There’s nothing better than throwing in the kitchen towel for the evening and taking the family out for a dinner at one of the many unforgettable restaurants in Kansas City. But after stuffing yourself and cramming a tower of squeaky Styrofoam leftover containers into the fridge, it’s hard to imagine coming back for round two.
No matter where we go to eat, we usually have at least a few leftovers to bring home—which, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about. Leftovers are an easy and economical way to save time and money on meals the next day. But even if heating up leftovers makes logical sense, some of us are wired to want a little more variety than the same meal all week. And even if you could eat leftover pizza seven days a week (because that 100% sounds like my kind of meal prepping), it can be fun to take your favorite foods and make something new with them. If you’re ready to see your leftovers in a new way, here are a few delicious ways to reuse meals from iconic KC restaurants.
With giant, family-style bowls of mashed potatoes, green beans, and heaping piles of crispy fried chicken, Stroud’s is one of the easiest restaurants to collect a few leftovers from. While it doesn’t take a creative genius to come up with ideas to reuse the fried chicken (chicken and waffles for breakfast, anyone?), it’s Stroud’s famous cinnamon rolls that I’d been searching for a way to repurpose. The sweet, sticky buns are so good when they’re warm and fresh, but they lose a little bit of their magic after a night on the counter. Enter this bread pudding recipe: I am not exaggerating when I say this is the custardy, cubed, cinnamon carbs of the gods.
Leftover Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding (serves 2)
- 2 cups leftover Stroud’s cinnamon rolls, cut into medium-sized cubes (this was about four rolls for me, but use however many you have left and adjust your recipe accordingly)
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup half and half (or 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Dash of salt
- Optional: whipped cream, cinnamon, or melted vanilla ice cream to top it with!
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut your leftover cinnamon rolls into medium-sized cubes (mine were probably about 3/4 inch). In a small bowl, mix your cinnamon roll cubes with the melted butter. Split the buttered cubes between two ramekin dishes or oven-safe mugs.
- In a medium bowl, whisk egg and sugar together until fully mixed. Add half and half, vanilla, and salt to the egg/sugar mixture, then whisk until incorporated.
- Pour the egg custard mixture over the cinnamon rolls until it’s 3/4 of the way up your ramekin dish. You’ll still have some custard mixture left. Let sit for 15 minutes so the rolls can soak up some of the custard. After they’ve soaked, add more custard, enough so that the liquid is 3/4 of the way up your ramekin dish and there is still some bread exposed at the top.
- Bake for 30 minutes at 350.
- Let cool slightly, then top with whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon or a little bit of melted vanilla ice cream.
Joe’s KC BBQ
(or Gates, Arthur Bryant’s, Q39…I’m not about to fight you)
The beauty of Kansas City barbecue is that, no matter where you go, you’re guaranteed a good meal…and no matter what tender, flavorful cut of meat you order, you’re also guaranteed to have a good dinner the next day, especially with these barbecue quesadillas!
Kansas City BBQ Quesadillas (serves 1)
- ¼ cup (or desired amount) of your favorite barbecued meat
- 1 tablespoon of leftover barbecue sauce (or desired amount)
- 1 avocado
- 1 tablespoon diced red onion
- ¼ cup shredded Monterrey jack or mozzarella cheese
- ½ tablespoon of butter
- 2 corn tortillas
- Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.
- In a small bowl, mix your leftover meat and barbecue sauce.
- Cut a quarter of your avocado into small pieces.
- In your skillet, place one corn tortilla, then layer with barbecue meat mixture, red onion, shredded cheese, and avocado.
- Put your second tortilla on top.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes or until tortilla is golden brown and cheese is beginning to melt. Flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes until cheese is completely melted.
Once again, we can debate the best pizza in Kansas City all day, but with 18 locations across the metro, it’s clear KC loves Minsky’s. If you’ve stuffed yourself with all the cheesy goodness you can handle for one night, wake up the next morning and do it all again with this breakfast recipe my mom swears by. After all, if you can order breakfast pizza, why can’t you have pizza breakfast?
Pizza Scramble (serves 2)
- 1-2 slices leftover pizza, any kind, with edge crust cut off
- 4 large eggs
- ¼ cup whole milk or half and half
- Salt and pepper to preference
- 1 tablespoon butter
- In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, and pepper.
- Cut your leftover pizza into small pieces. I like to warm mine in the microwave before cooking, but it’s not necessary.
- Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add egg mixture to skillet and let it set slightly, about 1 minute.
- Mix in your pizza pieces and continue to stir egg and pizza mixture until cooked through.
If there’s one thing Kansas Citians might take more seriously than their food, it’s game day. The best of both worlds come together at The Peanut, which claims to be the oldest bar and grill in the metro. Chiefs games get turned up to 11 with an order of The Peanut’s famous buffalo chicken wings, but if you’re like my husband and forget the absolute massive size of their wings, you’ll probably have some leftovers. No need to fear—bust out some ramekins for these individual buffalo chicken dip servings that even spice-adverse kids might appreciate for their cheesy, creamy deliciousness.
Mini Buffalo Chicken Wing Dips (serves 3)
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- Leftover buffalo chicken wings, bones removed (I had about ½ cup of chicken)
- ¼ cup buffalo wing sauce
- ¼ cup ranch dressing
- 1 cup shredded cheddar (Mexican blend or Colby-Jack is also good!)
- Optional: chopped green onion for serving
- Tortilla chips and celery for serving
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Divide your cream cheese equally into 3 separate ramekin dishes or oven-safe cups. Spread it into a layer. Then add a layer of chicken on top of your cream cheese, spreading equally. Repeat layers with your buffalo wing sauce, ranch, and top with layer of cheese.
- Bake 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and dip is hot. To add a little bit of color, you can sprinkle chopped green onion on top or just serve with your favorite tortilla chips and celery.
Even if it hasn’t been on the scene as long as other restaurants on this list, Hawaiian Bros has quickly become a much-loved KC staple. Their fast-casual traditional lunch plate options helped put them on the map in Kansas City—so much so that they’re now expanding nationally. We almost always have a little bit of everything left after eating at Hawaiian Bros thanks to their generous portion sizes, so that means I can plan on serving up some Hawaiian-inspired fried rice the next day. Just use whatever you have left (maybe hold on adding the mac salad…), and if you don’t have any leftover veggies, frozen veggies work just as well.
Hawaiian Fried Rice (serves 2-3)
- Leftover Hawaiian Bros meat (we usually have both the luau pork and huli huli chicken)
- 2 cups leftover rice (day-old rice is actually best for fried rice!)
- ¼ cup leftover Hawaiian Bros mixed veggies
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
- Optional: diced pineapple
- Whisk egg with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil.
- Heat remaining teaspoon of oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add meat, veggies, and garlic to skillet and stir fry until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Push to the side of your skillet.
- Add egg and oil mixture to skillet and scramble.
- Add in leftover rice and combine. Pour soy sauce into mix to taste and stir.
- Optional: top with diced pineapple for a salty/sweet combo.