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Friday, December 2, 2011

Elvis Bars (or: the reason I was 30 minutes late to choir)

In the last week, I have baked two kinds of pumpkin muffins, a pear-cranberry crumble (gluten free, for Ben's grandma), an apple pie, blondies, bittersweet chocolate cookies (recipe still in tweaking stages), and a spice cake with cream cheese frosting. Most of them were for Thanksgiving but still...there has been a whole lotta flour dusting up my kitchen.

Looks like swamp mud?
Bittersweet Chocolate cookie dough, or swamp mud? You be the judge.

Other than my sudden (or maybe not so sudden...) transformation into a baking fiend, the last couple of weeks have been pretty dismal on the cooking front - I've just been too busy with work, yoga, family and social stuff to be very inventive in the kitchen, but hopefully that can change soon...

Anyways, on Wednesday I left work early to pick Mini up from the vet. Along with her pain medication and a list of things to watch out for, I was given strict instructions not to let her engage in any strenuous activitiy such as running, playing or jumping. This is basically all Mini does, so I knew I was in for an intriguing afternoon.

I thought it would be best to keep the patient confined to the bedroom, because I still had some work to finish up and needed the ethernet cord. After letting her out of her carrier, I turned my back for about 10 seconds to set up my work computer, assuming she was too tired to get into any shenanigans. Wrong.

Apparently, even in her semi-lucid, drugged out state Mini still thought it would be a great idea to attempt a flying leap onto the bed. She failed spectacularly. This of course scared the living crap out of me because the vet said NO JUMPING so I immediately went into neurotic worry mode.

After spending about 20 minutes torn between leaving the room to get my phone, not wanting to leave her, trying to stuff her back into her kennel so I could just carry her with me wherever I went (unrealistic) and then giving up because I didn't think I could get her in there "gently" enough, pacing, examining her tummy to make sure she wasn't slowly dying in front of my eyes, and pacing some more... I finally decided to move her into the bathroom and then call the vet.

The conversation with the vet went something like this:
Me: Mini just tried to jump on the bed I think she might die!! (Not what I actually said... but definitely what I was thinking)
Vet: there any bleeding?
Me: No
Vet: Any discharge (ew)
Me: No
Vet: Ok...
Me: She just seems really uncomfortable and doesn't want me to pick her up, and she sounds weird...
Vet: Well...we did just cut pretty deeply into her abdomen so, you know, she's probably going to be uncomfortable for a little while.
Me:...good point.

So I gave Mini some pain meds and waited until she fell asleep on her pillow in the bathroom. And that is the story of how I wasted approximately 45 minutes of my day freaking out over nothing.

I had come home with healthful plans to make Emily's Kale and Roasted Vegetable Soup for dinner, but after I finally got back to work I took a look at my task list I realized that was just not going to happen. I could have still made something remotely healthful...but instead, by the time Ben got home there were Elvis Bars in the oven and I was all "hey how about some frozen stuff from Trader Joe's??" Yep.

Elvis Bars
Elvis Bars > Dinner?

And then somehow, we were still 30 minutes late for choir rehearsal. The end.

...But I'm glad I made these! I was inspired by a) Katie's Blondies that I made last week, and b) the Elvis Burger on the menu at Bullfrog in Minneapolis that I've been obsessed with for months and will surely order the next time we go there.

These are really, really good - soft and chewy, chock full of delicious banana, chocolate and peanuts, not too sweet (unless you frost them...which I did...) and very speedy to make. (And sshhh....they're vegan...well except for the cream cheese icing. Don't tell anyone! I can guarantee they won't notice. Ben didn't :) )

Elvis Bars
"You know you want me more than vegetables..."


I'm not actually vegan - and you could easily de-veganize these by using a real egg instead of a flax egg, and butter instead of coconut oil. I just didn't have eggs or butter in my fridge, and sometimes you want baked goods this instant and you have to work with what you've got.

- 1 large banana
- Approx. 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seed meal mixed with 3 tablespoons of warm water (to make a flax "egg")
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used Ghihardelli Milk Chocolate...for some reason Elvis strikes me as a milk chocolate kinda guy)
- 1/4 cup dry roasted, unsalted peanuts
- Some sort of Peanut Butter-based glaze or icing
First, mix the water and flax seed meal in a cup to make the flax "egg" and let sit while you prepare the rest of the wet ingredients. Place the coconut oil and 2/3 (save the rest! you'll need it later) of the banana in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high until coconut oil is melted and banana is easily smooshable (technical term) - about 30 seconds.

In a larger bowl, combine the oil, banana, sugar, vanilla and flax "egg" and mix well. Add dry ingredients (flour and salt) and stir to combine. Chop the reamaining 1/3 banana into small pieces. Finally, add the chocolate chips, banana pieces, and peanuts and stir to distribute them relatively evenly through the batter.

Line an 8x8 baking pan (or dish) with tinfoil or parchment paper, and use a spatula/wooden spoon to spread the batter into the pan (batter will be thick and not so easy to spread). Bake for 25-30 minutes. Every oven is different so I would suggest checking at 25 and seeing how it goes from there. Mine baked for around 30 and they came out perfectly -they should be just golden around the edges, not brown.

Let the bars cool, peel off the foil or parchment paper (my bars actually held together fairly well when I flipped them over to remove the foil) and frost with your favorite peanut butter glaze or frosting! I used a PB Cream Cheese icing from Smitten Kitchen, but you could easily make up your own, or just drizzle melted PB over the top. They're great on their own, but the peanut butter is what really Elvis-ifies them. (Is that a word? No? it is.)

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