Peanut Butter Bars from a Shenandoah Valley Farm

Just a few miles off busy Interstate 81 in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia is stretch of quiet and peaceful rural farmland. Interstate 81 is the main highway and corridor that takes hundreds of travelers between the northern and southern states in the Eastern part of this country. We took a side trip off the interstate to a country store deep in the heart of Old Order Mennonite farmland near Dayton, Virginia. It is a different lifestyle.

Our destination was Rocky Cedars Country Store and we were searching for shape note hymnals used by the Mennonite community. Our path took us down gravel country roads and past Old Order Mennonite farms. These families still travel by horse and buggy.

After several wrong turns, we found the country store with clothing, fabric and supplies used by area farmers. We purchased a few of the hymnals. I couldn’t help to notice several shelves containing a collection of cookbooks written by Mennonite farmers.

Old Order Mennonite Cookbook

Of course I cannot pass up a good cookbook. And the ones written by Mennonite farmers represent generations of family recipes, including many prized ones. I purchased one with the recommendations of the shop’s owner. It is “Mennonite Country-Style Recipes” written by Esther H. Shank, a Mennonite farmer and housewife. She wrote the cookbook for her daughters because she realized that her daughters were growing up and leaving home without the wealth of knowledge of farm cooking and recipes. Esther wanted to pass these treasured recipes along.

Peanut Butter Bars

I asked the store’s owner to list a few of her favorite recipes in the cookbook. She immediately mentioned “Peanut Butter Bars.”  I made the recipe and concur, this is a scrumptious bar dessert. It contains quick cooking oatmeal and peanut butter in the bar cookies. It’s healthy, too!

The icing is a combination of peanut butter and chocolate chips. I love this combination of flavors. After the bars are baked, chocolate chips are spread on top of the hot peanut butter bars.

Then spoons of peanut butter icing are added and swirl on. (Work quickly, as the bars tend to break up with too much spreading.)

Making the Recipe

The recipe easy to make, here are the ingredients.

I used an electric mixer to mix up the blend of ingredients for the bars.

After baking for 20-25 minutes the bars are done. Spread on the chocolate chips and icing and they are ready to eat.   

These Peanut Butter Bars are sure to become a family favorite. And the cookbook has many interesting recipes; I look forward to trying other ones in the future.

A Step Back in Time and a Note about Country Roads

Stepping off the busy interstate to this part of the rural Shenandoah Valley feels like traversing back in time to a simpler and quieter way of life. You never know where country roads may lead. We had a great time exploring on a sunny and breezy May day. .

As a note of trivia, Daniel Boone’s family, who were Quakers, moved from Pennsylvania to North Carolina when Daniel Boone was 19 years-of-age. The family stopped for a year or two in the Shenandoah Valley to farm and Daniel met his future wife here. This is the view, in the distance, of the general area of where the Boone family homesteaded!


Peanut Butter Bars

  • Servings: 24 bars
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Recipe by Ruth Ann Horst

Ingredients for bars:

  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup quick oatmeal
  • 2 Tbsp milk

Ingredients for icing:

  • 3/4 to 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp milk

Instructions and Steps for bars:

  1. Cream margarine, sugar and brown sugar together thoroughly.
  2. Beat in egg, vanilla, peanut butter, baking soda and salt.
  3. Stir in flour, quick oatmeal and milk.
  4. Spread in greased (but not floured) 9 x 13″ pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

Instructions and Steps for icing and finishing bars:

  1. Sprinkle chocolate chips over hot bars immediately after removing from oven to melt.
  2. Combine powdered sugar, peanut butter and milk thoroughly, then spread over hot bars, blending into melted chocolate as you spread.
  3. Cut bars when cool.

Mennonite Country-Style Recipes & Kitchen Secrets by Esther H. Shank. © 1987 by Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Va. Used with permission.

Read More & Purchase the cookbook at


1 thought on “Peanut Butter Bars from a Shenandoah Valley Farm

  1. Really neat, Maylee. I love your comments and photos. One weekend I’ll have to try my hand at the recipe.

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