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!
Welllll…. we managed to eat like vegans for 4 meals. Uuhhhh….
Allow me to explain. We ate like vegans actually for 5 days because I made 2 hearty soups that fed us fantastic leftovers. We started on Monday and went all the way through Friday, sort of. I made a total of 4 vegan recipes (one was for lunch and too easy to write a whole post about so I’ll just have to tell you about it), but here’s what happened. The NASCAR race was in town and there was so much going on Friday, Saturday and Sunday that by Saturday I caved. I’m not proud of it. But sometimes when you’ve been drinking beer for a good part of the day and you already came up with some great vegan recipes, it’s hard to come up with more. So basically, I just got lazy. There…. I said it. I’ve decided today that I will not beat myself up over it. 4 meals was pretty good and it’s not my fault that it was race weekend. Plus, I had too high of expectations to be able to quit all dairy and meat cold turkey.
Instead, I think our goal for right now will be to eat a few vegan meals a week, a few vegetarian meals a week and just try to skip red meat, chicken and fish as much as possible. I’ll report back with, hopefully, better news next week. But for the time being I will share my handful of awesome vegan recipes!
This was Vegan Meal #2! And to my surprise, it was pretty good! Good enough that I will make it again. This is another recipe that I found on Whole Foods’ website. As I said in the last post, I was stunned by how many fantastic recipes they have on their website. My favorite thing about all their recipes is that they are so different! There’s a huge variety and that is absolutely what we need if we are going to embark on this journey… again.
As I said, this is an awesome vegan dish. It’s really simple to make and also pretty quick, you just have to chop up a few veggies and cook the soba noodles which take a whopping 4 minutes to cook. The peanut butter was definitely a different taste for me since we have never eaten anything savory with peanut butter. But, I think that having the tahini and tamari helped balance out that out. The snow peas were my favorite part of this dish too. I got some of the best snow peas ever from Whole Foods last week. I couldn’t stop eating them. On a side note- this does make a LOT. And sadly, it does not keep well, at all. The noodles really soak up the sauce, but not in a good way. You lose a lot of flavor. So if you are making this for just 2 people, half this recipe. Otherwise, if you are making this for a family of 4, you’ll be good with the recipe as is. I just wanted to warn you. However, if you eat this all right after you make it, yum. It’s really great!
Taken straight from Whole Foods’ website (with only a couple minor changes)
1- 8oz package of soba noodles
2 cups of snow peas
2 tablespoons of roasted, unsalted, unsweetened peanut butter, or almond butter (this is VERY important. Do not sub any other type of peanut butter!!!)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon tamari (gluten-free soy sauce. You could use regular soy sauce here)
1 tablespoon tahini
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
2 scallions, sliced
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Cook soba noodles according to package. You can add the snow peas about one minute before the noodles are done, but I put mine in fresh.
In a large bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, rice vinegar, tamari, tahini and red pepper flakes. Add a splash of warm water to thin the sauce if desired. Add the noodles, snow peans, carrots, red pepper, scallions and sesame seeds. Toss to coat everything with the sauce. Serve at room temp or chilled (it’s best at room temp)!
Ok. So there’s this Thai restaurant, Siam Square, that’s downtown Indy and it is AMAZING. We’ve eaten there twice but I’m not kidding, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about their incredible food. I get these week long Thai cravings because of that place.
Having only been there twice though, we haven’t gotten to really experiment a whole lot. Both times we’ve gone, Brad and I have ordered the same dish. He gets Pad Thai, I get Pad Seuw. I had no idea what it was, I had never had it before, but after reading the description I was sold. Pan fried noodles with green vegetables and garlic and your choice of meat?? Ohhhh yes please! It was so incredible the first time, that I couldn’t bear the fact of not getting it again. It will be hard to order something different every time we go.
(Uhhh… Biggest cloves of garlic up there. A little freaky)
Here’s the thing about Siam Square. It’s awesome, yes. But when you have two dogs to pay for, groceries, a house, and all the bills involved with that… going out to dinner adds up. So that’s why we’ve only been twice. It’s not ridiculously expensive or anything, it’s just going there everyday isn’t really in our budget, nor is it in my plan to stay fit. But to save a few bucks, I decided I was going to attempt to recreate it at home!
I searched and searched and searched for recipes online and finally narrowed it down to two. They were pretty similar but had a few differences, so I was able to combine the two to create our version. It’s a relatively easy meal to make, but there’s a lot of put this in a hot pan, then take it out, then put this in the hot pan, and take it out and then put this in the hot pan with the other stuff and then take it out…. It was definitely a meal that I wanted to try on a night that I didn’t get home at 6:45.
Now, all the recipes I found called for Chinese Broccoli. Here’s some information for you… I’ve never been to an Asian market, or even a Mexican market. Nope. I’m too scared. Scared only because I’m certain I’ll look like an idiot trying to find my way around, trying to find ingredients that I’m not familiar with and trying to act like I know exactly what I’m doing. When I totally don’t. So instead, I got regular broccoli annnnnd bok choy! I’m somewhat certain that Siam Square uses this combination, or at least the broccoli, but I figured bok choy would go well, which it definitely did.
While this wasn’t spot on like the dish I get at Siam Square, it was still delicious. I couldn’t find wide rice noodles, so I had to go with whatever Kroger had, which were pretty thin ones. And I also didn’t want to spend $7 on a bottle of dark, thick soy sauce when I have a brand new bottle of regular soy sauce at home. Basically, I made some compromises, which is why, I’m guessing, the dish didn’t turn out quite as well as the restaurant. But it’s ok. Like I said, it was still really good, just not as amazing and life changing as I expected. I’d definitely make it again… maybe next time I’ll overcome my fear of foreign food markets.
1/2 lb wide rice noodles (as wide as you can get. Also, the original recipe called for a full pound, I found this was WAY too much)
2 large chicken breasts, sliced into bite sized pieces
1-3 cloves of garlic depending on size, finely chopped
6-8 total tablespoons of low sodium soy sauce, split
3 baby bok choy, rinsed and sliced long ways
About 1 cup broccoli
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons sugar
Fresh ground pepper
Sriracha Sauce and pickled jalapeno peppers for serving (optional)
Soak the rice noodles in water according to directions on the box. You’ll want to use the directions for pan frying (which is basically soak in warm water for 45-60 minutes, drain and use). Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet (or wok, if you have one) until hot. Toss the bok choy and broccoli until browned and a little tender. Be careful, oil will splatter! Remove from pan and reheat the leftover oil (or add a bit more if needed). Once the oil is hot again, add the drained noodles into the pan with a couple tablespoons of soy sauce. Stir fry for a few minutes until the noodles start to brown a little. Add more oil if the noodles start to stick to your pan. Once browned, remove from the pan and set aside. Next, reheat the skillet again and add the chicken and garlic and saute until cooked through. Push the chicken off to the sides of the pan and crack the egg in the middle. Stir. Once the eggs have scrambled, stir in with the chicken. Add the veggies and noodles to the pan, along with the remaining soy sauce, sugar and pepper. Stir fry for a couple minutes until everything is reheated and veggies are tender and chicken is fully cooked.
Serve in a bowl with Sriracha sauce and chopped up picked jalapenos, if desired. Enjoy!