Tag Archives: peanut butter

The First Run of Spring and Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Granola Bars

The beautiful weather last week called unmercifully to me, poking its fingers of sunshine past the red brick building that blocks the view of the sky from my desk. I’ve got that spring itch, unique to the sunny days of late March and early April. It’s the kind of itch that forces my feet into my runnings shoes and propels me out the door to find out how much I suck.

Turns out, this year was not so bad. Maybe it was because M came with, cycling leisurely beside me with Mocha out front pulling him along so he didn’t even have to pedal. Maybe it was because Mocha’s insistence on a three-times-a-day walk  meant we couldn’t become the sloths we would usually become. Maybe it was the yoga I’ve done a little of this past winter. Or maybe it was the pizza we had the night before. Whatever it was, when I plugged our route into my running map, I was proud, surprised even, to see the distance end up at just under 5km. And I wasn’t even feeling that dead. Somehow, I managed to come through this winter alright.

After the run, these were the perfect snack. I made them last week sometime, determined to find a recipe for granola bars that can replace the store bought kind. I like granola bars, but they’re a little on the pricey side, not to mention all the extra packaging that goes along with them. (We don’t have the space for a recycling bin, so you can imagine the mess one simple cardboard box makes.) Unfortunately, this recipe is not it. Not because they’re not good: actually, they’re beyond delicious. But because they’re maybe a little too good. The addition of the chocolate chips moved them out of the realm of energy-packed snack and too close for comfort to the dessert category. Perhaps my nutritionally-minded mom might have some more thoughts, though I’m pretty certain that I took a healthy snack and turned it into some not so healthy.

I seem to be pretty good at doing that.

Either way, here’s the recipe! Adapted from a fellow blogger over at Food Doodles.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bars

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts and pecans.)
1 cup shredded coconut
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple or table syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 cup raisins (or other dried fruit)
1/2 cup chocolate chips plus more for topping

Preheat the oven to 350*. In a casserole or a baking sheet, mix and spread the oatmeal, nuts, and coconut. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oats start to brown or until you get bored and want to move on to the next step. Reduce the heat of the oven to 300*.

In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the honey, syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook for approximately 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter until melted. Add the dry ingredients to the hot, wet ingredients and mix well. Add the raisins.  Add the chocolate chips and stir as they melt into the oaty mixture. At this point, do not overstir. Add more chocolate chips if you want it to be more chocolaty.

Grease the casserole and press the oat mixture into the pan, making sure it is spread evenly. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top and press them in gently with your fingers or a spatula.

Bake (at 300*) for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for an hour and then cut into squares. Don’t wait too long to cut because the longer you wait, the harder they will be.


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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies

Every Friday, as long as we have no other plans, M dashes out the door at 6:15 after munching a light supper — or  not — and drives to a local high school where he plays badminton for two hours or so. In the same way that Wednesdays have become his night, Fridays are mine. I watch chick flicks, practice piano loudly, sometimes accompanied by bad vocals, turn on some karaoke on YouTube, read cookbooks, maybe even whip something up for a late dinner when he gets home.

This past Friday, we were planning on driving the two hours to my parents’ place out in the country to spend the weekend, but our Friday didn’t look that much different. When you live in this city, right near the busiest highway in North America, any attempts to get out of the city during rush hour traffic is an exercise in insanity. More often than not, if we have weekend plans that involve any other location than this one, we opt to leave by three or wait until 8, even if it means not getting to where we’re going until late at night. So, just like usual, M packed up his badminton clothes and scooted out the door leaving me and the dog in a quiet apartment.

But I had plans! Peanut butter and chocolate plans, plans to find a new favourite, a new go-to. And oh, goodness, was I ever successful.

These are blondies, essentially the opposite of brownies. And, even better, they’re chock full of peanut butter and chocolate chips, the perfect combination. And, they’re essentially just as easy to make as brownies. These weren’t as moist as my favourite brownie recipe, but the batter was actually fun to work with and they came out deliciously munchy. This is one of those recipes that I firmly believe you must must make. Right now. You’ll probably have all the ingredients anyway, so there’s absolutely nothing stopping you.

(Except maybe your diet if you happen to be on one…)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies
Adapted from the recipe at Sweetest Kitchen, which was adapted from Handle the Heat

1/4 cup butter or cooking margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter, smooth, chunky, natural, whatever
1 and 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
As many chocolate chips as you want

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and brown sugar together, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and add the peanut butter. Keep stirring until the peanut butter has melted into the mixture and it is once again smooth. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix well. The batter will form a stiff-ish ball in the bowl. Take half of the batter and press it into a greased 8 x 8 pan. This doesn’t have to be perfect, so don’t worry if you can get it smooth or covering every inch of the bottom of the pan. Dump a bunch of chocolate chips on top and press them into the batter. Press the rest of the batter on top of the chocolate chips. Dump more chocolate chips on top and press into the batter. Repeat if necessary until you have as much coverage as desired.

Bake in a 350* oven for 25 minutes or until the top is golden and the edges perfectly browned.

M arrived home about 5 minutes after I pulled these from the oven, so we tried our first bite when we were all packed, ready to head out the door, standing in the kitchen.

“Mm,” he said. “I guess the real test will be how they taste when they’re completely cool.”

They passed that test with flying colours too.

(Isn’t that plate so pretty? My mom found them in her closet with an assortment of adorable cups and saucers of my Oma’s.)

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Crunchy Peanut Butter Muffins

An early meeting pushes me out of bed at 6:00 in the morning, half an hour before I would generally be moving. Mocha is still fast asleep, heavy on the blankets between us. The quiet left after I hit the snooze button is far too comfortable, far to dark, and the world outside the comforter is not appealing at all. I would love to just lie here indefinitely.

As difficult as it is to get out of bed, I kind of like these early mornings. (But ssshhh… don’t tell my boss…) There’s less pressure and more preparation. Oh, your hair is a mess today? Understandable. You had to be here at 7:30.

Since I knew last night that I would be up early, a situation that is not so good for my breakfast eating habits, I pulled out my muffin book, a little book full of delicious looking muffins. (Though there are really only a handful that I have any desire at all to make — odd how that is.) I wanted something that would give me a good amount of energy, not be too bad for me and, of course, be delicious.

You don’t want to eat too many of these all at once since they are about 289 calories each — I kind of missed the ‘good for you’ requirement. If you want healthy, opt for a Timmies donut instead — but um, peanut butter is awesome. Enough said.

Crunchy Peanut Butter Muffins
Adapted from 1 Mix, 100 Muffins by Susanna Tee

Muffins

2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
6 tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter

Topping

1/3 cup chopped unsalted peanuts
3 tbsp brown sugar

Make the topping first. It’s really simple. Chop your peanuts if all you have is whole peanuts. (Chopping peanuts is fun!) Then, in a small bowl, mix the peanuts and brown sugar together. Set aside and start preheating your oven to 400*.

For the muffins, mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the well. Mix, but don’t overmix. If you overmix, the texture of the muffins will be off. So, just mix until the dry ingredients are wet. It will all clump together a bit in the bowl. This isn’t really a wet muffin batter, so don’t be too concerned if your mixture isn’t fully mixed and you feel like you might be overmixing. You probably aren’t.

Spoon the batter into a greased or lined muffin tin. Sprinkle with the topping and pop into the oven for 20 minutes.

The other wonderful thing about early morning meetings? When 3:30 rolls around, I can pack up and be home an hour early, which means supper is well underway long before M gets home, the kitchen is clean(-ish) and our evening has suddenly grown by an hour or even two.

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