Monday, January 17, 2011

Peanut Butter and Beijing Beef (but not together)

Out of the goodness of my heart, I let mr pick the dessert (gasp) for tonight.  I know, right?  I don’t usually trust anyone with this most important of decisions.  I figured since I was handing that over, I might as well let him pick the main course too.  He picked the dessert first (man after my own heart...) and chose Peanut Butter Bars.  For our dinner, he picked Beijing Beef.  I’m a fan of Chinese food (well, Asian food in general) so I was all about it.  Plus, I never make beef.  You may have noticed that.  I looked through the cookbook for a side or salad or soup or SOMETHING that would go well with Chinese food... to no avail.  Sadly, I realized that there aren’t many options in these categories.  More on that later.  So I turned to the internet, and fortunately was able to find Chinese Winter Soup and Asian Salad.
Tonight’s thrilling food tale centers around dessert, although the entire dinner was story-worthy.
Ahem.  I started by making the Peanut Butter Bars, submitted to the cookbook by Mary.  Because I figured if I collapsed from exhaustion just a half hour into cooking, I at least wanted a yummy dessert to eat.  It was doomed from the beginning.
I didn’t have the right sized pan.  So I used a smaller one.  Which means the cooking time was all off.  It ended up baking ok, but then I burned the cup of peanut butter that I was only supposed to melt for the top.  Directly after which, I poured the melted peanut butter onto the bars and dropped the entire glass measuring cup right in the soft center.  Despite the hole, I shrugged it off and moved on.  All good.  I set it all aside to cool... and as I was in a cooking frenzy, sometime later, I reached up to get a pot off the rack (which is still hung much higher than it should be), had to reach much further than comfortable, and forgetting all about the bars cooling on the counter, smooshed my hand down into the center of the steamy hot cake pan.  Molten lava all over my palm, and I could only stare in shock.  As my hand blistered, I turned the reigns over to mr for a time while I nursed my burn under cold water.  Then I continued cooking with a cold, wet rag wrapped around my hand.  I feared dessert was finally ruined.  Fortunately for me, the last step in making dessert was covering it with yummy chocolate frosting.  My huge crater was cleverly hidden!  And as we all know, you can’t judge a book by its cover, and this was no exception.  Large dent aside, it tasted wonderful.  

Want the recipe?  Ok, don’t beg.  Here you go:
Peanut Butter Bars
1 C margarine
1 C white sugar
1 C brown sugar
1 C peanut butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 C flour
1 1/2 C quick oats
1/3 C melted peanut butter (separated from the other PB)
1 canister chocolate frosting
Combine all the ingredients except for melted peanut butter.  Mix them thoroughly.  It will be thick - more like dough than batter.  Spread it in an 11x17 inch pan.  Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes or until the top is browned.  It will be a little gooey coming out of the oven.  While it’s still warm, spread the melted peanut butter on top.  Cool.  Spread the chocolate frosting over the top.  Serve with milk, because you will need it!
We all loved them, but agreed that they’re stinking rich.  Cut them small and only eat one.  If you go back for seconds, you’ll be sorry.  But only slightly, because they are oh, so good.
The Beijing Beef (submitted by Annie) was phenomenal, really.  At first I was worried that my sauce turned out too thin, but as the meat simmered, the sauce thickened until it was perfect.  It honestly seemed like something you’d get from a Chinese restaurant.  If you want this one, (and I recommend it) you’ll have to buy the cookbook!  I served it with stir fried veggies and rice.
On to the Chinese Winter Soup.  You can find this (and many other Asian recipes) here.  I’m not normally a fan of the soups you get at Chinese restaurants (especially egg drop.... ugh...) but THIS I really liked.  I was surprised that I didn’t mind the tofu, considering I usually have such an issue with consistency when it comes to food.  mr loved it, mom said it was good, even bug ate it!  dad had to pick the tofu out.
Chinese Winter Soup
4 C veggie stock
1 C mushrooms, sliced
1 C spinach
2 T soy sauce
2 T cider vinegar
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 T sesame oil
1/4 tsp hot pepper oil
1/2 lb tofu, diced
2 T cornstarch - dissolved in 3 T water
2 T cilantro, chopped
1 scallion chopped
Put the broth in a saucepan and add the mushrooms and spinach.  Simmer 3-4 minutes.  Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, pepper, sesame oil and pepper oil in a small bowl and stir to blend.  Add this to the broth.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.  Add the tofu and cornstarch/water mixture, and stir well.  Continue to cook, stirring frequently until the soup thickens.  Sprinkle cilantro and chopped scallions on top to garnish.
mr painted this bowl with the sign for pi and greek letters... I just realized it doesn't really show off the soup very well...
It was kind of spicy, kind of tangy, just a smidge sweet... And overall really tasty.

I think the winner of the night, though, was the Asian Salad.  Everything was yummy, but the salad is totally going into the regular rotation.  Have you tried that yummy asian coleslaw with the crunchy ramen?  (You know what I mean, right?)  This is even better than that.  Yep.  There were no leftovers, I’ll leave it at that.  
Asian Salad
2 packages of ramen noodles, crushed
1 C slivered almonds
2 tsp sesame seeds
1/4 C butter
1 large napa cabbage, shredded
1 bunch of green onions, sliced (I only used HALF)
3/4 C veggie oil
1/4 C white vinegar
1/2 C sugar
2 T soy sauce
Melt butter in a medium skillet on medium heat.  Add the ramen noodles, almonds, and sesame seeds.  Cook, stirring often, until golden brown.  Remove from heat.  Cool.  In a small saucepan, bring oil, sugar and vinegar to a boil for one minute.  Cool.  Stir in the soy sauce.  In a large bowl, combine cabbage, onions, noodles and soy sauce mixture.  Toss well.  It is best served at room temperature.
Make sure you get a LARGE cabbage though.  We had too much dressing, not enough salad.

Soooo, back to the real issue at hand. I have very little sides/salads to choose from.  I am begging for your help.  If you have a link to a recipe, or have posted a recipe on your blog, or would like to send me a recipe, for any kind of side dish, veggie dish, salad type thing I will be eternally grateful.  We aren’t even one month into the new year and I only have maybe 5 side dishes left in the cookbook!  SO, please email me: bugaboominimrandme(at)yahoo(dot)com OR just leave me a comment here.  I will be sure to give you all the credit, link to your blog and talk you up.  Thanks!

What?  Do I have something in my teeth?

Want to order the cookbook?  Only $10.  Email me for the info.

Please check out the parties I link to; the buttons are below!
I've also linked to Lisa's "Sweets for a Saturday" party.


Jill said...

This looks delicious! Especially the peanut butter bars!!! If it wouldn't be weird, I'd ask you to marry me :P

natasha {schue love} said...

Anything peanut butter is A-OK with me! Thanks for sharing on Tasty Tuesdays!

Unknown said...

I just want you to come feed me.

Lisa said...

All of that looks so good. Those peanut butter bars look so dense and with that chocolate on the top, double yum. I'm going to be starting a new linky party this Saturday called "Sweets for a Saturday." If you get a chance, I invite you to come by then and link up.

Kristen@PrettySweet said...

Chocolate and peanut butter...always delicious! =) I enjoyed hearing about the Asian food, too. Especially the salad. Will have to try that!

Lisa said...

Thanks for linking this up to Sweets for a Saturday. I truly appreciate your support and hope that you'll be able to join in again next Saturday. By then I'll have a cute button that you can grab. About side dishes, I have recipes on my blog for macaroni and cheese, pumpkin cornbread, angel biscuits, parker house rolls, pumpkin knot rolls, and butterscotch yams. I also have a lot of other side dish recipes not on my blog. I'll look them up and if I find any good ones, I'll e-mail them to you.

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