Today's my first day of school. Hooray! I'm more nervous this year than I have been any other year besides my first year. (In fact, I may be more nervous than I was my first year because I had blissful naivete on my side back then.) Why so nervous, you ask? I'm starting a new position this year. I'm still with the same district, but I'm now teaching a class entirely made up of exceptionally gifted fifth graders. I am so excited to get into their brains and really push them to achieve, achieve, achieve, but I'm nervous about knowing exactly what to do and exactly how to tap right into that incredible potential without wasting precious time. I just really, really want to give these kids what they need and deserve.
As any teacher will tell you, the single most exhausting day of the school year is the first day. Hands down. Many teachers don't sleep well the night before, we get to school extra early to make sure everything is perfect, then we talk all day long. We can't just jump into activities, we have to explain where everything is, where it goes, how we put it away, what happens when it isn't put away correctly, etc. We talk through and practice the rules and procedures of every. single. thing. we do. It's all worth it because setting the proper expectations will result in beautifully behaved kids for the rest of the year, but MAN is it exhausting.
When school is out and all my kids have successfully been walked to the bus, their parent, the daycare van, what have you, I love to go back to my room, sit down, and enjoy a snack in silence. These peanut butter and jelly bars paired with an ice cold milk from the cafeteria will be just perfect. Classic American school lunch flavors with an extra bit of comfort and sweetness. Just the thing to help me relax after a great first day.
***Note: I doubled the recipe so I could share with my coworkers. I used a 9x13 pan and increased the baking time to 35 minutes.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
from Bon Appetit, March 2011
1 1/2 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. smooth peanut butter
3/4 c. (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. jelly or jam of your choice
2/3 c. salted dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 8 x 8 metal baking pan with heavy-duty foil, leaving a two-inch overhang around edges. Coat foil with nonstick spray.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. Using electric mixer, beat peanut butter, sugar, and butter in large bowl until smooth. Add in egg and vanilla and beat on low speed until smooth.
4. Add flour mixture, beating on low speed just to blend. Transfer half of dough to prepared pan. Place remaining dough in freezer for 10 minutes. Using fingertips, press dough evenly onto bottom of pan. Spread jelly over in even layer.
5. Remove dough from freezer; using fingertips, break into grape-size pieces and scatter over jelly layer. Sprinkle chopped nuts over top.
6. Bake bars until top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack. Using foil overhang as aid, lift bars from pan. Gently peel foil from edges. Cut into 16 squares. (Can be made up to three days in advance and stored in an airtight container.)
one year ago: fresh fruit tart
three years ago: One of my most popular posts and a great freezer meal, chicken enchilada casserole.