Posts Tagged peanut butter

Peanut Butter & Banana French Toast Sticks – and a Book Review!

Peanut Butter & Banana French Toast Sticks | Gorging George

Many (many) months ago, I was asked by Owlkids to review a new book they were publishing … and to be honest, I’m not exactly a pro at reviews of any sort. And clearly not a timely person when it comes to caring for a wee baby … However, the book, Starting From Scratch: What You Should Know about Food and Cooking written by Sarah Elton and beautifully illustrated by Jeff Kulak, is definitely worth recommending, and I have been attempting time-and-time again to write this post. Writing reviews won’t be a common occurrence on the blog (and I have not been compensated financially by Owlkids; I was only given an advance copy of the book), but if I’m asked to review something that I legitimately like, and I truly believe you may too, then I will be passing on my raving thoughts.

Starting From Scratch

Although Starting From Scratch is targeted at children who are starting to be curious about food – where it comes from, how to cook it, etc. – I would say it is a great book for young adults who were never previously educated on cooking or food. The writing style is easy for young readers to understand, yet it’s not so juvenile that I didn’t enjoy reading through the entire book. Starting From Scratch covers everything from the science of taste (did you know that artichokes make sweet food taste sweeter?); to how differently people eat around the globe (there is an amazing section mapping out different chicken dishes eaten in various countries); to how “recipes” are developed (an education on how baking, especially, is all math or ratios); through to setting up a kitchen with the essential tools and of course, food and cooking safety. The book takes you on a journey that leaves the reader with a deeper understanding of where your food comes from, why and how you perceive food tastes the way it does, and ultimately, the importance of preparing as much of your food from scratch (would you have guessed that from the title??).

Peanut Butter & Banana French Toast Sticks | Gorging George

Peanut Butter & Banana French Toast Sticks | Gorging George

Peanut Butter & Banana French Toast Sticks | Gorging George

I believe that one of the most important things we can teach our children and ourselves is to be conscious about the food we eat and about the enjoyment and pride that comes in cooking that food yourself. My brother and I were lucky to be raised by parents who encouraged us to always try at least one bite of everything; and gave us each the duty to prepare 1-2 dinners a week as part of our “chores.” This has instilled the deepest appreciation for food in both of us – now we fight about who gets the offal at Thanksgiving dinner over any of the other meat; and we scour the depths of the internet, cook books, grocery stores and markets for inspiration for what to cook and eat next. In the words of Anthony Bourdain: “it is a good and noble thing to cook well.” And while Starting From Scratch only contains a few basic recipes at the end, it would assist any child with learning how to sustain themselves with real food rather than resorting to take out and frozen dinners all the time. Whether you know everything about food and cooking, or you don’t have a clue about how to feed yourself, this book would make an excellent addition to your child’s (or a child you love) library.

Now how about a kid-friendly recipe to wash down that review?

Peanut Butter & Banana French Toast Sticks | Gorging George

Peanut Butter & Banana French Toast Sticks

Clearly, you can save some time and skip the “sticks” part of this recipe. However, cutting your bread into the sticks makes it a little more fun for kids and, to be completely honest, helps reduce the amount you consume since you feel like you’re eating so much more. Let the littles do as much as you, and they, are comfortable with – maybe it’s simply dipping the sticks in the batter; or maybe you’re up for letting them flip the sticks while they are in the hot pan. Either way, get them involved in the kitchen as much as possible and you’re helping pave the way to a lifetime of cooking and eating happiness. 

8 slices thick (Texas-style) bread
butter (to cook the toast in; about 2-4 Tbsp)
4 eggs
1/4 cup half & half cream
1/2 cup milk
4 Tbsp peanut butter
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

Using a serrated knife, cut the toast into 4 even slices vertically and set aside. Prepare the french toast batter by whisking together the remaining ingredients (eggs through salt) in a large dish. Melt 1 Tbsp of butter in a non-stick pan or griddle. Working in 2 – 4 batches (depending on the size of your pan – you don’t want to crowd the pan), dunk the bread sticks into the batter, allow the excess to drip off and then place into pan with melted butter. Cook the sticks on one side until golden brown (about 3-5 minutes), then flip and cook on the other side until golden. Continue with remaining batches of bread (melting an additional Tbsp of butter in between each batch). Serve warm with or without maple syrup.

Makes 32 sticks.

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PB&J Smoothie

It’s been 1 week since I’ve been told to go without gluten. And only 1 day that I’ve actually gone without it – I’m so good at following the doctor’s orders. I decided to give myself the week to devour all the gluteny foods I love. After a full-on weekend of being gluttonous on gluten, I’m paying for it today. I woke up feeling terrible. I have an awful headache and my stomach feels like there are tiny elves in there with daggers stabbing my insides. My body aches and I’m very stuffed up. Perhaps it’s all just a coincidence and I happened to pick up a cold over the weekend. But regardless, the way I felt today made me realize I have to shape up. So today I finally went a whole day without eating anything with gluten in it.

When I started my day, I realized one thing I’d miss was a super-quick breakfast of peanut butter and jelly toast. So I whipped up this incredibly quick alternative that I can drink, yet still get that PB&J flavour I love. While there’s no actually jelly or jam in this smoothie, the raspberries and blueberries pulsed up with the peanut butter (and a little flax seed for fiber) taste somewhat similar to that good ‘ol PB&J breakfast standby. It may not be the closest substitute one could think of, but it suits me fine.

PB&J Smoothie

2 Tbsp flax seed
1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt (preferably greek yogurt)
2 Tbsp peanut butter
1 Tbsp agave syrup
1 1/2 cups milk or almond milk

In a blender, grind up the flax seed to a mealy texture. Add the remaining ingredients (raspberries through milk) and blend until a smooth consistency is reached. Serve cold.

Makes 3 cups.

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Peanut Butter Chubbies

Alright…so I have been doing this for over a month, and I am shocked that I have neglected to write about 2 things that are eaten with regularity in our home: cookies and tacos. I’m not talking about Old El Paso tacos. Those are fine on very busy weeknights when your kids (or stomach) are screaming for dinner before you’ve had a chance to take off your coat. I’m talking about pork tacos with red pepper slaw, shrimp tacos with mango-avocado salsa, or braised ground beef tacos spiced to perfection. Oh the joy of taco juices sliding down your arm as you bite your way through tex-mex euphoria! But I’ve gone off on a tangent here. Because this post is not about tacos.

Today we’re talking cookies. I should warn visitors that I reside with a living, breathing cookie-monster. Cookies are not safe in this home. Boxes of cookies purchased from the store mysteriously disappear before I have a chance to eat just one. Crumbs of homemade cookies are found in containers where whole, chewy cookie magic should be. Gifted cookies seem to be missing in numbers by the time they reach their destination…I’m wondering if there is some sort of Cookies Anonymous we can send this dear husband of mine too?

I discovered these particular cookies in my Joy of Cooking book over 5 years ago. Aptly named peanut butter chubbies – for their cute petite plumpness – the cookies are bursting with peanut butter flavour. The cookies are more akin to a shortbread cookie than the classic peanut butter cookies most of us grew up with. They are crumbly and floury, and a perfect vessel for chopped-up peanut butter cups, replacing plain old boring chocolate chips. The recipe originally calls for 14 peanut butter cups. I’d like to know why the authors went for such an odd number? Don’t the peanut butter cups come in packs of 3? (except for around Hallowe’en, when we can gorge ourselves on single serving peanut butter cups – because it’s just one right?) Why didn’t the authors use 12? or better yet, 15? I suppose it’s because they actually call for 11 oz, which is what 14 cups weigh … but my bet is that it was so the baker could test one of the cups before putting the whole batch in the cookies. Smooth move.

When I was first making these cookies I would buy 5 three-packs of peanut butter cups and go through the step of unwrapping each individual cup – not a strenuous step, but a needless one. Reese makes 210g (approx. 7 oz) bags of Mini Peanut Butter Cups. I started to buy one of these and found that dumping the pack out on the chopping board was much quicker. And to be honest, I don’t miss the entire 11 oz that I used to use. After chopping up the mini cups, I still end up with just over a cup of peanut butter “chocolate chips” which I find to be a perfect ratio to the dough. The only thing that would make these peanut butter chubbies more perfect would be if someone would gift me this cookie jar to store them in.

Peanut Butter Chubbies

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker & Ethan Becker

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
5 1/2 tsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 Tbsp smooth peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 210g package Reese Mini Peanut Butter Cups, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper (or grease with butter).

In the bowl of your mixer, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the butter, peanut butter and vanilla – mix on low speed just until the mixture starts to hold together in a crumbly dough. Add the chopped peanut butter cups and mix on low until they are incorporated into the dough.

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Place on the prepared cookie sheet with at least 1 inch between each cookie. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until very lightly golden on top (remember, these are similar to shortbread cookies). Rotate the pan halfway through for even baking. Remove cookies from oven and place the pan on a rack to cool completely. The cookies are very crumbly, so if you move them before they are cool, they will fall apart. So patience is key.

Makes 24 cookies.

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