Monday, May 25, 2009

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

I LOVE peanut butter and jelly!  I honestly think it's one of the best food combinations around, if not THE BEST.  I could eat peanut butter and jelly everyday of my life and not get sick of it.  In fact, I usually eat pb&j a multiple days out of the week for lunch.  And I'm always eating peanut butter.  Actually, I think I might be slightly addicted to peanut butter...right now I have 5 jars of it in the pantry!  Oh well, I could be addicted to worse things, right?

Anyway, I got a Martha Stewart cookie cookbook for Christmas and saw this recipe in it.  I wanted to make it for my birthday last week, but decided not too because we had other sweets in the house, so I made it this weekend.  These bars are delicious!  If you like pb&j, then you have to try this recipe.  I could probably eat the whole pan of these....they are THAT good.  I've made these bars before, but I used Ina Garten's recipe (the Barefoot Contessa) and the recipes are almost identical.  I think one has a bit more peanut butter in it, and that's the only difference.  Both recipes are great!

In making these tasty treats, I used whole wheat flour (as usual) and chunky peanut butter (because Jerm and I are chunky peanut butter kinda people).  Als0, I cut the recipe in half and baked it in an 8x8 inch pan.  One thing to note if you do cut the recipe in half, I'd recommend a bit more than half the jelly.  Some of it gets absorbed into the base, so I think a bit more would have been perfect.  Oh and in the cookbook, Martha has some nonsense about letting the bars cool completely, and then refrigerate for an hour  or so, and then cut them!  Yea right!!  Mine we're still a bit warm when I cut into them...and they were AMAZING.





The dough was excellent raw!


Cut bars.


On the way into my mouth!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars, by Martha Stewart


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups strawberry jam, or other flavor
  • 2/3 cup salted peanuts, roughly chopped


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan with butter, and line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease the parchment, and coat inside of pan with flour; set aside. Place butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. On medium speed, add eggs and peanut butter; beat until combined, about 2 minutes.
  2. Whisk together salt, baking powder, and flour. Add to bowl of mixer on low speed; combine. Add vanilla. Transfer two-thirds of mixture to prepared pan; spread evenly with offset spatula. Using offset spatula, spread jam on top of peanut-butter mixture. Dollop remaining third of peanut-butter mixture on top of jam. Sprinkle with peanuts.
  3. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool; cut into about thirty-six 1 1/2-by-2-inch pieces.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Strawberry Lemon Cake

It’s summer!  I love summer.  I love that students our out of school, so I can park closer to my office.  I love that the sun rises super early and sets super late.  I love the way the warm AZ sun thaws me out, when I’ve been inside too long.  I love BBQs with friends.  And I love light summer desserts!

Last night we went over to Jayla’s house for dinner, dessert and doggie playtime.  Of course, I was in charge of the dessert…since its my favorite thing to make!  :)

A few days ago, I was watching Paula Dean's show and I saw her make a Lemon Cake.  Hmmm…I love lemon.  She made the lemon curd filling from scratch.  Hmmm…I have lemon curd in the fridge.  I thought to myself, “Hmmm…we might be onto something here.”  After looking on the Food Network website and reading the reviews for the recipe, the comments on the cake weren’t that great.  So, I thought to myself, “Hmmm…I could always use cake mix, but what goes good with lemon?”  Then, it came to me…strawberries!!  Since after Paula’s show, Sandra Lee was on, I thought, “Hmmm…I’ll make this Semi-Homemade style!”  And voila, this delicious cake was created.

I used Pillsbury Strawberry cake mix, store bought lemon curd, Paula’s frosting (which got good reviews with the recipe) and fresh strawberries, to decorate.  This cake was moist, sweet, tangy and a delicious addition to our summer dinner!  With the cake mix, I made it the “cholesterol free” and “high altitude” way.  As for Paula’s frosting, I really liked it!  It has a marshmallow texture and the recipe makes a lot, so your cake can be nice and fluffy (but I only used half b/c it was way too much for my liking).  Plus, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated.  To continue with my lemon theme, I added a bit of lemon extract to the frosting, just to round out the flavors.  This is a very tasty cake and if you’re looking for a summer dessert, I highly recommend it.





I’ll admit…one reason I like it, is because it’s pink.


The boys eating their cake.


Us girls eating ours.

Sara’s Strawberry Lemon Cake


  • 1 box Strawberry cake mix
  • Lemon curd (store bought or make your own)
  • Paula Dean’s Frosting (recipe below)


  1. Make cake mix as directed for a 8 or 9 inch cake pan and allow to cool on wire racks.
  2. Poke holes in the top of one of the cake layers and spread on as much lemon curd as you’d like.  Top with remaining cake layer.
  3. Frost with Paula’s Frosting and garnish with strawberries.  (I’m sure you could put more lemon curd on the top layer, if you’d like, because the frosting is so thick that it wouldn’t spread the curd around.)

Paula’s Frosting, by Paula Dean

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or 1 tablespoon white corn syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon extract (my addition)
  1. Place sugar, cream of tartar or corn syrup, salt, water, and egg whites in the top of a double boiler.
  2. Beat with a handheld electric mixer for 1 minute. Place pan over boiling water, being sure that boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan.
  3. Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes.
  4. Beat in vanilla.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

"Healthified" Lasagna

A few days ago, we had Jayla over for dinner and it was my chance to make a meal with more than two servings.  Usually when its just Jeremy and me, I only make enough food for two people, plus one left over.  I love having people over because then I can either make the whole dish or at least not have to divide it up. 

Anyway, I get emails of recipes from the Betty Crocker and this was in one of them.  It's a very easy and delicious, it's on the "lighter" side.  When I made this I couldn't find Muir Glen pasta sauce, so I used Paul Newman's Tomato Basil sauce.  Also, I was out of dried basil, so I substituted oregano.  My only recommendation (per Jeremy) for this recipe was to add a bit more sauce, as we like our sauce and it dried out just a bit, when we had leftovers.







Post-baked and eaten. :)

Healthified Lasagna, by Betty Crocker

Makes 12 servings

  • 9 uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 1lb extra-lean (at least 90%) ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 jar (25.5 oz) Muir Glen® organic Italian herb pasta sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
  • 1 egg
  • 1 container (15 oz) reduced-fat ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese  8 oz)
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  1. Spray 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. Cook and drain noodles as directed on package. Place in cold water.
  2. Meanwhile, in 12-inch skillet, cook beef and garlic over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until beef is thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in pasta sauce, ground red pepper and 1 teaspoon of the basil. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
  3. Heat oven to 350°F. In medium bowl, beat egg slightly. Stir in ricotta cheese and remaining 1/2 teaspoon basil until blended. Drain noodles. Spread about 1/2 cup sauce mixture over bottom of baking dish. Top with 3 noodles, 1 1/2 cups of the sauce mixture, half of the ricotta mixture and 3/4 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers once. Top with remaining noodles, sauce and mozzarella cheese; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Spray 15-inch piece of foil with cooking spray. Cover lasagna with foil.
  4. Bake 45 minutes. Uncover; bake 10 to 15 minutes longer or until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): In step 4, uncover and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer.

Nutrition Information:  1 Serving: Calories 240 (Calories from Fat 80); Total Fat 9g (Saturated Fat 4 1/2g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 60mg; Sodium 400mg; Total Carbohydrate 21g (Dietary Fiber 2g, Sugars 5g); Protein 20g Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 15%; Vitamin C 2%; Calcium 25%; Iron 10% Exchanges: 1 Starch; 1/2 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Vegetable; 2 1/2 Lean Meat Carbohydrate Choices: 1 1/2
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.