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Don't Throw It Out: Smart Ways to Use Leftovers
What to do with leftover egg yolks, tomato paste, lemon peels and more.
Egg yolk
Egg Yolks
How you wound up with the leftovers: You made angel food cake, macaroons, meringue or marshmallows.

Use them now: Yolks have proteins that coagulate when gently heated, giving custard, crème brûlée and ice cream their signature soft-solid feel. You only need two yolks to make mayonnaise, and if you have just one, either add it to a whole egg for richer scrambled eggs, or prepare this simple garlic aioli, which is terrific with fried foods, from potatoes to crab cakes.

Use them later: Refrigerate yolks up to four days, or freeze them in clean ice cube trays until solid and then transfer to a zip-top bag for up to three months. (Be sure to mark on the bag how many yolks it contains.)
Rice
Rice
How you wound up with the leftovers: It turns out that your beef stir-fry didn't have quite as much sauce in need of soaking up as you'd thought.

Use it now: Fried rice is the obvious choice; sauté chopped vegetables and/or meat, add the rice, cook until heated through and bind everything with a sprinkling of soy sauce. You can also stir the cooked grains into chicken, miso or tomato soup—or steal a trick from Julia Child and use them to thicken smooth soups without adding cream (an immersion blender will puree the rice and help distribute it evenly).

Use it later: Rice holds up well in the freezer for a month or two. Thaw it in the refrigerator or, if it's in a bag, give it a few good thwacks on the counter to break it up; then microwave it for a few minutes with a bit of water.
Tomato paste
Tomato Paste
How you wound up with the leftovers: A recipe called for a tablespoon, but you opened a whole 6-ounce can.

Use it now: Take advantage of paste's concentrated flavor and make a tomato sauce in half the time it would take with whole or chopped tomatoes: Sauté a clove of garlic in olive oil, add paste (this works best if you have most of the can left over) and a cup of water, and season with salt, pepper and a dash of oregano. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 15 minutes.

Use it later: Dole out tablespoons of paste onto a metal baking sheet and freeze. Once the lumps are completely frozen, store them in an airtight bag for up to six months.
Chicken
Chicken
How you wound up with the leftovers: You were too full from Sunday brunch to finish a big dinner.

Use it now: There are a million directions you can take here. Feel like Mexican? Make enchiladas: Lay a scoop of shredded chicken, cheese and any other fillings on a tortilla; roll; lay it seam side down in a baking dish; top with jarred enchilada sauce and bake. Soup? Stir pulled-apart bits of meat into broth and simmer with carrots, onions and celery. A summery sandwich? Mix the chicken with barbecue sauce and serve on a bun. Pasta? Cristina Ferrare adds it to farfalle with pesto.

Use it later: We've had mixed results with freezing chicken. You're better off refrigerating it and using the meat within three days.
Lemon peels
Lemon Peels
How you wound up with the leftovers: You're hooked on squirting lemon juice into your seltzer.

Use them now: Citrus peels are packed with nutrients as well as a surprising amount of flavor. Grate them and sprinkle the zest on green beans or asparagus. For dessert, simmer strips in simple syrup and roll in sugar; place on cooling racks to dry, about three to five hours. (They make a lovely garnish for pound cake.)

Use them later: Wrap the zest tightly in plastic and then seal it in a zip-top bag. Again, it helps if you mark the quantity (e.g., "zest of one lemon") on the bag. To defrost, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes and then rub the zest between your fingers to fluff it up.
Ham
Ham
How you wound up with the leftovers: There were just too many side dishes at the party.

Use it now: Cut the meat into strips or squares and stir it into mac 'n' cheese, split pea soup, scrambled eggs or the filling of a quiche.

Use it later: Cooked ham will last three to four days in the fridge or up to two months in the freezer (although it tends to lose flavor and texture when frozen).

Next: 6 amazing dinner shortcuts you've never thought of before