Leftovers can quickly become unsafe or spoil. I remember my dad getting upset with me as I would smell everything in the refrigerator before deciding to eat something. I always ask family how long something has been in their refrigerator before deciding to re-heat it. Actually you can't always count on sight, smell or taste to let you know if something is unsafe to eat. We can't see bacteria. The best thing you can do for yourself (and me) is to date leftovers and take a look around your refrigerator every time you are in it and get rid of those leftovers which need to be discarded.
For food safety, hot foods should be refrigerated as soon as possible after serving. If you don't feel you can consume the food within four days put it in the freezer. If you have a large quantity of hot food it should be divided into smaller shallow containers to be cooled. Do not leave food out to cool; refrigerate once steaming stops. Cool food uncovered, once cooled in the refrigerator put the lid on it. Use air-tight containers whenever possible. Make sure your refrigerator is maintaining a 40 degree or lower temperature (use a refrigerator thermometer). Date your leftovers and throw them out after four days. Any foods left out for over two hours need to be discarded. Avoid over-stocking your refrigerator as it needs room for the cool air to circulate properly.
When you re-heat these leftovers make sure that you reheat them to at least 165 degrees throughout (use a food thermometer) to assure that bacteria are destroyed. Do not use a slow cooker to re-heat food. Boil any soups, gravies or sauces.
2 cups leftover meat chopped
1 to 1-1/2 cups cooked pasta (can be leftover)
2 cups shredded cheese
1-1/2 to 2 cups leftover vegetables
3/4 cup milk and 1 can cream soup - mixed together
Salt and pepper to taste
Bake at 350 about 45 minutes until hot and bubbly (at least 165 degrees throughout).
Chautauqua County Office for the Aging Senior Nutrition Program provides nutritious noon meals at several congregate dining sites throughout the county, along with a Restaurant Dining Out Program. Our dietitian, Cheryl Wahlstrom, R.D., is available for nutrition counseling in your home at no cost to you. We also sponsor several exercise programs. Call the office for more details and information. Call 753-4471, 661-7471 or 363-4471.