Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Chopped Birthday Dinner

I always let my family and friends choose what they want for their birthday dinner.  In the past we've made homemade gnocchi, leg of lamb and grilled marinated vegetables, even Julia Childs' Beef Bourguignon right after Julie & Julia came out.  For my daughter's birthday this year she chose that I make her a dinner with a secret ingredient: peanut butter!  

I knew I had to make an appetizer, main, and dessert with peanuts or peanut butter so my mind went straight to Beef Satay.  I hadn't decided on a dessert or appetizer when it was time to head to the grocery, but that's pretty much normal for me, and I knew between my mother-in-law and I we would figure it out.  Right before we left, Dynah threw a surprise ingredient: pineapple!  Great.  I knew that I could weave pineapple into the Satay, but I was stumped for a dessert.  There were honey-roasted peanuts at the house, so we picked up canned pineapple in juice, and vanilla ice cream, hoping it would work itself out.  I stood in the Asian food isle, waiting for a bottle of something to say, "Hello, I'm an appetizer with pineapple and peanuts," but instead it was my mother-in-law said, "What about lettuce wraps?"  Perfect!  We chose ground pork, cilantro, scallions, carrots, and cucumber to top the lettuce.  We also decided on pineapple fried rice to accompany the Satay and peanut sauce.

Seasoning the ground pork for the lettuce wraps

Seasoned ground pork, carrots, cucumber, scallions, and cilantro in butter lettuce

Virgin Pina coladas for the kids, regular pina coladas for the rest of us!

Beef Satay marinated in, among other things, peanut butter and crushed pineapple, Pineapple Fried Rice, and Peanut Satay sauce

For the dessert round we cooked pineapple segments in a rum caramel sauce, and topped the ice cream with the sauce and chopped honey roasted peanuts.  I didn't get any pictures because us adults were too full from the dinner to get near any more food, and those kids are so pesky about taking a focused picture.  My daughter loved everything, and said she was genuinely surprised at how well we matched the two items in each course.  Which made me smile.  My budding foodie.

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