Tag Archives: peanut butter

Peanut Butter & Jelly Granola Bars

Anyone who knows me really well is familiar with my love for peanut butter and jelly. I could eat a PB&J sandwich every day. If it weren’t for all the other wonderful nut butters in the world I probably would. My fridge is always stocked with at least two, more likely three or four, different kinds of nut or seed butters. Right now I have a GIANT jar of PB, a tub of tahini, and a jar of T.J.’s sunflower seed butter. I’ve been on a serious open-face, forget-the-jelly, nut butter on toast sandwich kick lately. That and toast with avocado, smoked sea salt, and pepper are my lunchtime obsessions.

Back to the peanut butter and jelly. I used to find peanut butter kinda scary. It was sooo high-calorie and so high-fat! I tried to get away with spreading as little of it as possible on my sandwiches and, consequently, never savored that peanut butter’d up sticky mouth feeling.

Nowadays, no one can tell me to use less peanut butter, or any nut butter for that matter. Those are healthy fats and useful calories, especially for a vegetarian! The same goes for baking with nut butters. I purposely bought a two-pack of giant PB jars at Costco so I could bake with it. Otherwise, one PB-containing recipe can use up most of a jar!

Determined to bake something other than 5-minute-a-day bread last week, I broke out the giant peanut butter jar, some grape jam, and some oats for a batch of granola bars. It’s been quite a while since I made granola bars last and I’ve never found a recipe that I really, really love. This one comes close. The bars held together. They’re fully on the healthy side of the spectrum (in my opinion) and they’re beautiful to look at!

After a sample, I carried these over the hill to Lee’s work, where hungry engineers promptly devoured them. This was my second walk of the day with Doc, who was thrilled to go on a granola bar delivery. The weather in San Francisco was summer-like for a couple of days last week and I did not let it go to waste. Come to think of it, isn’t there something about summer weather, PB&J, and granola bars that fits together? It’s like a deconstructed childhood memory centered around summer camp lunchboxes and snacks eaten on the grass.

I couldn’t make these bars without including an unusual ingredient. I think they owe at least some of their deliciousness to the leftover sweet potato I mashed into the mix.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup wheat bran (or wheat germ, or oat bran, if you prefer)
  • 1/2 a baked sweet potato, peeled (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4-1/3 cup honey (more if you like things sweeter)
  • 1 "flax egg" (2 tablespoons flax seed meal + 4 tablespoons water)
  • About 1/3 cup grape jam
  • Additional 1/4 cup oats for topping
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened, dried coconut for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a square or rectangular baking dish with parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together flax seed meal and water, set aside.
  4. In a larger bowl, mash sweet potato.
  5. Add honey, peanut butter, and "flax egg" to sweet potato, mixing well.
  6. Add oats and wheat bran, stirring until mixture is evenly moist.
  7. Spread peanut butter-oat mixture into prepared pan, flattening it with a spatula or spoon.
  8. Spoon jam on top and and spread evenly over peanut butter-oats.
  9. Sprinkle reserved oats and coconut over the jam.
  10. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until firm and starting to brown at the edges.
  11. Remove pan from oven, lift bars out with parchment paper and cool on a wire rack.
  12. When bars are partially cool, place them on a cutting board (parchment and all) and cut into squares.
  13. You can put the bars back on the rack to cool, with or without the parchment. I kept mine on the parchment for easy transport and cleanup.
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Chocolate Almond Muffins

I had to make muffins yesterday. I mean, I really, really wanted muffins. For once, It wasn’t hard to decide what to make. I wanted a stick-to-your-ribs snack and could double as dessert.

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Out came my new(old) Better Homes and Gardens Bread Cook Book that I picked up at a thrift store last week. I love thrift store cookbooks. Whoever gave them away was bored with the recipes or never used the book in the first place. I feel like I’m giving these relics of past eating styles a second chance. Besides, certain things never change. Muffins were more or less the same in the 80’s, right?

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I thought I’d remembered seeing a peanut butter muffin recipe when I scoured my new cookbook for potential winners. I was right and it was the perfect recipe to adapt to my tastes and pantry. I don’t have any straight peanut butter at the moment so out came the giant jar of almond butter. Then there was my chocolate craving…that had to be addressed. I swapped some flour for cocoa powder and used whole wheat flour instead of the all purpose called for. The result was…not as good as I had hoped. These muffins are a bit dry as I made them but I think that could easily be righted with the addition of some mashed banana, applesauce, or yogurt.

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Chocolate Almond Butter Muffins
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Bread Cook Book

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (or all-purpose, or a blend…whatever you want)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup smooth almond butter
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 well-beaten eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
And I would recommend – 1 mashed banana or 1/3-1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce or the same amount of plain/vanilla yogurt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Sift together dry ingredients.
Cut in almond butter until mixture resembles course meal.
Add milk, eggs, and other liquid ingredients all at ounce.
Stir until just mixed.
Spoon into lined muffin tin.
Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until muffins are crusty on top and smell good!
Cool for at least 30 seconds before eating!

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Peanut Butter Cookies (From the File)

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I don’t think I’ve ever made peanut butter cookies before. How said is that? Sure, I’ve made cookies and various other treats with peanut butter in them but I’ve never made a straight-up peanut butter cookie. That’s right, I’ve never had the pleasure of smooshing fork marks into the top of thick, rich, peanutty dough balls. Truthfully, I’ve always been a little put off my recipes calling for peanut butter and butter in PB cookies. Why do they need both?

It’s only fair to give this standard recipe a try before declaring it ridiculous. it just so happens that my grandmother’s recipe file (let’s just call it The File) contains such a peanut butter cookie recipe. It’s on a leaf of notepaper that fell out of The File’s torn bottom back at my dad’s house. Peanut butter cookies are at the top of the page and below is a recipe for Icebox Cookies, followed by Coconut Haystacks on the back. There are little notes in the margins next to each recipe, one noting that the PB cookies are a nice, small recipe. The icebox cookies are also described as a small recipe and a note says “better double it”. I love these little voices from past kitchens. I don’t know whose they are, since the handwriting doesn’t really look like my grandmother’s. I’m guessing that my great-grandmother (G.B.) wrote these lines. She was the queen in the sweets department. I can picture her planning a day of cookie baking for some special occasion.

Here they are, plain-old peanut butter cookies. They’re far from a secret family recipe but as my first peanut butter cookies, I’m quite proud of them. I’m also proud of myself for hustling them out of the house as soon as I baked them. I took these cookies (along with some lovely chocolate chip cherry cookies I made yesterday) to Lee’s work this morning. Giving away baked goods is always more satisfying than eating all of them yourself. I assure you, though, I tested these cookies and they are good!

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Peanut Butter Cookies
From The File

1/2 cup room-temperature butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten

Combine the flour and baking soda in a medium bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or by hand if you’re buff like me), cream together the butter and sugar. Add the peanut butter and blend thoroughly.
Add the beaten egg and vanilla extract
Add the flour mixture, one cup at a time, to the wet ingredients. Mix until you have a smooth dough.
Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for as long as you can wait to make your cookies (not part of the original recipe).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (a “medium oven”, as the recipe says).
Spoon dough onto parchment, Silpat, or oil-coated cookie sheets (I ended up with 22 cookies).
Smoosh the tops of the balls with the bottom of a fork in perpendicular directions.
Bake for 12 minutes or until cookies smell yummy and you can’t wait to eat one!

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Chocolate Peanut Protein Cookies

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        2011, here I come! I’m back from my Christmas hiatus and blogging is a top priority for this year. There are so many recipes I can’t wait to share and so many dishes I want to try! The highlight, I think, will be taking my culinary and other adventures to the Caribbean. Warm water, tropical fruit, and new cultures are on the horizon and I’m anxious to experience everything!

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Double chocolate fig from Fran’s Chocolates in Seattle.

        On to the food. It’s not like I wasn’t cooking over the holidays. I took advantage of my mom’s kitchen in all it’s spacious glory. We baked Christmas cookies (decorated cut-outs like we always do), put together quite a spread for Christmas dinner, and enjoyed several family favorites.
        Eating Light and Crisp Waffles, one of my mom’s standard breakfast treats, for dinner on Christmas eve was perfect. I am very sentimental about those crispy, tangy waffles and they made a satisfying dinner on a winter evening.
        Our meals out were as memorable as the one’s we prepared at home. My mom’s new neighborhood boasts fabulous restaurants like the vegetarian delight, Cafe Flora.
        We even had a little dinner party with a few Seattle friends, an occasion when it helps to have two cooks in the kitchen!

        I was sad to leave Seattle on New Year’s eve, but Lee and I had to get back to the boat in Charleston and keep moving south. I managed to pull together black-eyed peas and slang jang on New Year’s day. My grandmother would be so proud. Yesterday I was back to my old baking tricks and I’m proud of my first treat for 2011!
        These cookies are appropriate for resolution season, although that was not my intention when I came up with them. Brainstorming recipes while I run frequently produces interesting results. This time it was super-sized cookies with bonus protein!
        I wanted to use up the last of some Trader Joe’s chocolate hemp protein powder. I put the last few scoops in these cookies and now I wish I had more! I think I like it much better with peanut flour and oats in a cookie than I do in a smoothie!
        These big, cake-like cookies are chocolate peanut butter heaven. I’ve been munching them happily with the knowledge that I’m fueling up with protein, fiber, and healthful fats.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Cookies
(Makes 7-8 large cookies)

1/2 cup peanut flour
1 cup regular oats
1/2 cup chocolate hemp protein powder (may substitute with another chocolate protein powder or 1/4 cup cocoa powder + 1/4 cup flax seed meal)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cane sugar
1/4 cup prune puree (1 prune baby food container) or applesauce
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine flour, oats, protein powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, beat together egg, sugar, prune puree, and yogurt. Stir in vanilla.
Add wet mixture to dry ingredients, stirring till fully combined.
Spoon onto prepared baking sheet (lined with parchment, silicone mat, or cooking spray), leaving 2 inches between each cookie. I made mine quite large and ended up with 7 cookies.
Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes. Try one while it’s warm and gooey!

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