Peanut Butter: Perfect for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner!
The month of March, known for the first day of spring, college basketball's Final Four and St. Patrick's Day is also National Peanut Month. We hungrily consume this humble legume in many forms; roasted in the shell, chopped on an ice cream sundae, surrounded by sweet brittle. But our favorite has to be the quintessential American comfort food: peanut butter.
As a nation we consume more than 700 million pounds of peanut butter each year, and at this very moment 75% of us have at least one variety in the cupboard. Peanut butter is an inexpensive source of protein and a cholesterol-free food. It is portable, and perfect for hikes and picnics, as it doesn't have to be refrigerated. Although peanut butter is high in fat, most of that fat is the healthy, unsaturated kind.
Many of us grew up eating Grandma's criss-cross peanut butter cookies and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (still the country's favorite). But do you know that peanut butter can be served in mouth-watering dishes all day long? Renee Pottle, author of "I Want My Dinner Now! - Simple Meals for Busy Cooks" (?2004, $12.95 trade paperback, www.craftandcook.com) and "The Happy Lunchbox - 4 Weeks of Menus and Recipes" (?2005, $6.95 booklet, www.craftandcook.com) offers the following suggestions for enjoying your favorite treat:
? Peanut Butter Muffins - These jam filled muffins are perfect for breakfast or as an after school treat. (Recipe follows)
? Peanut Butter Pancakes - add up to ? cup of peanut butter to your favorite pancake mix.
? Toasted English Muffins - Top with crunchy peanut butter and honey.
? Turkey Wraps - Layer sliced turkey, peanut butter, lettuce, and mandarin orange slices on a flavored tortilla wrap. Wrap up for a kid-pleasing sandwich.
? Green Salad with Peanut Butter Dressing - Mix together ? cup peanut butter, ? cup white vinegar, 1Tbsp honey, a dash of cayenne pepper and ? cup boiling water. Let cool and toss with fresh greens.
? Vegetarian Burgers - make your own burgers from scratch with oatmeal, rice, cottage cheese and peanut butter.
? Laurie's Thai Chicken - Your guests will think you cooked all day when you serve this exotic dish. You didn't, but your slow cooker did! (Recipe follows)
? Peanut Butter Pumpkin Pie - Extend your love of peanut butter right into the Thanksgiving holiday. Add ? cup of smooth peanut butter to any pumpkin pie recipe.
So whether your favorite is smooth or crunchy, honey-roasted or all natural, grab that unassuming jar of peanut butter and turn breakfast, lunch, and dinner into festive meals, all year long!
LAURIE'S THAI CHICKEN
From "I Want My Dinner Now!" by Renee Pottle
4 chicken thighs
? cup medium salsa
2 Tbsp peanut butter
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 ? tsp soy sauce
? tsp ground ginger
2-quart slow cooker
1. Remove skin from chicken parts. Rinse chicken and place in slow cooker.
2. Combine salsa, peanut butter, lemon juice, soy sauce and ginger. Spoon over chicken.
3. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or high for 4-5 hours.
From "The Happy Lunchbox" by Renee Pottle
1? cups all purpose flour
? cup whole-wheat flour
? cup potato flour
2-? tsp baking powder
? cup sugar
? tsp salt
? cup peanut butter
? cup milk
2 large eggs
? cup jam
1. Combine the flours, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in the peanut butter until it is small pea-sized pieces.
2. Add the milk and eggs. Mix just until combined.
3. Spoon a small amount of batter into a greased muffin tin. Top batter with 1 tsp of jam.
4. Add more batter to each muffin to cover the jam. Bake muffins in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15 - 17 minutes or until done.
5. Makes 12 muffins.
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