I spent the weekend making Peanut Butter Cup Bars. Simple ingredients, simple recipe, no oven involved. This is one of my very favorite recipes, not only because of its simplicity, but because of the fact is that it gets my kids into the kitchen every time. In the interest of full disclosure, these particular peanut butter cup bars pictured above were actually made by my 4 year old with only some minor help from me. My journey to the kitchen was so much later in life, that I’m hoping that by getting my kids into the kitchen early in their lives, I will spark their interest in cooking.
I have 2 kids, currently aged 13 and 4, and when it comes to food and kids in the kitchen, I have learned a lot of lessons between number 1 and number 2. When my now teenager was tiny, I was in the throes of my education and training. That meant long days, long nights and meals that involved the path of least resistance. Our then toddler wanted butter noodles for dinner 7 nights a week? Sure-we could handle that, we had a fast casual Italian joint down the street. I’m not sure I knew where my kitchen was back then, and I’m pretty sure that even if I could have found my kitchen, I wouldn’t have known how to make noodles anyway! No surprise that food rapidly became an issue with my firstborn, as her preferred menu involved very few types of foods and none of them could be considered nutritious.
When I started my full time job, one of my new colleagues asked me what we liked to eat for dinner. Unfortunately, my honest answer did not impress her, to say the least. Who would be impressed by our crazy array of fast food dinners? From that day forward, my colleague (now one of my great friends) vowed to teach me how to do better. She encouraged me to cook, encouraged me to try new recipes (even if they were simple desserts like these Peanut Butter Cup Bars) and encouraged me to do a better job of feeding my family. In my free time, I took some demonstration cooking classes, tried tons of new recipes and read cookbooks like novels (I’ve actually developed quite a cookbook addiction, but that it is a whole other conversation). I rapidly improved my skills and discovered a true passion for cooking.
When I had my second child, many years after the first, I was in a different place in my life. I had more time, more energy (it’s all relative, right?) and much more in my repertoire. I got smart, and fed my youngest child whatever we were eating, and what we were eating had vastly improved by then. He greedily ate everything including the garlicky pureed beef stew I fed him, the beet borscht his Polish nanny fed him, and the various vegetables we insisted he have at every meal. I also learned that getting my kids into the kitchen with me was a great way to get them enthusiastic about trying new foods. There was so much they could help with-dumping, mixing, spreading, crushing. My 13 year old, initially very finicky, is now exploring her own talents in the kitchen and her palate has greatly expanded (she now orders salmon everywhere we go-and together we can make a fabulous salmon at home!). My 4 year old tells people he’s going to be a “daddy chef” and asks me to put his apron on him so he can help me cook. Now, this Peanut Butter Cup Bar recipe certainly isn’t a healthy recipe, and it certainly won’t give your kids any nutrition, but it is so easy and gives my 4 year old such a sense of accomplishment to be able to make a dessert that everyone enjoys. It is a great recipe to start getting your own kids into the kitchen with you! And who knows, maybe if you get them interested in making dessert, helping you make vegetables will soon follow!
- 1 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
- 1 Cup Butter
- 2½ Cups Powdered Sugar
- 2 Cups Crushed Graham Crackers
- 1½ Cups (12 ounces) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- Mix peanut butter, melted butter and powdered sugar in a large bowl.
- Stir in crushed graham crackers.
- Spread peanut butter mixture in a 9 x 13 pan.
- Melt chocolate chips, stirring frequently to ensure the chocolate doesn't burn. (This can be done using a double boiler over low heat, or using a microwave on medium power, stirring every 30 seconds until melted)
- Spread melted chocolate over peanut butter mixture.
- Refrigerate until chocolate is hardened.
- Cut into squares, serve and enjoy!