It's been an odd year so far for weather....I don't think we had extremes in winter, nor in spring this year in the Pacific NW, except for the length.....spring bit into summer for close to a full month, so we really didn't see much sun until July. That meant that stuff that was supposed to grow died from drowning, or grew so pitifully that it never caught up...the Oregonian Food Day did a big article on how to use your green tomatoes, and I bet it really pissed off those who picked em all right before we got this freakin indian summer! It is what it is, but it's definitely turning to fall. Nights are cooling off, leaves are falling, and it's almost October...what a gyp.
Summer is my favorite season, I just like the sunshine and blue skies against the backdrop of green trees - how can you NOT like that? I think I get seasonal affective disorder too...that would explain the bitchy during the darker months, but you'll have to think of another reason for the summer ones, haha. But there are things I like about fall too, don't get me wrong. Where I work there are tons of little tiny maple trees, with little tiny leaves, and they are amazing shades of yellow, orange, red and brown that just don't quit...this morning I walked through them all damp with dew, and on my way out tonight I got to crunch them 'cause they dried out and curled up and they sounded like potato chips. I didn't even mind that they were all over my car...I just drove really fast to blow them all off.
I also like fall food - no one really wants to cook or bake in a hot kitchen (as Denice knows oh too well), so we do a lot of bbq, grilling and even sandwiches to avoid getting all hot and bothered. But soon it will cool off, and I for one love to hang out in a warm kitchen that smells yummy - fall is full of flavors and spices that totally turn me on.....apple and turkey and pot roast, oh my! Stuffing and cookies and chicken pot pie! Yes, these are a few of my favorite things, and one of the best, and something I always crack out for both my and my sweetie's co-workers are the smash hit Pumpkin Bars. They will not be ignored, Dan; people on diets will curse me with pumpkin scented breath, diabetics will shake ever so slightly while their blood sugar spikes as they lick the frosting off their fingers, vegans will break their own hippie code and deny the egg that lies within....you can't say no to a pumpkin bar, it's just not possible. So enjoy this FREAKIN EASY recipe, and be prepared to be offered indecent proposals from all who draw near - they are definitely a Top Ten favorite of my loyal "taste testers"!
Pumpkin Bars (such an unassuming name for manna from the heavens)
1 C. vegetable oil (YES, I DID SAY ONE CUP)
2 C. sugar
2 C. pumpkin (from a can unless you're Martha Stewart or Amish)
2 C. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (yes, it does need more than cinnamon)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350; grease a 15x10 jelly roll pan (those big cookie sheets from Costco). Cream together oil, eggs and sugar, add pumpkin and mix well. Add dry ingredients and vanilla and beat until smooth. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean or center springs back when pressed lightly. You can't screw it up, it's never happened in the history of the universe. Let cool completely.
Cream Cheese Icing
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
5 T. butter, soft
3 to 3-3/4 C. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 T. milk, or as needed
Beat cream cheese and butter together, add 3 C. of powdered sugar and vanilla and beat well. If it needs to be thicker, add up to 3/4 C. more sugar, and if you need to thin it down at all add a little milk.
Spread icing over entire uncut pan, then cut into bars or squares of your choosing and size. I like to cut around the edges first and pull all those ones out of the pan - it gives you more room to cut the center and all those edge scraps that are useless to anyone....except, perhaps your dog (wink, wink). I usually decorate them with a candy corn on each one - not everyone likes them, but it's fun to have candy corn spitting contests and it keeps the plastic wrap from ripping all the frosting off when you get them to work. Like anyone cares...there are people I work with who would clothesline their gramma to lick off my saran wrap.
Enjoy my ridiculously simple yet drop dead moist, spicy and creamy fall offering, and do not bitch if your pants don't fit for a couple days - no one told you to eat seven of them, you piglet.