegetables. 😉


  3. November 11, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    Yes, awesome is the word that best describes your recipe 🙂


  4. jetr1
    November 11, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

    I rarely cook during the week, that job is my husbands, but when I did do all the cooking, I would hold leftover till Saturday(it was only me and my two children at the time) and we would have a pinic. No cooking. Now leftovers are my lunch for the next day. I love the recipe.


  5. November 12, 2012 at 2:31 am #

    Holy smokes, that sounds good. I can’t imagine cooking every day. I cook so I have leftovers. I might “re-invent” the leftovers into something else or just eat the leftover, but often it is just nice to not have to start from scratch every day.


  6. November 12, 2012 at 3:35 am #

    Not only does that whole recipe sound good (though I would personally vegetarian-ize it a bit), but the idea of smoothing out the cottage cheese is brilliant! I will definitely be capitalizing on that “invention.”


  7. November 12, 2012 at 4:39 am #

    I’ve never thought of blending cottage cheese either… wow! Must have a go because your dish looks scrummy! I love using leftovers creative… too often mind just end up as ‘soup de jour’!


  8. November 12, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    Looking to make this for the family (I’m vegetarian, so maybe I’ll make myself a chick’n version) over the weekend, to be sure to eliminate any possibility of leftovers. It looks incredible.


  9. November 13, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    This looks great! Might just have to put it on next week’s menu. I do all my meal planning like you. Takes the stress out of the week and I find that I waste less food since every ingredient has a purpose. Cuts down on buying excess at the store.

    Diva di Cucina


  10. November 13, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

    I remember an episode of “Malcolm in the Middle” that began with Lois, the mom, serving the family “leftover casserole.” Malcolm counts the layers and turns to the camera with a look of horror. It’s his worst fear–the bottom layer of the leftover casserole is the last week’s leftover casserole! (Now there’s a great idea for using them up.)

    Anyway, your blog looks tasty, from the chili to the pasta! (that’s as far as I’ve gotten) Count me in as a new follower.


  11. November 16, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    Very good.Thank you very much


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