Thursday, April 19, 2012

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

IMG_3779eWe are now at month seven of the Improv Cooking Challenge which is hosted by Kristen of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker.  As always I looked forward to participating and finding or coming up with a great recipe which included the two theme ingredients.  This month the participating bloggers were asked to make any recipe of their choosing using the two given ingredients of peanut butter & jelly.  Some months I see the two ingredients and know immediately what I’m going to make but this month peanut butter and jelly just didn’t call to me and I didn’t have any recipes in my “need to make” file that fit the bill so I went on a little online search and found a recipe which I thought would work well.  On Averie Cooks, a new-to-me blog I found a recipe for Caramel Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars which sounded really good.  The recipe Averie posted was already gluten free and vegan so Maisie “safe” with her allergies to wheat, egg whites & dairy and with just a bit of tweaking I could easily avoid using processed sugar with the substitution of coconut palm sugar so I set off to make the bars.  I did make just a couple of other changes from Averie’s recipe as I used coconut oil in place of her Earth Balance Buttery Spread and when substituting the coconut palm sugar for her white and brown sugar I cut way back on the total amount of sugar used.  I also chose not to include the caramel as I was going after the peanut butter and jelly flavor and didn’t think that the addition of caramel was necessary for me.   

The bars were chewy delicious and really had the taste of peanut butter and jelly and were a big hit with not only Maisie but Eammon, myself and also friends who tried them.  I kept the bars sealed in a container on the counter for about a week and they got softer and less chewy as the the week went on.  Maisie liked them on the softer side but honestly, I preferred them a bit chewier but wouldn’t pass on them when soft as they were delicious both ways.  The one change I will make to this recipe when I make it again, and I will, is to cut the sugar as the bars were very sweet and while delicious, we just didn’t think that they needed to be so, so sweet. 

IMG_3744eMelted coconut oil, peanut butter, palm sugar, cinnamon & vanilla extract mixed together.

IMG_3752eStir in the oats.

IMG_3754ePress 3/4 of the mixture into the bottom of a Slice Solutions pan.

IMG_3756eSpread the jam on top of the pressed down oat mixture.

IMG_3759eTop the jam with the remaining oatmeal mixture.

IMG_3760eIf using a Slice Solutions pan insert the divider.

IMG_3773eWhen I first pulled the pan from the oven I had my doubts as the bars looked like one hot greasy mess.

IMG_3776eAfter five minutes I removed the divider grid and things looked a little better and once fully cooled, the bars were awesome! 

My previous Improv Cooking Challenge entries:

March 2012  Potato & Cheese:  Loaded Potato & Buffalo Chicken Casserole 
February 2012  Ginger & Carrots:  Shrimp & Avocado Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing 
January 2012 Lemon & Sour Cream:  Ponderosa Lemon & Sour Cream Tart 
December 2011 Eggnog & Cranberries:  Eggnog Popovers with Cranberry Butter 
November 2011 Pumpkin & Cream Cheese:  Praline Pumpkin Cheesecake 
October 2011 Caramel & Apples:  Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies 

IMG_3784ePeanut Butter & Jelly Bars (Adapted from here)     

Preheat oven to 350F. 

In a large microwave-safe bowl add the coconut oil & peanut butter and microwave for about 45-60 seconds.  Stir to combine.  You will have a very runny liquid.  Add the palm sugar, cinnamon & vanilla extract and using a hand mixer, blend until combined and crumbly.  Stir in the oats.  It will seem crumbly and messy and may not appear to combine well but that’s ok.

Place 3/4 of the mixture into a foil-lined (I forgot the foil) and spayed 9x13 inch pan or as I used, a Slice Solutions Pan.  Press the mixture firmly, packing it down to create the base layer.  Spread the jelly over the top of the base layer.  Take remaining oatmeal/peanut butter mixture and crumble lightly over the top.

Bake at 350F for 22-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  The jelly that’s peeking through and on the edges will be bubbling and look like a hot mess and the bars may still look underdone, but that’s ok because they will continue to set up as they cool.  If using a divider insert, remove after five minutes but if using a regular pan, allow to cool completely before slicing.  Store at room temperature in a sealed container.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Fruit, Nut & Poppy Seed Chicken Salad

IMG_3721eI was very excited this month when I received my Secret Recipe Club assignment as I was assigned Amy’s A Little Nosh, a blog which I have followed for a long time and one where, when I have my act together, I participate in her weekly Tastetastic Thursday blog hop.  Since I’ve been a long time reader of Amy’s blog it didn’t take me ages and ages to find a recipe that I wanted to make as I already had a few of hers saved in my “need to make” file.  For some reason most of the recipes included using chicken like her Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs, Sweet and Sour Chicken and the one I chose to make, Amy’s Chicken Salad.  Part of the reason I chose Amy’s Chicken Salad was, I was asked by Maisie’s gym to make lunch for the judges at a gymnastics meet the gym was hosting and they happened to request chicken salad on croissants so what better time to try out a new recipe.

IMG_3728e1One thing that I really liked about Amy’s recipe was that she made it sound adaptable to whatever added ingredients you’d choose to include.  I have to say that this chicken salad was the hands down best chicken salad I’ve ever eaten and it only got better the second day once all the flavors really came together.   I really loved the sweet little bites of apple and cranberry and the little added cinnamon crunch of the cashews was always a nice surprise.  The combination of yogurts, sour cream & mayonnaise gave a creamy richness and because I used some honey yogurt, just a touch of sweetness.  This is now my go-to chicken salad recipe and I know that this summer it will be served time and time again in wraps, sandwiches and atop salads.

IMG_3726e1 Fruit, Nut & Poppy Seed Chicken Salad (Adapted from here) 

In a large bowl mix the yogurts, sour cream and mayonnaise together.  Add the chicken, dried cranberries, apple, cinnamon cashews and poppy seeds and mix together.  Enjoy immediately or for even better flavor, cover and refrigerate overnight. 


My previous Secret Recipe Club Recipe Posts:

Broiled Sushi 
Health(ier) Peanut Brittle 
Crunchy Fudgy Heart Bites 
Texas Chicken with Lime Butter 
Pork Belly Soup with Collard Greens 
Thin Mint Irish Coffee 
Levain Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies 
Welsh Cakes 
Nutella Crêpes 
Cilantro Lime Chicken 
Holy Guacamole 
Home Style Chicken Curry

Secret Recipe Club

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Skinny Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

IMG_3762eI seem to have an addiction, but it’s not what you might think.  It’s not to muffins, blueberries or even to my much adored lemon, it’s an addiction to my monthly recipe challenges, The Secret Recipe Club, The Improv Cooking Challenge and today’s Crazy Cooking Challenge.  Here’s why I say that I have an addiction… The way that the Crazy Cooking Challenge works is that each month there is a dish that our hostess Tina, of Moms Crazy Cooking challenges the participating bloggers to make.  We all go out searching non-celebrity blogs looking for what we think is the ultimate recipe for that dish and once we find it, we make it and then on the same day we do our post featuring the recipe and the blog where it was found.  Well this month we were challenged to find the ultimate blueberry muffin recipe.  Sounds easy enough as the internet is littered with food bloggers who have posted gorgeous blueberry muffin recipes to their blog so finding one is up to what really just suits your fancy.  My problem though is that I’m anaphylaxis allergic to blueberries so as a general rule, I don’t cook with them.  But…BUT… I have participated in the Crazy Cooking Challenge since the beginning and I just couldn’t miss a month, so I was going to make it work.

IMG_3680eMy friend Lisa (yes Lisa is a popular name) is doing Weight Watchers (and doing great at it I might add) and she recently had surgery so while she was recovering I brought her dinner one night.  For her meal I decided to make Slimmed Down Loaded Potato & Buffalo Chicken Casserole and I also wanted to bring her some WW friendly sweet treats.  I decided that her sweet treats would be my blueberry muffin challenge.  Up front I knew that I wasn’t going to use fresh or frozen blueberries but rather blueberry yogurt as I felt it would be safer for me.  I then set out searching the internet looking for my, well really Lisa’s, not me Lisa but friend Lisa’s, ultimate blueberry muffin recipe.  I knew that the recipe I would choose needed to include yogurt and because of Lisa’s diet I wanted to avoid recipes which included a lot of oil, butter or eggs.  In my search I decided to look for recipes which included yogurt (my blueberry addition) and applesauce in place of the fat and as far as the sugar, well that I knew I could easily substitute.  When I happened upon Ruth’s and her Skinny Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, well I knew that I had found my recipe.  I’ve heard that lemon and blueberry go fabulously together and with Ruth’s recipe all I had to do was swap out her lemon yogurt for my blueberry yogurt, easy-peasy!!  I held pretty true to Ruth’s recipe just switching out the yogurt flavor and I didn’t bother with the additional sprinkling of Splenda on top of the muffins.

IMG_3741eAs the muffins cooked the house smelled absolutely delicious and I do wish that I was able to sample one of the muffins but Maisie (because of her food allergies) and I (because of my blueberry allergy) had to just watch as Eammon was our taste tester. 

IMG_3748eThe results, both Eammon and Lisa had thumbs up for this recipe and said that even though it’s skinny and healthy you’d never know it as these muffins were moist, tender, delicious and full of flavor.  Sounds like a winner to me!

IMG_3768eSkinny Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins   (Adapted from here)

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a medium bowl mix the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and Splenda together.  Add the yogurt, lemon juice and applesauce, lemon peel and poppy seeds.  Stir to combine.  This will make a very thick batter.  In a separate bowl whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.  Add the egg whites to the flour mix and fold in.  Spray a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.  Using a large cookie scoop place approximately 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin mold.  Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, until a tooth pick inserted in the muffin comes out clean.


My previous Crazy Cooking Challenge entries:

Spaghetti with Red Sauce Challenge:  Tomato Sauce with Onion & Butter 
Chocolate Cake Challenge:  Double Chocolate Meyer Lemon Mousse Cake
Chicken Noodle Soup Challenge: Thai Chicken Noodle Soup 
Fudge Challenge: Biscoff Fudge 
Mashed Potato Challenge: Aloo Tikki 
Chocolate Chip Cookie Challenge: Chocolate Chip Gingersnaps 
Mac & Cheese Challenge: Velvety Mac & Cheese

Related Posts with Thumbnails