It has been very cold lately and we’ve received a bit more snow at once than usual. I’ve taken advantage of the extra refrigerator by making some of our favorite treats that need to be refrigerated to set up, like these Lunch Lady Peanut Butter Bars. There are loads of recipes out there and some include vanilla wafers, graham crackers, flour, oats and all kinds of other items. I like these just like the Case Elementary School Lunch Ladies made them: pure peanut butter and chocolate. The portions were generous and they still taste just as good today.
Lunch Lady Peanut Butter Bars
These were THE dessert of elementary and middle school. As I've gotten older, I've also learned they were ubiquitious and not just limited to my elementary and middle school. It makes me think there's a lunch lady recipe book all schools received.
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups peanut butter
- 2- 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Put Butter and Peanut Butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until butter and peanut butter are melted in 30-second increments, stirring after each 30 seconds.
When melted remove and add the remaining sugar and vanilla. Stir together until a large ball of dough forms and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Remove from bowl and spread into a 9x13 pan.
Pour chocolate chips into another microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until completely melted. Spoon over top of peanut butter mixture and spread evenly.
Allow to cool completely by placing in the refrigerator for about an hour.
Cut into squares and serve.
We had this dish on our trip to Hawaii and have worked to recreate it ever since. The fish takes some forethought and prep, but the cooking time is quick and easy.
- 1/4 cup sake
- 1/4 cup mirin
- 1/4 cup white miso paste
- 3 tablespoons white sugar
- 4 cod fillets
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon green onions for garnish
At least two days BEFORE you plan to eat this dish, make the miso marinade. Bring the sake and mirin to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Boil for 20 seconds to evaporate the alcohol.
Turn the heat down to low, add the miso paste, and whisk. When the miso has dissolved completely, turn the heat up to high again and add the sugar, whisk to ensure that the sugar doesn't burn. Remove from heat once the sugar is fully dissolved. Cool.
Pat the black cod fillets thoroughly dry with paper towels. We usually use frozen, slightly defrosted filets for this since fresh cod is hard to come by here. Add the fish and the marinade to a sealable Tupperware container. Leave to marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. We suggest lightly flipping the container when you open the refrigerator during those two days.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat an oven-proof skillet, such as a cast-iron skillet, over high heat on the stovetop. Lightly wipe off any excess miso clinging to the fillets, but leave some on (just not big clumps).
Add a bit of sesame oil to the pan, then place the fish in the pan and cook until the bottom of the fish browns and blackens in spots, about 3 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until the other side is browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to the oven and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until fish is opaque and flakes easily.
It’s not a surprise we love Japanese food. We are always looking for new recipes that everyone in the family enjoys. This is a great one that is easy enough for a weeknight and filled with protein and our daughter’s second favorite vegetable, peas.
Ground Chicken Bowl
This is a revised version of Soboro Don a delicious, easy protein filled Japanese dish.
For Ground Chicken
- 1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
- ½ to 1 lb ground chicken
- 1 tsp ginger We use the ginger in the squeeze bottle, it can be hard to find good fresh ginger here.
- 1 Tbsp sake
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp mirin
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce Dark soy adds a great depth of flavor to this dish
For Scrambled Eggs
- 2 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 2 cups cooked rice
- ¼ cup green peas
- 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
Heat the sesame oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium heat, and cook the chicken until cooked through. Tip: cook without breaking until browned, then flip and cook until browned again. Then break it up.
Add sake, sugar, and mirin.
Add the ginger (Be careful! The ginger may pop!)
Cook until the liquid is almost gone. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Beat the eggs in a small bowl and add sugar. Mix well until sugar is completely dissolved.
Heat oil in the frying pan over medium-low heat and pour in the egg mixture.
Break the egg into small pieces. When it’s cooked through, transfer to another bowl.
To serve add some rice to a bowl. Then add the chicken, egg and peas. You can use sesame seeds as a garnish.
I really love this dish. It’s quick enough for a weeknight and usually just the perfect amount of food.
Leeks, Eggs and Bacon
This is one of our most favorite reset dinners. There are only so many nights in a row we can indulge in rich meals before J and I begin craving simple, vegetable-heavy dishes. While this dish is at its peak in spring, if you can find leeks year round, don't be afraid to try it out of season.
- 4 leaves large leeks tough outerremoved, ends trimmed and only white and light green parts remaining
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup ⁄2chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme (we use fresh it just tastes more like spring)
- 1 teaspoon ⁄4salt
- 1 pinch pepper
Cut each leek lengthwise into halves and then cut each half into half circles. Soak leeks in a large bowl of cool water to allow any dirt to settle to the bottom. The best way we've found to do this is using a salad spinner.
In a saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat.
Add the leeks to the skillet.
Cook the leeks, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. It's best to let them brown a bit on the bottoms. Sprinkle with thyme and cook one minute more.
Add stock, reduce heat to medium-low.
Braise the leeks At this point you can choose to either cover the leeks or leave them uncovered. Uncovered the flavor concentrates a bit more but covered there is more broth to sop up with bread. Cook for about 10 more minutes or until the leeks are very tender.
Season with salt and pepper and serve. We like to serve it with some french bread, crumble cooked bacon and hard-boiled eggs.