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.

Peanut Pretzel Chocolate Clusters

photo (1)

For this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned Brittany’s blog We Heart Vegan. I was excited to try out some new vegan stuff and began looking through lots of interesting recipes. But then life caught up with me. I came home tired or had to do work, so I turned to something simple yet comforting. Salty and sweet Peanut Pretzel Chocolate Clusters? Please and thank you.

This recipe too was a great way to use up my hoarded peanuts and pretzels from Southwest flights (I often feel too nervous/sick to my stomach to eat on planes but damn it I paid for my ticket and I am getting my free snack and assorted soft drink).  I also apologize for a hasty picture.  After I made these, the aroma of chocolate made me temporarily forget that I was meant to take a picture, leaving me to remember only after I had begun eating most of these clusters in one sitting.

Adapted from We Heart Vegan


2 cups milk chocolate chips
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons butter
Vanilla extract
Crushed pretzels
Salted peanuts


In a double broiler, combine chocolate, salt, butter, and vanilla extract. Cook, stirring, until melted. Stir in your desired amount of pretzels and peanuts (feel free to add anything else too your heart desires). Spread onto a prepared baking sheet or wax paper into a single layer. Chill in fridge for at least 30 minutes. Break into pieces. Store in refrigerator.

Make sure to check out what everyone else made this month!

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!