One of my favorite parts of the day occurs very early – we’re talking sub 6am here – when my Mom and meet to go on a walk around the neighborhood each morning.
She drives over from her house a couple blocks away, then waits in the driveway until I stumble out my front door still half asleep, and we pause to giggle at each others outfits as we head down the street.
Pants that are 3 inches too short for her, and Ben’s basketball shorts that come down below my knees for me – both with hair that rivals Medusa’s.
This usually isn’t a big deal during the colder months, when we’ve still got several hours left before the sun comes up, but then daylight savings time inevitably kicks in and puts our wretched fashion show on display for the whole neighborhood to see in the spring.
You should hear the dogs howl!
Anyways, the distasteful fashion isn’t why I adore the time of the day so much, rather, it’s the company. While putting a couple miles under my belt as the sun rises is awesome, mostly I just love being able to spend 30 minutes each day with my Mom.
We talk about all kinds of stuff – work, family, plans, news, celebrities – and occasionally get to reminiscing.
Last week we got to talking about foods my brothers and I hated growing up. Pork chops, succotash, (SUCKotash is more like it!) broccoli stems, ham loaf, and of course, cooked carrots, came to mind – but also, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
It’s true. I freaking hated peanut butter & jelly sandwiches when I was growing up, and still do, actually.
That sickeningly sweet PB&J combo makes my tongue shrink, and I much preferred to open up my lunch box as a kid to find a Bologna, Lettuce & Mustard Sandwich waiting for me inside.
Unless, of course, that PB&J combo comes in the form of a baked good with a sweet, summertime element, like Fresh Strawberry Peanut Butter Bars. Leave it to a baked good to change any deeply rooted distaste!
Luscious peanut butter cookie bars slathered with sweet strawberry preserves and topped with fresh strawberry halves, completely shatters my previously held hatred for mixing the flavors of peanut butter and jelly together.
Dense and not too sweet, the burst of fresh strawberry flavor in these bars totally won me over!
Fresh Strawberry Peanut Butter Bars
Makes 24 bars
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup strawberry jam (could use jelly or preserves)
4 cups strawberry halves (about 1 1/2lbs)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together butter and peanut butter in a large mixing bowl until well combined, about 30 seconds. Add sugars, baking powder, and salt, then beat to combine. Add eggs and vanilla, then beat to combine. Add flour, then mix until it’s just incorporated.
- Turn dough out into a non-stick sprayed 9×13 baking dish, then spread it into an even layer with your fingers. Bake for 25 minutes, or until dough is set in the center. If the sides begin to brown too fast before the center is done, gently lay a piece of foil on top of the baking dish, and continue baking.
- Cool completely, then spread strawberry jam on top and top with strawberry halves. Cut into bars and serve. Store covered in the refrigerator.
The juicy strawberry halves are just as thick as the peanut butter cookie dough underneath, and gives these bars the fresh, healthy-tasting twist I think I was always searching for in a PB&J sandwich.
But let’s not over look the peanut butter cookie! Chewy, and ultra-dense, it is the perfect base for these sweet, summertime bars. YUM!
Right, I said Bologna, Lettuce & Mustard. What can I say? I had eclectic tastes as a child!
Are there any foods you hated as a child, that you still hate to this day?
Totally still hate succotash. The lima beans are what get me!