Peanut Butter Night!

…Yes, it’s as good as it sounds. I’ve had a recipe for a chopped Thai Salad with Peanut Lime Dressing that my mom sent me several weeks ago, and a Sriracha-Peanut Butter Toast recipe I found TWO YEARS AGO, that I have been dying to try. What better meal to try them with than a Tofu/Beef as desired peanut-butter-crusted feast? And thus we had Peanut Butter Night.

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IMG_0511Although I am often completely happy to just cook vegetarian when my boyfriend, Casey, is home, I am NOT a vegetarian. The reason I am not a vegetarian is simple: I like to eat meat. And sometimes, I want to do so without making it hard for us to enjoy a meal together – so I’m introducing the first in what will be a series of recipes from the “Convertible Kitchen” – easy preparation methods that can be split in two dishes/pans/pots for one veggie option, and one carnivore, without basically doubling planning or cooking time because you’re making two separate meals.IMG_0525

For this initial run, I made the thai salad found here, and the peanut-butter sriracha toast found here.

For the main deal recipe, I got nearly a pound of thin-sliced beef (my store does it pre-sliced for stir-fry, and I wanted something very thin) for me, and two blocks of extra-firm tofu for Casey. I used powdered peanut butter, Sriracha, Curry powder, soy sauce, some brown sugar, and a few other spices to mix up a sauce that was definitely Satay-Reminiscent (but way easier; making your own satay sauce can turn into a separated-peanut-butter nightmare). Because the powdered peanut butter acts as a thickening agent in addition to Bringing the Awesome, the sauce had good cling-factor (far better in food than in the personal life or the laundry!) and was able to crisp up on the tofu in a way that actually surpassed my expectations. Here’s the details on what I used, and how I did it:

Slacker Satay for Beef and Tofu

~1 lb thin sliced beef (such as “stir fry” cut)
2 blocks extra-firm tofu
Cooking oil spray
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 t curry powder
1 t sesame oil
1/2 cup powdered peanut butter
2 T soy sauce
3 chopped green onions
1/3 cup water

Preheat your oven to 375, slice your tofu into planks between 1/3 and 1/2 inch thick (I liked the thinner ones personally), prep a baking sheet with parchment paper, spray some oil on your tofu, and banish it to the oven and out of your mind to dry out and crisp while you work. (Mine took over 30 minutes!! to get where I wanted it this time, probably because I crowded the pan). If you feel bad for neglecting it, give it a flip or two along the way. Meanwhile, your beef can chill in the fridge. Prep a pan for THAT with tin foil.

IMG_0529Combine all other ingredients in a medium bowl, and mix with a fork or whisk. You might want to split the sauce into two bowls – keeping it in one bowl requires a little more attention, to avoid forgetfully mingling beef with tofu – but I managed.

When your tofu has finally started getting golden on the edges, pull it out and brush a generous layer on to your tofu. Put that back in until you can see it getting a little crusty and bubbly – at least 5 minutes. Pull the pan back out, and do another nice thick coat. This time, get your beef smothered in sauce as well, and spread it out on its tray. Pop it in the oven below the tofu and give them 5-10 minutes. Once things are getting very fragrant and the sauce has started to thicken and look more like a crust, flip things so the beef is up top – to finish it off, hit it with the broiler. IMG_0528Once it’s done, it will look something like this (and yes, it IS surprisingly orange – probably from the turmeric in the curry powder):

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