06. February 2015 · Comments Off on Lunch Lady Peanut Butter Bars: The Binder Recipes · Categories: cravings, kids, recipes · Tags: , , , , ,

lunchladypeanutbutterbars (2)School lunches aren’t what they used to be. My kids don’t buy school lunches because the food is gross, and the servings are too small for their “growing boy” appetites. I loved having peanut butter bars with my school lunches. They were such a special treat, and they were delicious.

 

They weren’t just a school lunchroom treat. My mom made peanut butter bars for us at home, too. The lunchroom version was thinner, and peanuttier. Mom’s was thicker, chewier, and with more frosting.  Both were tasty.  This recipe is a merger between the two.  Enjoy!

 

Thinner, crisper version

Thinner, crisper version

Thicker, chewier version

Thicker, chewier version

Printable recipe here: Lunch Lady Peanut Butter Bars

 

Lunch Lady Peanut Butter Bars

2 sticks butter

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup peanut butter

2 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

Cream the butter and sugars until light in color. Add the eggs and vanilla, then the peanut butter. Mix until it’s all incorporated and then scrape down the bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add to the wet stuff and mix just until combined.

If you want thin bars (and more servings!) spread the mixture into a 18×13” sheet pan, and bake for 15-18 minutes at 350 degrees.

If you want thicker, chewier bars, and you don’t want as many servings, spread the mixture into a 13×9” cake pan, and then bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

The bars are done when they are slightly browned and the center is set. While the bars are still hot, spoon 1 ½ cups of peanut butter onto the surface. Do this in small dollops across the surface of the bars, and then wait a minute until the heat of the bars melts the peanut butter. Then spread to cover the whole surface evenly.

This is the hardest part: wait for the bars to cool. (I put my pan in the freezer to speed this part along. I’m so impatient.)

Once the bars have cooled and the peanut butter has lost some of its shine, top with chocolate frosting.

Quick Chocolate Frosting

1 stick butter

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

¼ cup milk

3 cups powdered sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

With the whisk attachment on the mixer, blend the cocoa with the softened butter, then add the milk, vanilla and powdered sugar (1 cup at a time). Done.

28. May 2014 · Comments Off on Busy Night Dinner: Pesto Tilapia · Categories: fast food, fish, main dish · Tags: , , , , ,

I think it was just yesterday that I was thinking, “I can’t believe it’s already May! This year is going by so fast — too fast!” And now, here it is, the last week of May. How did that happen? I don’t like being this BUSY. When life gets really hectic, dinnertime is one of the first things that suffers. I start reaching for food that is fast, not necessarily “fast food,” but food that gets on the table quickly. It’s not always a success. Sometimes it’s breakfast for dinner — eggs scramble really quickly– and sometimes it’s sandwiches. And sometimes, it’s amazing. I came across the idea for this recipe after forgetting to thaw the fish for dinner.  I’m really good at keeping my freezer stocked, but I’m not so good at remembering to defrost. Usually when I make tilapia for dinner, I just do a quick saute in a skillet, add some lemon juice and serve with rice and green beans or salad. But that’s when I remember to defrost the fish. Tonight, I forgot to defrost. When I make rice, I always make too much. I love to have rice with my lunch, (with a little kimchi and seasoned nori — that’s another post). It’s just as easy to make a lot of rice as it is to make a little, so why not make a lot? I had leftover rice, but nothing else was ready, and the natives where getting restless. aDSC02081 I turned my oven to 400 degrees. While the oven preheated, I trimmed a bundle of asparagus, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. This went on a small tray and into the oven while it preheated. My kids LOVE asparagus. Well, the big kids do.  The little one doesn’t eat green food. His brainwashing is still in progress. The mister doesn’t like asparagus either, but he eats it anyway. What a good man!   aDSC02082 Then I lined another baking tray with foil, sprayed with Pam spray and placed my frozen tilapia fillets on the tray. On each fillet, I smeared a spoonful of prepared pesto (I buy mine at Costco.), followed by a sprinkle of lemon zest, and once my oven was at the right temp, I put the tray in and let it bake until the fish was flaky, about 15-18 minutes. While that baked, I softened some chopped onion and bell pepper in a skillet with some olive oil and added my leftover rice and some Italian seasoning to make a quick fried rice. The asparagus was ready at the same time as the fish, and dinner was served! aDSC02086 That’s my kind of fast food!

11. April 2014 · Comments Off on Breakfast. The non-morning person version · Categories: breakfast, cravings, kids · Tags: , , , , ,

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I am NOT a morning person. I never have been. I doubt I ever will be. I don’t function well before 10am. These are just the facts.

My kids have different ideas about mornings, ideas they certainly didn’t inherit from me. My oldest once bragged that he “slept in” until 7:30am. My kids are morning people.

I’ll admit that we probably eat more bread/pasta/rice than we should. But some days, toast is the easiest thing to make for breakfast. My oldest is perfectly content to eat cereal for breakfast every. single. day. My middle child won’t eat breakfast without some coercion, and the little guy is easy to please.  He usually eats cereal with the oldest and then has a second breakfast with me.

On the days that I make toast, all three kids get excited, even if they have already helped themselves to cereal. It’s a great second breakfast. :)

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I turn on the broiler and then lay slices of regular sandwich bread (we use Nature’s Own Honey Wheat bread, mostly) on a sheet pan.  Half of the slices get butter and a shake of cinnamon and sugar. The other half gets a generous handful of grated cheese and a sprinkle of cracked black pepper. I don’t know how long I broil it, but usually by the time I get everything put away and get plates out, the bread is toasted.

Honestly, I usually have one kid, at least, that insists on standing sentinel at the stove. I turn on the oven light, and he watches the cheese and butter start to bubble… I wish these kids were always so easily entertained!

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Serve with fruit. Today I had strawberries and mangoes. Sometimes these just get piled on a plate, and everyone grabs a banana, and we eat in the car on the way to school. I’ll never understand why my kids get up so stinkin’ early, but can’t get ready for school until the very last minute!

But today, I got to actually sit down and eat breakfast. It was nice. And it was delicious.

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What is breakfast like at your house?

12. March 2014 · Comments Off on Honey Molasses Drumsticks: The Binder Recipes · Categories: chicken, main dish, recipes · Tags: , , ,

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I keep a giant 3″ 3 ring notebook in my kitchen.  It is packed with the recipes I love, and this one is definitely in The Binder. I plan to share several of my favorite recipes over the next few weeks and months!

I first found this recipe several years ago in one of my favorite cooking magazines, Cooking Light. After the first time I made it, it earned a page in The Binder, and I’ve made it more times than I can count since then. It’s a family favorite for sure!Honey Molasses Chicken Drumsticks (adapted from Cooking Light)

Take 6 or 7 chicken drumsticks and remove the skin (or don’t. Your choice.), then salt and pepper all over.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix:

1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 rounded tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon molasses
3 minced garlic cloves

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil (or coconut oil) over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken on all sides, then add the honey mixture to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium low, turn the chicken so the glaze is all over the chicken. Put the lid on the pan, and cook for about 15 minutes, turning the chicken every 5 minutes or so, so the glaze will be even and so the chicken will cook evenly. When the chicken is fully cooked, take the lid off and let the glaze reduce to a rich color, and then it’s done!

honeymolassesdrumsticksIt’s messy, but so tasty, and it’s good hot or cold. Give it a try, and let me know if your family enjoys it too!