Peanut Butter and Jelly Granola Bars
Makes 12 bars
TOTAL COST: $0.30/SERVING
• Butter or vegetable oil, for the pan
• 3 cups rolled oats, or 2 cups rolled oats and 1 cup Rice Krispies
• ½ cup peanut butter
• ½ cup jelly or jam
• ¼ cup hot water
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• ½ cup chopped nuts
• ½ cup shredded coconut
• ½ cup chopped dried fruit
• ½ cup honey (instead of jelly)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Grease an 8- by 11-inch baking pan. If you have a different size pan, that’s fine—it’ll just change how thick the bars are, so you’ll want to adjust the cooking time a little. A larger pan may take less time to cook through and get crunchy, while a smaller pan will take a few more minutes—just keep an eye on it in the oven.
- Pour the oats into a large bowl.
- Place a small saucepan over low heat and add the peanut butter, half of the jelly, the water, the salt, and any other additions. Stir until smooth, about 2 minutes.
- Pour the peanut butter and jelly concoction into the oats and mix until all the oats are coated and you have a sticky mass. Dump the mixture into the buttered baking pan and press it into an even layer. Spread the remaining jelly over the top.
- Pop the baking dish into the oven for 25 minutes. The bars are done when the edges are toasty and brown. Mmm. Crunchy.
- Leave the bars in the pan until they cool completely, about an hour, then slice them into 12 bars.
Serves 4 as a side
TOTAL COST: $1.30/SERVING
• 2 small field cucumbers or 1 English cucumber
• 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• 4 slices day-old bread
• Chopped fresh herbs
• Chopped peaches, nectarines, or plums
• Finely chopped red onion
• Chopped zucchini or summer squash
• Pitted olives
- If you’re using field cucumbers—usually cheaper than English—peel them to remove the tough skin. (A little leftover peel is not a problem.) For English cucumbers, there’s no need to peel.
- Reserve about 2 tablespoons of the chopped tomatoes to use in the dressing, but throw the rest of the tomatoes and all of the cucumbers into a large bowl. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper; the salt helps draw out the juices. Toss the vegetables and set aside.
- Place a small saucepan over medium heat and add a few drops of olive oil. Add the jalapeño and sauté until it sizzles and smells good, about a minute, then add the rest of the chopped tomato and a tablespoon of water. Cook until the tomato juices release, another 2 minutes. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
- Once the water has evaporated, turn off the heat and dump the jalapeño-tomato mixture on your cutting board. Chop it up very finely, then throw it back into the pan—with the heat off—with the lime juice and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir to combine, taste, and add salt and pepper as needed. You’ve got dressing!
- Chop or tear the bread into bite-size pieces, then toast it in a skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until the bread chunks are toasty on all sides. Alternatively, just toast full slices of bread in a toaster and tear them up afterward, or skip the toasting if the bread is already super-hard.
- Add the bread and dressing to the vegetables and stir to combine. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper once more. Let the salad sit for a few minutes so that the bread can soak up the juices, then serve!
Peanut Chicken and Broccoli with Coconut Rice
• 1½ cups long-grain rice
• 1 can (13.5 oz.) coconut milk
• ½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
• 1½ pounds chicken (any part), chopped into bite-size pieces or use 10 ounces tofu, cut into cubes and marinated in ¼ cup soy sauce, instead of chicken
• Pepper, to taste
• 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
• 6 cups chopped broccoli, stems, and florets separated (about 1 large bunch)
• ½ cup Peanut Sauce
• Chopped fresh cilantro
- Rinse the rice. Add it, along with the coconut milk, salt, and 1½ cups water, to a pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low. Let the rice simmer, covered, with the lid askew, until the liquid is gone, about 20 minutes. If the rice is done before the stir-fry, remove it from the heat, fluff it a bit with a fork so it doesn’t stick to the pot, and cover to keep it warm.
- While the rice cooks, sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Place a large pan or wok over medium-high heat and add 1 teaspoon of the vegetable oil. Let it get hot and add the broccoli stems. Cook, stirring occasionally, to soften the stems, about 3 minutes. Add the tops of the broccoli and ¼ cup of water and cover the pan. It will steam and sizzle a lot, so watch out! Let the broccoli cook until the water evaporates, about 3 more minutes. Test a piece of broccoli with a fork. It should be just barely tender, but not soft. Turn off the heat and remove the broccoli from the pan.
- Add the remaining teaspoon of oil to the pan and put it back over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add another ¼ cup water and stir occasionally until the chicken is cooked all the way through, another 2 minutes.
- Add the peanut sauce and stir to coat the chicken. Don’t worry if the sauce seems too thick at first. It will blend with the water to become a glaze.
- Once the chicken is coated with sauce, put the broccoli back into the pan and stir it all together. Taste and add salt as needed.
- Scoop the coconut rice onto plates and top with the broccoli, chicken, and cilantro.
• 1 jalapeño pepper or another chile (remove seeds for less heat), or 2 tablespoons chili paste
• 3 cloves garlic
• 1 shallot or small onion
• 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
• ½ to 1 cup coconut milk
• ½ cup sugar-free peanut butter
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
• 1 tablespoon brown sugar
• ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- Finely chop the jalapeño, garlic, and shallot, or use a food processor to make them into a paste. (If you’re using chili paste instead of a fresh pepper, add it in Step 2.)
- Add the oil to a saucepan over medium heat. Once it’s warm, sauté the pepper and garlic until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the ½ cup of coconut milk, turmeric, and chile paste, if using.
- Let everything come to a boil, then turn the heat down to low. Stir in the peanut butter, soy sauce, and brown sugar and sesame oil, if using. If the sauce is too thick, add more coconut milk to thin it out. Once the mixture is well combined, taste it and add whatever you think it needs, concentrating on the salt and spices in particular.
TOTAL COST: $0.50/SERVING
• 1 cup chopped frozen melon
• ½ cup water or juice
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- When you buy a melon, dice and freeze whatever you don’t eat. Pull it out a cup at a time and blend it with a bit of water or juice and vanilla to thin it out. It’s like a slushy, but better!
*Recipes courtesy of Leanne Brown, author of “Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day.”