kid-friendly

busy schedules, life and asian chicken

I’m back, after a much necessary break. Life happens, and so does the reality of busy schedules!  In early April, my family visited my sister Whitney, in Austin, Texas! Left Minneapolis at 6 am and drove straight through to Austin. 19+ hours in the car, all 6 of us! We had a blast! Lots of road food and convenience store snacks on the way down, but lots of amazing food in Austin – Shipley’s Donuts (a donut shop way too close to my sister’s place), Kebabalicious (an amazing food truck serving falafel, chicken shawarma, etc.), Chuy’s (a Mexican restaurant), Moonshine (a great night out with my sisters and husband), and many others. The end of April marked the beginning of summer sports, and three colliding schedules. Oh, and a coaching husband. April and May were pretty much a blur.

In June, I visited my sister Kortney in California for a shopping, eating and dining trip. We indulged in amazing foie gras just weeks before a state-wide ban for restaurants. So fortunate to have been one of the last to have this and other amazing dishes at a quaint, French restaurant on Balboa Island in Newport Beach called Basilic. We also visited Palm Springs for a day/evening during Restaurant Week. Amazing place. Must go back with my husband! We had amazing Mexican food and margaritas at a place called Las Casuelas Terraza. Dinner at a place called Zin American Bistro – yum. And, brunch at the Ace Hotel / King’s Highway. Great food and gorgeous drinks. Kortney and her boyfriend visited Minneapolis the following weekend, and we cooked at home and dined at a local place called the Little River Inn and Bar. We also celebrated my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding in June. Busy and fun times!

In late June and early July we traveled back to Bismarck, ND for my husband’s 20 year class reunion and a week’s vacation over the Fourth of July. And, in August, celebrated a family reunion with amazing cousins from California, Kansas, Texas, North Dakota and Minnesota. It’s been a great summer spending time with family and friends, hanging out in the backyard with amazing neighbors, enjoying my patio heirloom tomatoes and fresh herbs, and creating wonderful meals at home.

September means back to school month, and a search for quick fix, easy dinner ideas…

Here’s a great healthy, Asian recipe I adapted from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food General Tso’s Chicken. A hit for us and the kids too! Love the light (almost non-existent) batter of the pan-fried chicken, combined with chopped veggies and tossed in a slightly sweet, touch of heat sauce. We added red and green pepper, sugar snap peas and green onions.

Asian Chicken / Healthy General Tso’s Chicken
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food
Serves 4

1 1/4 cups long-grain brown or jasmine rice – (We made our own fried rice.)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 pound snow peas, trimmed and halved crosswise
1/4 red pepper, chopped
1/4 green pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated and peeled
3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 large egg whites
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower (we used canola oil)

Cook rice according to package instructions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water until smooth. Add vegetables, garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, and red-pepper flakes; toss to combine, and set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together egg whites, remaining 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken, and toss to coat.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Lift half the chicken from egg-white mixture (shaking off excess), and add to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining oil and chicken, and set aside (reserve skillet).

Add vegetable mixture to skillet. Cover; cook until snow peas are tender and sauce has thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Return chicken to skillet (with any juices); toss to coat. Serve with rice.

Enjoy!!

oatmeal caramel bars

These bars may just put you in a sugar-induced trance.  The one that pulls you back for another.  And another.  Mmm.  I remember eating something similar while still living at home with my parents.  I made these for my family recently after reminiscing my way through old cookbooks.  I can’t believe this recipe takes an ENTIRE jar of caramel ice cream topping.  All that, plus chocolate chips and oats and brown sugar and butter.  The bars are indulgent and sweet and sticky  – they’re best kept chilled in the refrigerator (they tend to hold their shape a bit better than at room temp.)

Oatmeal Caramel Bars
Recipe adapted from Potluck for 33,000 New & Improved 2nd Edition – Recipes from the great Dayton’s, Hudson’s and Marshall Field’s cookoff, a benefit for the United Way circa 1993

1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups caramel ice cream topping
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, melted
6 oz. pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In small bowl, combine 1/4 cup flour and caramel topping; set aside. In large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, soda, salt and butter; mix until crumbly. Press 2/3 crumbly mixture in ungreased 9x13x2 inch pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips. Sprinkle remaining crumbly mixture over caramel. Bake 17 to 20 minutes. Cool and cut into bars.

deep-fried heaven

The minute I got my February issue of Bon Appetit, I knew I had to make the cover – skillet fried chicken. The kind I have maybe once or twice a year. The kind that’s “oh so bad for you”, but a must have indulgence on occasion. A personal, Iron Chef kind of challenge and a first stab at frying at home. A messy endeavor, a not so nice cleanup and the lingering aroma of peanut oil – but, so worth the deep-fried wonder.

The suggested overnight rub mixture is genius, and true to the chef’s word – resulting in flavorful meat seasoned to the bone. Dipped in a mixture of buttermilk, egg and water and coated in seasoned flour, then carefully bathed in hot oil.

We had drumsticks and breasts on hand, so we worked with what we had. However, next time, I will make sure to have more drumsticks – the declared favorite among the kids and me. The tender, juicy dark meat and crispy, brown skin are indulgence at its best. And, there’s just something barbaric about picking up a drummy with your bare hands, eating the meat off the bone. Love bending the table manners. Everything goes out the window here on no eating with your hands or don’t pick at your food… (My sister would love that one too, right K?) The chicken breasts were also very yummy. Yes, the chicken tastes great immediately after being fried, but cold fried chicken is just as good. Mmm.

OK, some essentials are key here. Did I say this was messy? Yes… and then some. I covered the kitchen floor with old towels (to catch most of the splattering grease, and make clean-up a little easier.) I also draped kitchen towels around the nearby surroundings – countertops, cabinets. Aprons are also encouraged. Other essentials: a set of metal tongs, a large cast iron skillet, a deep fat fry thermometer, an instant read thermometer, plenty of peanut oil, a wire baking rack set on top of a large cookie sheet. We set our oven temp at about 275 degrees to keep the chicken warm once it was fried, and to be sure the meat was cooked through, as we fried 3 separate batches. Amazing. You must try it yourself.

I’m still searching for remedies to rid the frying smell in the house, so let me know if you have any tried and true secrets… already tried boiling vinegar/water mixture – nada.

Skillet-fried Chicken
adapted from Bon Appetit

2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3–4-lb. chicken (not kosher), cut into 10 pieces, backbone and wing tips removed
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Peanut oil (for frying)

• Whisk 1 Tbsp. salt, 2 tsp. black pepper, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl. Season chicken with spices. Place chicken in a medium bowl, cover, and chill overnight.

• Let chicken stand covered at room temperature for 1 hour. Whisk buttermilk, egg, and 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl. Whisk flour, cornstarch, remaining 1 Tbsp. salt, and remaining 1 Tbsp. pepper in a 9x13x2″ baking dish.

• Pour oil into a 10″–12″ cast-iron skillet or other heavy straight-sided skillet (not nonstick) to a depth of 3/4″. Prop deep-fry thermometer in oil so bulb is submerged. Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350°. Meanwhile, set a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet.

• Working with 1 piece at a time (use 1 hand for wet ingredients and the other for dry ingredients), dip chicken in buttermilk mixture, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Dredge in flour mixture; tap against bowl to shake off excess. Place 5 pieces of chicken in skillet. Fry chicken, turning with tongs every 1–2 minutes and adjusting heat to maintain a steady temperature of 300°–325°, until skin is deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 165°, about 10 minutes for wings and 12-15 minutes for thighs, legs, and breasts.

• Using tongs, remove chicken from skillet, allowing excess oil to drip back into skillet; transfer chicken to prepared rack.

• Repeat with remaining chicken pieces; let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Thanks Bon Appetit!

an evening of wolfgang

This past Sunday, we opted for an evening dinner of beef stew and spaetzle, celebrating combined German roots, and newly discovered recipes by Wolfgang Puck.  I recently read that one of the food trends for 2012 will be more preparation of comfort foods, sometimes, with a twist.  New twists on old favorites, such as the addition of jelly in this beef stew recipe.  There’s nothing better than a warm, comfort food on a Sunday in January, cooking on the stove all. day. long.  Mmm… And, the aroma coming from your kitchen might just tempt friends to knock at your front door…

We cooked our beef stew in an enameled cast iron dutch oven.  Perfect for browning meats and slow cooking them, which is key for tender, fall apart results.  Enameled cast iron pans are a “must buy”, by the way.  LOVE them.

The kids found the spaetzle very intriguing and were a little skeptical when their plates were presented before them. However, they couldn’t get enough of it!  Yay!  Always love a new recipe success, especially when enjoyed by the whole family.  The kids’ version of spaetzle was served minus the caramelized onions.  Perfect because Jeff and I love a few extra onions, caramelized… even better.

The spaetzle preparation was interesting…and, I now know that I will be on the search for a colander with slightly bigger holes.  The batter was to be pressed through the holes of the colander into a pot of salted boiling water.  Our colander worked, but made for mostly mini spaetzle.  Once boiled and drained, the soft, egg noodles were spread in a baking dish, dotted with butter and topped with shredded, gruyere cheese.  I don’t care much for gruyere on its own, but once melted and baked, it gives an amazing flavor.

Menu for the evening?

BEEF STEW WITH RED CURRANT JELLY & CREAM AND SPAETZLE WITH CARAMELIZED ONION & GRUYERE CHEESE

The beef stew is perfect alongside the spaetzle.  Enjoy!

Beef Stew with Red Currant Jelly and Cream
Adapted from Wolfgang Puck

4 pounds well-trimmed beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, coarsely chopped
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons juniper berries (I substituted 2 tbsp dry gin)
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 quart chicken stock or low-sodium broth
3/4 cup red currant jelly (I substituted blackberry jam)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a large bowl, toss the beef with the celery, carrots, onions, wine, bay leaves, juniper berries, rosemary and thyme. Cover and refrigerate overnight, stirring a few times.

Drain the meat and vegetables in a colander set over a bowl. Pick out the juniper berries and discard them; reserve the marinade. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add half of the meat and vegetables and cook over moderately high heat until lightly browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Stir and cook until lightly browned all over, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and the meat and vegetables.

Return the meat and vegetables to the casserole. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add the vinegar and stir to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the casserole. Add the reserved marinade and the tomato paste and simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the stock and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the currant jelly, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the meat is very tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Drain the stew in a colander set over a bowl. Transfer the pieces of meat to a platter. Press on the solids in the colander to extract as much liquid as possible. Pour the liquid back into the casserole and return the meat to the pot. Stir in the cream and bring to a simmer. Season the stew with salt and pepper.

In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of red currant jelly over moderate heat, stirring. Ladle the stew into large shallow bowls. Drizzle the warm jelly over the stew and serve with the spaetzle.

Serve along side Spaetzle with Gruyère and Caramelized Onions  (RECIPE BELOW)

Spaetzle with Gruyere and Caramelized Onions
adapted from Wolfgang Puck

1 3/4 cups milk
4 large egg yolks
1 large egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese (5 ounces)
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced

In a small bowl, whisk the milk with the egg yolks and egg. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the nutmeg, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Using a wooden spoon, stir the egg mixture into the flour, leaving a few lumps. Cover and refrigerate the batter for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Carefully hold a colander with large holes over the boiling water. Add about 1/2 cup of the batter to the colander and press it into the simmering water with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Repeat until all of the batter has been used. Cook the spaetzle for 2 minutes longer, then drain. Immediately transfer the spaetzle to the ice water, swirling the dumplings until all of the ice melts. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Spread the spaetzle in the dish and dot with the butter. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the spaetzle is hot and the cheese is just melted.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion and cook over high heat until softened, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Scatter the onion over the spaetzle and serve.

Note:
The spaetzle can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated for up to 1 day.

Serve Spaetzle With Beef Stew with Red Currant Jelly and Cream in shallow bowls.

grandma irene’s krumkake

Check that one off my to-do list.  And, a first in 2012.  Teamwork at its best – Jeff and I in the kitchen making krumkake together.   Not bad for our first attempt.

Krumkake – a delicate, traditional Scandinavian waffle cookie, full of beautiful design and commonly made around Christmas time.  (Usually shaped in a cone or rolled.)  I remember eating these around Christmas as a kid.  I was fortunate to inherit my Grandma Irene’s krumkake iron set, a family heirloom that just shouts Norwegian.

Loved and handled with care and used many a Christmas, well before my time.  I can almost see my Grandma making them and I’m so proud to carry on the tradition with my own family.  I know this will be one of the favorites each holiday – I can’t wait to make them again.

It took some trial and error, but ultimately, we seem to have mastered the technique (at least in our eyes…)  In fact, once we got it down, we could barely make them fast enough to keep up with Brendan and Dane’s demand.  They LOVED the krumkake.  “It’s so good, Mom.  Can I have another one?”

The first couple of attempts ended in results like this:

Here’s how I so fondly remember them…

Krumkake

4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup melted butter
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla

Beat eggs slightly. Add sugar to eggs and beat until light. Do not overbeat. Add vanilla. Blend in melted, cooled butter, cornstarch and flour.

Preheat iron on both sides. Iron is ready for baking when a few drops of water placed on the iron dance around. Drop about a tablespoon of dough on the center of the iron. Cover quickly and turn the iron. Bake until delicately browned. Remove from iron with a spatula or table knife. Roll quickly into cone shape (rolled diploma), using a krumkake roller or end of wooden spoon.  I actually used my hands. Dust with confectioner’s sugar, if desired.  Can also be pressed into cups to make shell forms.

*Note* – We found medium-low heat for about a minute on our gas stove worked perfectly.

Here’s my Grandma Irene’s krumkake recipe card, which was with the krumkake iron set.  (Similar to another recipe I received from my mother-in-law and other recipes online.)  Some recipes call for the addition of cardamom, but we used vanilla instead.  We may also try almond extract next time we make them.  Enjoy!

fleur de sel chocolate chip blondies

Happy New Year! Just a little something sweet to start off 2012.

Blondies so good, especially topped with the touch of fleur de sel.  When I initially cut into these (after letting them cool), they seemed a little on the gooey and undone side.  I think I may have cut them just a little too soon.  However, once they cooled entirely, they were perfect!  Next time, I may try them warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Yum.

 

Fleur de Sel Chocolate Chip Blondies
Adapted from Food Network

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch fine sea salt, if desired
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2-3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons fleur de sel

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch jelly roll pan with softened butter or cooking spray. (I used another jelly roll pan – approximately 11 by 15-inch, and reduced the baking time.)

Beat your butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until it is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the brown and granulated sugars a little bit at a time, pouring them in on the side of the bowl. While you’re adding your sugars, stop the mixer occasionally and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure that everything is fully mixed. Cream the butter and sugar mixture until it is light and fluffy, about 8 minutes. (Creaming creates air pockets in the dough, and therefore these blondies have a light and delicate texture.)

Whisk your flour, baking soda and sea salt, if using, in a bowl. (Add the salt only if desired because there is plenty on top of the finished brownies.) Set bowl of dry ingredients aside.

Add your eggs to the butter/sugar mixture 1 at a time, adding the second only after the first is fully incorporated. Once the second egg is fully incorporated, add your vanilla.

Turn your mixer down to low speed and slowly add the flour mixture. Once the dry ingredients are fully incorporated into the wet ingredients, add in all those chocolate chips. Your machine will seem to be struggling to mix in the chocolate chips because there are so many of them, but don’t turn it up, leave it on low and allow it to fully mix the chips in. Spread your cookie dough into the prepared jelly roll. Evenly sprinkle the top of the dough with the fleur de sel.

Pop the blondies in the oven until they are golden brown on top and not wobbly in the center, 30 to 35 minutes. (My blondies were done after about 17-20 minutes because of the larger jelly roll pan.) Allow the blondies to cool in the pan on a wire rack or on a dishtowel on your counter.

Cut the blondies, still in the pan, with a sharp knife into bars, about 48 pieces. Remove with a spatula and serve. (Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 1 week.)

Enjoy!

whitney’s oreo truffles

My brother’s girlfriend (shame on you, Whitney Jo), is known for making these addictive bites of wonder. They are best frozen, and eaten in pairs or triples. They are one of my kids’ favorite treats, and we always end up having a conversation about Whitney Jo – such a wonderful, sweet, sister-like friend. So lucky to have her in our lives! Enjoy!

Oreo Truffles
makes about 40

1 lb Oreo cookies (3 sleeves) – cookies and filling
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lb white chocolate
1/4 – 1/2 lb milk chocolate (for drizzling on top)

Using a food processor, grind cookies to a fine powder. With a mixer, blend cookie powder, cream cheese and vanilla extract until thoroughly mixed (there should be no white traces of cream cheese).
Roll into small balls and place on wax-lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate for 45 minutes.

Line two cookie sheets with wax paper. In double-boiler, melt white chocolate. Dip balls and coat thoroughly. With slotted spoon, lift balls out of chocolate and let excess chocolate drip off. Place on wax-paper-lined cookie sheet. In separate double boiler, melt milk chocolate. Using a fork, drizzle milk chocolate over balls. Let cool. Store in airtight container, in refrigerator or freezer.

cherry bonbons

Yum.  Love these.  And, they’re small enough that you don’t feel bad if you have two or three.  A maraschino cherry surrounded by a ball of sugar cookie-like dough.  Topped with a dollop of cherry flavored frosting.  Mmm.  Enjoy!

Cherry BonBon Cookies
Adapted from Taste of Home
Makes about 24

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
24 maraschino cherries (drained and without stems)

Frosting/Glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice
(May need to add a dash of cream or cherry juice to thin enough to drizzle)
Additional confectioners’ sugar

Directions
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add
milk and vanilla. Combine the flour and salt; gradually add to the
creamed mixture.

Divide dough into 24 portions; shape each portion around a cherry,
forming a ball. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350°
for 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to
cool.

For frosting, combine the sugar, butter and cherry juice until smooth.
Dollop on cookies. Let glaze harden, and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

popcorn balls

Are popcorn balls a treat of the past?  I really don’t see them much anymore.  And, when Clare had one packed in her school lunch box, many of her friends weren’t sure what it was, but were curious at the same time.  After all, what kid wouldn’t love popcorn coated with a sweet, gooey marshmallow mixture? 

Jeff had his heart set on making popcorn balls this year, and evidently, is on a mission to bring back the nostalgia, a childhood classic.  We both had fun reminiscing of being a kid eating treats like these around the holidays (Christmas, Halloween, etc.)…  

He did all the work on this one, but thought I’d post on behalf of him. Bonus:  He cleaned up the kitchen and, the popcorn balls were a hit.  Enjoy.

Popcorn Balls

3/4 c. light corn syrup
1/4 c. butter
2 tsp. water
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup mini marshmallows
1 tsp. vanilla *optional* (or other flavorings, if desired)
few drops of food coloring, if desired
5 quarts unsalted popped white popcorn

Combine the first 5 ingredients (corn syrup, butter, water, confectioners’ sugar and marshmallows, and flavoring and food coloring) over medium heat. Heat and stir until the mixture comes just to a boil. Carefully combine with the popcorn, coating popped corn evenly.  (Note: Can mix in m&m’s, nuts, gum drops, white chocolate chips, etc. to add extra fun.)  Grease hands with butter and work quickly to shape the coated popcorn into balls before cooling.   But, be careful not to burn yourself with the hot marshmallow mixture. Wrap popcorn balls with cellophane or plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

pumpkin cake bars with cream cheese frosting

Mmmm.  The original recipe called for an addition of raisins. Sorry, not having it… And, easily left out, with no harm to the recipe. End result is an amazing, moist cake bar, full of fall flavor and spice and topped with an all American cream cheese frosting. I’m guessing the health-conscious could substitute applesauce for the oil. My family devoured these. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cake Bars w/ Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from Bon Appétit
Yield: Makes 24

CAKE
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 15-ounce can solid pack pumpkin
4 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil

FROSTING
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 1-inch baking sheet (jelly roll pan).

Combine and stir first 8 ingredients in large bowl to blend.

Add pumpkin, eggs and oil and beat until blended. Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack.

Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and butter in medium bowl to blend. Spread frosting over cooled cake in thin layer. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Refrigerate until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated.) Cut cake into squares and serve.

Could top with chopped walnuts or sprinkle a light dusting of cinnamon, if desired.