Sometimes you don’t want to eat leftovers. Just look at what they’re called: left overs. They are left over because no one wanted them the first time. Maybe that’s not true, maybe you just made too much. Either way, I can’t recall ever hearing someone say, “Oh boy! We’re having leftovers for dinner tonight!” But you still have all that food and it sure would be a waste not to eat it…

I introduce to you the Dinner Makeover! Who doesn’t love a good makeover? Add a little color, a little style, dress it up a bit and you have a whole new glamorous dinner!

I actually first came across this recipe from Chef John at Foodwishes.

Over the weekend we had company from out of town visit. And by company, I mean my in-laws. Whenever family visits, you want to make a nice dinner where everyone sits down together and enjoys generous servings of everything. You don’t want to seem stingy and serve scant portions, even if that is what everyone ends up eating. As a result, there are going to be leftovers. Lots of leftovers.

We made a chicken. A whole chicken. For four people. A whole entire chicken for four people. Overkill? Perhaps. It does allow for some excellent Dinner Makeover opportunities though!

This Dinner Makeover actually features two big players in the leftover department: ham and chicken. So how do you dress up these leftovers? We made Chicken Cordon Bleu-wiches. A twist on a complex dish and it’s made with leftovers that didn’t seem all that appealing in the first place. How could it possibly go wrong?

First, let’s gather up our ingredients:


  • Butter – 2 tablespoons
  • Half an onion- diced
  • Hunk of ham- diced
  • Some sprigs of thyme- if you don’t already have an herb garden, I highly recommend it!
  • Flour- 2 tablespoons
  • Milk (not pictured)- ½ cup
  • Gruyere cheese- at least 3 ounces
  • Dijon Mustard- one tablespoon
  • Nutmeg- a few sprinkles or a pinch
  • Chicken- however much you need to use up, diced/chopped up
  • Bread- two large slices
  • cayenne pepper

Start melting your butter in a sauce or saucier pan. Add in your onion, ham, and thyme leaves (not the stems!) Cook that until the onions are a little soft and becoming translucent.

stir ham onion thyme

Start your baking appliance heating to 425F.

Toss in the flour and then cook that for a few minutes. You are cooking out the raw flour taste. Turn off the heat and add your milk. Stir it up and it will get nice and creamy.

creamy filling

Dump in the cheese (but not all of it, save some to sprinkle on top later!). Stir that until the cheese is melted. There should be enough residual heat to melt it, but if not you can turn the stove back on if you need to in order to melt it. Add the mustard, nutmeg and chicken.

Butter or lightly oil your slices of bread. Place them greasy side down on a baking sheet that is covered with foil or a silicone mat. We are putting ours on a silicone mat on a toaster oven tray. It’s still summer after all. No need to fire up the beast of an oven for a few pieces of toast.

bread on silicone mat

Back to your pot. You should have a nice gloppy pot of stuff. Take that gloppy mess and spread it over the top of your bread. It is really important to go all the way to the very edge of the bread. Otherwise, the bread that isn’t covered will get a little too toasty (aka burnt).

bread with topping

Sprinkle that extra cheese on top and then give it a light dusting of cayenne.

gruyere and cayenne

Cook it in your baking appliance for 10-15 minutes. Because it’s summer and we’re trying to reduce the amount of heat produced by making dinner, we used a toaster oven. It also cooks a little quicker than the oven, finishing closer to the 10 minute mark than the 15.

chicken cordon bleu sandwich

Once the cheese is melty and the bread is toasty, it’s all done! Voila! Your Dinner Makeover is complete!

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Southern Carolina Family