Just Call Me Betty Crocker

Snow days make me think of food. Actually, scratch that. Any day makes me think of food. I consider myself a foodie, insomuch that I simply adore eating meals of all shapes and sizes any time of the day, any day of the week. I couldn’t tell you the countless varieties of tomatoes available at my neighborhood grocery store, or what clarified butter is exactly. But I recognize the pure joy such foods bring.

Being stuck inside during Omaha’s big blizzard of 2009 makes me think of food, and the delicious pumpkin bars I made for Thanksgiving this year. Those who know me well know I’m not a cook, but I’m getting there. Recently buoyed by the ability to master Hamburger Helper (I’m not joking) and corn casserole, I asked my aunt Diann for a relatively easy dessert recipe perfect for Thanksgiving.

What she provided is a dessert nothing short of heavenly, with a box of ready-made cake mix nowhere in site. This recipe, my friends, is prepared from scratch. I initially hesitated while scanning the ingredients included in the e-mail from my aunt. But I just told myself: “Think of the flour as a Betty Crocker cake mix. How hard can this be?”

I was rather nervous while adding the ingredients, mixing them together and (gasp!) preparing the homemade frosting the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving.

The end result, I’m outrageously thrilled to report, was delicious and gobbled up by everyone at Thanksgiving. So proud of my feat that I snapped a photo and immediately sent it to my sister, a culinary master whose training came as she peppered our mom and late grandmothers with questions in the kitchen as a young child while I read tattered copies of The Babysitters Club.


Pumpkin Bars
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon EACH baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 cup oil
1 can pumpkin (15 oz.)
4 eggs
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350.  Grease 15x10x1-inch baking pan.* Combine all ingredients except the walnuts; beat at low speed until moistened. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Pour into greased pan and bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.
*Or 13x9x2-inch baking pan for 45 minutes.

Frosting

2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup softened butter or margarine
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients and beat until smooth. Frost when cooled. Sprinkle the walnuts on top to garnish. Cut into bars. Store in fridge.

Got an easy recipe for me to try? Help me become better in the kitchen: wendy@wendytownley.com

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3 thoughts on “Just Call Me Betty Crocker

  1. Wendy, I cannot cook either. I am nearing 29, and I just made my first batch of cookies. I followed this recipe:

    http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1610,149174-248202,00.html

    However, I managed to screw them up. Apparently you are not supposed to microwave butter to “soften” it. I ended up with runny square cookies singed on outside with chocolate chips pooled in the middle.

    This is why I rely on my friends at Nabisco.

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