Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

pb&j barsIt was my day to bring snack for Lego League, so I made Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars from the latest edition of The Baking Sheet, a King Arthur Flour publication. (I tried to find a link to it, but I think this is the final edition before they switch to some other format, so I can’t find any useful links online. Oh well.)

The recipe looked tasty and easy and sure to please ten hungry kids. Turns out it’s fantastic! So tasty that I can’t stop nibbling. Fortunately there were a few left over for us to enjoy at home. :) If you want an easy, tasty treat, give this a shot!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
(directly from King Arthur Flour, The Baking Sheet, Fall/Holiday 2014)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups cream peanut butter
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Filling & Topping:
1 1/2 cups high-quality jam (I used a mix of store-bought blackberry jam and homemade triple berry jam. The color contrast between the bars and jelly part was great.)
1/2 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9″x13″ pan, or line with parchment.

In a stand mixer cream the butter and brown sugar until well blended (about 2 minutes). With the mixer on low add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter; mix until well combined. Scrape the bowl a few times during mixing.

In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients with the mixer at low speed to the peanut butter mixture until just combined.

Spread half the dough into the prepared pan (an off set spatula or bowl scraper works well here). Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small globs of the remaining dough over the jam. Sprinkle with the peanuts. Bake for 35 to 38 minutes until golden brown and set. Remove from the oven, cool, and cut into 1″ x 2″ bars.

Yield: 30 bars.

Watermelon Cookies

We bought a giant watermelon at the market the other day. Lex’s choice. Give that boy a watermelon and a spoon and he’s a happy camper! (Remind you of anyone, B?!) Eve, however, had other plans for the watermelon. “Let’s make watermelon cookies,” she said to me yesterday. She wanted to make them yesterday, but I said no because I had other things to make, and she wanted to make them today but we were out all day, so when I picked her up after school she asked if we could please come home and make watermelon cookies. She even wanted to skip Lego Club (a wild playtime her classmates do every Wednesday after school) so we could make cookies today. What could I say other than, “Ok, let’s make cookies!”

She wanted free range with the recipe, like we did with the Flower Rose Pie (almost this same time last year!). However, since these were to be cookies they would require a certain consistency to the batter, so she wrote her recipe (blue squiggles all over the back of a coloring sheet) and then agreed to also consider my recipe (lemon drop sugar cookies from KAF). Following the basic guideline from the KAF recipe we went to work. Here’s what the final recipe was:

1/2 c. unsalted butter
1 1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 c. sour cream
2 rather large slices of watermelon, rind removed
2 1/4 c. white wheat flour
1 c. all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
Red food coloring (AmeriColor soft gel paste, or whatever you’ve got)

Cream sugar and butter in mixing bowl. Add sour cream and mix well. Pierce watermelon chucks well with a fork then add to bowl. Mix until somewhat smooth or until you get bored of mixing and want to move on. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Put many drops of food coloring in. Have fun with it! Mix well. Then let mom have a turn to scrape down the sides and mix again.

Preheat the oven to 375° Drop by very large cookie-scoop full onto a cookie sheet. We used parchment paper, as usual. Otherwise you’d probably want to grease those cookie sheets. Sprinkle chocolate sprinkles on top to resemble watermelon seeds. (I briefly considered lining them up in arcs, as watermelon seeds really are, but then let go of that madness and let Eve carry on with her sprinkling.)

Bake for about 18 minutes or until they are firmish. The recipe says to bake until a very light gold around the edges, but you can’t really see that in these pink cookies.

Cool on a cooling rack for awhile then cut in half to make them look like watermelon slices.

We put some thought into how to make a green rind around the edge, but couldn’t come up with anything that didn’t involve a lot of work on my part (fondant, separate cookie dough, etc.) or a trip to the store (gummy worms, fruit candies, etc.) So we settled for just the melon, hold the rind, and everyone was happy.

They actually taste ok. Cakey and not super sweet. Not super watermelony either though. Now I want to go back and make the original lemon drop cookie recipe too. I bet that would be yummy. :)


Happy creative baker


We put two chunks that size and larger into the batter. Mix it all about!


Add some flour. She likes this part and I don't often let her do it.


Eat some watermelon while you wait. (she wouldn't smile for me, but I got a nice shot of the curls instead!)


Lex heard me say "Watermelon" and came tearing in from the living room, big grin on his face! It's a good thing we bought a huge melon, otherwise there might not have been enough left for the cookies!

sprinkle seeds

Sprinkle on some chocolate "seeds." Chocolated covered sunflower seeds would look good here too.


Enjoy! (I just noticed that this picture would have looked better if the cookies were flipped over, flat side up)

I have had several “slices of watermelon” this evening. These will not help at my weigh-in in the morning!

Chocolate Peppermint Drop Cookies

cookiesThese things are outrageous! Seriously. You know about peanut butter blossoms, right? They might be one of my favorite cookies. With that in mind I’ve been thinking about chocolate drops with peppermint cookies. Sounds yummy, right? I searched my cook books and the Internet and couldn’t find a recipe for this idea, so I made my own! Starting with a chocolaty chocolate cookie, we decided to double the recipe and add some dark chocolate and mint. So good I can’t leave them on my counter for long! Today they were either packed in a box destined for the other side of the world, or packed in the freezer for another day when there are more people around to help me eat them! If you will not be on the receiving end of the aforementioned box or at my house for Christmas I’d highly recommend you make these yourself. Have I mentioned they are delicious?!

* 2 cup butter, softened
* 3 cups white sugar
* 4 eggs
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
* 4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 1/3 cup Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
* 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
* 2 10oz bags Hershey’s Peppermint Kisses

* In large bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs, and extracts until light and fluffy.
* Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; stir into the butter mixture until well blended.
* Mix in the chocolate chips.
* Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls (or a small cookie scoop) onto parchment paper (or ungreased) cookie sheets.
* Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in a 350° preheated oven, or just until set.
* When they first come out of the oven gently press a Peppermint Kiss into the center of each.
* Cool slightly on the cookie sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
I ended up with 123 cookies!

* I’m sure there is lots of room to experiment here. Perhaps KAF Burgundy chunks instead of the chocolate chips, tweaks on extract proportions, etc. Feel free to play around. I don’t think I’ll make them often enough to fine tune the recipe. That would not be good for my waistline!

In case you were wondering, this is how we cook around here. It’s a wonder anything ever gets done.
upside down lex

This, however, is a favorite job that always gets done. Eagerly. With a bit of sampling along the way.

Apparently I didn’t actually take a good picture of the cookies. How unlike me. The little image above was cropped from this one. It will suffice, but I prefer this one with his smiling face :)
smiling lex

A tasty summer salad

The idea for this came from a Price Chopper flyer.  Fancy, huh?  I made some modifications and it turned out to be an excellent summer salad!  I’d highly recommend it.

tropical fruit salad

Tropical fruit salad

Take a big bowl of spinach and add to it sliced kiwi, star fruit, and avocados.  I made this salad earlier in the week and added sliced strawberries.  I should have taken a picture of that one (what was I thinking?!) because the strawberries were beautiful and the star fruit was much more star shaped.  But we ate the salad before I thought to photograph it.  Silly me.  For this one I was out of strawberries so I put in halved grapes instead.  Still pretty delicious.  Serve with chopped walnuts (on top or on the side) and Price Chopper low-fat raspberry dressing.  A perfect summer salad!


Red, white, and blue scones

When we were strawberry picking a few weeks ago I asked the kids what we should do with the berries. They threw out lots of idea, but Lex was pretty insistent on making scones. I wanted to make strawberry jam and I got my way first (yay me!) but when Lex kept asking about scones I finally agreed to make them. Not that I didn’t want to, mind you, but I really, REALLY like scones and I knew that making them would result in me eating them and that, dear readers, is what I didn’t want. However, when Lex started opening cookbooks and trying to find a recipe I decided to go with it. On July 3rd (old news, I know, sorry!) we made strawberry scones and when Lex suggested making red, white, and blue scones for the holiday I thought that was a genius idea and we threw in some blueberries. Yum!

We made Strawberries & Cream Scones from KAF. I doubled the recipe, but stuck with 2/3c. strawberries and added 2/3c. frozen blueberries. The batter ended up a little too moist, so next time I would recommend using fresh berries instead of frozen. As KAF suggests in the recipe :) They baked up just fine though and tasted amazing! I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a high-fat, addicting, super delicious treat! :)


Strawberries, delicious strawberries


little helpers

Little helpers, washing and hulling the strawberries for jam.


snack time

Yogurt and fresh scones for snack. Yum. (yes, Sunday comics all week and underwear helmets are the norm in this house)





I didn't put much effort into the photography of these... too busy eating, but they were quite pretty and festive.

Almond Cake

My friend Elizabeth had this cake at her house one day when we were over for a playdate. It was so delicious I asked for the recipe. Then I made it for the memorial service this weekend and it was so delicious two other people asked for the recipe! I didn’t take any pictures of it (imagine that!) but those at the memorial know what it looks like and the rest of you just need to bake it yourself. Here’s the recipe:

Almond Cake

3/4 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp almond extract (I think most any extract would do, almond or hazelnut, lemon or orange, or just vanilla)
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
pinch of salt
sliced almonds

1. Grease and flour a 9″ round pan
2. Cream together butter, sugar, eggs, and extract. Mix in flour and salt.
3. Spread almonds on top
4. Bake 30-40 minutes in a 350° oven
5. Cool completely, then turn out (put a plate on top of the pan, hold them together and flip the whole thing over, remove pan)

Serves 12.

Serve with fresh berries, sliced strawberries, shaved or drizzled chocolate, or just plain. The flavor is sweet and mild so it stands alone or works well with company. I wish I had a piece now to go with my hot tea.

Note to weight watchers… while this cake is totally delicious, you do pay for it in points. I’m sure it could be “lightened” but as is each slice is 8pts!

Flower Rose Pie

Today we made Flower Rose Pie, per Eve’s instructions. She has been talking about it a lot lately and several times over the past few days we’ve pretend made it, but this morning she said she wanted to make it and pulled her chair over to the counter. I figured, “why not?!” and followed her lead. She told me what to put in and I gave subtle guidance. Here’s the recipe:

1 purple flower
2 scoops of flour (1c.)
2 eggs
1 scoop of brown sugar (1/2c.)
2 big spoons of vanilla extract (2T)
a dusting of baking powder
chocolate shavings and chips for the top

Mix everything together in the bowl, pour into a pan (she was disappointed that we couldn’t find the “pumpkin pan” but I have no idea what she’s talking about so we used a little stoneware dish instead), bake at 350° for about 23 minutes. She insisted it only needed 8 minutes, but when we checked it then she agreed it needed a bit more time :)


Quick sandwich break.

flower in flour

You have to dip the flower in the egg a few times, then lay it down and coat it with flour. She was quite precise about that step.


Scrap the batter into a pan. This lasted long enough for me to get a picture then she decided it was too hard and went back to her sandwich.


Licking the paddle, another important step.


The hardest part... waiting.

When it came out of the oven we shaved up some chocolate chips across the top. Eve then made a “cross face” with full chips, but decided to “smooth it out” with the back of the measuring cup, so it mostly just looks like a chocolate mess.

chocolate shavings

We shaved chocolate chips across the top...


Then Eve went to work decorating the top with chocolate chips.

messy top

It looks messy, but yummy.

proud baker

Look at that proud baker!

We ate it for snack and it actually tastes ok. Dense and mildly sweet, a little heavy on the vanilla, but overall not too bad. We all went back for seconds.

close up

The finished product.

I thought I was being such a fun mommy, but when Alan came home he chastised me (gently) for baking with an unknown flower. Apparently he considers that to be an unnecessary risk in life. Oh well. If we all end up sick tonight at least we’ll know why! :)


Name that flower...



I have a lot of rhubarb in my freezer. A lot! Through the CSA we’ve gotten it for two weeks in a row now and I need to figure out what to do with it. The first batch sat on my counter for far too long and I finally decided to throw it in the freezer for awhile. A quick google search sent me here (a great site I frequently end up on when I have questions about preserving fresh produce) and the freezing process went smoothly enough. Rhubarb is really annoying to peel! Did you know that? It’s all stringy and weird and smells like celery (not a veggie I like!) I persevered though and now have a ton in the freezer… What do you suggest? Strawberry rhubarb pie was my first thought and the obvious answer, but I just can’t motivate myself to make a pie. I found this site with 9 Perfectly Pink Rhubarb Recipes and I’m thinking about making the Rhubarb Buttermilk Mini Muffins but I’m afraid I will eat every last one of them. Not good! Hmmm… ideas?

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookie

I made Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies for Lex’s Valentine’s Day party tomorrow. They are DELICIOUS!!! I’m not going to type the whole recipe, but you can find it on the Martha Stewart web site. Super easy to make. Try them! :)

raw cookies

Unbaked, unfilled cookies. Simple finger prints make the hearts.

heart cookies

My hearts belongs to you. Those these hearts belong to tomorrow's kindergarden class! :)

I was reading the comments on the Martha Stewart page and I agree that the dough would have been a little better with a bit of milk in it and the cookies would have been even more excellent with chopped up peanuts or chunky peanut butter. Either way, they are tasty!

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

eve and alan

Happy Birthday Alan!

Not much of a cake fan, Alan decided he wanted cookies for his birthday this year. Birthday cookies are becoming a trend around here and here! Today we made Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, a modified version of a recipe we found on an Alton Brown DVD awhile ago. They are delicious!!!

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolks
2 Tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used KAF’s Burgundy Semisweet Chocolate Chunks with a few Nestle chips thrown in because I didn’t have enough chunks.)
3/4 cups chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°
Melt butter.
Sift together flour, salt, baking soda.
Pour melted butter into mixer. Cream butter and sugars on medium. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla. Mix until combined. Slowly add flour mixture until combined. Add chips and nuts.
Chill dough.
Scoop onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove cookies from pan immediately. (slide parchment paper right off the pan onto cooling racks and allow cookies to firm up a bit before moving them from the parchment paper)

Yield: 3 dozen

I actually doubled this recipe and froze two dozen for quick and easy baking later. That’s just what we need around here, fresh baked cookies in under 15 minutes! :)