I have always hated the word leftovers, it sounds so sad. The word brings back visions of gym class, those last few kids just waiting to be picked, except instead of skinny legged kids I envision sad pieces of food lined up against a gym wall. To prevent these sad images I am trying to get in the habit of not being as wasteful and use up the little bits as much as possible. Baking leftovers are easy, cake scraps transform into cake pops, curds and cake scraps become yummy trifles, pie crust turns into small turnovers to be eaten as the pie bakes.
For me, one of the best ways to use leftovers is to give them to the kids when I am baking something for an event and can't have any helpers. One of the problems of having kids who are very comfortable in the kitchen is that they feel they can, and should, always be able to help. Some of our biggest kitchen meltdowns have occurred when I am trying to work on an item for a customer, or just want to practice, so when I sense a meltdown approaching I go to the freezer and see what is waiting for us. I can usually find something similar to what I am working with so the kids feel like they are contributing and doing the same thing I am. It is a good opportunity for all of us. I get to focus on what I am doing and when I am working on my own project I don't hover as much and the kids have more opportunity to experiment and play. There is usually more mess to clean-up, but I just tell myself that is one more learning opportunity for the kids.
Yesterday I was making an apple tart to bring to a friend's fall festival. I didn't have any extra dough in the freezer, but I got my dough rolled out quickly and was able to pass the scraps on to the girls. They got to play with flour and practice rolling dough, Aggie even made her own tart to bring for the kids' table. They became so involved in their own projects that I was able to work on mine with little interruption.
Not all leftovers go to the kids, sometimes they are used to make something all new, like these cupcakes for Aggie's birthday celebration at school. All I had to make was the cake, the icing was leftover from cakes made earlier in the week. I put all the icing in a pastry bag and got fun swirled icing that the kids loved and they looked as if the swirled icing was a plan right from the start