Pumpkin Bars

So lately I have had the privilege of working for a local Williams-Sonoma, the couture store for professional and home cookware.

Before reading my next post, I should stipulate that nothing I write has been evaluated, validated, or endorsed by any representatives at Williams-Sonoma. These are my opinions, and mine alone (except for the recipes, which I did not make myself!)

That being said, I think it is a great store, with lots of fresh ideas. I also love the Williams-Sonoma blog, The Blender, which is also well-known for having lots of gluten-free and allergy-friendly ideas.

The following recipe is something I discovered on food.com (Click here to go to recipe) Pumpkin bars with the use of pumpkin butter and yellow cake mix. Excellent taste, very easy (shall we say, semi-homemade?), and easy to cut and take with you anywhere!

Lots of folks were coming into our store, saying that they had tried pumpkin bars using Williams-Sonoma’s Pecan Pumpkin Butter.Pecan Pumpkin Butter

I have the pleasure of enjoying this pumpkin butter in the store on a regular basis, while simultaneously fearing for my waistline!

Here is the progression of the making of these pumpkin bars. Notice that I have used the Trader Joe’s brand pumpkin butter for this recipe, which we happened to have on hand at home. Any pumpkin butter seems to work out just fine!

Candice Kumai, who I recently profiled on this blog, also has a homemade recipe here, which would make a nice after-dinner-party gift for folks!

 After reserving one cup of yellow cake mix for the top, I mixed in the left-over yellow cake mix with the butter and one egg to make the crust.

 I found that pressing in the crust was harder to do with a spoon. Clean hands worked out quite nicely!

   I originally thought the pumpkin was too runny, but it turned out quite nicely!

   The top crust is drier, and flakier. It reminded me of mixing the dough for scones! Do not be alarmed, as it is supposed to be drier on top (and probably absorbs some of that pumpkin in the middle layer!). I omitted the additional 1/4 cup of sugar from the crust, and it was still delicious!

Voila! Baked to perfection and just the right texture…not too cake-y, not too crumbly.

These babies are easy to take to work, book club functions, bake sales, etc.

Enjoy!

Special diets:

Gluten-free:

Check out these items I found via a quick google search! I have heard great things about the Cherrybrook Kitchen mixes, but try it out. I would omit the extra flour requested for the top crust. 

Vegan:

Check this out! And baking in ramekins? ALWAYS good! These pumpkin cream cheese bars look equally yummy. I also like the latter recipe’s use of spelt flour. Thankfully, pumpkin butter alone (despite its name) is vegan!

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Candice Kumai and Pretty Delicious

So, I’m a huge fan of Candice Kumai, aka The Stiletto Chef.

Recently, I was able to snag a copy of her first cookbook, Pretty Delicious, via inter-library loan at our local library. Seriously folks, if you’re not checking out cookbooks at your library, you should. It’s a great way to try new recipes, contribute to library circulation, and (who are we kidding) look at beautiful pictures of FOOD.

[photo credit: Indie Bound]

So what’s her deal, what’s her hook? Food With Benefits, or FWBs, are part of a list she created to include better ingredients in your cooking. Rather than focus on deprivation, Kumai urges you to enjoy the fun foods, while including nutritional foods into your diet.

Here’s what I made: Lemon Cranberry Scones

Rather than using regular cranberries, though, I switched them out for the Orange Cranberries from Trader Joe’s. Let me tell you, it worked out FAMOUSLY. Delicious! And they turned out looking very similar to scones you might see in an artisan bakery or Starbuck’s.

The takeaway message? I love that Kumai doesn’t talk down to you. She provides you with information that doesn’t scream “drink Diet Coke until you’re a size zero.”

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Further reading

Cook Yourself Sexy, Candice’s newest cookbook (as featured by Women’s Health)

Candice’s column in Men’s Health: Cook For More Sex (seriously, send this to every guy you know!)

And of course, Candice’s own blog: www.candicekumai.com (Can’t wait to try that pumpkin butter recipe)

Hello world!

Greetings, folks!

I like to cook, and most of all, I like to eat. My friends and colleagues know me as quite the foodie. I like to research all kinds of foods, from vegetarian and vegan, to gluten-free, to allergy-friendly meals, and all sorts of things!

Occasionally, I will post pictures, updates, and notes to myself for “next time.” Let me know if you have questions!