Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

by Lori on February 24, 2011

I can still recall the early morning sound of my toddlers’ footed-pajamas as they scooted across the hardwood floors of our previous home.  My bedroom was their destination.  I was (and still am) a very light sleeper and the zip-zip sound of those Carter’s footed-pajamas was my alarm clock back then.  It seemed that my eyes would immediately pop open when little pajama-feet would hit the floor.  Most often it was my son who would appear.  He was the oldest and had easy access out of his bed, which only required a slight wiggle past the temporary railing installed to prevent him from rolling out.   Sleepy-eyed and with his favorite cuddly under his arm, he’d slip into my bed for a little early morning snuggle time.   I would lovingly take all of the snuggles I could get, and we’d giggle when the riffs of J’s snoring became startlingly loud.  Inevitably this would lead to the typical playfulness that is so characteristic of a toddler’s 6 a.m. wake-up call, and I would scoop him up and allow J to continue sleeping.  Despite my exhaustion, I loved those mornings so much.

But our mornings have changed so much since then.

Now I’m the one headed to his room at 7:10 a.m. to make sure he didn’t hit the snooze bar of his alarm clock again only to find that he never set his alarm clock in the first place.  A gentle kiss of his warm, blanket-marked cheek and good morning whispered into his ear were enough to awaken the sleeping giant.  The groan of disappointment from him when he realized that this day was not Saturday was all too familiar.  After a slow and gradual departure from the comfort of his bed, the zip-zip sounds of those memorable toddler feet were noticeably replaced by the carpeted shuffle of a size 10.   Where did the time go?

When my son finally arrived in the kitchen for breakfast, I noticed his chin.  Adolescence has begun to reveal itself with its signature calling card: the dreaded blemish.  I smiled and internally melted at the same time; that was the chin I squeezed and nibbled for as many years as he would let me.  The same chin that when recently silhouetted by the sun showed the first stages of developing facial hair.  Who is this man beginning to emerge from my son’s body?  Rifling through his backpack, my son found and presented me with a notification from school about an upcoming installment of the Family Life videos that I needed to preview and eventually authorize.  Thank goodness I was caught up in the whirlwind of breakfast and lunch-making that I didn’t have time to thoroughly absorb all that was coming at me.  It was so much all at once.  So much of life just being life and my sudden resistance to it.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed my son looking around the kitchen.  It had been a while since I made any sort of breakfast sweets, and he clearly wanted some today.  Since there were none to be had, he asked me to make something sweet for an after school snack.  At that moment, I knew he still needed me even though it felt that life had slowly been loosening the grip of his little hand in mine so much over the past twelve and a half years.  I was the only one noticing it.  He has been oblivious to the changes.  To him, it was the status quo and a little bit of sweetness was all he was after.  Innocence

When I dropped him off at school a short time later he looked at me, smiled and said, “I love you so much mom.  I’ll see you at 3:10.”

Those two words that seemingly connected the dots of our life together during the past 90 minutes of our morning appeared again.

So much.

And as I watched through my rear view mirror as his long legs carried him toward the school gate, the sound of his little pajama-feet echoed in my memory. 

It was the most meaningful part of my day.  So much so.

* * *

How about you?  What was the most meaningful part of your day?  I was so touched by mine and I would like to hear yours, that is if you’re willing to share it. 

PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY BARS
Recipe from March 2011 Bon Appetit Magazine

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1-1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup packed golden brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup grape jelly or other jelly or jam (I used seedless red raspberry)
2/3 cup coarsely chopped salted dry-roasted peanuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan with heavy-duty foil, leaving 2-inch overhang around edges and pressing firmly into corners and up sides of pan.  Coat foil with nonstick spray.  Whisk flour, baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt in small bowl.  Using electric mixer, beat peanut butter, sugar, and butter in large bowl until smooth.  Add egg and vanilla; beat on low speed until smooth.  Add flour mixture; beat just to blend.  Transfer half of dough to prepared pan (about scant 1-1/2 cups).  Place remaining dough in freezer for 10 minutes.  Using fingertips, press dough evenly onto bottom of pan.  Spread jelly over in even layer.  Remove dough from freezer; using fingertips, break into grape-size pieces and scatter over jelly/jam layer.  Sprinkle nuts over.

Bake bars until top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Cool bars completely in pan on rack.

Using foil overhang as aid, life bars from pan.  Gently peel foil from edges.  Cut into 16 squares.

Can be made 3 days ahead.  Store airtight at room temperature.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristan Marie Lynch February 24, 2011 at 11:12 pm

WOW! What a precious story and an even more precous boy! And by the way, those peanut butter & jelly/jam bars look yummy and simmple to make. I'm saving this recipe for sure! Just curious, can you tell me the difference between Jelly & Jam?

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Mary February 25, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Your son sounds amazing! You must be an amazing mom! Just like you are an amazing baker! These are bookmarked, yum!!

Mary xx
Delightful Bitefuls

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XingyMingy February 26, 2011 at 8:01 pm

This is such a sweet story. I long for that day when I have children and get to send them off to school (with a lunchbox of PB&J bars, of course! 😉

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Bourbonnatrix February 27, 2011 at 12:29 am

Those look so good, I've bookmarked them to make soon. Thank you for sharing your story. My oldest is in preschool, but you've reminded me that they don't stay small for long, and to enjoy the pitter patter of tiny feet.

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Lisa February 27, 2011 at 1:34 am

Wow, the look of that jelly oozing out is just glorious. This sounds like the best PB&J sandwich. I hope you'll come by and link them up to Sweets for a Saturday #6. http://sweet-as-sugar-cookies.blogspot.com/2011/02/sweets-for-saturday-6.html

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Anonymous February 28, 2011 at 12:05 am

Yummo!!!!! LH

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Peggy February 28, 2011 at 11:23 pm

This look absolutely delicious and what a sweet story to begin with!

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Lemons and Lavender March 4, 2011 at 1:23 am

Kristan, Thank you! I am not exactly sure of the official difference between jam and jelly. Oddly enough, my husband is the in-house authority on jam. I will ask him and get back to you.

Xingy Mingy, thank you.

Bourbonnatrix, You are right! In the blink of an eye they become teenagers. It's crazy.

Lisa, Thanks! These bars are like PB&J with bling. So yummy!

Anonymous LH, glad you finally got your nuts and made them!

Peggy, thank you and they are really good. I'm so glad Bon Appetit featured the recipe. It was perfect timing!

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Hazel March 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Wow! These look so appetising with the jelly oozing out. Mmmm… delicious!

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Anonymous April 3, 2011 at 5:04 am

I made these for my boyfriend the other day and he loved them! He's a big peanut butter fan. I cut down the sugar a lot though and added some sliced bananas for pbj&b bars!

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