It’s sunbutter and jelly time!

You knew this was going to happen right?  And, can anyone explain to me why it’s a banana doing the dance?

Anyway.

If  you’ve been around for a while you know I love back to school time.  Summer is a’right I guess, but fall is where it’s at.

And so, in the tradition of new school shoes and fresh notebooks, I give you this year’s lunchbox treat.

What could be more back to school than peanut butter and jelly? Turns out, most things–unless you want a call from your child’s principal about breaking the nut free zone policy.

What’s a kid to do?

This is where sunbutter saves snack time.  Made from sunflower seeds rather than tree nuts or the dreaded P legume, some schools allow this creamy (or crunchy) peanut butter stand-in.

Paired with your jam or jelly of choice (you could even wax healthy and go no sugar added), these make a hearty school lunch or after school treat (and will save well for care packages).

These aren’t delicate little fancies.  They’re hearty, slightly sweet and nutty.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that if you fed one to a kindergartener, they might not be hungry until the fifth or sixth grade.

Happy back to school everyone!

Sunbutter and Jelly Bars

adapted from Ina Garten’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb, 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temp
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs at room temp
  • 2 C creamy sunbutter (just use the entire jar–mine was 16 ounces)
  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 C of your favorite jam (I used grape here because it’s tradition but would have rather used strawberry or raspberry, just my opinion)
  • 1/4 C roasted and salted sunflower seeds tossed in 2 TBS granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9X13 inch pan with parchment paper then grease entire pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a Kitchenaid fitted with a paddle, cream together butter and sugar until mixture is light, about two minutes.
  4. Turn speed to low and add vanilla and eggs one-at-a-time.  Add peanut butter and mix until well combined.
  5. With mixer on low, slowly add flour mixture.  Mix until just combined.
  6. Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared pan using a knife (offset is easiest) to spread it evenly.
  7. Spread the jam evenly over the dough.
  8. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the  jam.  Don’t worry if the topping doesn’t cover the jam completely.
  9. Sprinkle with sunflower seed and sugar mixture.
  10. Bake for 45 minutes until top is golden brown.  A note on this–start checking at 35 minutes–the last two times I’ve made this recipe they were perfect at 38 minutes.
  11. Allow to cool completely.  Cut into bars and store in air-tight container.

Holiday 2017

As I walked into our student store the other day (I work on a college campus), I was  blasted simultaneously by air conditioning (yes!) and Christmas music (whaaat?). Turns out they were having a Christmas in July sale.

If you can believe it, I’ve already begun the pre-planning (otherwise known as daydreaming) phase of my holiday baking.

Which has reminded me that I have a blog.

That hasn’t been updated since December of last year.

I don’t really have an explanation.

But I do have a nice little back log of posts at the ready.

For this post, I present an array of marginally mediocre snaps from our 2017 holidays.

Amazing effort on your first post of 2018 you say.  I don’t disagree.  But anyhow.  Holidays 2017:

There was baking.

And candy making.

And packaging.

And boxing.

About the time all that was done, my family arrived.

So there was more baking.

And some holiday decorations.

And butter trees.

Then there’s this. That’s TD.  In our as-yet-to-be-landscaped side yard. In a cougar ski mask, holiday appropriate t-shirt and thermo BBQing gloves.

Rest assured, he was the only one of us wearing a costume.

 

 

Chai Butternut Squash Muffins

Brace yourself.

This is the annual post where I talk about how much I don’t like squash or root vegetables  and then incorporate it into a recipe (the eve of the fall equinox seemed appropriate). You know, just like I did with these carrot cupakes , pumpkin oatmeal cookies, pumpkin blondies, and zucchini brownies.

I’m nothing if not consistent.

This year I’ve chosen butternut squash as my quarry.  To be fair, I actually like butternut squash. Especially in savory dishes like lasagna and ravioli.

I should have a good story about adding in the chai, but I don’t.  It just seemed like a complimentary set of flavors.

Somewhere I read that if you put uncooked rice in the bottom of your muffin cups it will absorb some of the grease that appears on the papers.  It wasn’t life changing, but it did work pretty well.

I was cruising the bulk aisle in our local Sprouts, spied some roasted, salted pepitas and thought it would be fun to sprinkle some on top.  It wasn’t until later that it occurred to me that putting pumpkin seeds on top of butternut squash muffins might be construed as false advertising.

You know, it’s all gourd with me.

TD said these were like “fall in his mouth.”  Of course this was then followed by an un-printable list of other things he said he’d like to put in his mouth and book ended with “if you know what I mean.”  Yes, I’m married to a 12 year old. But, you knew that already.

Happy autumnal equinox!

Chai Butternut Squash Muffins

adapted from Food and Wine

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon crushed chai tea (from 3 bags)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1C butternut squash puree (make your own or buy it canned)
  • 1 1/3 C  all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Roasted and salted pepitas or nuts of your choice

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°,  line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil liners.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the chai tea.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar, butternut squash puree and chai butter until smooth. Whisk in the flour, baking soda and salt until incorporated.
  4. Scoop the batter into the muffin cups and top with the pepitas.
  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  6. Transfer the muffins to a rack to cool completely before serving.