When Your Casserole Sleeps on the Counter

I’m sure we’ve all experienced it, that sinking feeling you get when you wake up in the morning and see your wonderfully crafted leftovers still sitting on the counter from the night before.  It’s almost like you can hear them crying out to you for the cool comforts of the refrigerator.

It’s happened to me once before, sadly a turkey meatloaf met its untimely end.  And it happened again last night.  My chicken enchilada casserole had a sleepover on the counter.  My poor husband felt absolutely terrible since it’s usually his responsibility to clean up after dinner.  I could almost see the tears in his eyes when he told me the sad news.  The husband was ready to go ahead and eat the leftovers after 12 hours at room temperature, but after doing a bit of early morning googling we read that you really shouldn’t eat things that have been left out for more than 2 hours.

Seems a bit excessive, heck, Europeans don’t even refrigerate their milk or eggs!  But alas, when in doubt, throw it out right.  No one wants food poisoning. So after a painful lesson learned I’m passing on my widsom:

  • Minimize time food is in the ‘danger zone‘ (70 F to 140 F) – queue Kenny Loggins tune
  • Break up large portions into smaller ones so they will cool faster in the fridge
  • As soon as the dish is cool enough to handle, put it in the fridge (don’t wait until your episode of Game of Thrones has ended)
I know I have eaten leftovers many many times that have sat out for more than 2 hours, and I’ve never gotten sick from food prepared in my kitchen.  That said, I’m going to learn from this experience.  Now we’re going to set a cool down timer after things come out of the oven so everyone gets into the fridge before curfew.


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