Single (and cooking) in the City

Food, life, love, and fun recipes



The Life of Leftovers

Approximately 31 days ago… I had hot pot at home. You probably will not remember this because 1) it was 31 days ago, 2) i didn’t post it on my blog, 3) …it was 31 days ago.

It was good, but there was a TON of sliced beef and lamb leftover (since we didn’t give it adequate time to defrost and was only able to peel the top couple of slices off). Back into the fridge it went, until I correctly defrosted it for a 2nd round of hot pot a week later. With still more beef and lamb left, we marinated it and let it sit in the fridge for a later meal…

Yakisoba – the night we lit the Christmas tree! Chock full of veggies, Kel did an excellent job making sure there was stuff I would want to eat in it, besides the chunks of meat and soba. However, even though it was our 3rd attempt at using up the leftover meat, there was still a clump of it sitting in a bowl in the fridge… until last night…

4th attempt! Mixed in with cauliflower, onions, and tomato… it had a slightly funky taste. Good or bad, I’m not sure but hey! Still alive…


My First Real Christmas Tree

As the title of the post states: FIRST REAL LIVE CHRISTMAS TREE EVER! IN THE APT! How awesome!! It smells like funky holiday goodness.

In the parking lot of Rite Aid, picking up the teeny tiny tree from two French speaking women who were hoisting, chopping, wrapping, and selling some pretty gigantic trees all on their own. They’re so awesome.

It’s a work in progress tree… still need to get lights!

Dinner later that night was a quick marinated short rib and cabbage. The marinade of sesame oil, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, onion, scallions, and sugar was supposed to sit on the meat overnight, but being a terrible planner, it was tossed together 30 minutes before I started to get hungry. Under-marinatedness aside, the sugar added a nice caramelization to the meat, which was pan seared to the perfect done-ness.

Short Rib Marinade

  • 1-1/2 cups of soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 an onion, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes

Stir together, coat and soak ribs. Heat pan, add ribs and cook for 2-3 minutes each side for medium rare. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds if you’re feeling fancy.

Tomato Cilantro Steak

I always buy steak with the intention of preparing it right away – I love the bright red color of good raw beef. However with the recent schedule of events which made dining in mostly impossible (unless I’d like to stuff myself with 2 dinners nightly.. RARE occassions, I swear!) I’d left the package of filet mignon sitting on the bottom shelf long enough that the beautiful bright red had started to turn a shade of brown. No plans on a Tuesday night, I was pretty excited to run home to make myself some steak, and stopped by the supermarket for some fresh cilantro… something that I thought could be added to jazz up the tomatoes I planned on using for a sauce.

The result was a sauce that tasted like salsa but mellow, without the kick of raw onions, which, when I tasted while it was simmering in the pan (ouch! why do I always do that?) seemed to be a terrible idea for topping a steak. But after slicing into the steak and finding it a bit bland, I had a bite of it with the tomato cilantro and the whole thing just brightened up. Disaster avoided, dinner was deliciously served!

Tomato Cilantro Steak

  • filet mignon, my portion is about 4 oz.
  • spices: cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • a handful of cilantro, chopped

Prepare the steak by sprinkling both sides with the spices, gently place in cast iron pan, and don’t touch it! 2 minutes on each side (good for a 1″ thick steak) , 3 if it is super thick (or if you’d like it more done), is perfect for a rare steak – the way I like it. Remove from pan and let it rest.

Make the sauce by dicing up the tomatoes, and tossing it into a pan with some heated up olive oil. Let it saute a bit and add the garlic, stir, and then using a potato masher, smush up most of the tomatoes so that it becomes paste-y but still chunky. Then add the cilantro and cook a little bit more before removing from heat. Top steak with sauce, and I served mine with a side of sauteed cabbage.

Red Sauce Night

I used to have more time at work, when I’m not running out to the Department of Buildings in the Bronx, and with that time, I used to do some pretty silly things like… planning out a week’s meal on a spreadsheet. It not only helped me keep track of using up the ingredients I had handy, but it also helped me make sure my week had a bit of variety. (And it was also fun to point out to other people how disgustingly anal I could be.)

Having not done that in a while, I mindlessly removed a chunk of ground beef from the freezer and left it in the fridge to defrost. The ground beef lived in the fridge for 1.5 days… long enough to become acquainted with what I am sure is it’s version of a nice tropics-like vacation, so I knew I had to do something with it today.

I need some good recipes for ground beef, because left to my own devices, I will almost always turn to some kind of pasta. Sloppy joes? (Too gross and fast foodish.) Hamburger? (See: sloppy joes.) Sauteed with some cabbage? (Not FUN!) What do people do with ground beef?!!!

I’d always wanted to try to make my own meatballs, especially after the whole meatball craze which left everyone clamoring for tickets to events like Meatball Madness and Meatball Slapdown. There were lamb meatballs at Locanda Verde, duck meatballs at A Voce, meatball sliders at The Little Owl… almost every restaurant now has some version of meatballs on the menu. One day I will visit The Meatball Shop to get my fill of real meatballs, but until then, my scrappy version will suffice!

Whole Wheat Spaghetti and Meatballs


  • a baseball sized portion of ground beef
  • bread crumbs
  • onion powder
  • 1 egg white
  • grated parmesan
  • salt, pepper

I basically mixed all of the above, adding bread crumbs as needed so that the consistency was not too sticky, but sticky enough to hold its shape when formed into a small meatball, about the size of a ping pong ball. It turned out to be about 3 tablespoons of bread crumbs. A sprinkling of everything else, and I was getting impatient. I heated up some olive oil in a pan, added the meatballs (there are about 6) and let them brown on all sides. (I have no idea how people do this. I ended up with some weird octagonal meatballs, each side turned and flattened by the pan.) After they are browned (they’ll continue cooking in the sauce) remove and set aside.

Red Sauce

  • 1 small can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, diced
  • basil

Using the same pan, I sauteed the onion, and then added the can of tomatoes and garlic. Then the meat octagons. Let it simmer away for a bit while the wheat pasta cooks in a pot of salted water, about 9 minutes. Add some finely chopped basil to the sauce, salt and pepper if needed. Drain pasta and top with sauce and meatballs. Add sprig of basil so you guys think I’m fancy.

Now the rest of dinner consisted of a warm roasted vegetable salad. Mostly inspired by Al Di La‘s incredible warm farro salad, I decided to make a version of it with what I had. Which was an unopened package of quinoa, purchased after falling in love with Public‘s quinoa hash brown, which I vowed to recreate… 2 years ago, cauliflower, the other 1/2 an onion, and carrots. Then I bought the cutest little butternut squash.

Roasted Vegetables and Quinoa Salad

  • 1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 1 carrot
  • cauliflower
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup water
  • goat cheese
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • salt, pepper

Toss all the vegetables with olive oil and salt, and roast in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until soft. Do some more tossing halfway, which I didn’t because I forgot. Rinse the quinoa and add water. After it boils, turn the heat down to a simmer and let it cook until the liquid is mostly gone, about 10-15 minutes. Add the vegetables to the quinoa and combine, then toss with the balsamic and olive oil dressing, adding salt and pepper as needed. Crumble some goat cheese on top. I love basil, so I added some for color and flavor.

Penne with (Ground Beef, Cauliflower) and Broccoli

Splashing through the horrendous rain on the way home, grumpy and wet, trying to juggle the umbrella in one hand, and a humongous file folder in the other (it’s back to the Bronx again tomorrow morning for work, yuck.), all I could think about was how much I didn’t want to cook. Just a quick fix. Like Domino’s (this New Yorker’s favorite pizza, pineapple. I know, this is all kinds of offensive!) or pad thai (I’ve been craving it for weeks!). But after arriving home and surveying the fridge, which was still fully stocked with fresh vegetables, I decided to make some quick pasta instead.

Penne with Ground Beef, Cauliflower, and Broccoli

I made this pasta using the exact same technique as the Penne with Chicken and Broccoli, but instead of the oven roasted chicken leftovers, I used some leftover ground beef I had sauteed up with some garlic. And since I had so many veggies left in the fridge, I used my two favorites — cauliflower and broccoli. Plus, loading up on the veggies also means I can cut back on the penne, but still have a satisfying meal. (And hopefully still fit into my clothes.)

My latest purchase: the Amara Romper by Joie. Little did the BF know that while he was away… I was playing dress up at his place… while watching the Martha Stewart show.