Rambling Over Coffee: Those peanut butter rice krispy bars from elementary school

This morning I was sipping my hot coffee and checking emails when I suddenly remembered, for no reason whatsoever really, the peanut butter krispy treats one of my elementary schools used to serve.

As a child my mother would attempt to make krispy treats, but she always made them rock hard.  (It was that she 'cooked' the marshmallows instead of just melting them.  She still does it to this day, decades later, even though she's been shown numerous times how to make them and even simply use the microwave to melt them... she still overcooks them.)  So I grew up eating regular (albeit hard) rice krispy treats but it was when I started a new school that I discovered something different.

Peanut butter krispy treats.

We moved to a new city when I started first grade.  A new city, a new school, a new school lunch program with different menu ideas.

I recall the sliced bread and butter we got with lunch in that school;  they didn't spread butter on the slices.  The bread was all drizzled with melted, real butter and served from a large tray.

On days we were served chicken noodle soup it always came with the option of a cheese sandwich.  I had never had American cheese before and I remember how I loved (loved loved loved) those cheese sandwiches with thick American cheese between the bread.  I would smoosh it and rip off small pieces and put them into my soup, scooping them out in spoonfuls.

Another item they served that I had never had before was batter fried fish.  I loved it!  A far cry from the fish sticks I had known at home.

But then, one day, I bit into what I thought was a rice krispy bar and found it was new and different.  It was peanut butter flavored!

And to this day that is a memory that I still have; those peanut butter krispy treats from Holy Family Catholic School.  Nothing I'd had before, nothing my mother had ever made and not an item any other school after that served, as they only served the regular marshmallow version. 

I only attended that 'peanut butter krispy treat' school for 1 1/2 years before we relocated again.  But my next school?  Even better!  It was a small Catholic school that literally was KNOWN for it's awesome foods.  When I met my husband later on in life, he was from a town about 20 miles away and he said our school lunches were even known in HIS school...  everyone in surrounding towns knew about how good our school lunches were.

They even added a 'school lunch' recipe section in our church cookbook because they were always getting asked for their recipes.

Their pizza burgers.  The schools homemade pizza. The hamburger gravy on mashed potatoes.

All their foods were homemade by an older woman who was 'head cook' and back then not only did the government not meddle in school foods as much, but it was a private, Catholic school, not funded by the government so they had free reign on what they served.  And we had amazing foods.

A quick version is made by simply adapting the traditional Kellogg's Rice Krispie Bars with peanut butter - and it will do just fine - but it's not the recipe my old school lunch ladies made.

This one comes from source:  https://www.ricekrispies.com/en_US/recipes/peanut-butter-treats-recipe.html

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 package (10 oz., about 40) JET-PUFFED Marshmallows
or 4 cups JET-PUFFED Miniature Marshmallows
1/2 cup peanut butter
6 cups Kellogg's® Rice Krispies® cereal
In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter until melted.

Add KELLOGG'S RICE KRISPIES cereal. Stir until well coated.

Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. Best if served the same day.
In microwave-safe bowl heat butter and marshmallows on HIGH for 3 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes. Stir until smooth. Add peanut butter, stirring until combined. Follow steps 2 and 3 above. Microwave cooking times may vary.


For best results, use fresh marshmallows.
1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow crème can be substituted for marshmallows.
Diet, reduced calorie or tub margarine is not recommended.
Store no more than two days at room temperature in airtight container. To freeze, place in layers separated by wax paper in airtight container. Freeze for up to 6 weeks. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

A version more like the style of peanut butter krispy bars served in school lunch rooms all across America were made with corn syrup, not marshmallows.  Still fairly simple, I used a version of this recipe to make 'kids cookies' for my kids when they were little (before we gave up sugar in 2003).  You can replace the Rice Krispies with corn flakes, or a mixture of cereals like Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, Cheerios and Rice Chex's.  I used to 'use up' the last of the breakfast cereals to make these as no one ever wants to use that last 1/2 cup of cereal in the bag.  I'd just grab enough cereals to make about 6 cups worth and make these bars.

These are not the exact ones my school used to serve but they are good... and good enough.

Peanut Butter Krispy Treats

1 c sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup peanut butter
6 c Rice Krispies
1 1/2 c chocolate chips
1/2 c butterscotch chips

Heat sugar and syrup to a slow boil, remove from heat and stir in peanut butter. Pour over the cereal in a bowl and mix quickly and well.  Press into a greased/sprayed jelly roll pan (the larger pan gives a nice sized bar but you can use a 9X13 and the bars will be a bit thicker).  Set aside while you melt chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in a bowl in the microwave, stirring often.  You can add another tablespoon of peanut butter to the 'frosting' as well if you wish.  Spread over the bars and let harden.  Yes, you can speed the process by putting them in the refrigerator.

It's just the coffee talking again.......


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