28 February 2014

What!? Peanut Butter, Jelly and Potato Chip Bars

Sorry.  I didn't mean to disappear.  Really.  I didn't mean it.  I guess I just needed some me-time.  I've actually been dealing almost non-stop with an issue with my oldest kiddo's school.  It's a problem most parents would love to have -- he's just too smart.  The local school district doesn't have the tools for dealing with it, though.  They have programs for under-performers, but not over-performers, at least not until they're older.  So, I have spent the last ten days working to get Sam in a different school where they might have some flexibility with his advancedness (I just made that word up.) and be able to work with the fact that he's doing math and reading on a much higher level than the other first graders.  I got him into a new school for next year that looks really promising.  So (fingers crossed) that issue is gonna work out and I can get my brain back into the kitchen again.
I've been wanting to make these bars from the website Spoon Fork Bacon for a while now.  I started going through my really ridiculously large pile of recipes I would like to try eventually.  I have to add that I will probably never make 99% from them, so I go through about once a year and get rid of half that have built up that I know will never make the cut.  This recipe, though, keeps ending up at the top of the pile, so I finally broke down and made it this week as a little stress reliever.

They didn't end up quite as spectacular as I had envisioned, but they are pretty darn good.  Somehow, although they are pretty much packed with peanut butter, I don't think they ended up quite peanut butter-y enough.  I think I might just up the peanut butter quotient and make these again.  Other than that I was pretty darn thrilled and these absolutely filled my comfort food, stress relief quota for the week.  I'm definitely keeping the recipe in the pile.  You never know when a new version might come swimming out of my brain.

I did use all the peanut butter I had left.  That's always a good thing since you always pull out some extra peanut butter to lick off your fingers on the way out of the jar (just wash you hands after said finger lickin' goes down.)
Peanut Putter, Jelly, and Potato Chip Bars
makes one 9x13" pan
adapted ever so slightly from Spoon Fork Bacon

Print me, Please!!!

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 cups strawberry preserves
3/4 cup crushed potato chips (I used Wavy Lays)
2/3 cup peanut butter chips
1/3 cup chopped dry roasted peanuts

Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray a 9x13" glass baking dish with nonstick spray; set aside

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.  In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the egg and continue to beat until blended.  Add the vanilla and peanut butter and beat well until combined.

Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture and mix until a smooth dough comes together.

Press 2/3rds of the peanut butter dough into the prepared pan in an even layer.  Spread the preserves over the dough and crumble the remaining dough over the top.  Sprinkle the potato chips, peanut butter chips, and peanuts over the top.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let the bars cool in the dish for at least 1 hour.  Cut into bars and serve.  Store in a covered container at room temperature up to 3 days.

18 February 2014

ANZAC Biscuits

These cookies have turned into quite the troublesome quest.  I said at the beginning of the year that I really wanted to make these ANZAC biscuits from the Saveur 100.  They have uncovered some more of my recipe pet peeves and here they are:
1.  When the recipe isn't accurate.
2.  When the photograph is a true representation.
On the first point, I get it that a cook doesn't want to give up their secrets.  I refused to give out my recipes for years.  There are a few I still keep in my back pocket and won't hand out.  If you are giving out recipes, though.  Give us the one you actually used.  Please.  I followed the recipe from Saveur to the letter and the dough was too dry.  So dry that there was an extra cup or so of dry stuff in the bottom of the bowl that was still not incorporated.  SO, I had to had more liquid to get the dough to even hold together to make a cookie.  The recipe also said that it made about 2 dozen cookies.  I used the same size scoop and ended up with just over 5 dozen.  I know I added some more liquid, but that 1/4 cup didn't make 3 dozen cookies.  It's just not possible.
I made the first dozen of these cookies and they looked nothing like the picture from Saveur, which is the one at the top of this post.  I just couldn't figure it out.  The cookies tasted just wonderful, though, so I kept on baking and said I didn't care what they looked like.  But it just kept bugging me until I looked at the bottom of one of the cookies.  The Saveur picture is of the bottom of the stinkin' cookies.  Maybe it's not a total misrepresentation, but I still feel a little cheated.
Enough of my complaining....So, here are some things you need to know about these cookies:
1.  The name ANZAC is short for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.  These were invented as a long lasting ration during World War I.  The lack of eggs during wartime is also why they're egg-less.
2.  They're delicious.  They are buttery and loaded with coconut and oats.  The cookies are chewy, crunchy, and crispy at the same time.  The traditional cookies are made with golden syrup, which is the British version of our Southern cane syrup.  I made mine with cane syrup since I already had some on hand.  You could also use mild flavored molasses in a pinch.

ANZAC Biscuits
makes about 5 dozen cookies
2 1/4 cups rolled oats
2 cups shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup boiling water
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
10 Tbsp butter
7 Tbsp cane syrup or golden syrup
Preheat oven to 350°.  Whisk together the oats, coconut, flour, and sugar.  Stir together water and baking soda in a separate small bowl.  Melt the butter and syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat; add the baking soda mixture.  Stir the syrup mixture into the flour mixture to make a very thick dough.  Using a 1 oz scoop or 2 tablespoons, drop cookies onto a parchment lined baking sheet 2" apart.  Bake until golden brown, 12-16 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack.  Store in an airtight container.

12 February 2014

Valentines Chocolate Pretzel Bars

I cheated on this dessert.  Totally and completely.  I am still really proud of myself, though.  Usually I'm posting the day after the holiday, telling you what I made in the past tense.  I'm actually ahead of the game this time.  Look!  It's a Valentine's Day recipe one day before the day itself.  I'm gonna keep working on moving it up a little more for the next big holiday.  I cheated on this dessert because I have made it before.  I made this back in August and my hubby loved it.  It may have been his favorite dessert I've ever made.  He had a birthday a couple of days ago and I made these bars again for his birthday.  I added some little chocolate hearts to the top.  That's the only difference.  Maybe with all the hearts there's some more love in there, too.
the finely ground pretzels are the secret ingredient to the awesomeness.
this stuff's thick like cookie dough.  don't sweat it.  it'll all be okay.
see -- when you smoosh it down, it's lovely.
press the chocolates into the top straight out of the oven so they get all melty.
get a glass of milk and dig in while they're still warm.  enjoy the chock-full, overloaded goodness.
Valentine's Chocolate Pretzel Bars
makes one 8x8" pan

1 1/4 cups salted pretzels
1/2 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 2/3 cup flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup salted smoked almonds, chopped
16 heart shaped chocolates

 Preheat the oven to 350°.  Line an 8" square baking pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick spray; set aside.

Process the pretzels in a food processor or blender until they are fine crumbs; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.  Stir in the pretzel crumbs, flour, salt, and baking powder.  Stir until just combined.  Gently stir in the chocolate chips and chopped almonds.

Spread the dough into the prepared pan.  Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and just set in the middle.  Press the chocolates into the top of the bars as soon as you remove them from the oven.  Allow to cool 30 minutes before cutting into bars and serving.

04 February 2014

Warm Lemon Cheesecake Cake

It's cold. Like, totally, mind-numbing, toe-numbing, icy, arctic cold.  Cold like we never get here in Arkansas for more than a couple of days a year.  It's been cold like this for a month with the exception of a couple of days.  The weather calls for warm, soothing desserts.  It calls for soup, hot chocolate, and fuzzy socks. 

I made this cake for our Super Bowl party, which got cancelled because of icy roads.  The weather is really bumming me out since I missed out on all that good food.  The good food included my stepdad's award-winning ribs.  They're heavenly and one of the best foods in the entire world.

I very, barely adapted this recipe from the Warm Winter Lemon cake on the Kraft Recipes website.  I was drawn to it because it's warm (totally obvious) and lemon always makes me think of warm weather.  Don't get me wrong.  I am not a fan of the summer.  It's too darn hot.  I just want to not have to feel chilled to the bone all the time.  This cake did the trick.  I only made some minor changes and it was a real success.  It's light, fluffy, ooey, gooey, lemony, creamy, warm, luscious and just plain delicious.  You should go make one.  If you live anywhere near me you should have time since we're supposed to get iced in again tomorrow.


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