Brad’s birthday was… oh … well … 2 weeks ago, but that’s ok.  I was debating how I was going to post these recipes and decided that I would do both of them in one post for ease (for me, not for you).  Yep.  I’m officially lazy.  Not sure where this has come from, but it’s true.  I have found myself watching more useless television and sleeping at odd hours of the day for longer than a normal person should nap.  Yep.  Lazy.  But it’s ok.  I’ve come to terms with it and have decided I should probably make some sort of changes regarding this laziness.  Maybe this week will be the week I change.  Maybe…  Actually, I’m really not that lazy. I’m just tired all the time because I wake up in the middle of the night to go stand and work for 8 hours.  I still manage to get my lists of things done, I just sleep in between all of those things on my lists.

   

Whatever.  I’m not sure why I even told you all of that.  It was useless information.  Moving on…

OK.  So Brad’s birthday was 2 weeks ago and it was really fun.  I brought him a specially decorated cupcake (I’m not the best at writing in icing) and we went to a concert that night and I made dinner and dessert for him the following night.  When I asked what he wanted for dinner he gave no response.  We had our family over that weekend and fried a turkey and had a whole bunch of sides and appetizers and desserts and beer…. lots of food.  And so he considered that his birthday dinner, however, I was still determined to make him something. So when he gave me no suggestions, I went to the internet and tried to find something a little different.  So stir fry it was!  We haven’t had stir fry in probably a month!  And as for dessert, I wanted something different than cake.  I had brought him home a chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream and I made chocolate whoopie pies with brown sugar Italian buttercream for the party, so I didn’t want anymore chocolate cake (that’s his favorite).  I found my answer pretty quickly while wasting time on Pinterest… carmel apple crisp.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Not just apple crisp, CARMEL apple crisp.

Let me start with the stir fry.  This is a beef with bok choy and carrot stir fry.  And it’s awesome.  It’s probably one of my most favorite stir fry recipes that I have made.  The sauce is a perfect combination of a little sweet and salty.  It actually has peanut butter in it, which I was hesitant, but it was barely noticeable.  I loved the combination of carrots and bok choy as well.  I just love bok choy.  If you don’t, you could sub a different leafy green, but I would highly suggest sticking with the bok choy.  Now, the butcher shop in our area didn’t have skirt steak, as the recipe calls for, so I got a flat iron steak.  That worked out really well, it’s so nice and tender!  If you can’t find either of those, flank steak would work just fine.  Let me just tell you, this recipe has definite potential to become our new go-to stir fry recipe!!



As for dessert… Holy cow it was good and holy cow it was easy!  I had found a few different recipes for carmel apple crisp on Pinterest (I had no idea carmel apple crisp was so popular!) so I ended up combining recipes to make, what I felt, would be the best.  Some recipes called for caramel sauce that goes on ice cream, but I don’t feel like that is REAL caramel.  So instead, I used the little caramel cubes that you buy by the bag (which is clearly the real stuff).  I cut them up smaller so they would melt a little more evenly.  And melt evenly they did!  While I got a little excited about the caramels and added a little bit too many, it still turned out delicious.  It could have used another apple with all that caramel, but it’s ok (don’t worry, I took this into account when writing the recipe below).  Bradley thoroughly enjoyed the extra caramel with his vanilla ice cream.

All in all it was a great birthday for him.  We didn’t have a Birthday Extravaganza this year (see this link, this link, and this link for last year’s Birthday Extravaganza), but we had two great days together.  I tried to be a little more low key than normal.  Usually, I go crazy and have all this stuff planned and I jam pack a whole weekend with too many things.  This year, we went simple.  A concert and really good food.  We are both excited for what this next year has in store!

Now go make this stir fry and carmel apple crisp.  It’s just really important that you do it.

Steak, Bok Choy and Carrot Stir Fry
Adapted from Martha Stewart 
Makes about 4 servings

2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon peanut butter (We always have this on hand and it worked perfectly in this dish)
1 tablespoon honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
1 pound of skirt steak, flat iron steak or flank steak cut about 1/2 inch thick
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2-3 heads of baby bok choy (I felt this worked better than the large heads the original recipe called for)
4 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced at an angle
Rice for serving
1/4 cup peanuts, chopped (we skipped this but I wanted you to know that this is an option)

In a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce, rice vinegar, peanut butter, honey and garlic together.

In a bowl (or on the cutting board like I did because I didn’t want to have to wash another bowl) mix the steak with the cornstarch. Season with salt and pepper and toss again.  In a nonstick skillet, heat the vegetable oil.  Add 1/2 of the steak and cook, tossing, until brown, only a couple minutes.  You don’t want to overcook this!!  Remove from skillet and cook the rest of the steak, remove and set aside.

Add the soy sauce mixture to the skillet.  Toss in the bok choy and carrots.  Cook, tossing occasionally until veggies are tender, about 5 minutes.  Return the steak to the skillet and toss.  Cook for a couple minutes until the steak is heated through.  Serve over immediately over the hot, cooked rice!

 

Carmel Apple Crisp
Adapted from like 5 different Pinterest links (here’s the only one I can remember I used)
Makes about 2-4 servings depending on how hungry you are!

2 apples of your choice, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
8-12 caramel cubes cut in thirds
4 tablespoons flour
6-8 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small chunks
8 tablespoons old fashioned rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350.

Spray the bottom and sides of either a loaf pan or 4 ramekins with cooking spray.  Place apples in bottom of dish(es).  Sprinkle the caramels over the apples.

In a small bowl mix remaining dry ingredients together.  Cut in the butter with your fingertips until mixture is the texture of coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle over the top of the caramels and apples.

Place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the apples feel tender when poked with a knife.  Remove from the oven and serve immediately with ice cream!

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