Sweet Treats

Recipe—Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

Peanut and butter jelly sandwiches are an American classic. I love PB & Js! And by love I mean I REAAAALLLLLLY love them! I ate more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches during my pregnancy than the typical American child does in their first 10 years of life. There is just something so nostalgic about smooth peanut butter squished together with a layer of sweet sticky jelly. It is one of those items that takes me back to being a little girl on the playground. When I saw this recipe for peanut butter and jelly bars I knew they had to be mine! My son’s school had a bake sale coming up and I knew it was the perfect occasion to make these. Come on? Toddlers… peanut butter and jelly… they belong together! These bars turned out fabulous! The cookie layer is almost brownie like, the moistest peanut butter cookie you have ever had and then of course you have the layer of jelly and then just the right amount of crunch from the honey roasted peanuts on top. Superb when served with a big cold glass of milk. I may have a new addiction.

Note: These can be tricky to cut when still warm so be sure to allow for adequate chilling time. Otherwise you may find that the bars sort of crumble.

INGREDIENTS
1 c butter, softened
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 c creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 c flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 c of your favorite jelly (I used Strawberry)
1 c honey roasted peanuts, chopped

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • In a large mixing bowl beat together the butter and sugar for 2 minutes.
  • Add in the eggs, peanut butter, and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes making sure it’s completely combined.
  • In another bowl combine the flour, salt, and baking powder.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and fold in using a rubber spatula until completely combined.
  • Line a 9” x 13” baking dish with parchment paper going both directions and spray parchment paper with cooking spray.
  • Transfer 2/3 of your dough to the prepared baking dish and spread the dough out evenly.
  • Press the dough down firmly in the bottom of the entire baking dish making sure it’s even thickness all over.
  • Place the jelly in a small microwave safe bowl and warm it in the microwave for 1 minute and stir using a fork (this really seems to help in spreading it out).
  • Using a rubber spatula spread the warmed jelly over the top of the cookie dough making sure the dough is completely covered.
  • Using your hands, crumble the remaining dough over the top of the jelly.
  • Sprinkle the chopped peanuts over the top.
  • Bake until golden, about 50–60 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the oven and set on a trivet to cool for 30minutes.
  • Holding onto the parchment paper, carefully lift the entire contents of the dish and transfer to a large cutting board.
  • Refrigerate the whole dish for 1–2 hours making sure it is completely cool before trying to cut into bars.
  • After bars have cooled cut into squares using a sharp knife or even a pizza wheel.
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
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Snacks

Recipe—Valentine’s Day Snack Mix

If you are on Pinterest then you have probably seen one form or another of “Puppy Chow” snack mixes. (Basically a super sweet treat made from chocolate covered Chex cereal and tossed with other tasty goods.) These snack mixes are popping up everywhere! I saw one the other day for Valentine’s Day that looked super cute. I liked the idea of doing something like this for my son and all his little classmates at school but thought his teacher’s may not appreciate it if I get a classroom full of 2 and 3 year olds all hopped up on sugar. I decided to create this lower sugar version snack mix that is great for people of all ages. Have fun mixing any and all of your favorite bite size snacks!

Note: This recipe makes enough to fill 24–26 snack size Ziploc bags or 1 large bowl.

Here are my final goodie bags. I made some cute tags that I folded in half and stapled over the top.

INGREDIENTS
15.5 oz box Strawberry Frosted Mini Wheats
10 oz box Honey Teddy Grahams
2 c yogurt covered raisins
2 c raspberry yogurt covered pretzels
1 1/2 c dried cranberries
1.25 oz yo’ drops crunchable yogurt

STEPS

  • Combine all ingredients and one large bowl and use a large serving spoon or scoop to mix together gently.
  • Divide mix into snack size bags or serve in one large bowl.
  • Enjoy!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Dinners

Recipe—Homemade Fish Sticks & Tartar Sauce

The other night I asked my son what he would like for dinner. His reply, an enthusiastic “FISH STICKS!” I was not so enthusiastic. I have never been a fan of the frozen mystery fish sticks you get in your store’s frozen section, I am however a huge fan of good, quality, fresh fish. So I was on a mission to make some out of this world homemade fish sticks. Why not go with one of the best pieces of fish on the market, halibut. These turned out incredible! By far the best fish sticks I have ever had. These were a huge hit not for only my husband and I, but my son loved them. We had a happy family all around. I served them with my macadamia nut rice and some coleslaw. Talk about totally indulgent. We will be making these again very soon.

Note: Halibut filets typically come with a layer of skin on them. Many butchers will remove it for you if you bat your eyes and ask them nicely. So unless you want to remove the skin yourself, see if you can get a butcher to remove the skin from the filet for you. Trust me, it’s worth it.

FISH STICK INGREDIENTS
2 eggs
1 tbsp milk
1 lb halibut filets cut into 1” strips
1 1/2 c panko
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 c vegetable oil

TARTAR SAUCE INGREDIENTS
1/4 c sour cream
3 tbsp mayo
2 tbsp sweet pickle relish
2 tsp capers, minced
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

GARNISH
lemon wedges

STEPS

  • Make tartar sauce by combining all ingredients in a small bowl mixing well. Place tartar sauce in fridge until ready to use.
  • For the fish sticks, whisk together eggs and milk.
  • Add fish strips to the egg wash and gently toss to coat.
  • In a shallow bowl combine panko, salt, and pepper.
  • Remove the fish strips one at a time from the egg wash and coat them in the panko mixture. Set the breaded fish to the side on a cutting board as you finish them.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add as many of the fish sticks to the hot oil as you can making sure not to overlap.
  • Cook for 4 minutes turning once to making sure all sides are a golden brown.
  • Remove the fish sticks from the oil as they are done cooking and place on a paper towel lined sheet.
  • Repeat the last 3 steps until all of the fish sticks are done.
  • Serve fish sticks with the tartar sauce and a lemon wedge.