Tuesday, January 6, 2009

tofu stir-fry with spinach and okra

tofu, spinach and okra stirfry

It pains me to say this – but the cookies must take a break for a bit. My pants have told me this as well as the fact that I went through a total of twenty pounds of butter making treats for work. Twenty. Pounds. Of. Butter. And there are still butter reserves in my freezer, it’s like a mini-China in there. I promised the butter I would not abandon it forever, but a breather is much needed after the month of decadent and sweet treats.

tofu, spinach and okra stirfry

In addition to me swearing off cookies for awhile (let’s see how long that lasts), I also signed up for a half marathon in a few months to keep myself honest and motivated. While it’s both exciting and intimidating, I know it’s very achievable if I stick to a training routine with some discipline.

tofu, spinach and okra stirfry

I first made this stir-fry a few days ago as I was trying to save wilting spinach and sad-looking okra and was attempting my hand at something moderately healthy – and it was delicious. I threw in some ginger and spices for an added kick and served the vegetables over some brown rice. I know that not everyone likes okra – and it is a tough vegetable to love. A little slimy, without much flavor, okra is like an ugly step-child of the vegetable family. But it readily absorbs other flavors and envelops the dish in softness, which to me tastes comforting – perfect for a winter meal.

tofu, spinach and okra stirfry

And if tofu is not your thing, throw in some chicken instead, or other vegetables you might like. It’s a stir-fry so really – just about anything goes. Except for, maybe, cookies?

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Friday, January 2, 2009

chocolate peanut-butter crispy bars

peanut butter and chocolate rice crispy bars

I blame the red wine entirely. A few friends stopped by and two bottles of wine later I realized – dessert doesn’t make itself! But sipping wine with friends is way more fun, no matter how much I love to cook. Luckily, just as a few drinks seem to improve my pool game, a few glasses of wine seem to improve my cooking or, at the very least, make me more efficient. So starting these bars late in the evening worked out just fine.

peanut butter and chocolate ricepeanut butter and chocolate rice

I would think that I should omit even thinking about New Year’s resolutions seeing as I start the first post of the year by mentioning wine. And I know, I’m throwing more sugar your way, but, tasked with dessert, I had to make these, along with other New-Year’s-resolution-unfriendly treats for the New Year’s Eve party at friends’ place in Brooklyn. And really, it’s sort of the last hurrah (almost), isn’t it, because when the clock struck midnight I kind of wanted to put the sugar overload on the back burner and think thoughts of brown rice, spinach, maybe tofu. And I’ve a great recipe on that coming your way, but first, a few thoughts on these incredibly decadent things that contain my two favorite ingredients: peanut butter and chocolate.

peanut butter and chocolate rice

Thought one: I’m glad they’re not in my fridge any longer, but in Brooklyn somewhere because as hard as I am trying to decrease my cookie and candy diet, I wouldn’t stand a chance with these mere yards away. Like Nutella, these can never be made just for home – they’ll have to be brought to others to share because otherwise, you’re just asking for trouble.

peanut butter and chocolate rice

I will also make them again, but tweak a few things. Perhaps add a little cream to the sugar mixture to create a caramel of sorts and give the rice a bit more dimension. I would decrease the amount of the peanut layer – because I found it a bit too overpowering, but tasty nonetheless. I would also cut them into more pieces than the suggested 9 – as I could only eat a small square at a time.

peanut butter and chocolate rice

But all in all, these are so good and are incredibly easy to make – and they’re bound to be a hit at any party. This is the first recipe from the Baked: New Frontiers in Baking cookbook that I tried – a book that’s been recommended to me over and over by quite a few people. And after seeing several drool-enducing recipes from it on Deb’s blog, I finally cracked and bought it for myself. Certainly not the last recipe from it, you can expect to see other in the future. And now, if you excuse me, I have to think about what to make for with my wilting carrots (I think I know!) – and I do it a lot better over a glass of cold, red wine.

Continue reading chocolate peanut-butter crispy bars.