By Sherrie Norris
I had no idea that I’d get sentimental over writing my cooking column this morning, but it has happened. March 1 is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day, as a prelude to March as National Peanut Butter Month. Not a big deal, really. Or maybe it is.
My oldest sibling, Gary Pritchard — a brother that I loved with all of my heart — loved peanut butter better than anyone I’ve ever known.
He’s been deceased for 34 years, but I never open a jar of that creamy spread, or make a peanut butter sandwich or a pan of fudge that I don’t think of him. In fact, just a couple of days before his unexpected death — and my last memory of him alive —he was standing in my mother’s kitchen, leaned up against the counter right beside the fridge, eating some of my left-over peanut butter fudge from Christmas. A sergeant with the Avery County Sheriff’s Office, he had made one of his frequent stops in to say hello, grab a bite to eat and give us a hug before he answered the next call. Little did we know just how meaningful that visit would be.
And a double whammy this morning, as I began writing Lovin’ Spoonful, my heart hurts for a dear gentleman who is experiencing serious health concerns in a Winston Salem hospital.
Of all the years I’ve been writing this cooking column, and had a catering business for 10 years bearing the same name, Jim West is the only person who has ever greeted me with this: “Well, good morning, Spoonful.”
He started that a couple of months ago as we met in our Sunday School class at church — and something that will stick with me for a long time to come. Many remember Jim all across the High Country as a long-time Kerns Bakery delivery man/supervisor and a favorite of us all.
So, I dedicate this week’s column to our friend, Jim West, as I pray for his recovery, his comfort and well-being, (and ask others to do so, as well,) and to the memory of my brother. “Spoonful” loves you both.
Simple Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
Preheat oven to 350. Stir ingredients together until smooth. Roll or scoop dough into small balls. Press down with the back of a fork and then press again from the opposite direction to form criss-cross pattern on top. (Sprinkle a little extra sugar on top of each if you desire, either now or immediately upon removing from oven.)
These cookies will not spread, so you can bake the full recipe on a single tray. Bake for 12 minutes and then let cool on the tray for 1-2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container.
Skinny Peanut Butter Dip
1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
3 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
1 or 2 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey to taste
Dippers for eating — apples, celery, carrots, crackers, chocolate chips, etc.
Stir yogurt, peanut butter and maple syrup or honey together until smooth. Serve with assorted dippers.
Store in an airtight container in refrigerator.
Hot Fudge Peanut Butter Pie
1 chocolate Graham Cracker crust
1 cup peanut butter
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
1 tub (12 oz.) Cool Whip, divided
1 jar (11.75 oz.) hot fudge topping, divided
½ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. hot fudge topping
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
In a large bowl, beat peanut butter, cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Fold in 3 cups Cool Whip. Spoon mixture into crust and smooth to edges.
Spoon 2 Tbsp. hot fudge topping from jar into Ziploc plastic baggie for later; heat remaining hot fudge according to directions. Spread on top of peanut butter layer. Refrigerate pie until serving time.
When ready to serve, carefully spread remaining Cool Whip on top of pie. Knead hot fudge in baggie with hands; cut tiny hole in corner of baggie and pipe over pie to decorate. Repeat with 2 Tbsp. peanut butter and pipe on pie in opposite direction.
Peanut Butterscotch Bites
1 cup butterscotch chips
½ cup peanut butter
3 cup Rice Krispies cereal
Variations: Add ½ cup mini-marshmallows, 1 cup peanuts, 1 cup raisins, or 1 cup coconut
Prepare 9×9-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.
In a large pot over low heat, combine butterscotch chips and peanut butter until smooth, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in cereal (and any variations, if desired) and mix well, until cereal is coated evenly with peanut butter mixture. Press cereal mixture into prepared pan and chill until firm. Cut into bars and store in refrigerator. Makes 24 bars.
No Bake Peanut Butter Bars
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
2 cups Graham Cracker crumbs
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter divided
1 cup white chocolate chips
Line a 9×13-inch pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
Place melted butter, Graham Cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, and 3/4 cup peanut butter in a large bowl. Mix by hand until combined. Press firmly into prepared pan.
Place white chocolate chips and remaining peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30 second increments, stirring between each, until melted and smooth. Pour over bars and spread with a spatula to evenly coat.
Chill for at least 1 hour to set, slice into bars. *
It’s best to slice them at room temperature so your chocolate doesn’t shatter.
Stored in an airtight container in refrigerator.