Simple Things/Great Comfort – Mixes-In-Jars #4 Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Organizing and maintaining the pantry in our basement is one of my favorite and most rewarding tasks.  Last year I finally arranged our canning shelves so all five of them were in the same area and the shelves for bulk purchases were grouped together just a few feet away.  Being able to fit everything in one area helps me better keep track of everything I stock so I don’t run out of anything or buy things I already have on hand.

Once the grunt of my canning for 2014 was done, I began researching all the types of mixes-in-jars I could make and store in the pantry.  My research yielded me hundreds of mixes to try, but without a test run, I did not want to just start filling jars with mixes the family might not like or I wouldn’t use.  So began my venture into mixes-in-jars test kitchen trials.

By the time I had tried seven mix recipes I found five of them “shelf-worthy.”  The other two were okay, but not something I would necessarily want to make again or want to waste shelf space on.  Being a fairly high percentage, and with many more to try, I figured I’d better decide where these mixes were going to be stored.

The canning shelves are full from last summer and fall’s canning.  Although we go through a minimum of six to 12 jars a week, I have been restocking the shelves with the winter canning I’ve been busy doing.  This leaves no room for mixes on these shelves. The bulk storage area of the pantry is also over-flowing, as I continually restock as I use up the inventory.  This meant finding a new area and shelving unit to dedicate to mixes-in-jars.  Granted an entire shelving unit dedicated to mixes-in-jars might be in excess, but this would be a good area to also store the flour, sugars, rice, and other staples that I have been sealing in 1/2 gallon canning jars.

Happiness is…an excuse to get a new canning shelving unit and stocking it full of jars!

The last time I ordered a metal canning shelving unit, it was a quick and easy process.  One of the home improvement stores nearby had it in stock.  Unfortunately when I began looking for these shelving units again a couple of months ago, there were no shelving units to be found locally and the shipping charges nearly doubled the cost.  Definitely not something I could afford.

Last night, I once again decided to check with the local home improvement stores in our area for the canning shelving unit I wanted.  To my surprise, I found one.  It wasn’t at the store, but they did offer free shipping to the store.  I ordered it and should have it in a week or two.  Christmas is coming early this year!

Isn’t it funny how something like a metal shelving unit can make one’s day.  I remember when I was a child, it seemed like I had unlimited wants.  I always wanted more toys, more clothes, more friends, more everything.  As I’ve gotten older, my wants have become simpler, fewer, and far less frivolous.  Having a place to call home, food on the table, my family with me, and our health are more important than any material things.  Still, on occasion there are those things that bring added comfort and something as simple as another shelving unit to store the food for me to prepare for my family is one of those things. It absolutely made my day when I hit that “Place Order” button.

Knowing a shelving unit is on the way, I was thrilled to try yet another mixes-in-jars recipe this afternoon.  Today’s choice was a chocolate peanut butter cookie.  The recipe as written produced a dry dough and the cookies turned out crumbly and not very chocolatey.  Thankfully, I only  baked a dozen like that.  In order to remedy the dough, I tweaked the recipe and ended up with a crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, chocolatey cookie — a keeper.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie

The cookie on the left was the original recipe - dry and brittle.  The cookie on the right was after I tweaked the recipe -- much better.

The cookie on the left was the original recipe – dry and brittle. The cookie on the right was after I tweaked the recipe — much better.

  • 1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Espresso Powder or Instant Coffee
  • 1/2 Cup Butter Softened
  • 1/4 Cup Butter Melted
  • 1/2 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1 Egg, Slightly Beaten
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1/2 to 3/4 Cup Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix to combine leaving a well in the center. Add softened butter, peanut butter, beaten egg, and vanilla to dry ingredients.  Blend with pastry blender, dough will be crumbly.  Add melted butter and chocolate chips and mix until dough is smooth.  This might be easiest done by hand as the dough is rather stiff.

Shape dough into walnut size balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.  Press balls down with fork.  Bake in 350 oven for 9 to 11 minutes.  Let cool on cookie sheet one minute then cool on wire rack.

This recipe yielded 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

To prepare mix for jars, layer dry ingredients in order listed above, packing down firmly as you go.  Vacuum seal and attach label that reads:

Empty contents of jar into mixing bowl.  Mix thoroughly.  Add 1/2 cup softened butter, 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, beaten egg, and 1 tsp. vanilla to dry ingredients.  Blend with pastry blender.  Add 1/4 cup melted butter and 1/2 – 3/4 cup chocolate chips and mix until dough is smooth.  Shape dough into walnut size balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.  Press balls down with fork.  Bake in 350 oven for 9 to 11 minutes.  Let cool on cookie sheet one minute then cool on wire rack.

Another mix to get ready for the new shelving unit, another recipe trial success, another thing that’s makes me — Simply Grateful.

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Mini Desserts #2 – Peanut Butter Pie Shooters

I am not the biggest fan of cheesecake, but this particular recipe is one I can’t even resist.  Very rich, super creamy, and no bake — does it get much better than that?

Peanut Butter Pie Shooters

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  • 1 Cup Cream Peanut Butter
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese
  • 14 oz. Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Whipping Cream
  • 16 Oreo Cookies
  • 5 Tbsp. Melted Butter

Beat cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth.

Add milk and vanilla and beat until creamy.

Add powdered sugar and beat until mixture thickens.

Add liquid heavy whipping cream and continue to beat until the mixture fluffs.

Stir melted butter in crushed Oreos and press 1 – 2 Tbsp. into bottom of each dessert cup.  Pipe peanut butter mixture into cup and sprinkle top with additional cookie crumb mixture.

Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

I’ve made this recipe using in an 8″ pie plate in the past, but using these mini dessert cups just makes this so much fun and the perfect size serving.

Peanut butter cup in a glass, does it get any better, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Friday The 13th Claims Another Victim

Looking for something to do while sitting on the couch this afternoon, Zeb invited me to watch a marathon of Friday The 13th movies. Hour after hour Jason killed his unsuspecting victims until finally dying a horrible, gory death in the end – or did he? Why all those people kept splitting up, going into the dark alone, and opening those doors that mysteriously closed, I’ll just never understand.

While enjoying the festival of slasher movies, I decided to try to be a little productive as well. Grabbing four pounds of roasted peanuts I’d bought a week ago to make some homemade peanut butter, I sat with Zeb and shucked peanuts. For three hours we shucked peanuts. What a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun too.

A bowlful of peanuts.

A bowlful of peanuts.

A bowlful of empty shells.

A bowlful of empty shells.

A bowlful of shelled peanuts.

A bowlful of shelled peanuts.

Once the peanuts were shucked, it was time to start the food processor and make some peanut butter. Everyone gathered around the island as I prepared to start.

I filled the processor with peanuts.

A food processor full of peanuts.

A food processor full of peanuts.

Turned it on.

Peanuts whirling away.

Peanuts whirling away.

Watched it whirl around, and then it stopped.

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Hubby and the kids looked at each other. I turned the unit off, turned the lid, and pulled. It was stuck. For the next 30 minutes, hubby and I tried to separate the lid from the base, the base from the motor, and the blade from the base. Nothing. Grace emptied the contents of the food processor through the hole in the lid thinking it might help. Nothing. Zeb shook the unit and pounded his fist on the lid trying to loosen it. Nothing. It was stuck and not budging.

So much for homemade peanut butter tonight. I blame this on it being Friday the 13th, although I am not typically superstitious what other reason would explain the sudden demise of my food processor.  I know, I know — there are a million reasons:  I filled it too much, it was dying anyway, the $0.75 I paid for it at a garage sale (yes that is seventy-five cents) eight years ago (yes, eight years) was money just thrown away (actually one of the best garage sale finds I ever made), or any number of other reasons, but I’m sticking with the Friday the 13th excuse — I mean explanation.

Tomorrow is another day and I’ll pull out my mini food processor and see if I have any better luck with that and then move on to the blender if necessary. I am determined if nothing else.

Although frustrating, to say the very least, it was a great day of watching slasher movies with Zeb and then enjoying a family effort to get the food processor un-seized. We might not have solved anything today, but everyone was there for support and for this I am — Simply Grateful.