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Volume III
January 28, 2011

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

Peanut Butter Day - Really!

By Patty Liston
Quick! Why is January 24 so very special? Give up? It is National Peanut Butter Day. To commemorate the little nutt, I thought it would be fun to give you a few facts, and of course, a few recipes.

If you were to ask most people who the inventor of peanut butter was, most would say George Washington Carver. In fact, this misinformation is still taught in some schools. While he invented over 300 uses for the peanut, making peanut butter was not one of them. That was done by several people each with their own patent.

Peanut butter is made using ground, roasted nuts, whirled into the creamy paste we are familiar with. Rich in protein and fiber, it is actually good for you. There are several stores where one can actually make their own nut butters by simply flipping a switch, putting a container under the nut grinding machine, and filling it up.

This is a great teaching moment for kids who love to stick their fingers in the fresh, warm, nut butter. Health food stores have nut grinding machines filled with almonds, pecans, or cashews, as well as peanuts, and one need only choose their preference.

Besides eating it, peanut butter can also be used in the following ways:

1. As a bird feeder. Simply spread peanut butter on a pine cone and roll it in bird seed, then hang outside. Birds love this!

2. Have a mouse problem? Put peanut butter in a mouse trap. I’ve done this and have come to the conclusion that mice like peanut butter more than cheese.

3. Does someone have chewing gum in their hair? Peanut butter is great at getting the gum out because of the oils it contains.

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Makes 16 Cookies

1 cup(s) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup(s) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon(s) baking soda
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
1 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon(s) baking powder
1/2 cup(s) chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup(s) (packed) light brown sugar
1/3 cup(s) granulated sugar
3/4 cup(s) quick-cooking oats

1/2 cup(s) confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup(s) smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon(s) milk
1/3 cup(s) raspberry or strawberry jam

To make the cookies:
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl.

2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and chunky peanut butter until smooth. Beat in sugars until well blended. Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low speed, beat in flour mixture until just blended, then stir in oats.

3. Spoon level tablespoonfuls of dough into balls and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Using a floured fork, make a crisscross pattern on top of each ball by pressing dough into a flat 2 1/4-inch circle, about 1/4-inch thick. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned at edges. Let cool on baking sheet 1 minute before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the filling:
In a bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat sugar, smooth peanut butter, butter, and milk until smooth and fluffy. Spread 2 teaspoons of the peanut butter mixture on bottoms of half of the cookies. Spread jam on bottoms of the remaining cookies, using 1 teaspoon for each cookie. Sandwich together peanut butter-covered cookies with jam-covered cookies.

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Peanut Butter Blondies

Makes 12

1 cup(s) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon(s) baking soda
1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
1/2 cup(s) crunchy peanut butter
6 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup(s) (packed) light brown sugar
1/3 cup(s) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
1/2 cup(s) salted peanuts, chopped
1/2 cup(s) peanut butter chips
3 ounce(s) extra-dark or bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick foil, letting foil extend at two sides. Spray foil with nonstick spray.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.

3. In a large bowl, beat peanut butter and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed, until smooth. Add brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat until well blended. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture and, with mixer on low speed, beat until just blended. Stir in peanuts, peanut butter chips, and chocolate. Scrape dough into prepared pan and spread evenly.

4. Bake 35 minutes, or until a tooth-pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack. To serve, lift blondie from pan, using foil. Cut into 12 bars.

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