Back to School with East Texas Kitchen: PB&J bars, taco-filled zucchini boats, and more!
TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Back-to-school time is hectic, exciting, and busy. Here are a few ideas that may help out. One is a snack idea that you can pack in lunchboxes if you like, and the other two are simple dinner ideas that are perfect for busy parents to make between helping with homework and loads of laundry.
First, this peanut butter and jelly bar recipe is an oldie but goodie that I can’t take credit for. It’s from Ina Garten, one of my favorite TV cooks, and I think you’ll love it, as long as you can safely enjoy peanuts.
Peanut butter and jelly bars
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups creamy peanut butter (18 ounces)
3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ cups strawberry, grape or other jam (18 ounces)
2/3 cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray, or grease and flour, if you prefer.
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed for about two minutes. Then, turn the mixer on low and add the eggs, vanilla, and peanut butter until well-combined and creamy.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder.
Slowly add the flour mixture into the creamy mixture (on low speed to prevent flour clouds).
When it is combined, and no flour clumps remain in the mixture, place 2/3 of the dough into the 9x13 dish. Use wax paper (or the wrapper from your butter!) to press and smooth the dough flat and even.
Then, pour the jam over the dough, and spread out evenly with a spatula or knife.
Finally, drop clumps of the remaining dough over the top of the jam. You may see a few places where jam peeks through, but that’s ok. The dough will spread as it bakes.
Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts, then place in over and bake for about 45 minutes until golden brown.
Cool the bars and then cut into squares.
Easy dinner ideas:
Taco-filled zucchini boats are so much fun to make and to eat that kids usually love them. Adults will, too!
Taco-filled zucchini boats
- 4 medium zucchini
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef or turkey
- 2 teaspoons taco mix from an envelope
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 3/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
Toppings can include pico de gallo, onion, cilantro, chopped tomatoes or avocado, shredded lettuce, and sour cream.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
Wash the zucchini. Cut each one in half lengthwise, and trim the ends.
Use a small spoon to scoop out the seedy inside of each zucchini half to make room for the filling in the “boats.” Place the boats on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook the ground meat, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. Add the spices during cooking, as well. Cook until browned, and season with salt and pepper as desired.
Remove the boats from the oven at the end of 20 minutes. Fill each one with meat filling, and then sprinkle cheese on top.
Switch oven to broil. Place the cheese-topped boats under the broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese, but watch carefully so they don’t burn.
Add your favorite toppings to each boat, and dig in!
This one-pan meal is quick and delicious!
One-pan salsa chicken
- 2 large chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Flour for dredging
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 1 (14.5 ounce) jar salsa use your favorite kind
- 1 cup shredded Tex-Mex cheese blend
- Fresh cilantro, chopped to taste (optional)
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
If the chicken breasts are thick, slice them in half width-wise to make two thin breast pieces.
Sprinkle the chicken with the spices, salt and pepper. Then, dredge each piece in the flour.
Add butter and oil to a large oven-proof skillet set over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, brown the chicken for several minutes on each side until golden. Then remove the chicken to a plate.
Add the chicken broth to the pan, and scrape up the brown bits, where lots of flavor is.
Stir the salsa into the broth. Add the chicken to the pan in a single layer. allow the sauce to come to a low boil, spooning some of the salsa over the chicken. Sprinkle the cheese over the top.
Put the pan into the oven, can cook for about seven minutes. Remove for oven and let set for at least five minutes before serving.
Serve with rice, sprinkling some of the delicious sauce over the rice and chicken, and top with anything you like: sour cream, cilantro, etc., or eat as-is.
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