Yellow curry dinner and pumpkin soup

I’d never attempted a curry before, but this surprisingly didn’t turn out too badly. I was scatterbrained and needed to eat before work without a lot of time to cook. And since I haven’t had Indian food in over a year and I’m trying to branch out a little in my cooking before making any repeats, I thought I’d just wing it. I read several recipes on the interwebz before deciding there wasn’t much use in following one exactly. This curry was just a pleasant hodgepodge of what I had on hand and what I had time to make.

I started with a package of chicken breast tenders cooking in a few tablespoons of olive oil, and flipped them halfway through cooking. I added about 6oz chicken bone broth (packaged), 16oz coconut milk, garlic powder, salt, white pepper, 1/8 cup white sugar, 1 tablespoon lime juice and lemon juice, and two spoonfuls of yellow curry powder (tumeric and cinnamon, mostly). I heated it all over medium-high heat, simmering, until the chicken was definitely done and the sauce thickened and reduced a little. The sauce was pleasantly and surprisingly sweet, and I topped the whole thing with cilantro. I wasn’t expecting it to be very good at all, and it wasn’t like anything I’d ever eaten at a Thai or Indian place, but hell, it was good. And it was good enough to reheat twice for additional leftovers.

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Pumpkin soup is what I make when I really don’t want to be an adult anymore and just want to eat dessert for dinner. See, it looks fancy, and tastes amazing, but at its heart is mostly pie filling. If you wanted, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to top it with whipped cream instead of (or in addition to) walnuts. This stuff keeps very well, reheats like a champ, and is the sneakiest way ever to have dessert for dinner.

For pumpkin soup, heat all of these ingredients over medium-low heat until warm enough to serve. If immediately refridgerating, no need to heat and simply reheat later in the microwave or on the stove.

  • 1 can (15oz) pureed pumpkin
  • fill that empty pumpkin can halfway with your choice of milk (I use unflavored almond milk for cooking in my house, but certainly heavy cream, cow’s milk, oat milk, hemp milk, etc would all be fine — make this vegan if you wish!)
  • add 1/3 can or about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of coconut milk — the higher quality, the better
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup white sugar or agave
  • pinch of salt
  • nutmeg and cinnamon to taste: add slowly, stir well, probably half as much nutmeg as cinnamon
  • top with candied walnuts, available in the salad section of the grocery

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Leftovers: steak salad

This is my dog, patiently waiting for her chance at a trimmed piece of steak while working on her down-stay command for five minutes. “Down-stay” is the toughest for this double-chin Miniature Pinscher. My dogs often help me eat the more healthful leftovers and vegetable scraps as a supplement to their high-quality, high-end dog food. I sometimes wonder why humans can’t get their children to eat certain vegetables; I just told my dogs that every vegetable they encountered was delicious, and in an attempt to please me, the little garbage disposals ate anything I put in front of them as puppies, especially teething carrots. As adult dogs, they stare me down for raw broccoli stems and wolf down the tougher parts of apples.

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Salads are…kind of boring to talk about, huh? Still, I had a leftover strip steak from the night before, and tossed it in a pan for a few minutes on each side to warm. Chopped it, tossed in some greens, added raw mushrooms and pickled onions, and dressed it in blue cheese from a local shop. Bam. Done. Three minutes. Lazy, leftovers cooking, ahoy!

I mostly just wanted to write about my dogs.

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Leftovers: egg tacos

I was so proud of the green chile I’d made a few days prior for enchiladas, and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use the leftovers before they spoiled.

And I’m gonna give you an important little secret: everything is great in a taco. Corn tortillas turn leftovers into a meal that almost seems like it happened on purpose. Tacos hide my laziness. My usual taco is some sort of protein, filled with some sort of vegetables or fruit, and then some sort of fat. In fact, I’ll probably post fewer and fewer of the tacos and salads I make for leftovers, because it seems awfully redundant and it’s hard enough to stay on top of this blog. I can only say so many thoughtful things about tacos…

I almost always season my eggs with black or white pepper, cayenne, and garlic powder. I just assembled these tacos with some miscellaneous greens, “adventurous eggs,” pickled onions, cilantro, warmed green chile, and grated smoked gruyere.

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Leftovers: breakfast tacos

I had just a little bit more of that taco meat left over from making stuffed tomatoes, and couldn’t stand to not use it and the other ingredients that I either had to use or let expire. The avocado was perfect, the cilantro was use-it-or-lose-it, and the tomatoes and tortillas needed to be used, stat. I was feeling like a big burst of protein and needed the extra fat, so I whipped these up in less than five minutes.

Zapped the tortillas in a skillet for a minute each. Two eggs, scrambled in a skillet with 1 tbsp unsweetened almond milk for fluffy-ness. Reheated taco meat in the microwave. Chopped cilantro and cherry tomatoes. And mushed-up avocado with a touch of lime, cayenne, salt, pepper, and a tiiiiiny bit of white sugar.

While making the eggs, I remembered how my mother used to make our scrambled eggs in the microwave. She’d fill the glass measuring cup with two or three eggs, break the yolks and whisk in a bit of cow’s milk with a fork until they were a bit bubbly. After a minute, she’d stir again and break up the solid egg mass that formed. Another minute, and the easiest scrambled eggs ever came tumbling right on to our plates. I only ate them with ketchup and even then, barely tolerated them. In my most broke years of college, when I had my first studio apartment, I’d make my eggs this way because I didn’t know how to make them any other way, and I couldn’t afford a failed experiment.

It wasn’t until I discovered eggs cooked over hard much later that I began to love the flavor of the yolk of the egg. I put up with the whites occasionally to get to the yolks, but hated their rubbery texture and the lack of flavor. After I spent a few years working in breakfast diners, I no longer wanted anything to do with eggs, or fake eggs, or whatever that smell was from those generic plates. It was several years before my desire to eat eggs came back, but now I happily eat them — my way.

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Leftovers: shrimp tacos and fake chile relleno

I’m terrible at using leftovers, and after a few days, I shudder at the idea of eating “rotten” food. I know my food keeps longer than I’m willing to eat it, but the idea of ever possibly ingesting rotten food keeps me from even trying to eat leftovers after 2-3 days. The $10/lb grassfed beef and $13/lb Brazilian shrimp I stuffed my tomatoes with yesterday surely wasn’t going to waste. Aiming to spend less on food this year isn’t so much about reducing the quality of my food, but to increase the quality of real food while ensuring that I eat more of it, and don’t toss half my groceries every week.

Yesterday, before I headed into work, I power-lunched with these tacos. Easy peasy: I sliced up some cherry tomatoes, threw in a bunch of cilantro, added the shrimp, and spread a bit of sour cream on the corn shell I’d heated in the microwave. No need to cook. On the side: cottage cheese. I sure do need protein and fat before I work hard all night long.

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Today, I checked the fridge and saw the second of the two poblanos I’d purchased for my stuffed tomatoes yesterday. I hadn’t used the pepper, and it was nearly perfect and in great condition — a miracle for a small Midwestern city chain grocery store. I’d intended to blacken it and blend it up to make a green chile sauce for eggs or tacos or enchiladas, but that sounded like too much work tonight.

I blackened the pepper on the gas burner of the stove, steamed it in a plastic bag for 7 minutes, and then scraped off the skin. Oven preheated to 375F, I slit the pepper down the middle on one side, removed the seeds, and stuffed it full of that yummy taco meat that had been soaking up the flavor for a day. I stuffed the rest with shredded cheese on top, and threw it in the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, I broiled it to brown the cheese for 3-5 minutes or so.

It’s not one of those “real” chile rellenos, fried to perfection and filled with even more and creamier cheeses, but it was pretty damn tasty and took far less time and money. On the side: avocado mashed with cilantro and lime (I ate the rest of the simple guacamole with chips while the poblano cooked), smashed up black beans, sour cream, sliced cherry tomatoes, and brown rice.

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