Posts Tagged ‘peanut butter’

Elvis Presley Bars (Peanut Butter Banana Bacon Bars – with a vegetarian variation!)

When I posted the invitation on my Facebook wall, I was pretty sure no one was going to respond (except to heckle me.) Imagine my surprise when a couple of my friends -- one from Sunday school and one from high school -- responded that they'd come. That meant it was really happening.

When Saturday evening came, I drove across town, listening to the radio to distract myself from what I was about to do. It was only when I stepped out of my car and surveyed the busy roller skating rink in front of me that visions of ambulances flashed through my head. Was I really about to go roller skating for the first time in 20 years?

My doubts resurfaced a few moments later when I carefully stood up in my skates for the first time. I thought that the four-wheeled skates would provide more, uh, balance than that. They didn't come with, like, knee pads or anything? Maybe some bubble wrap?

I looked at my friends and attempted a confident smile. It must've been about as wobbly as I was, though, because they both looked worried. To lighten the mood, I mentioned that I was actually considering trying to join the roller derby someday. They laughed a little too much at that. Hm. Bad sign.

Nevertheless, we made slow, shaky progress over to the opening in the rink -- which, I noted bitterly, only had a wall around about a quarter of it. At this point I was pretty certain the night was going to end in one or more broken limbs. My left arm ached as if to remind me the Roller Skating Incident in third grade, which left me with a sling for a few months and residual pain well into my adulthood. I stepped gingerly onto the slick floor and pushed clear of the doorway, wondering what I'd gotten myself into.

Turns out my friend Meredith is a total roller skating rockstar. My friend Steven was slower but still relatively surefooted. Next to them, I felt like a roller skating walrus with a coordination problem. They were ruthlessly encouraging, though, assuring me I was doing well despite my tendency to flail-and-scream every 30 seconds or so.

I did huff and puff. And I did hug the wall more than my friends. And I did take several breaks. And my quads did start burning because I'm in roughly the same physical shape as an old lady with a video gaming addiction.

But I want you to know that I did not fall even once! I want you to know that I upgraded to fancy inline skates! I want you to know that Meredith assured me (sincerely!) that I was doing tons better by the end of the night! And most importantly, I want you to know that the only thing louder than the rockin' roller rink soundtrack and the gaggles of middle school girls was the sound of our laughter -- because we had so much fun.

Roller skating was a blast from the past. Meredith, Steven, and I have already decided to make a monthly date out of it. Who knows, maybe after a few months practice, the roller derby will recruit me. No? Okay, maybe not.

Another blast from the past that I enjoyed recently (one that you might actually want to join me for!) are these Elvis Presley Bars. They're based on Elvis's favorite sandwich: Peanut Butter, Banana, and Bacon. Anything with bananas and peanut butter has that elementary-school-lunch nostalgia that I love, but adding bacon for a salty twist makes these bars extra delicious. Don't worry if you're a vegetarian; big crunchy pretzels can be used as your salty component. Either way, I think Mr. Presley would be proud.

One year ago: Fig, Prosciutto, and Arugula Pizza
Two years ago: Chocolate Mousse Pie
Three years ago: Mallow Cookies

Elvis Presley Bars (Peanut Butter Banana Bacon Bars)



Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking, with peanut butter filling adapted from Fine Cooking
Yield: about 15 bars

These Peanut Butter, Banana, and Bacon Bars are a delicious combination of salty and sweet. Pretzels can be used to replace the bacon for a vegetarian substitute. Since the recipe makes a big pan of bars, they're perfect for taking to a potluck or for pleasing a crowd.

Shortbread Crust Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt

Peanut Butter Filling Ingredients:
2 cups creamy peanut butter (use an emulsified kind like JIF, not natural peanut butter)
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons hot water
3-4 bananas
honey for drizzling
5-6 strips bacon OR large pretzels for topping

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with a foil sling with the ends overhanging the pan to facilitate the removal of the bars later on.

Pulse the flour, powdered sugar, and salt together in a food processor to combine. Add the cold butter chunks and pulse about 10-12 times until you have the texture of coarse sand (you can also use a pastry cutter or two knives to accomplish this if you don’t have a food processor). Pour this mixture into the prepared dish and use a spatula or the bottom of a glass to press it down into an even layer. Bake it for about 15 minutes or until it’s lightly browned. Let it cool completely.

In a medium bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the peanut butter and butter until smooth and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons of hot water, and half the powdered sugar to the mixture and beat until combined and fluffy. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and another 2 tablespoons of hot water. Once combined, beat for an extra minute until the mixture is smooth and thick like frosting.

Use a spoon to glob half the peanut butter mixture onto the cooled shortbread crust, and then use an offset spatula to gently spread it into a roughly even layer (don't worry if it's not perfect.) Lay banana slices across the entire surface. Glob the rest of the peanut butter mixture all across the top. Again, use your offset spatula to gently spread the peanut butter mixture over all the banana slices (you want the banana slices to be covered because bananas oxidize and turn brownish, so the bars are prettier if you can't see them. It's hard to get them all covered, but just be patient and keep working the peanut butter around, cleaning off your spatula now and then.) Chill the bars for at least 3 hours.

While the bars are chilling, preheat the to 400 degrees F and cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lay out the strips of bacon on the baking sheet and bake for 17-20 minutes or until crisp. Let bacon drain and completely cool on a paper towel covered plate.

When the bars are chilled, lightly drizzle the surface with honey (they're already very sweet, so don't be heavy-handed), and crumble bacon pieces over the surface (or top with pretzels as desired). Gently use the sling to pull the bars out and cut them on a cutting board. Serve them within a day or two (before the bananas get too brown), storing them in an airtight container in the fridge if needed.

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Quick Dinner: Garlicky Peanut Noodles with Crunchy Vegetables

I was a mess of elbows and ankles today as I ran around school, the grocery store, the bank, and my apartment desperately trying to tug loose ends together.

In the store, I deftly ran over my own foot with a grocery cart just minutes before dropping not one but two 12-packs of diet Sunkist.

People stared. I acted nonchalant: Whatever, don't act like you've never thrown some soda around. Totally under control over here.

I'm now doing laundry, packing Byrd's things, packing my things, fixing up lesson plans, adjusting my budget, wrestling with Squirt's stupid filter, and trying to find a moment to shave my legs. Oh, and writing a blog post, naturally.

All of this craziness came about because tomorrow I'm waking up at 3 in the flippin' morning, collecting my mountain of luggage, and heading to San Francisco (with flowers in my hair! Except not really.) The 3rd annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival is this weekend, and I can't wait to eat lots of good food and see some sweet people.

Well, I can totally wait for the airplane part, though. In fact, can we just delete that part altogether? I'm one of those hyperventilating-just-a-little, having-occasional-panic-attacks, making-weird-faces people you hope you don't have to sit next to on the plane. It's cool; as long as I take my pills I should be able to limit the panic to some periodic weeping in the window seat.

I kid, I kid. The pills actually knock me straight out. I may snore, but at least I won't be convulsing?

Anyway, back to the current chaos. Even with all the hubbub tonight, I threw together a homemade dinner. I've been eating this quick, 15 minute pasta dish like it's goin' out of style since I saw it on Not Without Salt. It checks all of my most important boxes for a weekday meal: it's low calorie, it's almost effortless, it's tasty, and it's piled sky-high with fun toppings.

The peanut butter and soy sauce together form a hearty, savory sauce that's saved from straight-up bitterness by a few glugs of white wine and some gorgeous carrot curls. I threw on some green onions, chopped peanuts, lime juice, and tons and tons of bean sprouts before mixing the whole dish together and digging in. I love that gorgeous salty soy sauce flavor in every bite.


crunch.

All right, my loves. On that crunchy, delicious note, I'm off to 'Frisco (I know, don't worry. I've already read all the blogs about how much locals hate it when tourists call it that) for a food adventure. Stay safe, and stay off airplanes, you crazies! If people were meant to fly, God would've given us jet engine biceps. Or helium-filled love handles. Or, like, wings or something.

P.S.: My apartment will be occupied and supervised while I'm gone. Probably by robots that throw themselves into bonfires so they can incinerate you in a fiery embrace. Nice try, thieves of the interwebz!

P.S. 2: AHHHHHHHH AIRPLANES.

Garlicky Peanut Noodles with Crunchy Vegetables



Recipe by: Adapted from Not Without Salt's recipe inspired by Nigel Slater
Yields: 4 servings

These noodles are bathed in a salty, garlicky peanut sauce before being topped with an array of crunchy toppings: carrot curls, bean sprouts, green onions, chopped peanuts, sesame seeds. A spritz of lime juice and a good toss finishes the dish in just 15 minutes. I love simple weekday meals.

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons peanut butter (or tahini if you'd rather, but I haven't tried it)*
1/3 cup soy sauce*
2 tablespoons rice wine (or dry white wine)
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons Sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped shallot
4 servings' worth of spaghetti (or other long noodle)
*You may need to adjust peanut butter and soy sauce to your taste preferences (more peanut butter for sweetness, more soy for saltiness)

Optional Toppings:
carrot curls (just take a vegetable peeler to a peeled carrot to get these)
bean sprouts (boil these for a few minutes and then rinse in cold water for safety)
chopped green onions
chopped peanuts
sesame seeds
squeeze of lime

Directions:
Boil salted water over medium-high heat and cook pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Drain, return to pan, and set aside.

In a food processor, combine the garlic and shallots and process until fine. Scrape down the sides of the processor bowl with a spatula and then add the peanut butter, soy sauce, wine, vinegar, and sesame oil and process until combined. Add this sauce to pasta in pan and toss to coat.

Serve pasta on plate topped with shredded carrots, green onions, chopped peanuts, sesame seeds, bean sprouts, and a slice of lime.

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Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey, and for Dad

I was a little girl, maybe 8 years old. My sisters and I were sitting at the breakfast table, bowls of cereal in front of each of us. My dad sat across from us waiting to brush my hair into a tail and clip one of my bows on it before shepherding us off to school.

I'd slept the whole night enveloped in my pink-and-blue quilt under pink-and-white striped wallpaper with a rose border halfway up, unaware of anything wrong in the world. None of my army of teddy bears and dolls had murmured a warning of danger. I didn't have a gut feeling worthy of a sappy novel. But at breakfast, Dad surprised us all by saying, "I went to the emergency room last night; I thought I was having a heart attack."

You would have to know me -- like, really, really know me -- to understand how I reacted. You'd have to know that I firmly believe that my dad is the best man besides Jesus Himself to have ever lived. You'd have to know that by the time I was 8, I'd already started fretting about his mortality. That I'd already started praying that he'd live forever -- and not just in the spiritual sense that I now recognize is more valuable. His soul living forever didn't amount to enough to my 8-year-old heart.

If you knew all that, you wouldn't be surprised that I cried tears of shock and asked every question I could think to ask. It turns out that Dad (who has always worked two or three jobs to take care of our family) was actually feeling pains from an ulcer, not from a heart attack. I thanked God.

I also thanked God years later when my dad was safely out of surgery for prostate cancer. I also thanked God when my dad finished the radiation treatments for said cancer. I can't even tell you how I thanked God when we found that, finally, his cancer was gone completely. And I thank God on my knees every time we get new tests that show that, yes, it's still gone.

Last week I read Jennie's post, as so many of us did, and saw that she had suddenly lost her husband of 16 years. Just like that. One morning everything's as it should be and the next, the world has a surreal, devastating new landscape. My heart was crushed for her and her little girls.

This week, when I thanked God to celebrate my Dad's 60th year in the world, I knew I wanted to make a peanut butter pie. I wanted to make a virtual hug for Jennie and her family, a memorial pie for Mikey, a token of love for my family, a birthday pie for my dad.

Remember what's important, y'all.

Almost No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie


Recipe by: Adapted from All-Recipes
Yields: about 8-10 slices

Pie Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs (just grind 'em up, cream and all)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Whipped Cream Ingredients:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
peanuts and/or mini peanut butter cups for garnish (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the cookie crumbs and melted butter with a fork and press into a 9-inch pie plate. Spend a few minutes working on it to make sure there aren't gaps and that it's a thin layer (I had to discard some of my cookie crumbs because 1 1/4 cups turned out to be a bit too much for my pie plate). Bake for 10 minutes. Cool completely.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Whip the cream to soft peaks. Stir 1/3 of the cream into the peanut butter mixture to lighten it up, then gently fold the rest of it in. Gently spoon the filling into your crust and use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to smooth it out. Chill this for a few hours.

To make whipped cream, whip cream and confectioners' sugar together until you reach soft peaks. Spoon this over your peanut butter pie and top with peanuts and mini peanut butter cups for garnish, if desired. Serve immediately.

P.S. Are you thinking up your own filled cupcake for the Willow Bird Baking Cupcake Challenge? Bake your creation and email photos to juruble 'at' gmail.com by Wednesday, September 7, 2011. I'll feature your cupcake on WBB! Find more details and some cupcake inspiration here.

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Celebrating Cheesecake — and a challenge for you!

Taylor from Taylor Takes a Taste tweeted me yesterday with a very, very important message: Today is National Cheesecake Day! Well, okay, it's actually National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day, but I've never made a white chocolate cheesecake, so just ignore that part. I'll add it to my to-do list.

In order to celebrate, I thought I'd compile Willow Bird Baking's many cheesecake recipes and issue a challenge for you!

My goal is to inspire kitchen confidence in home cooks by encouraging them to tackle fun, challenging new recipes. So I'm challenging you this month! Here's what you do:

- Choose one of the cheesecake recipes below that feels like a challenge to you and make it for friends, family, or coworkers.

- Take a photo and email it to me at juruble 'at' gmail 'dot' com with a few comments about how it went and a link to your blog (if you have one -- if you don't, that's okay too!).

- Do this before April 5, 2011. In exactly a month, I'll post all of your cheesecake masterpieces here on Willow Bird Baking!

- You can also grab the badge at the bottom of this post if you'd like to let your readers know that you're participating in the Cheesecake Challenge, but it's optional.

If you'd like to participate, leave me a comment below and let me know! If you've already made one of the recipes below, that counts too! Just send me a photo!


Willow Bird Baking's Cheesecake Recipes:

1. Coffee Cookie Dough Fudge Cheesecake



2. Red Velvet Cheesecake



3. Caramel Fudge Brownie Cheesecake



4. Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss Cheesecake



5. Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Cupcakes



6. Chocolate Cheesecake-Stuffed Cupcakes with Ganache



7. Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Squares with Shortbread Crust



8. Marbled Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies



9. Pumpkin Cheesecake Bread Pudding

And don't forget to watch my (slightly embarrassing) cheesecake tutorial for great cheesecake pointers!

Finally, here's the Cheesecake Challenge badge if you want to grab it:

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How to Make 27+ Cheesecakes and Look Awesome While Doing It

...or at least, feel like you look awesome while doing it?

Thank you so much for voting me into Project Food Blog Round 7 -- I'm so grateful for your support! Challenge #7 was to create a video tutorial. I think you guys know by now that I'm a little obsessed with souped-up cheesecakes, so without further ado (okay, with a little more further ado), I'm about to show you how to create flippin' awesome cheesecakes.

LIGHTS

What went into creating this video? Lots and lots of planning -- dozens of pages worth! Lots and lots of time -- 35+ hours worth! And lots and lots of fun -- probably more than I should've had. Ahem. You'll see.

CAMERA

Cheesecakes are incredibly customizable. In the video below, I'll show you 3 different crusts, 3 different fillings, and 3 different toppings. By mixing and matching these components, you can feasibly create over 27 different cheesecakes! So, um, if you ever need 27 different cheesecakes . . . I got ya covered.

ACTION

Enough of the suspense! What do you get when you combine stop-motion animation, a music video, some ridiculousness, and a whole lotta cheesecake? Watch and see.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Dj3msQYjOQ&fs=1&hl=en_US&color1=0x402061&color2=0x9461ca

(please click here to see bigger version)

You can print the recipes for these cheesecakes here: Coffee Cookie Dough Fudge Cheesecake, Caramel Fudge Brownie Cheesecake, Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss Cheesecake.

(Note: Voting is now open! I would so appreciate if you'd take a moment to pop over and vote for me by clicking the heart on this page once you're signed into your Foodbuzz account. Registering for a Foodbuzz account is quick, easy, and free if you don't have one already! Thanks, y'all!)

THE BLOOPER REEL

...wherein I prove that I'm basically tone deaf, drop my brownie layer in the floor, yell a lot at my piece-of-crap hand mixer, and eat bacon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4D3hOu0DOM&fs=1&hl=en_US&color1=0x402061&color2=0x9461ca

(please click here to see bigger version)

STRIKE THE SET

After the video camera was tucked away, the tripods were folded up, and my smudgy lipstick had faded, there was still one itty bitty order of business to attend to. What the heck does one do with three cheesecakes?! Turns out there was something awesome to do with them!

My friend Carol has a heart the size of Jupiter. She's worked with children with special needs for several years now, and recently, while browsing Reece's Rainbow, a website that connects orphans with special needs to adoptive homes, she laid eyes on Quinton. Quinton is a tiny, precious baby boy in Eastern Europe with Downs Syndrome. At first, Carol half-jokingly asked her husband if they could adopt him. As time went on, though, it became clear that neither she nor her husband could stop thinking about Quinton.

They posted his picture on her refrigerator and decided they were going for it. They're currently beginning the process to bring him home! This miracle is not without a cost -- it will take thousands of dollars. I decided my huge, decadent cheesecakes were perfect for a little fundraising. I gave two of them away in return for donations to Quinton's fund. I can't tell you what an honor it is to be a tiny part of Carol's journey -- and how humbling it is to see other friends donating their time, goods, services, energy, and love to them! Little Quinton is already changing our lives. Would you like to help as well? You can see Quinton and donate to his adoption fund here.

ROLL THE CREDITS

A big thank you to: ALL Willow Bird Baking readers who have been so supportive, Sarah for the use of her camera, Kim for loaning me a second tripod, Byrd for being willing to hang out with me while I edited video for about a decade, Royalty-Free Music, Carol for already being an amazing mommy even though her little one is still across the world, my 7th grade students for inspiring my stop-motion animation, and everyone who helped me eat cheesecake!

P.S. - Did you have a chance to see my Teaser Video?
P.S. 2 - Dear Coworkers, if you make fun of me about this, no more cheesecake for you!

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