Bites from Europe: A Post in Photos, Part I.

I spent four months in Europe, most of that time spent either on trains or somewhere on campus buckling down on schoolwork. One thing I wish I’d done more: photographed more of my meals & snacks.

Train life: One of my European staples, very early one, was the nutty, seeded, grainy bread found in bakeries and grocery stores.

Train life: One of my European staples, very early one, was the nutty, seeded, grainy bread found in bakeries and grocery stores.

Italian food in Budapest: cheese & herb-stuffed chicken topped with tomatoes.

Italian food in Budapest: cheese & herb-stuffed chicken topped with tomatoes.

Tiramisu in Roma on Mardi Gras.

Tiramisu in Roma on Mardi Gras.

Cold "pasta fresca" from a cafeteria on a Roman side street.

Cold “pasta fresca” from a cafeteria on a Roman side street.

More pasta in Roma - the best I had abroad!

More pasta in Roma – the best I had abroad!

Une crepe au jambon et fromage in Lisieux, France.

Une crepe au jambon et fromage in Lisieux, France.

Pain au chocolat in transit from Lyon to Barcelona.

Pain au chocolat in transit from Lyon to Barcelona.

A very unfortunate sandwich (brie and cranberry - delicious in theory, not so much in practice) but wonderful bravas in the background (small potatoes).

A very unfortunate sandwich (brie and cranberry – delicious in theory, not so much in practice) but wonderful bravas in the background (small potatoes).

The best way to finish off a not-so-good lunch: deep, dark, and dare I say deadly, chocolate cake from a professional pastry chef.

The best way to finish off a not-so-good lunch: deep, dark, and dare I say deadly, chocolate cake from a professional pastry chef.

Maria's fancy chocolates; the flavors included olive oil, rosemary, and lemon.

Maria’s fancy chocolates; the flavors included olive oil, rosemary, and lemon.

Churros con chocolata in Barcelona - or, in Catalan, xurros con xocolata. This might have been my favorite dessert in all of Europe. The churros were freshly fried then promptly sugar-coated at a small place down the road; we carried them in white paper cones to a cafe where we ordered our hot chocolate, a drink so thick you can't sip it - it MUST be eaten with a spoon, or consumed on a churro!

Churros con chocolata in Barcelona – or, in Catalan, xurros con xocolata. This might have been my favorite dessert in all of Europe. The churros were freshly fried then promptly sugar-coated at a small place down the road; we carried them in white paper cones to a cafe where we ordered our hot chocolate, a drink so thick you can’t sip it – it MUST be eaten with a spoon, or consumed on a churro!

Life-changing Peanut Butter Blondie Bars.

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If I were a gifted song writer, I would write an eloquent ode to peanut butter.

Peanut butter is my go-to snack. I go through about two jars of peanut butter in a month. I eat it on toast, bananas and apples, graham cracker, by the spoonful…and when I was young, I preferred straight peanut butter sandwiches over a PB&J. Peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are my favorite and I try to implement it into as many recipes as possible (peanut butter in oatmeal? Hmmm, this recipe for white chocolate chip cookies could use some peanut butter. PEANUT BUTTER CHEESECAKE, YES, & etc). Peanut butter & chocolate is my all-time favorite flavor combination. Perhaps I’m mutating into some species that breathes peanut butter instead of air.

Ok, I digress from the peanut butter, let’s talk about these bars.

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Mmmmmmmm, these are absolutely out of this world. You’ve never seen or tasted (or SMELLED) blondies like this before, and these are not for the faint of heart. They’re richer than Bill Gates, dense, soft, and beautifully peanut butter-y. So, so peanut butter-y. They’ll knock your socks off and leave you running for a glass of cold milk, wondering how you ever survived without them in the first place.

Have I mentioned they’re simple? Mix some of these ingredients, mix some of those ingredients, pour into a pan, and 25 minutes later, you have a dessert that is to die for. These bars will rock your world and shatter your way of thinking permanently. These bars are life-changers.

Creamy peanut butter is the only kind I had on hand, but I’m sure that crunchy would only make these bars better. Unless, of course, you’re a fan of creamy peanut butter. Whatever works for you.

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Oh, and definitely add chocolate chips.

Peanut Butter Blondie Bars
Very slightly adapted from The Post-Punk Kitchen
Serves 12

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup canola oil or applesauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk (any kind)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3+ cup chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 x 8 square baking pan.
  2. Mix together peanut butter, oil, and sugar.
  3. Stir in milk and vanilla.
  4. Add flour, salt, and baking powder. The dough may become a little dense and difficult to stir at this point, so you can use your hands if that’s easier.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Transfer the dough to the baking pan and spread it equally. You may need to press it down to ensure it’s all equal. Sprinkle more chocolate chips on top.
  7. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. The top will look soft, but that is normal. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Devour.