Wednesday, September 11, 2013

No-bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

Peanut butter and chocolate, how can you go wrong?  And when it doesn't involve heating up an oven, hot mitts and cooling racks, it really is a win-win for everyone involved.  The calories are simply not an important factor here.

The other day I was thinking to myself about how I love baking even if I give most of my goodies away, it is just fun to go through the process in making it.  I think it is because I love the challenge.  I love proving that gluten-free baked goods can be just as good, if not better than their gluten-filled doppelgangers.  I had a friend announce the other day, whose wife is gluten-free, that gluten-free baked goods are horrible tasting, dense and dry.  I couldn't believe it...well, yes, I could believe it, but he obviously hasn't really gotten "out there" in the gluten-free world.  Sure, if you grab a random box of gluten-free cookies off the grocery store shelf, you are very likely to be disappointed and discouraged with what the gluten-free world holds.

Once you start baking at home, you will be amazed at how you don't miss the gluten.

I was craving making something easy that included peanut butter, and I thought chocolate peanut butter bars would fit the bill.  Most versions of this recipe include cookie crumbs, but I did not let that stop me. I used crumbled Vanilla Chex instead.  Really, any kind of Chex, or gluten-free cookie will do.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup of gluten-free cookie or cereal crumbs (I used Vanilla Chex)
3/4 cup peanut butter 
1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips, or baking chocolate

In a large mixing bowl, combine the melted butter, powdered sugar and cookie crumbs; 

Stir in the peanut butter until well combined;

Line an 8x8 baking dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper, and spread the peanut butter mixture evenly in the dish, set aside;

Place the chocolate in a microwaveable bowl, and heat for 30 seconds at a time, stir, and repeat until chocolate is a smooth sauce;

Carefully pour the smooth chocolate sauce over the peanut butter and spread so it covers completely;

Chill in the fridge for about 4 hours;

Remove from baking dish and cut into squares.  Store uneaten bars in the fridge.

It's a homemade peanut butter cup......only better!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Simple Salsa

One of my favorite things about summer is pretending I am a real gardener.  When I first started blogging 5 years ago, my favorite thing to write about was gardening and cooking Yummy Tummies & Dirty Feet...and then I was diagnosed with celiac, moved to a house with all shade and no sunlight, and started this!  I was definitely no master gardener, but it was fun to play around in the garden and learn all the ins and outs to growing things, especially those I could eat!

Taken in 2008 with my little garden helper.

Moving from the Midwest to the Deep South was a big change too, I had to wrap my head around a new hardiness zone, longer growing seasons, and now plants that were once annuals are now perennials. A big bonus for me...except I live in a house with a garden that gets almost no sunlight.  Thankfully, my neighborhood has lots of community gardens, so every summer since we moved here, I have taken over a garden bed at my daughter's school.  It is great, and I end up loads of cucumbers, different kinds of squash, peppers, herbs, jalapeños, eggplants and tomatoes!!!

And let's face it, tomatoes really are the shining star of the summer garden. They are the top of the pyramid, they are what we wait for all summer!  It is so exciting to see those little flowers on the tomato plants start, that I find myself visiting the garden every day until I can get one!  I usually can't wait, and pick some while they are still green to make one my all time favorite, fried green tomatoes.

Once the tomatoes come in, the possibilities are endless.  I am lucky if I can get them home before I just eat them straight from the plant.  Especially those little orangey yellow sweet!  Simply making a tomato salad with freshly ground salt and pepper and fresh basil and mozzarella is hard to beat as a summer favorite.

But one of my all time favorite things to do with tomatoes is to make fresh salsa.  I like whipping up a batch on the weekend, so it lasts me through the week. In addition to eating it with corn chips, I like adding it to eggs, pasta, tacos, quesadillas, you name it....put salsa on it!

And if you don't have fresh tomatoes from the garden, that's can cheat (shhh, I won't tell) and buy them at your grocery store, and you will love this salsa all the same.

I have used this recipe for years, it is simple, easy and a great dish to bring to a BBQ or to jar and give as a hostess gift.

I have to admit, I just kind of throw things together, so you can adjust the amounts based on your taste preferences.  I am a spice wimp, so you may want to go heavier on the jalapeño, for example, but I love lots of cilantro.

Simple Salsa

1 - 1 1/2 pounds of tomatoes, if large cut in half. (any tomatoes will do, I like using a variety when I have it. If I am buying the tomatoes at the store, I will usually buy Roma.)
1/4 large onion, coarsely sliced
1 T fresh chopped jalapeño
3/4 cup fresh coarsely chopped cilantro
1 lime

1. Using a food processor, or a salsa maker, put together the tomatoes, onion, jalapeño and cilantro and blend until smooth with small tomato chunks or your desired consistency.  I like everything finely chopped and smooth. If you like it chunkier, that's good too;

2. Put salsa into a bowl; squeeze the juice of one lime into the salsa and stir to combine.  I like for it to sit at room temperature for about an hour before I use it so the flavors really combine, but you can eat at is hard to resist.

And that's that!  Can't get much easier.


Some garden-fresh tomato recipes I love for pasta, No Cook Tomato Sauce, Caramelized Tomato Pasta, and Summer Corn and Tomato Pasta.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Vanilla Chex Winners!!

Thank you to everyone for entering the Vanilla Chex giveaway.  I loved all of the good snack ideas.  I never thought to use Chex for cheesecake, I will have to try that next time! And my husband would love Chex mix with Sriracha.

The following names are winners of the coupons for 2 free boxes of Vanilla Chex.


Please contact me with your contact information so I can send you the coupons. You can email me at anne (at) glutenfreemusings (dot) com.

Thanks, and enjoy your Vanilla Chex!!