A web of recipes for those in need of dinner magic

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

I peered into the recesses of my fridge and wondered, what can I whip up tonight? It should have been easy to answer that question. After all, we still had a mound of roasted turkey, a bowl of broccoli, a couple of sweet potatoes, and dibs and dabs of salad, relishes, and dressing tucked here and there.

The problem, though, was that those leftovers had already made several repeat appearances at the dinner table. If I used them again as is, I figured my husband might revolt. That meant they would have to be disguised. But as what? I was fresh out of ideas.

Suddenly I remembered hearing about a website where you type in a list of your leftovers and up pops a list of recipes using those ingredients.

Recommended: Menu ideas for Thanksgiving dinner

Off to the computer I ran. First I tried the ingredient search at All Recipes (http://search.allrecipes.com/recipe/ingadv. asp). Type in four ingredients you want to use, and recipes magically appear.

I wondered if the computer might spit out suggestions for odd-tasting concoctions that somehow combined cranberry sauce, stuffed olives, gravy, and turkey. But I needn't have worried. Most of the choices were pretty normal: Turkey Tortilla Soup, Annie's Turkey Salad.

The downside was that I seemed to be missing one ingredient in all the recipes that sounded good to me. No cream cheese for the "different twist to the turkey sandwich." No tortillas for making turkey burritos.

I moved on to www.firehousechef. com/Fridge/FridgeFind.asp, but the only turkey recipe was for roasted turkey. An Australian site (www.michelbonnet.com) was entertaining because it had a cartoon refrigerator filled with all kinds of items - click on the broccoli or chicken and it's added to your list.

But what some of the cute little drawings represented wasn't always clear. I called my husband to the computer and pointed: Do you think that's a slice of bread?

"Yes," he answered hesitantly. We were wrong; it was a steak. Unable to erase our mistake, we had to start over.

With my spouse's stomach grumbling ominously with hunger, my fingers clicked across the keyboard at a staccato pace. The recipes at Better Homes & Gardens (www.bhg.com/bhg/recipe) were neatly organized by category (from appetizers to entrees). Tomorrow, I vowed, I would buy a zucchini and make Creamy Turkey-Vegetable Soup.

But what about tonight? I whizzed through Epicurious (http://eat. epicurious.com), Cooking.com (www. cooking.com/recipes), Recipezaar (www.recipezaar.com), and CD Kitchen (www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/cat/143/0. shmtl). Too many choices. Why hadn't I started searching earlier in the day?

Then I saw a mention of an open-face turkey sandwich. It sounded good. Besides, I had bread, turkey, even homemade gravy. And I knew how to put that together. No recipe needed.

Five minutes later, we sat down to eat. "Mmm," said my husband. "I really like turkey leftovers. I could eat them every night for two weeks."

He will probably get his wish.

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