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The definitive guide to reheating leftovers

Chelsea is the author of the food blog Chelsea's Messy Apron where she shares a wide variety of recipes including family-friendly and easy meals, lots of baked goods and desserts, and plenty of healthy eats. She received her BA in Exerci...

11 Hacks to get the absolute best taste from your leftovers

We've compiled a comprehensive list to help you reheat your leftovers so well that you'll actually be excited to eat them the next day.

Find the hot spots in your microwave

11 Hacks to get the absolute best taste from your leftovers
Think all spots in your microwave heat evenly? Think again. The truth is, some spots in your microwave heat way better than others, and finding those "hot spots" will make sure your leftovers actually heat up when you press that start button. To find the hot spots, line a large plate evenly with miniature marshmallows. After heating up the marshmallows for about 30 seconds, it's easy to see where the hot spots are. If the marshmallows puffed up and then melted — that's a hot spot. If nothing happened to the marshmallows in some areas, you've found a cold spot. Try this just once, and you'll know exactly how to fill your plate so that all of your food heats evenly.

Scrambled eggs

Step away from the trash can. Believe it or not, you can eat those scrambled eggs again tomorrow. The key is to heat them very slowly. Microwave the eggs on very low power and for very short bursts, about five to 10 seconds at a time. Another way to re-heat eggs is to throw them in a skillet and warm them over medium-low heat. Once they are heated up again, adding a few new toppings will make them taste good as new. I like to sprinkle on a little bit more cheese and even a few sautéed vegetables.

Casserole

11 Hacks to get the absolute best taste from your leftovers

To re-heat a casserole dish, transfer the amount you want reheated to a small microwave-safe bowl. Then, using a spoon, create a hole in the center of the dish to help it all re-heat more evenly. Get a small damp towel and cover the dish. Microwave in short, one-minute bursts, stirring in between the bursts. The damp towel creates steam which keeps the dish from drying out, a common issue with re-heated casseroles.

Pancakes

The best way to re-heat leftover pancakes is by popping them in a toaster, if they will fit. If not, another efficient way is by using the stovetop. Place the leftover pancakes in a skillet over medium-low heat. Allow the pancakes to heat through by flipping them often. You'll want to watch these carefully to make sure they don't become too brown or burn.

Pizza

11 Hacks to get the absolute best taste from your leftovers

To reheat pizza, place it in a dry skillet over medium heat. Cover the pizza with the skillet lid to help melt the cheese again and heat up the toppings while keeping the crust still crisp. This method for reheating pizza is best for thin-crusted pizzas. Cook the pizza for about five minutes, and it will taste good as new.

Roasted potatoes

A microwave can make roasted veggies soft and chewy, eliminating that delicious crunch. Instead, use your oven. To re-heat roasted potatoes or other roasted vegetables, spread them out evenly on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Cover the pan in heavy-duty tinfoil and then bake the vegetables or potatoes in a 400 degrees F preheated oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the foil and make sure they are warmed through; if not, return for another five minutes.

Muffins

11 Hacks to get the absolute best taste from your leftovers

There is nothing like a warm muffin for breakfast, and there is no reason why you can't have them every morning. To quickly re-heat your muffins, make sure the oven is preheated to 300 degrees F. Wrap the muffin (or a few) in heavy-duty foil. Make sure every part of the muffin is well covered. If the muffin was frozen, you'll want it in the oven for about 12 to 15 minutes. If the muffin is coming from the fridge, it only takes about eight to 10 minutes. After that, remove the muffin carefully and discard the tinfoil. Your muffin will be warm and ready to eat.

Pasta

To revive leftover pasta, mix what is leftover with some extra sauce. Place the newly mixed pasta into a small casserole dish and cover the dish completely with heavy-duty foil. Bake it in a 300 degrees F preheated oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring two or three times during the cooking process. You can also add some new cheese or herbs to the pasta to give it an extra kick.

Macaroni and cheese

Sometimes macaroni and cheese can get crusty or become unevenly cooked if you microwave it. A better way to re-heat your macaroni and cheese leftovers is in a skillet over the stovetop. Start off by melting about a tablespoon of butter and a little bit of oil. Then add in the leftovers and pour in a little bit more milk or cream and a sprinkle of cheese. You will have a much creamier dish and one that has been re-heated evenly.

Soup

11 Hacks to get the absolute best taste from your leftovers

If you try to reheat soup in the microwave it will likely splatter all over. The best thing to do is to cover it with a paper towel. You don't want the paper towel damp or wet because it could fall into the soup and become a mushy mess. Also try adding a bit more liquid to your soup before heating it up. Microwave it for bursts of one minute until warmed through, and then add new garnishes/toppings to make the soup as good as new.

A simple tip to re-heating just about anything

11 Hacks to get the absolute best taste from your leftovers

For most things that you are re-heating in the microwave, a safe tip is to add about a teaspoon of water per serving to what you are reheating.The water heats up and becomes a steam that hydrates your food so it isn't left dry or crusty. Even over something like enchiladas, I've found this tip to work wonders.

More kitchen tips:

Kitchen tips inspired by Chef Carl Casper
6 Speedy kitchen tips for moms
The kitchen renovation guide

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