Buckeyes

Buckeyes-buckeyes-on-pan

Recipe courtesy of Victory Postcards and Souvenirs

A brand new football season is right around the corner.  In honor of our beloved Ohio State, the reigning National Champions, I present to you another kind of Buckeye…this one is made of chocolate and peanut butter.  Buckeyes are the traditional candy of our state and you can’t host an Ohio State party without them (nor would you want to).  They are perfect for tailgating and so addicting that you can never eat just one.  Peanut butter and chocolate…what’s not to love?

These go together pretty quickly and you only need 4 ingredients.  This recipe makes a ton of Buckeyes, which is good if you have a house full of taste testers, but dangerous if you are by yourself.  You want the peanut butter mixture to be quite stiff, so a stand mixer works the best for this recipe.  As you can see from my photo, I did not allow enough chocolate to drip off of the peanut butter balls before I placed them on the waxed paper.  This caused the chocolate to puddle underneath as it hardened.  My taste testers did not seem to mind this, however they don’t look as pretty with a big honkin’ chocolate pedestal attached to the bottom of them.  Be a little more patient than I was and yours will come out just right, Go Bucs! Enjoy!

IMG_0111

O-H-I-O

Ingredients

3 cups creamy peanut butter

1 1/2 sticks softened butter

2 pounds powdered sugar

16 oz. chocolate, melted

 

Directions

1. Mix together the peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar.  Form into small balls.

Buckeyes-pb-with-butter

Buckeyes-pb-with-sugar

Buckeyes-pb-balls

2. Using a toothpick, dip peanut butter balls into chocolate until almost covered, leaving a little of the peanut butter mixture exposed on top.  Allow excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl.  Place dipped balls on waxed paper.  Refrigerate.

Buckeyes-chocolate

Buckeyes-buckeyes-on-pan

After-School Snacks

After-School-Snacks-cuc-face

Hungry kids will grab the first thing they see when they walk in the front door.  No matter if your student is a cute little 8 year-old, or a full-grown 20 year-old, when classes are over they always seem to be starving.  To keep them from gravitating towards that bag of chips or box of cookies, it is important to have better snacks on hand.

Jalapeno-Crab-Cakes-with-Hot-Raspberry-Sauce-summer-fruit

There is a multi-million dollar industry that produces convenience foods aimed towards kids.  Most of them are loaded with sugar and salt, but they are convenient…and cute, have nice packaging, and look fun to eat.  Usually though, the best after-school snacks are the most basic; fruit, veggies, dairy, grains and a little protein.

After-School-Snacks-apple-in-slicer

Most fruits can be grabbed right out of the bowl or fridge and devoured as is.  You can also prep fruits and veggies; if the fruit has to be cut ahead of time, it can be soaked in a bowl of water with either lemon juice or Fruit Fresh to keep the fruit from turning brown (it works wonders on apples, pears, bananas, peaches, etc.) then drained and placed in the fridge.  Veggies can be sliced and diced ahead of time and placed in the fridge with a few ice cubes.

Blueberry-Sorbet-blueberries

Yogurt, cheese, and milk are all easy snacks as well.  And who says that cereal is only for breakfast?  Granola is great eaten by the handful, in a bowl with milk, or as a parfait with yogurt.  Crackers and cheese, sandwiches, and wraps are also filling and satisfying.  Pepperidge Farm has a bread called Deli Flats and I like to use the honey wheat variety for peanut butter sandwiches.

Pasta-with-Cherry-Tomatoes-tomatoes-in-colander

Figuring that dinner will follow a few hours after snack time, I tried to keep these snacks small, quick and easy.  You can use cookie cutters for an interesting twist, ranch dip or peanut butter to dress up celery and carrots, and small sticks to make fruit kebabs.  The cookie cutters and kebab sticks are not necessary, but they do make food fun.  Challenge your kids to come up with some fun and healthy snacks and they will be more willing to eat them.  Enjoy

Ingredients

After-School-Snacks-cuc-face

1. Cucumber hair, black seedless grape eyes

carrot nose and a big ranch dressing smile (make a slit in each cucumber ring so that you can easily link them)

After-School-Snacks-crackers-with-cheese-celery

2. Ritz crackers, co-jack and mozzarella cheese cut-outs

celery with peanut butter and cherry tomatoes

After-School-Snacks-pb-sand-with-fruit-kebabs

3. Pepperidge Farm Deli Flats with peanut butter

apple, banana, and black seedless grape kebabs

After-School-Snacks-the-4-cs

4. Cucumber flowers, baby carrot slices, Keebler Toasteds crackers

mozzarella cheese chunks and cherry tomato halves.

Peanutty Chocolate Banana Muffins

img_0292

Recipe adapted from More Stoneware Sensations by Doris Christopher

A Pampered Chef Cookbook

These are the best banana muffins you will ever sink your teeth into.  They have been the favorite of countless classrooms and teachers, Mark’s co-workers and my co-workers as well.  They are super moist and the mixture of peanut butter and chocolate is beyond yummy.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (that’s about 2 medium bananas, I always use 3 bananas)

1/3 cup milk

1/3 cup peanut butter

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 egg

1 cup milk chocolate chips, divided (I use 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips and about 1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chips)

1/3 cup chopped peanuts

 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

img_0284

3. Add bananas, milk, peanut butter, oil, and egg.  Stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Stir in the milk chocolate chips.

4. Spoon or scoop the batter into prepared muffin cups, filling them about 3/4 full.

5. Sprinkle the peanuts and the mini semi-sweet chocolate chips over the batter ( I prefer the mini chips because the taste of the two kinds of chocolate is nice, plus the mini chips just look cuter on top of the muffin).

img_0287

6. Bake about 18-20 minutes.  The muffins will be lightly toasted looking.  Cool in the pan for a few minutes, then place on a rack to finish cooling.  This makes about 16 muffins.

img_0272

When you have bananas that look like this…it’s time to make banana bread.

 

Peanut Butter Cookies

 

Peanut Butter Cookies from “Baking Illustrated”

by The Editors of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine

published by

America’s Test Kitchen

 

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup extra-crunchy peanut butter( they suggest Jif, I only had regular Jif in the house, so that is what I used)

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup dry roasted salted peanuts, ground in a food processor to resemble bread crumbs, about 14 pulses

1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower- middle positions, and heat the oven to 350°F.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with Pam, or use a Silpat.

2.Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

3. Either by hand, or with an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy.  Add the sugars; beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes with an electric mixer, stopping to scrape down the bowl as necessary.  Beat in the peanut butter until fully incorporated, then the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla.  Gently stir the dry ingredients into the peanut butter mixture.  Add the ground peanuts and stir gently just until incorporated (don’t overbeat the dough).

4. Working with a generous 2 Tablespoons each time, roll the dough into 2 inch balls.  Place the balls on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart (you’ll notice in the pictures that these are large cookies to begin with, you can also see how much they spread-make sure to leave enough space).  To make the criss-cross design, dip the fork in water and shake it off quickly before pressing into the dough ball (the dough is sticky). Don’t squish them down too much, just enough to flatten the tops a bit.

5. Bake until the cookies are puffed and slightly brown around the edges but not on top, 10-12 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. ( I know it’s a pain to have to bake cookies this way, and I usually avoid those recipes, but these cookies are so worth it).  The cookies will not look fully baked.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheet until set, about 4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Baking takes precision and measuring, there is chemistry involved and it is fascinating to me.  The folks at America’s Test Kitchen (where they test the Cook’s Illustrated recipes) do a very good job of explaining why the chemistry in a recipe works, or why it doesn’t work.  Their recipes are no fail and classic.

If you’ve ever had brown sugar that got hard or lumpy, think about getting one of these guys.  I’ve mostly seen them in the shape of a bear, and they were called “Sugar Bears” (mine is from Alaska so it is more fitting that it is a moose).  They are made of clay.  You soak them in water for about 15 minutes, dry them off and put them in your bag of sugar, hard cookies, bread,etc.  By the next day it’s all soft and moist again.