What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Hawaiian Crunch PB Bars! When I asked my grandson what his favorite food was, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “That’s easy, Nana. It’s peanut butter.” It was all I needed to know to head to my kitchen to prepare something special for him for the weekend. By switching things up a bit with Hawaiian shortbread cookies, the results produced an amazing crunch that teamed well with the hazelnut spread frosting. How’s that for double coverage? His opinion, you wonder? Being a teenager, a thumb’s up was approval enough.
HAWAIIAN CRUNCH PB BARS
12 ounces Hawaiian banzai furikake shortbread cookies or vanilla wafers
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup natural peanut butter, chunky
2 cups powdered sugar
12 ounces mini semisweet chocolate chips
13 ounces hazelnut cocoa spread
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts, chopped
Pulse cookies in a food processor until crumbly. Set aside. Spray a 9”x13” pan with nonstick oil. Combine butter and natural chunky peanut butter until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar until blended. Next fold in cookie crumbs and mini chocolate chips. Mix to combine. Spread evenly in the prepared pan. Warm hazelnut spread in a microwave until it is easy to spread. Cover the peanut butter layer completely. Sprinkle with chopped honey roasted peanuts. Refrigerate one hour. Cut into squares. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Thai Peanut Sauce! Known as a popular condiment for skewered meat or seafood in East Asian cuisine, peanut dipping sauce gets all the attention. Homemade Pad Thai is one example. After all, it’s no secret anyone can get addicted to peanut butter. Think about it. We add spicy chili peppers for heat, exotic curry for an earthy taste, coconut milk for authenticity. And depending on the day, there is no substitute for peanut butter and chocolate. Just saying.
THAI PEANUT SAUCE
1/2 cup natural peanut butter, creamy
3/4 cup coconut milk, unsweetened
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
In a food processor, combine peanut butter, coconut milk, agave nectar, fresh lime juice, soy sauce, garlic powder, ground ginger, kosher salt, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes. Pulse until mixture is smooth and creamy. Pour into a jar. Store in the refrigerator.
*Serving Suggestion: Skewered Shrimp with orange wedges and cilantro.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Insanely Delish Chocolate PB Truffles! Now here is a dessert that will bring raves from friends and family. Some swear these truffles are filled with crunchy toffee. Others insist it contains chunks of Butterfingers. This is when you just smile demurely and ask, “Do you like it?”. (Don’t worry, you can tell by the way they lick their fingers.) This is one time I wish I could magically snap my fingers and send each one of my readers an insanely delicious sample!
INSANELY DELISH CHOCOLATE PB TRUFFLES
2 cups natural peanut butter, crunchy
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 gluten-free pretzels, crushed with broken bits
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
2 12-ounce bags semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Crushed pretzels for garnish
Combine peanut butter, butter, and vanilla extract in a food processor. Pulse until mixed and creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar until well combined. Transfer dough to a large bowl. Fold in crushed pretzel bits and mini morsels of chocolate to make a cookie dough consistency. Chill 10 minutes. Using a melon ball scoop, take dough and form into a ball. Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Repeat until all dough is used. Caution: Do not taste the dough. You may find yourself nibbling on it too often. lol. Refrigerate dough balls for 30 minutes. As they are being chilled, combine semi-sweet chocolate chips and vegetable oil in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on High one minute. Stir and repeat until microwaved chocolate is smooth. Do not overcook in microwave. Using a spoon, dip one ball at a time in the melted chocolate. Coat entirely. Place the truffle back on the baking sheet. Repeat. Dust with crushed pretzels. Refrigerate the truffles for 30 minutes, or until chocolate is firm. Share and Enjoy!
Experience the Holidays: Peanut Butter Fudge! Once a year, my mother would send me a batch of her homemade peanut butter fudge. And, truthfully, I seldom shared it. Not because I was selfish, because it was THAT good! Now that she is no longer able to give me that glorious care package, I have assumed her role for others. The baton has been passed so the family tradition continues. Every peanut butter-lover should try some for yourself. One bite of this melt-in-your-mouth creamy fudge may lead you start a tradition to “Pay it Forward”.
PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 cup natural peanut butter, creamy
1 teaspoon vanilla
7-ounce jar marshmallow creme
Combine butter, sugar, and milk in a 2-quart pan. Bring to full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Continue boiling over medium heat for four minutes. Stir constantly to prevent scorching. Be sure to scrape sides as well. Remove from heat. Work quickly stirring in peanut butter until completely melted. Add marshmallow creme and vanilla. Mix well. Pour into greased 9″x13″ pan. Cool at room temperature; cut into squares.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: School Cafeteria Peanut Butter Bars! Remember the good old days when the grade school menu would come out and we’d peruse it like the Sears and Roebuck Christmas Catalog? We’d jump for joy when we saw Fish Sticks, Baked Meatloaf, Apple Crisp, Chocolate Cake, and Pizza Squares. On the other hand, Creamed Spinach made us wince and turn up our noses. Back then you had two options, buy a hot lunch ticket or bring a sack lunch from home. No in-betweens. As a general rule, the good canceled out the bad, especially in the category of scrumptious desserts. The “Lunchroom Ladies” really knew their business when it came down to sweets. Nobody could layer on the frosting like they could. And it was always homemade right there. I wonder who got to lick the spoon.
SCHOOL CAFETERIA PEANUT BUTTER BARS
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup peanut butter, creamy
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flour
Ingredients for Icing:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter, melted
2 tablespoons hot water
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9”x9” square baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside. Melt butter and peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl on 50% for 30 seconds. Stir and repeat, if necessary. Set aside to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, sift together sugar, brown sugar, and kosher salt. Whisk in one egg at a time until combined. Add vanilla extract. Whisk in peanut butter mixture until combined. Sift in flour; mix until flour disappears. Do not over mix. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until cake tester comes out with tiny moist crumbs. Cool pan on a wire rack. Once the pan has cooled, remove the cake from pan and transfer on the parchment paper to a rimmed baking sheet. Combine powdered sugar, creamy peanut butter, and hot water. Stir until frosting has a smooth consistency. Drizzle over dessert. Allow icing to set up before cutting into individual bars.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Raw Honey Peanut Butter Cookies! No baking required. Wait, whaaat? These bite-size morsels are not only healthy as an energy snack, they can be made in a matter of minutes with ingredients you probably already have on hand in your pantry. So, what exactly is raw honey, you wonder. Most beekeepers will tell you it simply means the honey is strained right before it is bottled. That translates to nature’s sweetness with all its beneficial nutrients and antioxidants. By eliminating the intense processing stage of heat filtration, what you get instead is honey that comes from the bee hive to your home. No extra sugar is added either. To make sure you are getting raw honey, always check the label.
RAW HONEY PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES
1/3 cup raw honey
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter, creamy
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups whole grain oats
Sprinkles, for garnish
Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Pour sprinkles into a dish. Set aside. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine raw honey, creamy peanut butter, and vegetable oil. Microwave on High for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat. Add vanilla extract. Mix well. Add whole grain oats. Stir to incorporate until cookie dough forms a large ball. Using a cookie scoop, press dough to make bite-size uniform cookies. Dip into sprinkles. Place on prepared baking sheet. Cookies will “set up” on their own. Transfer to a covered container for storage.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Quite Tasty Peanut Butter Cookies! One of the benefits of touching base with friends in the blogosphere is sharing blessings and paying it forward. Today’s recipe gives a “shout out” to Linda, The Dutch Baker*. She featured a fabulous peanut butter cookie recipe that absolutely made my mouth drool. So much so, I ran to my kitchen to insure I had all the necessary ingredients to whip up a batch. That’s one of the advantages of social distancing, in my opinion. Some even refer it as “stress baking” or “anxiety baking”. Quarantine cooking has even become a thing. It releases tension, challenges our skills, and satisfies the craving for a reward. Whatever way you choose to look at it, we’re all in this together.
QUITE TASTY PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES
1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
White sugar for rolling (optional)
In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt. Set aside. In a food processor, cream softened butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Add crunchy peanut butter. Pulse to blend. Add egg and vanilla extract. Mix well. Slowly add flour mixture only until slightly combined. Do not over mix. Transfer cookie dough to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The following day, remove bowl from refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. By the teaspoonful, form the dough into balls. Roll in white sugar. Arrange on baking sheet. Bake 11 minutes. Remove pan and allow cookies to cool 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Cool peanut butter cookies completely before storing in an airtight container.
*Linda, The Dutch Baker, featured this recipe first. You may visit her at
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Gluten-free PB Blonde Brownies! Even though I don’t have a restricted diet, I can appreciate the benefits of choosing gluten-free options from time to time. And to be honest, I like the natural nutty flavor of chickpeas as a substitute for white flour. It turns out to be a nice compliment to the natural peanut butter taste. Reward yourself with a touch of chocolate in these blonde brownies. Now that’s something to savor.
GLUTEN-FREE PB BLONDE BROWNIES
15-ounce can organic chickpeas, drained
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/3 cup pure honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter chips
Coarse sea salt for garnish
Semi-sweet mini chocolate chips for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. In a food processor, combine chickpeas, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt, peanut butter, honey, egg, and vanilla extract. Process until batter is smooth. By hand, fold in mini chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. Spread batter evenly in a 8″x8″ square nonstick pan. (Use nonstick oil, if necessary.) Sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top. Bake 17-20 minutes until edges are golden brown and the center passes the toothpick test. Cool 15 minutes on wire rack. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Cut into squares and serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Outrageous Oatmeal Fudgies! Who doesn’t love No-Bake cookies? Forget about spending hours in the kitchen. This kid-friendly favorite can be ready in a flash. The toughest part is deciding if you want to top them off with a piece of candy corn, a walnut half, a maraschino cherry, or leave them plain. Either way, they won’t hang around long because…..(repeat after me)…Everyone loves peanut butter and chocolate!
OUTRAGEOUS OATMEAL FUDGIES
1/4 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
Dash sea salt
1/2 cup natural peanut butter, crunchy
2 cups whole grain oats
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine butter, sugar, milk, cocoa powder, and dash of salt in a 4-quart pan. Bring to boil over medium-high temperature. Stirring occasionally, boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Quickly add crunchy peanut butter, whole grain oats, and vanilla. Mix well. Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Top with one piece of candy corn. Let stand until cool. Store in a covered container.