Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Peanutty Madness!

Way back in July (ha!) our neighbors went out of town for 2-3 weeks.  They didn't ask us to watch the house or feed their pets or water their plants or anything.  But 3-4 days after they left, I noticed newspapers were piling up in their driveway.  No biggie, I just decided to pick them up everyday.  And I sent the neighbor a quick email letting her know that I was picking up their papers so it didn't look like they were out of town.   She wrote me back and was grateful that I'd do that, but perturbed that her papers were showing up since she'd asked the "paper people" to hold her subscription until they returned.  Sigh.  I told her in an email that we'd (Kevin!) love to mow their lawn for them if they'd like.  But I assumed she was having that done, too.  And I was right.  They had set up with a mowing company to do it.  Not to be a rat, but they came and did a real hack job on their lawn, no trimming, lots of missed patches.  So I just wanted to let the neighbor know that while it wasn't lowering our street's home value, that the service she paid for wasn't very good. 

Anyway, long story REALLY needing to be cut short, everything was taken care of.  But Ruth is just such a nice neighbor and friend that while they were on their trip, they got us a little thank you gift for looking out for their home.  Totally unnecessary.  Part of their trip they'd gone to Virginia and she gave us the most delicious can of peanuts I've ever had.  Oh, you'd think all peanuts are created equal, but oh, no, my friends.  These Virginia peanuts were far more superior than any peanuts I've ever had.


I've always wanted to try homemade peanut butter, so I took 1/2 cup of these peanuts and blended them up in the food processor until they were a nice paste.  I might have added a teaspoon of canola oil, I actually can't remember.  No matter, the peanut butter was fantastic!  Parker liked them so much right out of the can that I had to hide it from him. ;)  Yes, I shared, but he would have eaten them all!  And I really wanted to showcase them some more in some other recipes. 

These peanuts have the most perfect crunch and saltiness.  And they are huge, you can't really even tell from my photos.  Just trust me.


How about these?---


Now THAT'S what I'm talking about!  I was a little worried about how these would turn out when I saw the list of ingredients, but they really looked like just what I wanted to do with these peanuts.  And surprisingly, these cookie bars are GREAT--especially if you are a peanut butter/chocolate lover.  I'm even going to go as far as saying that these are one of the BEST tasting peanut butter-chocolate treats I've tasted.  The cookie base is a mix between a crisp cookie and a fudgy brownie.  I really like how they turned out, even if they are made with a cake mix, which I try not to use too much.  It's just necessary sometimes and I know I'll make these bars again.   

Well, get on with it Katrina--do tell.  (Sorry, sometimes I talk to myself.)

Have you seen or do you receive the Kraft Foods food & family magazine?  It's free.  You can go to the link and sign up to receive it, but you can also get this recipe right there on their website.  (I just saw it there right on the front page of the link as I was getting it for you.  I made a few minor adjustments to their recipe so I will post it as I made it, but feel free to get their version as well.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookie Bars, from Kraft Foods, adapted by Katrina

1 chocolate cake mix (I used Devil's Food)

1 package (3.9 oz.) Jell-O Chocolate Instant Pudding

1/2 unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup cold milk (I used fat free--so these are healthy, right?) bwah

6 ounces semi sweet chocolate, chopped (chips would work)  I used Hershey's Special Dark, chopped

1 cup Whitley's Virginia Peanuts, divided  (Kraft suggests Planters peanuts)

1  3/4 cups creamy peanut butter  (Kraft recipe only uses 1 cup, I thought it needed more)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9x13 inch pan with foil.  Spray lightly with cooking spray. 

Mix the first 4 ingredients until blended.  (The dough will be thick.)  Press half the cake mix mixture into the prepared pan.  Bake this for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle half the chocolate and half the peanuts over the hot crust.  Top this with peanut butter.  For easier spreading, let it sit a few minutes to warm and thin out.  (Again, original recipe only calls for 1 cup of peanut butter, but I thought it spread better when I added more AND it's good!)  Sprinkle the remaining cake mix mixture over the peanut butter and then the rest of the chopped chocolate and peanuts.  Press down gently with a spatula.  Bake 15 minutes.  Cool on wire rack for 1 hour.  Refrigerate 4 hours before cutting into bars.  (Don't skip this and try to cut them too early.  It REALLY helps them set up.) 


Look at those peanuts!  I love the whole ones that look like pac-man. 


Yes, I plated these up and gave them to my friend, Mindy who watched the boys for me tonight and plated some up for Ruth, who gave me the delicious peanuts.  These are dangerous for me to have here and I'm glad they are gone!


I have also been hankerin' for a good peanut butter cookie ever since Anna at Cookie Madness made some a couple weeks ago.  She made a recipe from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks for some peanut butter cookies that are made with natural peanut butter, whole wheat flour, maple syrup and olive oil.  Anna's cookie looked great, but she used an olive oil that she said she could taste too much in the cookies and suggested if anyone else tries them to use a different oil.  So I made these and used coconut oil (which I am so far loving in everything I've baked with it as a butter replacement.)

These are a great peanut butter cookie if you're looking for one that is not too sweet.  I often think some are too sugary tasting.  The peanut taste is showcased in these and they are about as healthy as a cookie could get.  They are also egg free.


You can leave these rounded, or flatten them with the fork criss crosses.


Or you can dip some in a quick ganache with bittersweet chocolate and some cream.  Or sandwich some chocolate in between two cookies.  I was having fun with these.  But I really think my favorite are the plain peanut butter cookies.


101 Cookbooks Peanut Butter Cookies, adapted by Katrina

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or unbleached all purpose flour)

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup organic, natural peanut butter (I used creamy, Heidi suggested chunky)

1/4 cup Whitley's Virginia peanuts, chopped

1 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup coconut oil

1  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.  In another bowl, combine the peanut butter, maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla.  Whisk together to combine well.  Stir in the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon until barely combined, even with some flour still visible.  Let sit for five minutes.  Give it one more quick stir, not too much.  Drop by tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets.  Press down on each one with a fork.  You can also chill the dough for an hour.  Bake for 10 minutes, but don't overbake.  Let cool five minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a cooling rack.  This made 30 cookies.


These are a great peanut butter cookie that I will be making again and again.  And now, I'm all peanutted out! ;)




Emily said...

Those bars look positively sinful! I'm dying to try those peanuts. I remember when we went to Mississippi they had really good peanuts.

The peanut butter cookies look good too. I still have coconut oil I need to use up.

Flourchild said...

Yum the bars and the cookies look great! What a nice neighbor you are to help them out when needed. She was sweet to bring you those peanuts definetly put them to good use.
OK so you got me HOOKED on that Picasa 3..I love it and played around with it till the wee hours of morning! I made a collage for my blog and I was so excited to figure out how people can put words on their pictures! Thanks again for sharing with me!

♥peachkins♥ said...

I love those bars.. They're so full of chocolate and peanuts...they're calling my name..

Leslie said...

I dont think I have ever had a "good" peanut before.
your goodies look delicious as always!
I see you use the Lock & Lock containers. I love those things. Even though they are getting very hard to find!

Unknown said...

I love eating peanuts, and I never knew there were 'good' and 'bad' peanuts!!
The bars look delicious, even though I'm not a fan of peanut butter!!

Megan said...

Ok - now I need to wipe the drool off my face......

Midny said...

The bars are delicious, thanks for sharing!!


Lisa A. said...

Wow, everything looks great. I have been wanting to make peanut butter at home also. I'm going to try growing some peanuts in the garden next year, so hopefully I'll be able to make some from that.

Anonymous said...

Everything looks delicious. Madness!

Lisa Ernst said...

These are right up my alley - chocolate and peanut butter is one of the greatest taste combos ever IMHO. The bars in particular look wonderful, and I love the idea of peanut butter cookies with chocolate ganache. I'd have never thought of that. :-)

Nancy/n.o.e said...

I love how this post runs the recipe extremes, from cake-mix-based to Heidi-Swanson-natural! I would love to have one of those bars right now - pb and choc are my favorite combination. I bookmarked Heidi's cookies and I'm glad to know they were good. I have some coconut oil that I've not opened yet; I often use that light-tasting olive oil in my baking.

Jacque said...

Oh my! Neither one of those plates of cookies would be safe with me around. Wow! They look fantastic! The peanuts sound good too. Will have to get hubby some. He eats so many peanuts, I think he's going to turn into one someday.

Anonymous said...

So much good stuff on your blog! I've been meaning to try the PB cookies form 101 cookbooks. I even bought the coconut oil, but I don't seem to get to it. Yours look great! The bars, look scrumptious!

Anonymous said...

I am dying for peanut butter and chocolate now! All of this looks so delicious - especially the bars! The cake mix recipes are so easy and they always seem to be crowd pleasers.

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Hey I'm back!!! Oh Katrina Im such a peanut lover!!! But I can't have them in my house. They don't survive... Lucky you to get that can, I think you've used it well!