A peanut butter sandwich might hold the key to a Carmel boy’s educational future. It’s not just any peanut butter sandwich, however, and it’s not just any kid. Micah Shamlian, a home-schooled 9 year old, is in the running for the Jif Peanut Butter Most Creative Sandwich Contest, a nationwide competition for a $25,000 scholarship for the first place winner.

Micah’s recipe for the “Banana Dog” — a banana topped with a peanut butter sauce, strawberry preserves and peanut butter chips, served on a hot dog bun — is one of 10 finalists for the big prize. Online voting is open until Feb. 1, at which point five finalists will be flown to New York City in March to find out who won the big prize. The remaining four finalists will each receive a $2,500 scholarship.

“My Grammy told my Mom about it, and then she talked to us at the table about it,” said Micah, who said his favorite foods, besides peanut butter, include Chinese food and casseroles. “I thought of some ideas like a hot dog with peanut butter, but instead of a hot dog I thought of a banana.”

According to Micah’s mother, Wendy Smith, her son is always trying to experiment in the kitchen.

“This past Sunday for lunch he made a broccoli slaw, and the recipe called for apple cider vinegar, but he suggested red wine vinegar because he thought it would taste better,” she said. “And you know, it really did taste good.”

Micah’s sisters Noelle, 11, and Denali, 12, also entered the contest, so the family is clearly very food-inclined — according to Mom, they keep chickens for fresh eggs and grow a garden in the summer. Micah said he is excited about the prospect of winning a college fund, and might be putting his cooking skills to good use in the future.

“I’d like to be a chef when I grow up,” he said. “Or a zookeeper.”

Banana Dog

Serves 1

1 hoagie or hot dog bun

¼ cup Jif Creamy Peanut Butter

2 tablespoons strawberry preserves

Diced fresh or defrosted strawberries

1 banana

¼ cup peanut butter baking chips

Prepare a double boiler with water on the bottom. Turn the heat on low to medium-low. In the top pan, place ¼ cup of Jif Creamy Peanut Butter and ¼ cup peanut butter baking chips. Check and stir until melted.

For each sandwich: Take a hoagie bun. With a knife, slice down into the center and cut away a little bit of bread, so that the “dog” will have a place to sit in the bun. Spread 2 tablespoons, (or more) of Jif Creamy Peanut Butter inside the bun. Spread 2 tablespoons of Smuckers Strawberry Preserves on top of peanut butter. Place diced strawberries on top of peanut butter and preserves. Place the peeled banana into the bun.

Drizzle with melted peanut butter sauce, amount to taste (about 1-2 tablespoons). Top with a few peanut butter chips.

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