The Peanut Butter Lunch Box

Continuing on with the series of no-cook lunch boxes, I bring you The Peanut Butter Lunch Box! This one is so simple, yet I may have enjoyed this one the most out of all the lunch boxes I’ve prepared so far. I don’t know if it was the sweet-salty combo, or maybe it was just […]

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Continuing on with the series of no-cook lunch boxes, I bring you The Peanut Butter Lunch Box! This one is so simple, yet I may have enjoyed this one the most out of all the lunch boxes I’ve prepared so far. I don’t know if it was the sweet-salty combo, or maybe it was just nostalgia (for about two years straight in elementary school I ate peanut butter apple sandwiches for lunch), but every day I looked forward to this lunch box! So, if you’re a fan of peanut butter sandwiches, but want to change things up, give this peanut butter lunch box a try!

Three glass containers lined up with peanut butter apples, celery, pretzels and dates.

What’s in the Peanut Butter Lunch Box

Peanut butter is the focus of this lunch box, with both sweet and savory side items that are all delicious dipped into the creamy peanut butter. For my peanut butter lunch box I added pretzels, apple slices, celery, and dates. If you can’t eat peanut butter, this lunch box would be just as good with any other nut butter you prefer (almond, cashew, sunflower, etc.).

About Those Dates…

If you’ve never eaten dates with peanut butter before, prepare for your mind to be blown! Medjool dates are rich, sweet, sticky, and taste a little bit like caramel, so it tastes like you’re eating caramel with peanut butter! It’s the perfectly rich and sweet natural dessert.

You’ll find Medjool dates in the produce department of most major grocery stores (scroll down to the photos below the recipe card to see what type of container they come in). They usually have a small pit inside, but they are easily pulled open with your fingers, and then you can simply remove the pit before smearing that creamy peanut butter all over the date.

How to Keep the Apple Slices Fresh

As most people know, apples begin to brown after they are sliced in response to exposure to oxygen. This brown color is a simple chemical reaction and does not indicate that the apple has gone “bad.” To help slow the browning, keep the apple slices bunched closely together to reduce the exposure to oxygen on the cut surfaces (see photos). You can also sprinkle a little lemon juice over your apple slices to further slow the browning, if you prefer. Even without lemon juice, my apple slices only browned a very small amount over four days in the refrigerator.

What Containers Do You Use?

For this lunch box I used a set of divided glass containers that I purchased on Amazon (linked below in the bottom of the recipe card). The dividers don’t go all the way up to the lid, so they don’t keep liquid items separate, but for solids or super thick stuff like peanut butter, it works just fine. 

A single peanut butter lunch box with peanut butter on a Medjool date and a pretzel dipping into the peanut butter

 
Three glass containers of the peanut butter lunch box lined up in a row

The Peanut Butter Lunch Box

This peanut butter lunch box is an easy no-cook lunch idea for school, work, picnics, or road trips! No reheating needed!
Total Cost $4.57 recipe / $1.14 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 572.68kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup peanut butter* $1.49
  • 60 mini pretzels $0.26
  • 2 apples $0.78
  • 8 Medjool dates $1.33
  • 4 ribs celery $0.70
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (optional) $0.01

Instructions

  • Wash and slice the celery into sticks. Slice each apple in half, remove the core, then cut into slices. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the apple slices to slow browning, if desired.
  • Add 3 tablespoons of peanut butter to each container. Add about 15 pretzels to each container, along with ½ an apple, some celery sticks, and two dates. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate up to five days.

Notes

I used natural style peanut butter, but you can use whichever type you prefer, or another type of nut butter.

Nutrition

Serving: 1lunch box | Calories: 572.68kcal | Carbohydrates: 80.15g | Protein: 14.53g | Fat: 25.65g | Sodium: 517.13mg | Fiber: 9.93g

The Peanut Butter Lunch Box – Extra Notes

Cored and sliced apples

I used Granny Smith Apples for this lunch box, but you can use any variety of apples you like. I included ½ an apple with each box. Slice the apples in half, then remove the core (I used a sharp measuring spoon, but you could use something like a melon baller as well). Slice each apple half into slices. Keeping the slices close together prevents oxygen exposure, which will slow the browning. You can also sprinkle a little lemon juice over the slices to further help slow the browning.

Medjool date container

Medjool dates are usually sold in a container like this, but sometimes I see them sold loose by the pound, which is really nice when you only need a few! I see them at just about every grocery store now, so they are widely available. You’ll find them in the produce department, usually not refrigerated.

Open Medjool date

To eat the dates, simply pull them open with your hands. They are soft and sticky, so they pull open very easily. You’ll find a small pit in the center (you can see the pit on the left side). Remove the pit.

Date half with peanut butter

Smear a little peanut butter on each half of the date and enjoy! This combo is super rich and sweet, so you’ll only need one or two! Enjoy!

Three peanut butter lunch boxes in glass containers

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Easy Homemade Pretzel Bites

Easy Homemade Pretzel Bites

Pretzels are one of my favorite breads and they’re easier to make than you might think – especially if you opt to make Easy Homemade Pretzel Bites instead of full sized pretzels in the first plate. Pretzel bites are something that you’ll see on the menus of gastropubs: one or two bite …

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Easy Homemade Pretzel Bites

Pretzels are one of my favorite breads and they’re easier to make than you might think – especially if you opt to make Easy Homemade Pretzel Bites instead of full sized pretzels in the first plate. Pretzel bites are something that you’ll see on the menus of gastropubs: one or two bite pretzels served with a dipping sauce or three. They’re easy to make because they only require minimal dough handing. This means that even if you’re not an expert baker, you can easily whip up this salty snack at home!

The recipe starts with a fresh batch of homemade yeast dough. Pretzel dough is relatively plain and has only a few simple ingredients. This means that the dough is very straightforward and easy to make, even if you’re not that experienced with yeast bread. If you happen to have refrigerated pizza dough on hand, you can actually use that in this recipe, too. Once the dough has been mixed together, set it aside to rise for about an hour before shaping the dough.

When it comes to shaping this dough, it couldn’t get any simpler: cut the dough into equal pieces and roll the balls between the palms of your hands to smooth them out. The recipe makes pretzel bites that are about 2-3 bites (depending on how big your mouth is!) per piece, so the balls of dough are large enough to be easy to work with as you shape them. Once they’re rolled out, they only need a few more minutes to rest until you’re ready to cook them.

Cooking pretzels is a two step process. First, the balls of dough are dunked in hot water that has a generous amount of baking soda in it. This brief bath sets the outside of the pretzel balls, ensuring that they will have a thick and chewy crust after baking. They aren’t actually cooked in the hot water mixture, just left in there long enough to set that crust before they go into the oven. Sprinkle the balls generously with salt (if you, like me, enjoy salted pretzels) while they are still wet and before they go into the oven. Pretzel salt is a specialty salt used for pretzels that is particularly coarse and doesn’t melt away while the pretzels bake. Coarse or sea salt can be substituted if you don’t have traditional pretzel salt.

Bake the bites until they are golden, then serve them up while they are still warm. My favorite pretzel dip is whole grain mustard, but there are all kinds of spicy sauces and cheese dips that also make wonderful accompaniments. These are best on the day they are made, but leftovers can be stored until the next day. If you opt to make your bites smaller than mine, reduce the baking time by a couple of minutes.

Easy Homemade Pretzel Bites

Easy Homemade Pretzel Bites
3/4 cup water, warm (100-110F)
2 1/2 tsp (1 envelope) active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 tsp salt

Topping
2 cups water
2 tablespoons baking soda
pretzel salt or coarse salt

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the water with the yeast and sugar. Stir and allow to stand for 5 minutes, until mixture is foamy.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast mixture with remaining water, flour, vegetable oil and salt. Mix with a paddle attachment until dough comes together and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. If the dough seems very wet, add in an additional tablespoon of flour. Turn mixer up to medium and beat for 1-2 minutes. (This can be done by hand with a wooden spoon and a little bit of elbow grease). Dough should be elastic and spring back when touched.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 60 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Cut dough in half and shape each half into a rough log. Cut each log of dough into 10 equal pieces. Roll dough balls between your hands to give them a round shape. Set aside for 15 minutes, covered with a clean dish towel.
In a large skillet, combine 2 cups water with baking soda and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and place the dough balls
In a skillet or saucepan, combine 2 cups water with the baking soda and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and place the dough balls into the water in small batches (4-6 at a time).
Cook for about 30 seconds, turning once, then remove from the water with a slotted spoon and arrange balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with pretzel salt while still wet.
Bake pretzel bites for 16-19 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Makes 20 pretzel bites.

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Rolo Pretzels

You only need 3 ingredients and a few minutes to make these delicious Rolo Pretzels, a favorite sweet and salty holiday treat! Rolo Pretzels If you are looking for an EASY treat, you are in the right place because these Rolo Pretzels are beyond easy! I…

You only need 3 ingredients and a few minutes to make these delicious Rolo Pretzels, a favorite sweet and salty holiday treat! Rolo Pretzels If you are looking for an EASY treat, you are in the right place because these Rolo Pretzels are beyond easy! I think the hardest part is unwrapping all of the…

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Salted Pretzel S’mores Crunch Bars.

Your weekend called! They asked for s’mores bars. It’s Friday eve and if you know me, you know that I love a Thursday. The anticipation of the weekend is so real. And we get to experience it weekly! Make a treat because it’s time to celebrate. S’mores are not just a summer thing for me. […]

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Your weekend called! They asked for s’mores bars.

These indulgent s'mores bars are crispy and crunchy and studded with salted pretzels! Toasted marshmallow and dark chocolate make these the best treat ever!

It’s Friday eve and if you know me, you know that I love a Thursday. The anticipation of the weekend is so real. And we get to experience it weekly!

Make a treat because it’s time to celebrate.

chocolate and marshmallow

S’mores are not just a summer thing for me. Heck, I will make one over the grill in January! I love how they carry into fall (hello bonfires) and the chillier months too. However! They tend to get so much more love in summer… and we should put an end to that.

salted rice krispie chocolate bars

So here we are with one month of summer left and I need all things s’mores. These bars are a cross between rice krispie treats and fudge. They sort of remind me of the rice krispie topping on the most popular brownies EVER or these nutella crunch brownies. They are chewy and gooey like rice krispie treats because the chocolate holds everything together. But they are crunchy and dense and super rich and delicious. 

And filled with SALTED PRETZELS!!

These indulgent s'mores bars are crispy and crunchy and studded with salted pretzels! Toasted marshmallow and dark chocolate make these the best treat ever!

I couldn’t care less about pretzels. At least, most of the time. My kids are both obsessed with pretzels. Like, beg for pretzels every single day obsessed. It’s crazy to me! 

Sure, I like pretzels on or in certain things, but just plain pretzels? They don’t do it for me.

That means that I have tons of pretzels around all the time and that I’m not tempted by my kids’ snacks. However, it also means I can steal said pretzels intended for their snacks and throw them in s’mores bars to make a crazy delicious dessert.

These indulgent s'mores bars are crispy and crunchy and studded with salted pretzels! Toasted marshmallow and dark chocolate make these the best treat ever!

These are dangerous. Oooooh!

These indulgent s'mores bars are crispy and crunchy and studded with salted pretzels! Toasted marshmallow and dark chocolate make these the best treat ever!

These bars are crunchy, chocolatey and marshmallowy. I LIVE for them.

Oh oh and they are basically no-bake bars!

Here’s how I did the marshmallow layer to toast the top: refrigerate the bars for a hot minute and then once they are cold, top with alllll the mini marshmallows. Set the pan under the broiler for 1 to 2 more (hot?) minutes and allow the marshmallows to get all bubbly and brown. This toasts and slightly melts the marshmallows without melting the chocolate from the bars. It’s awesome.

These indulgent s'mores bars are crispy and crunchy and studded with salted pretzels! Toasted marshmallow and dark chocolate make these the best treat ever!

Seriously just LOOK at that crunchy center!

These indulgent s'mores bars are crispy and crunchy and studded with salted pretzels! Toasted marshmallow and dark chocolate make these the best treat ever!

S’mores Bars

Salted Pretzel S’mores Bars

These indulgent s’mores bars are crispy and crunchy and studded with salted pretzels! Toasted marshmallow and dark chocolate make these the best treat ever!

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 10 ounces mini marshmallows
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate, (finely chopped)
  • 4 ounces milk chocolate, (finely chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups crisped rice cereal
  • 1 ½ cups salted mini pretzel twists, (some crushed, some not)
  • 6 ounces mini marshmallows
  1. Line an 8×8 inch baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. Place the butter and marshmallows in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each, until the butter and marshmallows are melted and smooth. Stir in the chocolate until smooth. If necessary, you can microwave one more time, but you don’t want the chocolate to seize, so try to stir for a few minutes until it melts. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  3. Fold the cereal and pretzels in with a large spatula. This will take a few minutes because it’s super sticky and you don’t want to totally crush all the cereal. Make sure it’s all coated evenly. Press the mixture in the lined baking dish and even out the top with a spatula. Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.
  4. Remove the bars from the fridge and immediately cover the top with mini marshmallows. Heat the broiler in your over to high. Set the bars under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes, watching the entire time, until they are golden and bubbly. Remove the dish from the oven. Use a sharp knife to cut the bars into squares. Some of the marshmallow might be gooey but slowly and gently slice through it. Serve the bars immediately!

slightly adapted from good housekeeping autumn magazine

These indulgent s'mores bars are crispy and crunchy and studded with salted pretzels! Toasted marshmallow and dark chocolate make these the best treat ever!

These bars are my life coach.

The post Salted Pretzel S’mores Crunch Bars. appeared first on How Sweet Eats.

August Bake-Along: Homemade Soft Pretzels

These homemade soft pretzels are so easy to make! Use the dough for large pretzels, smaller pretzels, or even soft pretzel bites – absolutely delicious.

The post August Bake-Along: Homemade Soft Pretzels appeared first on Brown Eyed Baker.

These homemade soft pretzels are the best of the best – a chewy exterior with an incredibly soft inside that just melts in your mouth. Such a fun snack to make with kids – bake up huge pretzels, regular-size, pretzel bites, or even make pretzel dogs with this dough. Perfect for afternoon snacks, movie nights, game days, or “just because”.

Soft pretzels on a plate with dipping mustard in the background.

Welcome to the August Bake-Along! I’m excited to bake with you this month; I picked a recipe that might get us ready for football season and fall festivities :)

I am a bona fide soft pretzel addict. Whether I’m at the mall, at a sporting event, or at a restaurant that’s offering Oktoberfest specials, there’s absolutely no question that I’m going to get a soft pretzel.

There’s something so satisfying about that distinctive chewy exterior paired with the warm, soft interior of a pretzel that makes them irresistible. It’s a snack food that transcends seasons – whether you’re enjoying a baseball game on a warm summer evening, partaking in Oktoberfest festivities during the fall, catching a hockey game in the dead of winter, or strolling the mall any time of year, soft pretzels are where it’s at.

Four soft pretzels out of the oven on a baking sheet.

This is my third iteration of a soft pretzel recipe… my first attempt was over twelve years ago(!)… then I moved on to another recipe a few months later, and then finally settled on this fabulous version about eight years ago, and it’s the only one I’ve been making since. I’ve found that this recipe produces the softest, chewiest, most “traditional” tasting soft pretzels that I’ve made to date.

Let’s talk about how to make them!

Side by side photos of yeast and ingredients for dough in a mixing bowl.

 

Homemade Soft Pretzels: Step by Step

It might not seem like it at first glance, but homemade soft pretzels are a relatively easy process and don’t take very long as far as kitchen projects go. You’ll be rewarded with some of the most AMAZING pretzels! Here we go…

  1. Combine water, sugar and salt, then add yeast – Once this mixture is combined, we’ll let it sit for a few minutes until it “blooms” (i.e. the yeast starts to wake up and get foamy).
  2. Add flour and butter – This is all you need to make the dough and it can be mixed together by hand with a spoon or using a stand mixer and dough hook.
  3. Knead until smooth – Whichever method you use, the dough should be kneaded until soft and just slightly tacky.
  4. Let dough rise – Cover the bowl and place in a warm, draft-free spot until dough is doubled in size; usually 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. Prepare the baking soda bath – Combine water and baking sode in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  6. Shape the pretzels – See the photos below and the video for step-by-step shaping details. It goes quickly once you get the hang of it if you’ve never done it before!
  7. Dip the pretzels in baking soda bath – Very important! They only need to be in the water bath for about 30 seconds, otherwise, they will take on too much of the baking soda taste. A quick dip, then remove with a slotted spatula.
  8. Brush and sprinkle – Brush the pretzels with an egg wash (or melted butter if you want more of a buttery flavor) and sprinkle with salt or whatever other topping you might like.
  9. Bake! – Less than 15 minutes in the oven, or until golden brown (or however done you prefer your pretzels!), let them cool for a few minutes, then dig in!

Side by side photos of shaggy dough and a smooth ball of dough.

Ball of dough in a bowl before and after rising.

Step by step photos of how to shape soft pretzels.

Recipe Notes for Soft Pretzels

A few quick tips to help you make some ah-mazing pretzels!

  • Both instant and active dry yeasts can be used in this recipe; I still like to let the yeast sit with the water, sugar, and salt even if using instant.
  • The dough can be made using a mixer or by hand, I have done both successfully.
  • This recipe makes eight large pretzels; if you want slightly smaller pretzels, you can easily divide the dough into 12 portions instead. Check for doneness a couple of minutes early.
  • The egg wash on the pretzels gives them a little shine and I find it softens the exterior a bit. For a more traditional taste, omit the egg wash and just use salt when the pretzels come out of the water bath. For more of an Auntie Anne’s buttery flavor, brush the pretzels with melted butter when they come out of the water bath and again when they come out of the oven.
  • These pretzels can be frozen after baked and cooled; wrap well in plastic wrap and place in a resealable freezer bag. To reheat, place in a 350-degree oven or toaster oven for about 15 minutes, or heated through. Alternately, you can also microwave from frozen until heated through.
  • I have used this recipe to make pretzel bites, as well (directions here, along with a spicy dipping sauce).

Soft pretzels on a baking sheet, shaped.

Shaped pretzels on a baking sheet, after water bath, before baking.

You don’t have to be an expert at baking with yeast to turn out some fantastic soft pretzels. Before long, you’ll be twisting and shaping dough like a pro. If you’ve been nervous about working with yeast in the past, this recipe is a fabulous place to start, as it’s basic, easy and incredibly forgiving.

Once you have this basic recipe down, you can use it to make all sorts of adaptations: cinnamon-sugar pretzels, cheddar-jalapeno pretzels, pizza pretzels… there are so many flavor options!

Soft pretzels on wax paper with dipping mustard in the background.

JOIN THE BEB BAKE-ALONG!

To tackle soft pretzels and bake along with me this month, simply do the following:

  • Make the soft pretzels!
  • Snap a picture and either share it on social media (#BEBbakealong on Instagram or Twitter), upload it to the BEB Facebook group, or email it to me.
  • Check in on Instagram and Facebook throughout the month to see everyone’s soft pretzels!

Past Bake-Along Recipes:

A piece of soft pretzel being dipped into mustard.

Four years ago: Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Refrigerator Pickles
Five years ago: Pretzel, Peanut Butter & Chocolate Malted Milkshake
Six years ago: Apricot Cream Cheese Babka
Eight years ago: Double Chocolate Loaf with Peanut Butter-Cream Cheese Spread
Nine years ago: Salted Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Watch How to Make Homemade Soft Pretzels:

Soft Pretzels

My favorite recipe for classic soft pretzels. Perfect plain or dipped in your favorite mustard sauce!

For the Pretzel Dough

  • 1½ cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2¼ teaspoons active dry or instant yeast (1 packet)
  • 4½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)

For the Baking Soda Water Bath

  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda

For the Egg Wash

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon water

For Topping

  • Coarse salt (for sprinkling)

Make the Pretzel Dough

  1. Combine the water, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl until the sugar and salt have dissolved, then sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, until the mixture begins to foam.

  2. Add the flour and butter. Use the dough hook attachment to mix on low speed until all of the ingredients are combined. Increase the mixer speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 4 to 5 minutes. (Alternately, you can mix the dough with a wooden spoon until it comes together, then need by hand for 5 to 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and just slightly tacky.)

  3. Place the dough in a clean, oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

  4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats; set aside.

  5. Combine the water and baking soda in a large, wide pot (a Dutch oven works perfectly for this). Bring the mixture to a boil.

  6. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other twice and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the prepared baking sheets.

  7. Gently lower the pretzels into the boiling water, 2 at a time, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large, flat spatula. Place the boiled pretzels back on the baking sheet, brush the top of each pretzel with the egg wash or melted butter (see notes) and sprinkle with coarse salt.

  8. Bake until dark golden brown, about 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving. Soft pretzels are best eaten fresh, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

  • Both instant and active dry yeasts can be used in this recipe; I still like to let the yeast sit with the water, sugar, and salt even if using instant.
  • The dough can be made using a mixer or by hand, I have done both successfully.
  • This recipe makes eight large pretzels; if you want slightly smaller pretzels, you can easily divide the dough into 12 portions instead. Check for doneness a couple of minutes early.
  • The egg wash on the pretzels gives them a little shine and I find it softens the exterior a bit. For a more traditional taste, omit the egg wash and just use salt when the pretzels come out of the water bath. For more of an Auntie Anne’s buttery flavor, brush the pretzels with melted butter when they come out of the water bath and again when they come out of the oven.
  • These pretzels can be frozen after baked and cooled; wrap well in plastic wrap and place in a resealable freezer bag. To reheat, place in a 350-degree oven or toaster oven for about 15 minutes, or heated through. Alternately, you can also microwave from frozen until heated through.
  • I have used this recipe to make pretzel bites, as well (directions here, along with a spicy dipping sauce).

Nutritional values are based on one serving

(Recipe adapted from Alton Brown)

Update Notes: This recipe was originally published in January 2013; updated in August 2019 with a couple of tweaks, new photos and a video.

The post August Bake-Along: Homemade Soft Pretzels appeared first on Brown Eyed Baker.