Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Penzey's Spices

Forgive me for not mentioning previously on this blog the funnest (yes, I said funnest) spice store you will ever go to in your life. We had a Penzeys Spices within walking distance of our house when we lived in Columbus, but I had not yet discovered the wonder of this place and therefore never went! Only when I moved to the DC area and had to venture 30 minutes closer to the city did I find out how cool it is... and it is cool.

Penzeys has every imaginable spice you could want and in different varieties, mind you. Did you know there are at least 4 different kinds of cinnamon? And if you like curry, you are in for a treat. Just walking around and smelling the different nuances between the curry powders is almost as good as cooking with them... In various spots around the store you will find recipe cards to help you use their products to their greatest potential., and the staff that work there are always friendly and have awesome ideas! Personally, my latest favorite thing at Penzeys is Vanilla Sugar (so so so good when you're caramelizing nuts for a salad), and I know Jeremy really appreciates that they carry many hard-to-find baking supplies like Dutch-processed cocoa and real quality vanilla.

I know it probably sounds like they paid me to do a commercial for them, but I promise they didn't... I just like supporting good quality, small business places that cater to crazy foodies like me, and I don't think many people know about this terrific place. A while ago they were handing out a free bumper sticker that totally sums up my feelings about food: "Love People. Cook them tasty food." Couldn't have said it better myself! Now if Jeremy would just let me put bumper stickers on my car...

HERE is the link to a list of Penzeys stores by state, and HERE is the link to get their free catalog. It lists all of their products, but also contains tons of great recipes and always has a coupon for a free spice on the front! Over the next few days, I will post some of my favorite recipes that I've gotten from Penzeys and you can try them for yourself... For now, here's one of my favorites below: Peanut Butter Bars :)


Penzeys Peanut Butter Bars

So fast and easy, yet always a crowd-pleaser... and literally straight out of the catalog!

Penzeys Peanut Butter Bars
1/3 box of graham crackers, crushed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (preferably CHINA Cinnamon from Penzeys :o)
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups peanut butter, creamy or chunky
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 12-oz. bag chocolate chips

Crush the graham crackers into fine crumbs (1/3 of a box is usually one cellophane-wrapped package). Mix in the cinnamon and set aside. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and peanut butter; mix well. Add the powdered sugar and graham crackers. Stir until well-combined; it will be a stiff dough. Pat the mixture into an ungreased 9x13 pan (I do a thin layer on a large cookie sheet with high sides). Melt the chocolate chips on very low heat in a heavy saucepan, or spread evenly in a glass pie plate and microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each 30 seconds, until melted. Spread the melted chocolate over the peanut butter layer. Refrigerate for 1 hour before cutting.