Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Father’s Day reminds me of the weekly Sunday drives I used to take with my Dad to visit my grandparents, NPR always filling the car. Upon arrival: a freshly baked tray of cookies.

But peanut butter also always reminds me of my father–it seems to be a mainstay in the kitchen, whether for sandwiches or a simple dollop straight from the spoon.

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And so, I tested out these Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, with a recipe thanks to Tasty Kitchen and Two Peas and Their Pod. With no butter, these seemingly healthier cookies maintain a great chew thanks to the peanut butter and oatmeal. I used high-quality chocolate for extra oomph–a worthwhile decision. With few ingredients and batter that is hard to resist eating out of the bowl, I was pleased with their simplicity. To say the least, I am a fan.

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Healthy Green Peanut Butter Smoothie

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I am a smoothie fiend. I have an arsenal of frozen bananas and yogurt in my kitchen at all times. I particularly like smoothies that kill two birds with one stone. Like this Green Peanut Butter Smoothie which boasts two heaping cups of spinach. Huzzah for vegetable consumption.

Along with the spinach, the protein from almond milk, plain Greek Yogurt, and peanut butter will keep you full for hours. This is a perfect breakfast smoothie or post-workout snack. You can change it up, as I normally do, replacing unsweetened almond milk with skim milk, or Greek yogurt with regular yogurt.

As far as the peanut butter goes, I’m all for it, except that I have no self control. PB2 is a great, lower calorie and lower fat alternative to regular peanut butter. A jar full of the dehydrated peanut butter is pricey, yet it works incredibly well in smoothies. I am in no way endorsed by PB2, and I will be the first to admit that I do not like it plain, however it gives this smoothie the familiar taste of peanut butter without weighing it down.

Green Peanut Butter Smoothie

Makes one tall glass

1 frozen banana

2 cups baby spinach

6 oz. yogurt [plain or vanilla]

1/2 cup milk or almond milk

1-2 tbs. peanut butter or PB2

Blend all ingredients together, adding ice if needed.

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Salted Double Chocolate Peanut Cookies

Something is making me sneeze.

Perhaps it is the colossal pollen eruption that took over my neighborhood:

Or maybe it has to do with this new family member:

Here’s another photo, because one is just not enough:

One thing for sure is that these scrumptious things are so amazing that I would be willing to sneeze continuously for the rest of my life in order to eat these. Of course, this side-steps the fact that if I were sneezing continuously, I probably couldn’t eat.

These are Salted Double Chocolate Peanut Cookies.

Say what?

I love peanut butter cookies, but adding salt and chocolate to them? That should almost be illegal.

Thankfully, I made these pups for my little cousin’s birthday party so I didn’t have to sit in a corner and shovel them down my throat in guilt. While these certainly didn’t overshadow the Modern Pastry cannolis, or the blue frosted Carvel cake, I feel these at least stood up to the other desserts. I realize they look like feces, particularly when placed against other desserts, but believe me on this one: they don’t taste like feces.

My only complaint is that they have a cake-like consistency. I prefer my cookies to be gooey, melting, and chewy. Don’t let that stop you from trying these out. An easy recipe to follow, you can substitute peanut butter chips for a sweeter taste, or use peanuts as I did.

Check out the recipe at Food 52.

A Long Run, and Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

Coming home from Mexico, with only four weeks until the Boston Marathon, I vowed to eat more protein, vegetables, and whole grains. I was doing a tremendous job, eating hard-boiled eggs, hummus, vegetable-filled sandwiches, and Greek yogurt. What loomed over my head all week was my 21 mile training run. I carbo-loaded on Thursday night, eating bowls of cereal instead of my vegetables (I know how my digestive system would act if I ate my traditional vegetables and legumes right before running 21 miles). Then, I ran and ran and ran and ran. Until my legs felt like goop, my sweat caked to my forehead, and my  body felt arthritic. Success!

I counteracted this extreme exercise with an extreme dessert, as a gift to my friend who vigilantly held water for me during the run.  My friends gathered around the pan of gooey, crunchy, sweet and salty masterpiece. The pretzels take this cookie bar over the top.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla

12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

12 oz. bag peanut butter chips

1 1/2 cups mini pretzel twists, chopped.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a square baking pan with cooking spray.

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. In a large bowl, combine sugar and butter. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients. Fold in half a bag of chocolate chips, half a bag of peanut butter chips, and chopped pretzels. Spread batter in pan, press down. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown. While still hot, sprinkle bars with additional chocolate chips and peanut butter chips, as well as pretzels. Place in oven for a minute so that chocolate and peanut butter melt. Cool completely, then cut into squares.

Lost Packages (and a Peanut Butter Granola Recipe)

When I was abroad in Australia, I was surprised to learn that most Aussie students did not know their mail man. They were startled that I knew my mailman on a first-name basis (shout out to Bob!), and that I would always say hello when I passed him delivering mail. I appreciate the hard work that goes into shipping packages and letters, but when packages get lost in the mail, I find myself furious at the USPS. Of course, as it is typically with humans, when something goes wrong, we like to point fingers.

This Valentine’s Day, I sent a gift to my boyfriend who goes to school far away from me. It was supposed to take 2 to 3 days, and it was sent 10 days ago. He has yet to receive it.

I made my boyfriend this granola for Christmas, and apparently I should have included a note that he should eat it within a week or two. Six weeks after Christmas, he stuck his hand in the jar and managed to eat a handful of ants. I cannot explain in words how embarrassed I was; how my homemade, crafty, little gift ultimately failed.

I figured, I’ll be ironic and send him another batch of granola for Valentine’s Day. This time around, I made a card stating that if he doesn’t enjoy the granola fast enough, the ants would. I should have known that my granola projects are cursed, because he never received the granola. By now I’m sure there are ants gnawing away at it in the back storage room of some mail facility. Or perhaps a mailman brought it home and is munching on it. If this is the case, I hope it is Bob, my mailman, that is eating the granola.

And so, as promised, here is the recipe for the ill-fated granola. It was delicious (which is just another blow, since my boyfriend would never taste it). Peanut butter, dried fruit, dark chocolate chips, what better combination?

Peanut Butter Granola

2 cups Rolled Oats

1/2 cup sunflower seed kernels (if salted, omit salt in recipe)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped peanuts

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp salt

1 cup dried fruit (I used a tropical mix)

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine oats, seeds, nuts and cinnamon in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the peanut butter, oil, sugar, honey, vanilla and salt Pour over granola mixture and stir until fully coated.

Spread gently in a 9 x 13″ pan. Bake 20-30 minutes, until toasted. Stir gently every 10 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely in pan. Add fruit and chocolate.

And here’s what he sent me, which is infinitely cuter than ant-infested granola: