Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars


There are only a few recipe sources that I always trust. 1) My mom, 2) Cook’s Illustrated, and finally Ina Garten.

When I was first learning to really cook, I was cooking dinners with friends once a week, and our meals typically featured Ina’s recipes. And they never turned out bad. As the years went on, I started cooking and realized that her recipes have a higher success rate than just the typical recipe you see.

I have enjoyed watching her new shows recently and am planning to check out her new cookbook as soon as I can get it from the library (#poorgradstudent). This treat can hold me over until then with her transformation of the classic PBJ to a dessert. PBJ has been my go to lunch at work for the past few months- would I loose any professional standing at work by eating these bars for lunch instead?


Slightly Adapted from Ina Garten


1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 ounces peanut butter
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4-1 cup jelly
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts


Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line an 8 x 8 baking dish with aluminum foil and grease it.

Cream together butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar.  Beat in egg, vanilla, and peanut butter until just combined.  Stir in flour, salt, and baking powder until just combined.

Press approximately 2/3 of the peanut butter dough in the bottom of the baking dish.  Spread jelly evenly over top.  Dollop the remaining peanut butter dough on top.  Sprinkle peanuts on top.  Bake for 25-32 minutes, until done.  Cool completely and cut into bars.

Homemade White Chocolate Butterfinger Bark


I am definitely for any holiday that has lots of candy.

Which, in America, seems to be every holiday.  But Halloween is the king of all candy holidays.  ‘Tis the holiday Halloween spirit to eat so much candy that you want to throw up.

And here is my way of doing my part for this blessed, sugary day.  I bet some of you have some bags of candy corn in your pantry right now.  Let’s make some candy out of that candy!  Turns out if you combine candy corn and a little peanut butter, you get that crunchy Butterfinger filling.  Life changer.

And what peanut butter candy is complete without chocolate?  By my personal preference, I made my bark with white chocolate (love the white chocolate peanut butter holiday candy!), but milk or dark chocolate would be just as great.

Make sure to enjoy your sugar filled holiday with lots of candy while you can.  Because the next holiday celebrates with lots of food food (turkey, cranberries, and stuffing oh yes) but in my opinion, not enough candy.

Reese peanut butter turkeys anyone?

(Psst…if you still have leftover candy after making these butterfingers, I highly recommend my candy corn pancakes as breakfast for dinner)

Barely Adapted from Cookies and Cups


2 1/2 cups candy corn
3/4 cup peanut butter
12 ounces white chocolate bark


Melt white chocolate in a double broiler.  Spread onto wax paper or silpat (at least 9 x 9 inches).  Chill until set, about 10-20 minutes.

Premeasure you peanut butter.

Melt candy corn in a double broiler, stirring constantly. (Or you can put it in the microwave for 30 second 50% power intervals until melted).  Immediately stir in peanut butter over the double broiler.  Working quickly (this stuff hardens fast), spread on top of white chocolate.  Chill until set, about 10-20 minutes.  Break into pieces.  Keep in the fridge.

Turkey, Pickle, and Almond Butter Sandwich


First things first: No pregnancy here.  I feel like any strange food combo that includes pickles needs this disclaimer.  I still don’t know how to interact with children and lack any real motivation to learn how. But for those of you who are pregnant, forget pickles and ice cream.  Nut butter and pickles is where it is all at.

Yeah, you are probably making a face at this combination, but I promise the sweet and salty pickles works so well with the creamy peanut butter. Crunchy, creamy, and wonderful. I made my sandwich with my dad’s home-smoked turkey, and I loved the extra smokey flavor with the toppings.  G

You know what this sandwich also goes great with?  Watching The Newsroom.  Great transition, right? I should be a newscaster.

I love Aaron Sorkin’s writing and fast talking shows (Gilmore Girls, anyone?), but I only just started watching The Newsroom yet.  And a few days later, I have seen all episodes.  And am sad that my cable does not include HBO.  And I am 50% considering making a career change to be a journalist.  But that’ll change as soon as I watch a Law and Order episode on Netflix.  Then I will want to be a lawyer.

So to sum up this post: Make this sandwich and go watch The Newsroom.  I promise I do more than eat and watch TV.  Those are just my two most important activities.

Good night and good luck.

Inspired by Joy the Baker


Roast turkey
Almond butter (or any nut butter)
Pickles slices
Bread (sliced seed bread works best)


Toast bread.  Spread almond butter on both sides.  Top with turkey and pickle slices.

Peanut Butter Oreo Bars


Have you been pondering how I could take those delicious Black and White Bars and make them into a treat that Lindsay Lohan would love? Did you figure it out, or did I stump you?  Can you tell I am little excited that I have my first Two-Parter post?  Tell me your guesses: what treats would Lindsay Lohan love?

No, I am not adding any illegal substances to the Black and White Bars.  Nor do the bars give you the ability to make wise decisions unfortunately.

Here it is: peanut butter and Oreos.

Does it all make sense now?

Hopefully it does, because if you haven’t seen The Parent Trap, your life up to this point cannot have been fully fulfilling.  In that movie Lindsay Lohan bonds with her twin sister/herself over a love of the combination of peanut butter and Oreos.  So what did my young childhood self do immediately after watching that movie?  Eat some peanut butter and Oreos of course.

And it was a life changing experience.  So it was only natural that as an adult when I was left with some sweetened condensed milk that I should add peanut butter to it and pour on top of Oreos.  I only wish Lindsay could make such great decisions like this.

I want to eat these bars and watch the Parent Trap as soon as possible.  With Dennis Quaid.  Mmm.

From Cinnamon Freud


1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 tablespoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into 1 inch pieces
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanuts
1 cup chopped Oreos
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup peanut butter


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×9 baking pan with foil and grease.

In a food processor combine flour, salt, and brown sugar.  Pulse until combined.  Sprinkle cold butter cubes on top.  Pulse until pea sized crumbs form.  Press evenly into prepared baking pan.

Sprinkle white chocolate chips and peanuts on top.  Sprinkle chopped Oreos and top.  Lightly press down.  In a bowl mix together sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter.  Pour sweetened condensed mixture on top, tilting the pan to ensure the sweetened condensed milk fully covers the pan.  Bake for 19-23 minutes, until golden brown on top.

Cool completely and then cut into bars.  Store in refrigerator

Peanut Butter Cookies Dough Bites


I am not a vegan, and I don’t make many vegan recipes. This is for several important reasons:
1) Vegan food supplements are expensive, and I am poor.
2) Sometimes vegan recipes taste a little…off.
3) I like cheese.

I once tried to make some vegan brownie bites to bring to a party since someone there couldn’t eat gluten. The raw brownie dough included dates for sweetness and chewiness So off I went to one of the town’s few speciality grocery stores for dates. Given my frugality/poorness, I saw two types of dates at the store. One was a few dollars cheaper and looked pretty similar to the dates listed in the recipe, so I figured a date is a date, right? No. My vegan brownie bites came together, and everything looked all right. However, when I took my first bite to test them out, they were a little weird. I took a second bite and confirmed that, yes, they were weird tasting. I couldn’t serve weird brownie bites to people- imagine the food blogger shame! So to the trash bin they went, and I ate the rest of the dates plain (they were pretty good, kind of tasted like licorice).

Lesson learned: buy the ingredients you are told to for a vegan recipe.

I have been seriously missing my Reeses Easter eggs, so I needed a peanut butter based snack to help me slowly detox myself. These peanut butter cookie dough bites are the healthy replacement I chose to make. They happen to be vegan but include no weird or foreign ingredients. You shouldn’t have any grocery mishaps or frugality decisions with these peanut butter bites. In fact, you may already have all the ingredients already in your pantry.

I cannot lie and say these are exactly like a Reeses peanut butter cup, but they are a delicious and healthy peanut butter snack that can be whipped up in minutes. And no one is stopping you from dipping them in some melted chocolate.

Also why does Memorial Day or Cinqo de Mayo not have any holiday candy? I don’t want to wait until October for novel candy. First world problems, people.

Slightly Adapted from A Pinch of Yum


1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts
1/3 cup golden raisins
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-4 teaspoons water, as needed
2-4 teaspoons flour, as needed


In a food processor, process peanuts until broken into small pieces. Add raisins, salt, peanut butter, and vanilla. Process until a soft dough forms. Add water if need to help the dough come together. Remove dough from processor If too oily, work in a little flour if needed. Divide dough into small ball. Press down into flat disk. Use a fork to create a criss-cross pattern if desired.

Makes 12-15 cookie dough bites.

Peanut Pie

My name is Karen, and I am a peanut butter lover.

However, I also have a weird relationship with peanut butter.  My younger sister has a peanut allergy, and since I was a worrying child, I was always a little nervous about eating peanut butter.  I was afraid that I would somehow become tainted with peanuts or have some lingering peanut butter on my fingers.  Then I would somehow touch my sister, or she would lick my fingers, and then she would have an allergic reaction thanks to me.  Yes, my name is Karen, and I am peanut butter lover and a catastrophizer. Well, since I live on my own now, I can have peanut butter whenever I want without an fear of sending people to the hospital.

As a peanut butter lover, I also love peanut butter pie.  However, I often find peanut butter pies to be lacking, with something just not quite right.  Some are not the right thickness, some are too cream cheesy, and some don’t have the right texture.  This is my idea for the perfect peanut pie, and I think you all may love it just as much as I do.  First, you bake a butter pie crust, and then you fill it with a layer of peanut butter and gooey peanut topping (think pecan pie with peanuts).  Next time, I think I will put a layer of chocolate ganache between the pie crust and peanut butter to make it even better.

And I won’t lie, it was still a little weird not having to worry about washing my hands immediately after eating this pie.  But it was so good, I got over it.

Happy Pi(e) Day to everyone!

Idea from Cinnamon Freud
Adapted from Country Cleaver and Crust from Bran Appetit

For the Crust:
1 cup & 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
8 tablespoon butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3-5 tablespoons ice water

For the Filling:
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, room temperature
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup roasted peanuts
1/2 cup peanut butter

For the Crust:
In a food processor or large bowl, combine flour, salt, and granulated sugar.  Freeze butter pieces for approximately 10 minutes.  Sprinkle over flour mixture.  Process in food processor or cut in with pastry cutter until the butter is incorporated and pea sized pieces form.  Add in ice water and mix together with hand or process until a soft dough forms.  Start with 2 or 3 tablespoons and add more as needed.  Transfer to cling wrap, warp, and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Grease a 9 inch pie pan.  Remove from fridge and place on a lightly floured surface.  Roll out to an 11 inch circle.  Press into pie pan.  Crimp the edges and trim extra.  Freeze for 20 minutes.
Line pie pan with pie weights or dried beans.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Remove pie weights and keep warm.For the Filling:

Lower the oven temperature to 275°F.

In a double broiler, melt the butter.  Remove from double broiler and whisk in sugar and salt.  Making sure it has cooled slightly, whisk in egg, corn syrup, and vanilla.  Return to double broiler and cook until it reaches 130°F.  Stir in peanuts and remove from double broiler.

Spread peanut butter into the bottom of the pie.  Top with peanut topping.  Bake for 40-50 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature.

How to Make as Mini-Pies:

I could eat an entire pie by myself, but I don’t want the stomachache.  So I often make many pie recipes as mini pies using 5 inch pie/tart pans.

This recipe will make 4-6 individual pies depending on the size of your pan.  Prepare as instructed, reducing the baking time for the crust to 17-20 minutes and the filling baking time for approximately 25-30 minutes.  Just make sure to watch as you bake!

Baked Snickers Empanadas

I know all you loyal readers (AKA my mom, few friends, and relatives) are probably wondering if these post is a repeat glitch. Well, I hope I am not the only one who remembers these delectable treats.  But this is an important repeat: I have been hard at work trying to take a better picture of my Snickers empanadas.  It is a tough life, my friends, but someone has to do it, right?  Through several attempts of trial and error (all delicious), I have reworked the crust and methods to produce a crispier, flakier empanada.  Now, the absolute best way to make these is to deep fry, but for those who don’t want to fry or lack the tools to do so, this baking method produces great results.

 Empanadas have so many possibilities, people.  Put any dessert combination you love inside:  peanut butter & white chocolate, chocolate & marshmallow fluff, Oreo, Nutella & cherries, blueberries & cream cheese, and more.   And then there are infinite possible savory options too- you really can’t go wrong.  Anything you can dream up can pretty much be put into an empanada.  I think having a holiday empanada party would be a great edition to your social calendars.  I definitely would not turn down an invitation to one.



For the Crust:
1/2 cup water
5 ounces butter
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
Pinch of salt

For the Empanadas:
3/4 cup peanut butter
15-17 mini Snickers, chopped


For the Crust:
In a small saucepan combine water and butter.  Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted.
In a bowl combine flour and salt.  Slowly pour in butter mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until a wet, oily paste forms.  Pour dough onto a sheet of cling wrap.  Wrap cling wrap around dough, forming into a disk.  Chill for at least 1 1/2 hours, preferably 2 hours.
For the Empanadas:
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Divide the dough into 20-25 small equal pieces.  On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a 4-5 inch circle. Place about 2 teaspoons of peanut butter in the center of each piece of dough. Divide Snickers pieces among the empanadas.  Fold over the dough tightly, forming a half moon shape.  Crimp closed with a fork.  
Place on lined baking sheet. Freeze for 15 minutes. Bake for 18-25 minutes, until golden brown.  Let cool slightly before eating.
**To reheat, I have found the empanadas still get a crispy shell when you bake as directed above, let cool and store at room temperature, and reheat for 5-7 minutes at 400°F.

Makes 20-25 empanadas.

Baked Snickers Empanada

One of the toughest things moving from my family home where someone was always around to an apartment by myself is a few moments of loneliness that crop up occasionally.  One sure way to cure any feeling of loneliness is an empanada.  An empanada filled with peanut butter and a candy bar to be specific.  Also, my parents left me a huge bag of Snickers after moving me in, and they were torturing me just sitting in my refrigerator.

These empanadas are inspired by a favorite restaurant in Houston, Marini’s Empanada House.  I had tried making empanadas before, but I had definite problems with the dough.  It was just off.  So I went searching through the Internet and came across a new recipe.  And it turned out perfect- flakey, salty, and buttery.  The only downside is that it needs to chill for about 2 hours, but I promise it is so worth the wait.

These dessert empanadas are a sweet and salty treat that you can’t live without.  Dare I say it, but my homemade version is even better than what I’ve had at Marini’s.

Also, please excuse my slightly subpar photos.  I am still trying to get used to my new apartments lack of lighting, and I was also in a huge hurry to eat these bad boys.  I may just have to force myself ot make another batch and eat them again. I lead a tough life.

Crust Slightly Adapted from Handle the Heat
For the Crust:
1 cup water
6 ounces butter (about 12 tablespoons)
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
For the Empanadas:
3/4 cup peanut butter
20 mini Snickers bars
For the Crust:
In a small saucepan combine water and butter.  Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted.
In a bowl combine flour and salt.  Slowly pour in butter mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until a wet, oily paste forms.  Pour dough onto a sheet of cling wrap.  Wrap cling wrap around dough, forming into a disk.  Chill for at least 1 1/2 hours, preferrably 2 hours.
For the Empanadas:
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Divide the dough into 20 pieces.  On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a 4 inch circle. Place about 2 teaspoons of peanut butter in the center of each piece of dough. Place a mini Snickers on top of the peanut butter.  Fold over the dough tightly, forming a half moon shape.  Crimp closed with a fork.  Place on lined baking sheet.  Bake for 20-22 minutes, until golden brown.  Let cool slightly before eating.
Makes 16 empanadas.