So maybe it’s not a fruit. But don’t dismiss peanut butter as just another nut. The Aztecs knew this budget spread was chockful of protein, and introduced ‘peanut paste’ to the Spanish. Other countries, including the Netherlands and the Philippines, featured peanut butter in their cuisines. Like them, we can benefit from peanut butter’s B and E vitamins, its antioxidants and dietary fiber.
Peanut butter gives a dish amazing richness and flavor. Take these cookies — cheap, tasty and gluten-free. Try them warm from the oven with a cold glass of milk.
EASY PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES
1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg – that’s it! Mix together, then form in balls and press down with a fork, as shown. Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 10-12 min., until lightly browned. Makes about a dozen cookies. (Can be doubled or tripled. Freeze well, too.)
Don’t have much in the house to eat? Odds are good that a jar of peanut butter is stashed somewhere. Combine it with crusty bread for a satisfying sandwich. I ate this version for many suppers while living in Austria with my cousins, missionaries who had to watch every penny. Add a steaming mug of tomato soup, and life is good.
OPEN-FACED PEANUT BUTTER
For each person: spread 2 tablespoons of peanut butter on a slice of whole wheat or Vienna bread. Broil in the oven until hot and bubbling — just a few minutes. Serve immediately.
Elvis variations: Gladys Presley made this sandwich for her son Elvis. He loved it double-faced, with a lining of sliced bananas and crisp bacon. Butter the outside of each bread slice, slap on the peanut butter, bacon and bananas inside, then grill in a fryingpan until nicely browned and crispy. Or make it a Fool’s Gold Loaf,also a favorite of the King: a whole loaf of Vienna bread, layered with peanut butter, bacon…and grape jelly.Start eating late at night, and talk until dawn.
Finally, there’s Peanut Butter Pie, a creamy mouthful of Paradise. It makes up quickly, but needs time to chill before serving. This version comes via Sandra Lee and the Food Network.
SMOOTH AND CHOCOLATEY PEANUT BUTTER PIE
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- One 9-inch graham cracker crust
- 1/4 cup salted peanuts, roughly chopped
Heat the milk in a small pot over low heat until warm. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate chips until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly; mixture should be thick but have a pourable consistency.
In a large bowl using an electric mixer on high, beat together the cream cheese with the peanut butter and powdered sugar. In a separate bowl, beat together the heavy cream with the vanilla until doubled in volume and soft peaks form.
Stir one-third of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture to lighten it. Fold in the remaining whipped cream until combined.
Spread into the graham cracker crust. Pour the melted chocolate over the top of the pie and sprinkle with the chopped peanuts. Place the pie in the freezer to set up, about 1 hour.
Serves 8-12, depending on your voracious guests.
Misc. PB Tips: Add a little peanut butter to squash soup for a nutty taste — it’s suprisingly good in chicken noodle, too. Mix a big glob of peanut butter into Rice Krispie treats, or use it as a filling for sugar cookies. (Put two thin cookies together, with a teaspoon of peanut butter in between; bake as usual.) Stir a spoonful into Thai or Indonesian noodle dishes for extra flavor. Smooth or chunky doesn’t matter — use what you prefer.
Having trouble getting your dog to take a pill? Hide it in a spoonful of peanut butter. And while you’re at it, peanut butter can be used to take out gum stuck in the hair. (Not that anyone would fall asleep while chewing, and have this happen to them. Ahem.) More peanut butter recipes and tips are here, as inspiration.
|Fall back on the classic PB&J: Peanut Butter and a spoonful of jelly on your favorite bread|