food

Recipe: Peanut Butter and Jam Bars

foodsweet treats

Two weeks ago, I traveled to Saint George, Utah with my best friend for a girl's trip. We stayed at the gorgeous Red Mountain Resort where we enjoyed three blissfully relaxing days. We both enjoyed taking a break from our daily routines to rest, recharge and spend the entire time catching up. My friend lives back in my home state of Maryland, and although we are in constant contact via email and Facebook, there's nothing better than spending uninterrupted time together in person and we certainly made the most of it!

While my friend and I went on this trip to relax, we also wanted to take advantage of being in such a beautiful part of the USA, so we decided to sign up for a guided hike of Zion National Park, located just one hour from the resort. Our hiking excursion package included lunch, which was assembled by the restaurant staff at the resort. Everyone's lunch included a sandwich or wrap, veggie sticks, pretzels, homemade granola, an apple, and Red Mountain's signature "adventure bar," a delicious flavor-packed energy bar (My favorite treat in our lunch box!).

When I was thinking about what recipe to make for this post, I took inspiration from my hiking trip and decided to make these Peanut Butter and Jam Bars. With summer just around the corner, many of us will be taking advantage of the warm weather to participate in outdoor activities and these bar cookies are a delicious sweet treat that are perfect for picnics, camp-outs or other outdoor excursions. They are both kid and adult-friendly, can be made in advance and are the perfect portable treat for all of your outdoor Summer adventures.

Peanut Butter and Jam Bars

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten

Ingredients:

2 sticks (1/2 lb.) unsalted butter, at room temperature (plus more for greasing the pan)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups creamy peanut butter
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups strawberry jam (or other jam flavor of your choice)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar over medium speed until lightened in color and texture, about 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add in the vanilla extract, eggs and peanut butter and mix until well combined.

In a bowl, whisk or sift the flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture slowly to the peanut butter mixture and mix until the flour is completely incorporated. Be careful not to over-mix. The dough will be thick in consistency.

Spread two-thirds of the peanut butter dough evenly into the bottom of the baking pan. Use a spatula to smooth out the batter. Next, spread the jam on top of the peanut butter dough and smooth it out with a knife or offset spatula. Take the remaining peanut butter dough and drop small pieces of it all over the jam layer. You can also crumble the dough into a finer texture using your fingers. The jam does not have to be completely covered with the remaining dough—most of the dough will spread as it bakes.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until the dough is golden brown. Cool completely to allow the dough and jam to set before cutting into squares. Store in a single layer in a covered container at room temperature.

What are you favorite summer treats for the kids?

Flavia Scalzitti is a food blogger based in Houston, Texas. She is originally from Maryland and comes from an Italian family. Flavia grew up around people who used food and cooking as a way to keep their traditions alive, celebrate their Italian culture, express their love for their family, and nourish the people they cooked for with the freshest and best quality ingredients. She is entirely self-taught and is also passionate about baking. In addition to cooking and baking, Flavia enjoys learning about and practicing photography, reading, traveling, practicing yoga, and spending time with her husband, Peter. She blogs at Flavia's Flavors: http://www.flaviasflavors.com

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