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Late Night Food Inventions

Late, the other night I was craving nachos but there were no chips, tortillas, or even crackers in the house. I had cheddar cheese, sour cream, black beans, jalapenos. I ended up boiling some pasta and making really tasty Rigatoni Nachos.
Any esoteric, late night experiments out there??

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  1. Nacho pasta, I like it! Great topic. I've had some odd food combinations but I'll have to ponder to remember them.

    1. I was playing around with a bottle of dry vermouth I had sitting around, and ended up making this really damn good sauce with it, adding some cream, butter, parmesan and fresh herbs. I ended up sauteing some chicken and mushrooms to go along with it and made a whole meal.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Atomic76

        Interesting! Do you remember the ratios of ingredients??

      2. As alot of these type stories start out... it was late and I was drunk. I had the fixings for Cubans but my then husband wanted a hamburger. We made Cuban burgers. He cooked the burgers and i topped the buns with ham, pickles, Swiss cheese and mustard. I wrapped them in foil and pressed them on the panino grill. They were great drunk and later on even better sober.

        2 Replies
        1. re: suzigirl

          Thanks suzigirl-- I ate this last night at 11:30. what you don't see is all the hot sauce also added! It was really good! The flavor of ham is quite different than what you get from bacon. The ham made the burger taste like the beef was cooked rare (even though It was quite over cooked)..I would do this again...

          1. re: helmut fig newton

            They are really good. I think I might be needing one with a cold beer, or several very soon.

        2. Left over chicken fried rice mixed with some tomato sauce and packed into a tortilla with some slightly droopy lettuce. As an attempt to clean out the leftovers, it was pretty tasty!

          1. I do a lot of late night improvised cooking. Recent examples:

            - Gobi manchurian tacos. (Indian-Chinese cauliflower dish.)

            - Pita bread pizzas topped with various things. (Salsa, egg and queso fresco; Brussel sprouts, garlic, egg and olive oil).

            - A sort of mac-and-cheese/vegetable gratin to use up leftover odds and ends: bacon, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, pasta, cheddar, parmesan etc., cooked on the stove, then broiled briefly with crumbled croutons and crispy onions for a bit of crust. Topped it with a couple of eggs.

            - Repeat item: finely chopped dried figs and almonds with a pinch of salt, a little maple syrup, and a few dashes of Angostura bitters; good topping for Greek yogurt.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Scrofula

              Pita bread pizza has helped me out many times! Naan bread also makes great pizza base. I've been thinking of using bitters more with food, I'll give the fig almond idea a shot!

              1. re: helmut fig newton

                Bitters are also good with a splash of bourbon in panna cotta. You could top it with a little lemon zest simple syrup to keep with the Old Fashioned theme.

              2. re: Scrofula

                Pita bread pizzas were a thing growing up (served at sleepovers with do your own toppings) and I practically lived on them in university. Need to introduce my kids to the concept, thanks!

              3. I do this all the time. Something about it being 2am (or drinking beer until 2am) seems to stir the creative juices. The best thing I've made late at night was a pimento grilled cheese sandwich with pickled daikon and bacon that I enjoyed enough to enter into a cookoff, winning third place.

                11 Replies
                1. re: JungMann

                  Mighty tasty sounding sandwich. I am going to try that. I love grilled pimento cheese sandwiches. Why not guild the lily?

                  1. re: JungMann

                    Amen. It's 1:57AM and I've been drinking beer. That means, of course in in my kitchen sorting through my odds and ends trying to make something edible.

                    1. re: MissMoxie911

                      Funny I'm doing the exact same thing right now! Looks like you're new to CH...what a great introduction. :D

                      1. re: joonjoon

                        Yup. I've been a stalker for a long while. Every time I'm not sure what to make I always search on here. I *finally* created an account just to reply. It was excellent timing. :)

                        1. re: MissMoxie911

                          Welcome to the dark side! So what's your late night creation tonight? I'm about to pour some cheese sauce on spam right now.

                          1. re: joonjoon

                            I usually get a little of everything. A smorgasbord of sorts. I have some melted Swiss sprinkled with worcestershire (I crave it a lot lately), some salsa with lime tortilla chips and some Popcorn, Indiana Kettle Corn.

                            For me I need umami and salty-sweet. Mmm

                            I like cheese in all forms and I was surprised to find that I do enjoy spam as long as it's fried crispy!

                            1. re: MissMoxie911

                              Swiss with worcestershire? That sounds crazy...yet strangely intriguing...

                              Crispy Spam is a thing of beauty...I've done a lot of late night binge sessions with Spam...all it needs is bread. Ok maybe a sliver of seaweed too.

                              1. re: joonjoon

                                It's good! The sweetness and nuttiness of the Swiss plays BEAUTIFULLY with the super-umami of the worcestershire.

                                My boyfriend in high school (who was very southern) taught me the beauty of a "cheese cracker". Shredded cheese on a plate and microwaved until it was melted and crispy.

                                That with some worcestershire sprinkled on it (no matter what kind of cheese) is super delicious.

                                1. re: MissMoxie911

                                  That cheese cracker reminds me...

                                  One of the only foods I could prepare on my own as a kid was a quesadilla in the microwave. Shredded Monterey Jack + whatever tortillas we had.

                                  I'd purposely nuke the sh*t out of it because the cheese would get all crispy inside the tortilla. It wasn't crunchy like a taco, and would get super greasy, but I loved those.

                            2. re: joonjoon

                              I was doing the same thing about last night, but I ended up with rotini with pesto and lao gan ma. Tasted great, but a little light in the creativity department.

                              1. re: JungMann

                                You call rotini pesto lao gan ma "light in creativity"? That's evil genius territory right there.

                    2. Spaghetti Pilaf. Take leftover Armenian Rice Pilaf and add spaghetti sauce, in the middle of the night, that's from a jar. Not bad.

                      Then I made a Chinese Takeout flavored pizza, but that was in the daytime. ;-)

                      6 Replies
                        1. re: helmut fig newton

                          No, but that's another good idea. Mine has pulled pork and tastes like a pork bun.

                          1. re: helmut fig newton

                            I go to a indian take-out place and they have been making "indian pizza" for 15 years already.

                            Fresh naan bread w sliced chicken breast (they make tikka chicken breast and slice one when u order), topped w veggies and a indian sauce, paneer and cheese.....
                            So good....

                              1. re: helmut fig newton

                                In the South Bay Desi pizza is ubiquitous. My daughter worked birthday parties at Gymboree and would bring home the leftovers. Not a fan. No meat and always includes jalapenos.

                                1. re: 512window

                                  haha, sorry you are not a fan, that sounds so good to me! :)

                        2. A leftover tray of Mac n cheese gets sliced into slabs and we make grilled cheese sandwiches or if we have hamburger patties in the frig we grill the burgers and then top with slabs of mac n cheese with or without bun.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: HillJ

                            HillJ I used your mac-burger topping idea before-- and I've made it many times since then- thanks!!


                            1. re: helmut fig newton

                              Hey, thanks for that helmut. Good times! This simple late night food idea from back in the days of hub's garage band and my keeping the gals busy has spawned an entire collection of mac n cheese riffs. But the original is still my favorite!

                            2. re: HillJ

                              My eight year old, who has never met a carbohydrate he didn't like, suggested a mac and cheese stuffed burger.

                              It is damn good.

                            3. It's been a crazy late night holiday season for me so I'm going to add on a new one from this weekend...
                              Oven fishstick tacos: very browned fishsticks, hot corn tortillas, sliced avocado, shreadded red cabbage, and sour cream. I tested it sober and it still rocked.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: helmut fig newton

                                oh we've def. done mock fish tacos! We also add black beans and green shredded cabbage (with the red). Those fish patties folks over at the Costco-love threads recommend work real good too.

                                1. re: helmut fig newton

                                  Just like my post suggested... it was late and I was drunk. :-)

                                  1. re: helmut fig newton

                                    We do fishstick tacos. We all like it and it's a super fast week night dinner. Actual fish filets probably cook even faster but I can't get to the fish store on week nights. I like sriracha and tartar sauce on them....

                                  2. helmut, I'm thinking this mac n cheese riff had to be the creation of some late night craving. We still have a full Halloween pumpkin on the back porch that's in great shape...dare I say this idea is calling my name..


                                    13 Replies
                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      HillJ It sounds delicious! keep me updated. I'm going to make a few of the posted ideas today for chow people...

                                      1. re: helmut fig newton

                                        Will do. This one gives me a chance to use up some of the hard cheeses I have leftover and that pumpkin has been staring me down for weeks!

                                        1. re: HillJ

                                          Vegetarian times has a recipe for carrot and cheese "mac n cheese" and it is good.
                                          just use punkin puree instead w mix cheese and it would be good too.

                                          better if you add lots fresh ground black pepper...

                                        2. re: helmut fig newton

                                          I've been reading a number of post on the various ways to enjoy totchos.


                                            1. re: helmut fig newton

                                              This morning I learned yesterday was national tater tots day.

                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                i need a calendar with all the celebrated days. I definately would use tater tot day to make those totchos!

                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                  I use tater tots to make corned beef hash breakfast pie.

                                                  1. re: Antilope

                                                    What other ingredients do you use in your corned beef tater tots hash? Peppers, onions? Do tell :)

                                          1. Spaghetti tossed with a few spoonfuls of olive muffalata and parmesan cheese

                                            Wheat crackers with shibazuke (Japanese pickled vegetables), sriracha, and kewpie mayo

                                            Fried rice made with leftover basmati, mixed veggies, leftover meat or tofu, vinegar, soy and/or fish sauce

                                            Chickpea salad with chaat masala and tamarind.

                                            1. Oh dear. I've mentioned it before but I make mashed potatoes with sour cream in lieu of butter/milk. With some garlic salt and pepper mixed in.

                                              Late one night I wanted nachos but had literally no cheese (an abomination!) except parmesan.

                                              I ended up plating a bunch of tortilla chips, then dropping blobs of mashed potatoes on them and dousing in hot sauce and cilantro.

                                              HOLY SH*T it was so good. I've done it a million times since then. It's addictive like a good dip.


                                              --Anything rolled up in a corn tortilla. Leftover meats, grilled or roasted veggies, cheeses, seeds, nuts, etc. When I'm super lazy, I will heat a few tortillas, then wrap them around a string cheese.

                                              --Any combination of pasta+cheese. Sometimes I'll boil cappellini and toss in frozen spinach for the last minute, then off heat add butter, cheese, and some garlic. Takes literally 5 minutes to cook. Other times it's mac'n'cheese doused in seasoned salt or hot sauce. All eaten during late night Netflix marathons.

                                              --Fried potatoes dipped in BBQ sauce and seasoned salt.

                                              --Warm pancakes spread with whipped cream and sprinkled with chocolate chips, rolled up and eaten like a taco.

                                              --And lately--I'm not sure why--old school Barnum's animal crackers dipped in tapioca pudding or whipped cream. Sweet baby jesus, I could eat that all night.

                                              13 Replies
                                              1. re: nothingswrong

                                                ohh, that's the kind of netflix night I'm talking about!!

                                                1. re: nothingswrong

                                                  old school Barnum's animal crackers dipped in tapioca pudding or whipped cream. Sweet baby jesus, I could eat that all night.
                                                  now that's getting behind the spirit of this thread! Brilliant!

                                                  1. re: nothingswrong

                                                    "Late one night I wanted nachos but had literally no cheese (an abomination!) except parmesan.
                                                    I ended up plating a bunch of tortilla chips, then dropping blobs of mashed potatoes on them and dousing in hot sauce and cilantro.
                                                    HOLY SH*T it was so good. I've done it a million times since then. It's addictive like a good dip."
                                                    oh, nothingswrong, I've said it before . . . but I want to party with you. I'm going to try your mashed potato/nacho recipe. You rock

                                                    1. re: nothingswrong

                                                      In the cafeteria at work, I discovered chocolate dipped animal crackers...love them! They were my 3am snack to get me through the rest of my charting.

                                                      1. re: brilynn79

                                                        Here is something I made one late night. The local discount food store, Grocery Outlet, had a special on Jif Hazelnut Chocolate spread & Jif Hazelnut Mocha Cappuccino spread. I bought a couple of jars. It's amazing how good those spreads are on plain graham crackers at 2am. ;-)


                                                        1. re: Antilope

                                                          yeah I've been spotting a lot of these spreads in the shops. saw an almond butter chocolate one at WF keep thinking of buying it but it's over $10!
                                                          Thanks Antilope maybe i'll hit up GO!

                                                          1. re: helmut fig newton

                                                            This week Stop & Shop had a chocolate pretzel peanut butter for $3.00. My son thinned it with light cream and used it as a frosting for a chocolate cake.

                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                              chocolate pretzel peanut butter. four of the best food words!

                                                              1. re: helmut fig newton

                                                                Why is it that we seldom disagree, helm! I enjoy your enthusiasm for one.

                                                        2. re: brilynn79

                                                          I've never had chocolate covered animal crackers... Just those circus cookies made by mothers... the pink and white-coated ones with nonpareils. My nanny as a child fed them to me constantly and they really weren't very good, kind of left this rubbery film on your tongue.

                                                          Anyway I have a GIGANTIC bag of Barnum's in the kitchen and just got several 1/2 lb. bars of expensive chocolate... Perhaps I will have a little dipping marathon tonight :)

                                                          1. re: nothingswrong

                                                            Mother's Cookies now sells fudge (chocolate) and vanilla dipped animal cookies. They were okay. Not really the same since the original company went out of business a few years ago and sold their recipes to Kelloggs.


                                                          2. re: brilynn79

                                                            Butterscotch dipped pretzel sticks, carob dip pretzel sticks, random chocolate dip pretzel sticks.

                                                            I get a lot of random chocolate for free from a store I shop at (it is stuff that is short dated not sellable,but good to eat).

                                                            I just use the random chocolate to make mousse (chocolate orange mousse...yummm), dip cookies in, as chocolate chips or to make fudge :)

                                                            any random chocolate with the eagle brand fudge recipe always works!

                                                            1. re: MiriamOttawa

                                                              Mix that butterscotch sauce with peanut butter (quick nuke to melt it all together.....) OMG so good ;)
                                                              I've also done the same with white chocolate chips and PB, if you get some white chocolate from your job. That was actually even better than the butterscotch.
                                                              Oh and Eagle Brand-style fudge was my grandma's recipe and remains the definitive "fugde" taste for me. With walnuts :)

                                                            1. re: Antilope

                                                              Thank you Antilope! I guess i'll need to eat healthy in January.

                                                            2. re: helmut fig newton

                                                              Chris, did you take the photos too. That animal cracker pudding shot is so great. Hey, happy new year!

                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                happy new year HillJ! yes shot them--i have a photo light set up in my basement so i can shoot things any given moment!

                                                                1. re: helmut fig newton

                                                                  thank you for a year of wonderful photos!

                                                              2. re: helmut fig newton

                                                                Well done, Sir (or Madam)! Bravo. Very impressive, indeed.

                                                              3. One of my favorite snacks is grilled cheese without the bread. I got the inspiration from watching an episode of Rick Bayless's shoe Mexico, One Plate at a Time. It seems in Mexico City street vendors sell this. I heat a non stick slope sided saute pan and add cheese. You can do the with American cheese, Swiss, Jack or grated Italian cheese. My favorite is a combination of American & Parmesan cheeses. The cheese will bubble and separate (lots of oil). When it's lightly browned roll it out of the pan like a crepe. I've added avocado slices, cooked chicken or ham inside the "crepe" but I also like it alone.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: zackly

                                                                  i will try this at some point-- I usually run out of tortillas before cheese because there is usually the giant costco block of tillamook sharp in the fridge!

                                                                  1. re: helmut fig newton

                                                                    I have to amend my original post. Don't make this with Pecorino Romano only....too salty!

                                                                2. Herr's Ripple Chips + Spray Cheese + a dot of Sriracha

                                                                  Looks bad, tastes good

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: sal_acid

                                                                    spray cheese and canned smoked oysters and sriracha on saltines does not look or smell right but also tastes good!

                                                                  2. i saw the chow article and had to check out this thread in hopes to get more ideas.
                                                                    i tend to be a mixer so i don't know if i have anything exciting to contribute but my go to is pasta mixed with anything in the fridge, some pasta water and cheese...you can't go wrong!

                                                                    1. After the pasta was in the pan I would prob try and crisp the bottom and make it more nacho-like.

                                                                      maybe try and fry the bottom in a bit of oil or else place the noodles on a parchment paper for less mess and pop the thing in the oven so you get kind of crunchy pasta?

                                                                      I used to make crispy oven bake perogies for parties.
                                                                      Take any kind of perogy you like and brush both sides w teriyaki sauce and bake till crisp.

                                                                      Serve w sour cream or yogurt dip, also good plain.
                                                                      There was never any left when I made these.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. Really late night munchies with Wendy's Frostees and donuts from 24 hour donut shop.

                                                                        1. I came up with this genius invention the other night:

                                                                          Kraft Mac n Cheese with Tostitos Queso added. It was krackalicious!!

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: joonjoon

                                                                            Oh no. I wish you hadn't mentioned that...

                                                                              1. re: joonjoon

                                                                                That sounds like something I could get into around 2 AM.

                                                                                I try not to buy that queso anymore because it is pure evil. Pure, pure evil.

                                                                                1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                  It was one of those digging through the fridge while stumbling around at 3am decisions...and I'm darned proud of it!

                                                                                  Some day maybe we can make some and chew and spit 'em out together. :)

                                                                                  1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                    Pure delicious evil. Pass some to me. I'll gladly take your share when I finish the jar in my fridge. ;-0

                                                                            1. I can't believe I forgot to post this one...the original late night food invention handed down to me from my mother. I have really fond memories of her making this for me when I was hungry late at night..it's my first late night food memory. I still love making this for myself some times.

                                                                              Take some rice (short grain Korean/Japanese), throw a slice of cheese on it, some soy sauce, sesame oil, and nuke it. Mix it all up and it becomes a delicous hot cheesy goopy mess.

                                                                              Dress it up with some sliced scallions, sesame seeds and wrap it around some seaweed for extra tastyness.

                                                                              An egg thrown in there works wonders too.

                                                                              1. Okay I got this! :D
                                                                                Cottage cheese in a bowl, microwave half speed till melted (stir some). Add lots of black pepper, a dash of fish sauce and hot sauce, and dip in triscuits. If you just dump the triscuits in the melted cottage cheese sauce/soup, they get sort of chewy-crunchy. It's pretty good.

                                                                                Pappadoms, blistered under the broiler, this doesn't work well if you are extremely uh, cheerful, as it takes some attention to detail. Then eat with cream cheese and Indian chile pickles.

                                                                                Not really an invention, but pasta alla putanesca or carbonara (or hey! a combination of those concepts) is pretty good at 3 am.

                                                                                Edit: how could I forget instant mashed potatoes, made a little stiff, stir in shredded cheese, maybe an egg, and fry like pancakes. Onions are good with this. And salsa.

                                                                                1. A friend in college earned her rep as the, erm....let's say "late night chef" for coming up with middle of the night munchies like one box sugar corn pops + one pound bag of p-nut M & Ms. Pour mixture into large bowl. Turn on TV. Consume.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. Just had a slice of leftover gussied up frozen pizza from TJ's..added goat cheese, fresh jalapeƱos, fresh garlic and black olives..mozzarella encrusted, zapped in the micro for about 33 seconds and then I dipped the crust into big ol' gobbs of hummus with a splash of EVO/sea salt/ground pepper..
                                                                                    Served with a cold Red Stripe stubbie. .

                                                                                    One of the best dang things, evah. .

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                      Why is it things always seem to taste better at 2am or 3am? But they really do! ;-).

                                                                                      1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                        Oh man. That sounds awesome. I wish we had a Trader Joes closer! It's always an event to get out there. Hooray for dipping your pizza! I guess I'm not the only one!

                                                                                      2. In my younger years, I often worked the late shift, returning home at midnight or so.

                                                                                        More often than not, I scrambled together some leftover cooked ramen noodles with a beaten egg, melted some cheese on it, then gently stirred it together. Not classy but very tasty! :) You can add in bits of cooked meat, some leftover vegetables, whatever you have on hand.

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: buzzardbreath

                                                                                          >leftover cooked ramen noodles

                                                                                          I've literally never had or heard of this in my life! :D

                                                                                          1. re: joonjoon

                                                                                            It is also great using leftover fried rice or chopped up leftover spaghetti or plain pasta. :-) I was single and on a very tight budget at the time so a dozen eggs and buying the cheapest store brand ramen noodles or pasta or rice (whatever was on sale that week) really stretched a dollar. :-)

                                                                                            1. re: buzzardbreath

                                                                                              Some of my best work was done while impoverished.

                                                                                        2. perfectly made tuna sandwich on sourdough bread
                                                                                          chocolate milk
                                                                                          an Oreo or 12

                                                                                          1. Cut a couple of slices of bread into 2" squares. Rather finely chop some sweet onion. Put the onion on the bread squares and cover with mayonnaise. Broil until bubbly.

                                                                                            Divine junk/comfort food guaranteed to give you weird dreams. Enjoy!

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. Fresh Kraut Quesadillas: throw flour tortilla on hot skillet. sprinkle jack cheese. add a bunch of kraut. then add more jack. put another tortilla over the top and press down with spatula. cook for a few minutes and then flip and cook for a few more. scoop of yoghurt and hot sauce over top!!!

                                                                                              1. start with whole wheat toast.
                                                                                                spread with Santa Cruz DARK ROASTED peanut butter
                                                                                                sprinkle a handful of dark chocolate chips on top
                                                                                                return the whole thing to the toaster oven and BROIL until the chocolate chips are soft
                                                                                                take out and smoosh the soft chocolate all over the PB

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                  That sounds wonderful.

                                                                                                  I've shared this before (quite possibly in this thread, which I'm not about to go back and read through), but when I was a kid they had Skippy PB with Nestle Crunch pieces in it. My snack after school every day that that PB was in existence was 2 slices of toast spread while hot with the PB. The Nestle Crunch chocolate would melt and swirl into the PB, with the little crunchies remaining intact. It was so good.