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Single (and cooking) in the City

Food, life, love, and fun recipes

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cauliflower

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…

Roasted Purple Cauliflower

Saturday: My dirty laundry was piled up in one corner, a combination of cat and human hair in the other, and yet I still found the time to go for a late morning walk… as if the afternoon wasn’t right around the corner with a million other things to do!

So in the spirit of procrastination, I took a walk over to the Sunnyside Farmer’s Market — 1/2 a block away, and a 1/4 of a block long. I found some purple cauliflower and amazing little cherry tomatoes in colors that varied from yellow to red.

Roasted Cauliflower and Pan Fried Salmon

  • Cauliflower
  • Onion
  • Tomatoes

Toss cauliflower, onion, and halved cherry tomatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. So simple I made it in the morning and brought it in for lunch a couple of days later.

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

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.

(Nothing like) Chicken Tikka Masala and Aloo Gobi

…and I mean it. It’s nothing like the chicken tikka masala and aloo gobi I have at my favorite Indian place Surya and default neighborhood joint Sonali. (Ouch, no love, Yelp?)

But when I had a bowl of half an onion leftover from God knows when (but not fuzzy, yay!), and still more roast chicken leftovers, I decided to try to make chicken that would taste good with the only Indian dish I can make somewhat well, aloo gobi. Aloo gobi… my all time favorite. I always order this whenever I go to an Indian restaurant. And chicken tikka masala was what I had for my first Indian meal, at a little hole in the wall near my high school, Stuyvesant.

I’d spent some off-time during the day browsing recipes for chicken tikka masala and decided I could probably make do with the spices I had and… when did I buy that little tub of cream that is still sitting in the fridge? Shake test proves: still liquid, good! Sniff test proves: not stinky, perfect! I gathered into my arms, my little pile of old-but-not-yet-moldy ingredients. And here, my chicken tikka masala and aloo gobi inspired dinner. Let’s start with what I know:

Aloo Gobi

  • cauliflower
  • 1/4 of an onion, diced
  • 1 plum tomato, chopped
  • tomato paste
  • spices needed: cumin seeds, cumin, turmeric, curry powder, chili powder, paprika, ground coriander, garam masala

Heat oil in a pot, and when hot, add cumin seeds. Sautee for a bit, making sure it doesn’t burn, and add the onions, then tomato and tomato paste. Toss in the cauliflower, with a little bit of water, stick a lid on it and wait until cauliflower is almost soft, and then add all the other spices (I scoop each out with a 1/4 tsp and sometimes add more cumin because I like the taste), except for garam masala. When everything is well mixed up you can either add a bit of peas, or skip that and season with salt. Sprinkle a bit of garam masala as a finish.

“Chicken Tikka Masala”

  • leftover chicken (already cooked)
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1 plum tomato, chopped
  • tomato paste
  • a slice of ginger
  • spices used: cumin seeds, cumin, curry powder, ground coriander, garam masala
  • a splash of cream

Start the same way with aloo gobi: heat oil, cumin seeds, onion, tomato, and a bit of tomato paste. Add the slice of ginger and seasonings, using the 1/4 tsp again. Add water to the pot if it looks too dry, and toss in the chicken. While it is heating up, splash a bit of cream into, salt to taste.

Easy! And completely the wrong way to do it. It tasted nothing like chicken tikka masala. Just an Indian flavored shredded chicken dish. And that rice…? Another leftover from takeout that passed the sniff and texture (fuzz free) test. Tonight would’ve been a great night to get some proper Indian food! Anyone looking for a date?