Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

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 9×13 pan and increased the baking time to 35 minutes.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

from Bon Appetit, March 2011


nonstick spray 

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

two years ago: quick jerk-style chicken and cool pineapple salsa

three years ago: One of my most popular posts and a great freezer meal, chicken enchilada casserole.

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  1. Krissy
    August 10, 2011 / 12:20 pm

    Hope you have a great first day! I am sure you will be great! I know the feeling of the first day, mine is rapidly approaching 🙂

  2. Laura
    August 10, 2011 / 12:21 pm

    Have a fabulous first day! I have a couple more weeks before I return, but the anxiousness has started. I love the feeling of a fresh, new school year. Let us know how your first day goes!

  3. Pretend Chef
    August 10, 2011 / 12:48 pm

    Hope your first day goes well. These bars look like the perfect treat for that moment you get to take a deep breath and know the day is over. Yummy!

  4. Cara
    August 10, 2011 / 1:45 pm

    We don't go back until next Wed., but I love this idea to share with coworkers for the first day!

  5. Jade
    August 10, 2011 / 1:57 pm

    Good luck today!! You will be fabulous with your students and they are lucky to have you a their teacher. Love the photo. These look delicious!

  6. That Girl
    August 10, 2011 / 4:52 pm

    Good luck! Don't forget, often gifted kids can be more difficult than regular classes because, they're smart and they know it.

  7. Natalie
    August 10, 2011 / 5:29 pm

    when i made these i immediately wished i'd doubled the recipe–you made a good choice in doing so :)happy back to school!

  8. Erin
    August 10, 2011 / 7:00 pm

    Good luck on your first day! Cute picture of the bars! We still have another week of summer break here!

  9. Ashley's Cooking Adventures
    August 11, 2011 / 5:02 am

    These bars look fantastic! What a nice treat to share with your co-workers on the first day of school. Hope it goes well, those 5th graders are lucky to have such a thoughtful teacher!

  10. Lexie
    August 11, 2011 / 5:44 am

    Those children are so blessed to have you as their teacher. Not only do you understand how their minds work and the constant desire to learn, you are a fabulous teacher that makes things interesting to learn. You are going to do amazing things with these children. Thanks for sharing your first day of school with me. Even though you are a grown woman, I still love hearing the excitement in your voice when you tell me about your "first day of school."I can't wait to try these PB&J Bars. It reminds me of fixing you a snack when you would get home from school. Yummy. I love you

  11. Tina
    August 11, 2011 / 7:57 pm

    Sometimes having a snack and some quiet time is all you need to get through the day. This bar looks delicious and I love the flavor combo. Yum!

  12. Tiffany
    August 12, 2011 / 4:36 pm

    I love this post. I've always wanted to be a teacher, so this makes me smile. Those bars look amazing too…I think I'll make them with my 2 year old this weekend! 😀

  13. Bridget
    August 15, 2011 / 4:37 pm

    Oh man…I remember how exhausting the first few days of teaching was back when I was adjuncting. It was brutal, and I had no idea how I would make it through the semester. And then somehow, it just gets easier. Thank god! If I ever teach again, I definitely need to make sure I have one of these waiting for me at the end of the day.

  14. The Food Pusher
    August 21, 2011 / 4:06 am

    I love the picture! And those bars look delicious too. I wish more people in my family ate peanut butter.

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