22 November, 2014

Give Thanks Burgers

There are times when I find myself wanting to eat some comfort foods that just take WAAAY too much time to make if you want to make them taste right.  SO!...I decided that I wanted to get around this issue with a little creative flair.  One of my favorite things to eat every year is Thanksgiving dinner.  With it coming up my brain has been in FULL yummy mode.  Pies, casseroles, brines, squash, olives, dinner rolls...oh my!  That's a whole plate full of food.  How in the he-ZELL could I condense all of my faves into ONE bite...  

Ha lol....I figured it out! and my Give Thanks burgers were born....for this I TRULY give thanks.  I married a man that cannot STAND turkey.  *scratches head*  Not sure what the deal is there, we've discussed this extensively because it limits our diet to...chicken lol...with him.  Forget duck, pheasant, grouse, rabbit...  I haven't been able to hunt in...I don't even remember when.  I think I was 16 tromping with my Uncle through the woods when he pinged a grouse in the head with a 9mm and we went back to the cabin and he cooked it over an open fire on a spit he made in 5 minutes.  Golly...I miss Minnesota; no place like home.  But, I digress.  We've been married over 9 years and I still can't convince my husband that turkey can be a good thing.  I've used it, he's always been able to pick it out.  He thinks it is a bland "blah" meat.  I just blink when he says that, that's my job.  To make "blah" more interesting.  I hope I hit the mark for him with these burgers!

Give Thanks Burgers
1 lb. pkg. of organic ground turkey
1 tsp. rubbed sage
1 tsp. savory
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
4 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 c. French's fried onions (not cheese flavored)
1/2 c. bread crumbs
1 organic brown egg
3 T. cranberry jelly
slices of dill pickle
yukon gold & acorn squash burger buns (recipe below)
turkey gravy

To flavor the meat, mix the meat and all of the spices together in a large metal bowl, cover and put in the refrigerator for 3 hours.  While those are roominating, make your burger buns.

Yukon Gold & Acorn Squash Burger Buns
1/2 c. riced potatoes
1/2 c. riced acorn squash
2 T. unsalted butter, cut into 4 pats
2 1/4 c. bread flour (HAS to be bread flour or will not rise because of the weight of the potatoes!!)
1 T. sugar
2 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 tsp. salt 

5 T. of hot water 
2 large eggs, 1 lightly beaten with 1 tsp. water and pinch salt
1 T. black onion seeds

Peel 3 medium sized yukon gold potatoes, wrap them in saran wrap and microwave them for 4 minutes.  Then mash them through a ricer into a medium sized bowl.  Then halve the acorn squash, clean out the seeds and strings, wrap in saran wrap and microwave it for 4 minutes, then clean the squash out of the skin, and mash it through a ricer into a SEPARATE bowl from the potatoes.  Measure a 1/2 c. of the riced potatoes and remove the remaining potatoes from the bowl so only 1/2 c. of potatoes are in that bowl.  Then measure 1/2 c. of the acorn squash and add it to the riced potatoes.  Add in the 4 pats of butter and allow it to melt and set aside.

Use Bread Flour ONLY!
In your stand mixer or a large mixing bowl put in flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and then add in the potato mixture and begin to blend the dough with a dough hook on lowest setting of your stand mixer.  Add one egg and incorporate thoroughly before adding the 5 T. of hot water.  Mix with the dough hook until the dough is soft and a bit sticky...it will take about 8 minutes.

Shape the dough into a ball and allow it to rest and double in size, it will take about 30-40 minutes.

Line 3 jelly roll sheet pans with parchment paper and set aside.  When dough has rested and doubled mash it out on the counter into an 8 by 8 inch square then cut the dough into 9 equal pieces with a pizza cutter (I doubled my recipe, so you'll see more than 9 pieces in the photo below!...don't worry, you only need to make 9 pieces).

With your hands work each piece into a round ball and mash slightly.  Making sure the smooth side of the mashed ball is facing up, put the dough portion on the parchment lined pan to rise.  Repeat this 9 times and allow the buns to rise NO longer than 30 minutes.  The dough MAY fall if you let it go longer than that.

After 15 minutes of rising, preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  While those are rising prepare your egg wash by scrambling one egg and adding 1 tsp. of water to it and a pinch of salt.  When the buns have finished rising, brush the top of each bun with egg wash and sprinkle with black onion seeds (You can use sesame seeds instead if you like).  Put in the oven immediately...and GENTLY...and bake for at least 15 minutes but no longer than 18 minutes.  You don't want them to get TOO dark.

When finished remove from oven and allow to cool off of the pan on a cooling rack until it is time to assemble the burgers.

To prepare the burgers, turn the broiler on in your oven and line a broiler pan with foil; set aside.  Remove seasoned meat from the fridge and mix in the egg and bread crumbs well.  Once well incorporated add in the fried onions, then form your patties into 1/4 - 1/3 lb sized burgers.  Refrigerate the burgers for 30-60 minutes before cooking.  This helps the burgers (especially turkey or chicken!) retain their shape when cooking.

Cook in the oven until the internal temperature on the burgers reaches 165 (ground meat should always be tested for temperature!).  Remove from the oven and set aside.

Build your burger by first halving the burger buns and toasting them in a frying pan for a little bit, then put the cranberry jelly on the bottom bun, followed by the cooked burger patty, then add your slices of dill pickle and spread your turkey gravy on the top bun like you would mayo.  Now your burger is ready to eat...  We ate ours with potato chips, but you can really eat them with anything yummly like home fries or onion rings.  Fabulous...  I won't lie...this burger was constructed a couple of different ways a couple of different times and the way that I described above to construct it was the easiest to eat, easiest to fit in your mouth (lol...you should have seen me lol...), and the one that tasted most like "Thanksgiving" all in one bite...

What you see in the above photo was version #1 of construction.  It included Dijon mustard, kalamata tapenade, slices of dill pickle, the burger patty, fried onions, and my cranberry jelly mixed with some Duke's mayonnaise.  This was a bad idea.  The mustard...there isn't usually mustard present at my typical Thanksgiving dinner.  What about you?  Right...for whatever reason my brain included it as a default simply because there was a burger involved.  Next...the tapenade with the pickles on top.  Every year of my life growing up Thanksgiving at Grandma's and everywhere else included a "relish tray" that would have dill pickles, black olives, green olives, and "bread 'n' butter" pickles.  Until I was an adult doing Thanksgiving on my own...that tray was there.  The next mistake was initially trying the patties without the fried onions directly inside.  Yeeeeeeeahhh....um, I couldn't really fit this version of burger in my mouth.  It was stacked too high having the fried onions on top of the patty like that in the photo.  Next problem...mayo.  Again...I've never actually had mayonnaise included in my Thanksgiving dinner.  Not ever.  This was another unfortunate right brained default because I was building a burger.

After some more thinking version #2, the final product was born...I removed the mustard, the tapenade, and the mayonnaise from the equation.

Instead I simply put some turkey mushroom gravy on the bottom bun after it was toasted with bacon fat, then the fried onions got mixed INTO the burger patties and they were reformed and cooked....the burger patty was deposited on top of the gravy, the pickle ended up on the side of the plate, and then...my homemade cranberry jelly was spread on the top bun after it was toasted.

Bottom Bun

Top Bun

This conglomeration was nothing short of a miracle.  I say "miracle" because...guess what??...the Mister fully approves of this burger!  Yay!  I finally scored a touchdown with TURKEY for him.  For that...I am truly thankful!

Try this recipe out on your family...I promise, they'll love it.  There are small modifications you can make here and there, but the essentials are the homemade buns (SO soft!), the seasonings in the turkey, and the cranberry.  You HAVE to include the cranberry component.  Of course I realize not everyone is going to have homemade cranberry jelly laying around to make this themselves.  You can totally use jellied cranberry in a can or store bought cranberry sauce, this is not rocket science.  It is food...and it's meant to be fun, not stressful.  Happy cooking everyone...and if I don't talk to you between now and then on the Foodnatic Facebook page...Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours next week!

15 November, 2014

Some More S'More....You Know You Want Them!

It has been nearly six months since my last entry.  An international move, a birth, and a recovery have all taken place since we last chatted.  The move was largely uneventful unless you care to note that the Sweet Pea...she absolutely doesn't like being restrained for long periods of time (much like the Sprout), so she screamed for most of our four day trek from our old duty station to our new.  Yeah, she is the reason it took four days.  Had she been more...agreeable...we'd have been driving for longer periods of time each day.  Oh well, we're here....  The Meant to Be ended up coming via emergency c section the week before he was scheduled to come out via c section.  These children...just CAN'T wait to be here, can they?  Lucky for us, we were well prepared.  We even expected his early appearance, and had a "feeling" it wasn't going to be a happy entrance, but that all would be well taken care of, and that is what happened.  He is beyond healthy and happy, and after six months I can honestly say that I feel mostly back to my old self.  I felt "slightly normal" setting in when I found myself doing nothing but thinking about recipes, baking, canning, cooking, modifying old recipes to make them perfect for some kind of allergy or diet restriction.  I think, dream, and obsess food.  Hence the name...Foodnatic....

Autumn is upon us here in the heartland.  I know it is because I want to be outside.  The house we moved into had a very large raspberry patch, a smallish patch of blueberries, a peach tree, two apple trees, and functioning grape vines.  I was more than tickled about this prospect.  It, of course, meant to me that I would be able to whip up all sorts of goodies in the kitchen.  Too bad I didn't have a cocoa tree!  Oh....I dunno if I'd ever leave my yard if there were a cocoa tree back there.  Mmmm....chocolate.

For whatever reason, in the present day human mind, when autumn sets in and the brain couples it with chocolate, sitting around bon fires, and having "fun" in general the word "S'Mores" just keeps coming up.   Yeah, I just about beat this subject to death last year, but hey...who's counting??  It was only four S'Mores recipes...and none of them were THIS recipe.

I personally can only take so much chocolate at one time.  Sure, I love it, but I also love not having a diabetic coma set in on me while I am eating.  This recipe, unlike last year's recipe, is lightish on the chocolate and heavier on the graham which seems more appropriate to me given the way S'Mores are usually made around the campfire.  I hope you enjoy the recipe...I sure did.  So did my parents.  They were visiting to help out with the Meant to Be during my recovery.  Between these bars and the brownies I made....G'Ma (she wants to be G'Ma now so when my children have children she can be GG (Gigi)...now that's planning ahead!) was fit to be tied trying to not overdo it on the sweets.  Sorry...sorta....

S'Mores Bars
6 T. unsalted butter
6 1/2 c. mini marshmallows, divided
1 tsp. vanilla paste or extract
8 c. Three Sisters Graham Crackerz cereal
1/2 c. organic milk chocolate chips (I used jumbo chips!)
extra chips for strategic placing
extra butter for greasing spatula & cake pan

Butter a 9 x 13 cake pan.  (I found that a glass cake pan with a lid that fit it was the best thing to use for these on the stick factor AND for storage purposes.)

In a large sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat.  Stir in 5.5 c. of the marshmallows (reserving 1 c. for later) and stir until the marshmallows are completely melted and appear as they would if you were making rice crispie bars.  Remove mixture from the burner and stir in your vanilla.

This is the cereal I use, from what I can tell...it is exclusively sold at Whole Foods Market.  I hope you have a WF near you because this cereal is the bomb diggity!!

Gradually add in your cereal and stir/fold until the cereal is completely coated.  Once it appears to be well incorporated, fold in the remaining 1 c. of marshmallows and the 1/2 c. of milk chocolate chips.

Grease up your spatula and then use it to press the bar mixture into your already buttered cake pan.  Gently press extra chocolate chips into the top of the bars and perhaps extra toasted marshmallows if you're feeling sporting.  (Turn your oven onto "broil".  Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet then add mini marshmallows and allow them to puff up slightly, getting toasted in color for a bit before removing them from the oven.  They should detach from the parchment quite easily and because they are still warm, will adhere to the tops of the bars quite nicely with a gentle push as you place them on the bars)

Allow the bars to cool completely before cutting them.  They will have only a 3 day shelf life and should be refrigerated the day they are made because of the amount of butter in this recipe.  You don't want rancid tasting bars!  But, honestly...are they going to last 3 days?  Not in my house they didn't....

 I can't tell you how many times I've made these since we moved back to the states and I was able to shop at a WFM on a regular basis.  It would be slightly embarrassing if you knew and totally annoying to most because I am still losing my baby weight anyway!  Ha!

These bars pack every single flavor reminiscent of a cool autumn night, parked in front of a perfectly roaring fire, passing around the bag of 'shmallows, bars of chocolate, and packages of grahams....minus finding the next morning that you smell like you were in a smoker for 10 hours.  Perfect...  I hope you enjoy these as much as my family and I have.  A new favorite....

08 November, 2014

French Onion Soup.... Just.YUM!

Nip in the air this morning....husband has already turned the heat on (hate that...I refuse to acknowledge "cold" until we have snow and it has stuck for more than a week), so I suppose soup, stew, and chili season has begun in most regions of the country now.  When my 'rents were here I was reminded of my Momma2's favorite soup.  She didn't request it, but I was mentally going through my list of my parents' favorite foods over and over again, trying to add them to our weekly menu as best as I could without totally blowing dinner time with the children all to hell.  Her favorite is French Onion Soup.  I've never bothered to try to make it because every recipe and method I've seen involved TONS of time standing over a hot stove and stirring onions.  With a newborn, I just didn't have time for that...

I honestly don't know many people that DO have time to do that.  So I had to find a method to make this soup that wouldn't half kill my feet or cause a lawful case of child neglect to ensue.  I consulted one of my favorite places to fix mental conundrums when it comes to cooking, picking out new kitchen appliances, and new kitchen tools as well.  America's Test Kitchen.  Man...they sure have their act together!  I was able to figure out a way to make this soup for my family without being a slave to my stove!  Yippie!  But was it going to taste awesome???  Only time would tell... 

French Onion Soup
3 T. organic unsalted butter, cut into 3 pats
6 large organic Vidalia or Walla Walla onions (4 lbs)
2 c. water, plus extra for deglazing
1/2 c. dry sherry
4 c. organic low-sodium chicken stock
2 c. organic beef stock
6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine or in sachet
1 bay leaf
ground black pepper

Crouton Topping
baguette loaf, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 1/2 c. grated organic gruyere cheese

Somewhere along the line, the Sprout ran off and hid my kitchen twine and I haven't been able to locate it.  Lucky for me I had these tiny little spice bags hanging out in my tool drawer.  I want my twine back!!  But the bags worked out just wonderfully, so if you have these...feel free to use them!

For the soup, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 F.

Grab your onions and start chopping them in half.  You need to do the initial slice in half from tip to root, it helps the onions hold up better as they are being cooked and stirred over and over.  If you cut them in half as you would for onion rings, the onions will break down into mush before the soup is finished.

Generously spray inside of a 7 quart, heavy-bottomed large Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray. Place the 3 pats of butter in the pot and add onions and 1 teaspoon salt. 

Cover the pot with a fitted lid or tin foil and cook for 1 hour (onions will be moist and will reduce a bit in volume). Remove pot from oven and stir onions, scraping bottom and sides of pot.

Return pot to oven with lid slightly ajar and continue to cook for another 1 1/2- 1 3/4 hours or until onions are very soft and golden brown, stirring onions and scraping bottom and sides of pot after 1 hour.

Carefully remove pot from oven and place over medium-high heat, and don't forget to use oven mitts to handle pot because it will be HOT.  Cook the onions, stirring frequently and scraping bottom and sides of pot, until liquid evaporates and onions brown, 15 to 20 minutes, reduce the heat to medium if onions are browning too quickly. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until pot bottom is coated with dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary. (Scrape anything that collects on spoon back into onions...that is FLAVOR, don't let it go to waste!)

Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping pot bottom to loosen crust, and cook until water evaporates and pot bottom has formed another dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes.

Repeat process of deglazing 2 or 3 more times, until onions are very dark brown.

Stir in sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until sherry evaporates, about 5 minutes.

Stir in broths, 2 cups water, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on bottom and sides of pot. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.

Remove and discard herbs, then season with salt and pepper.

Now...at this point you can go on and prepare your croutons and serve this, but I am telling you...if you put this in the fridge for 2 days to just soak in its own juices and roominate, it will amplify the flavors beyond ALL belief!  It is fabulous NOW, but...it is unbelievable after a couple of days just like Marcia's Pumpkin Bars.  The longer the onions have to sit in the juices, the better the broth tastes.

To make the croutons while soup is simmering, arrange baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven until bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges, about 10 minutes and then set it aside. 

Grate your grueyere cheese and set it aside.  Make sure you choose a great quality cheese...which means, not made in America lol!!  Grand Suesse or Alpenhaus brands are best for this soup...most stores will have it.  I found mine at Target...it is everywhere!

To serve the soup, adjust oven rack under your broiler element and turn the oven on to broil setting. Set individual broiler-safe crocks or bowls (Yes, we're still unpacking after 5 months here and heck if I can find my soup crocks!  Grrrr...) on baking sheet and fill each with about 1 3/4 cups soup. Top each bowl with 1 or 2 baguette slices, but don't overlap slices and then sprinkle evenly with the gruyere. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly around edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.


 After making french onion soup this way...I'll never do it any other way again!  With 3 littles under 5 to care for, letting the OVEN do all of the cooking work instead of me standing at my stove for hours tending to onions sounds like a plan to ME!  After the oven time my time at the stove doing any work was limited to small spurts of time for stirring when I had to deglaze the pot n such.  No big deal at all.

I'd like to show you my favorite plating option with this soup...it makes for the least amount of mess, the biggest amount of crunch with your baguette crouton, and feels more enjoyable to me personally as an eating experience...

Twice the amount of bread and cheese, half of the amount of soup, but still totally fills me to the brim on those cold autumn and winter days.  Love, love, LOVE this way of eating my soup.

A friend recently asked me on Facebook about an alcohol free French Onion Soup recipe.  That is pretty simple, take whatever alcohol is in this recipe and replace it with apple cider vinegar.  Easy peasy.  There are a number of ways you can modify this recipe to make its theme different.  Italian Onion soup for instance...replace the fresh thyme with fresh basil and rosemary and use red wine instead of sherry.  If you're going alcohol free on the Italian Onion soup use balsamic vinegar to replace the alcohol.  This cooking technique is really the only part of this recipe that should be followed no matter what.  The herbs and alcohol used are flexible.

We love this soup and it is a family favorite, even with the almost 5 year old.  He discovered onion rings this year and all of the sudden has much love for all things "onion".  Now...if only he could fall in love with chocolate, we'd be set!  Look folks, I know don't really need to talk this up much because this soup speaks for itself; loud and clear.  With superbly deep, concentrated flavor in every beautifully cheesy bite, you can't go wrong with this recipe and it will soon become a favorite that you whip out on those cold autumn and winter days and as your family rolls in the door and catches a whiff of this in the air, they'll know they are about to feast upon some seriously delicious bowls full of love.  Enjoy!

01 November, 2014

Marcia's Pumpkin Bars

Years ago, when I was a little girl, my Momma had this cookbook.  Every time we asked for cookies, she whipped that sucker out, slapped it on the counter and whipped up a batch of "Sybil's Chocolate Chip Cookies".  It was a recipe of Velda Peterson's from our church congregation's "Sesquicentennial Cookbook".  I remember ruining that cookbook by coloring ALL over that open section with a purple crayon.  I didn't KNOW I was ruining it, because there was a picture on the bottom of that page.  It wasn't already in color, but at 5...I thought that was my job, to color the world.  Seemed legit at the time....

Over time that cookbook got shot to hell.  Not sure exactly what did it to the book, but...it kinda ended up with pages ripped and stuck together from cookie and cake batter n such.  Poor book.  Now that I am an adult and obsessed with cooking, I mourned that book.  So I did what I thought was what I owed my Momma.  Even though the cookbook was DEFINITELY out of print, I found someone that had a copy in pristine condition and I took it to a company and made 10 copies.  Not sure how I settled on the number 10 but...that's just what happened.  That Christmas Momma, my big bro, my little sister, my dad & step Momma and my in laws all got a copy of that cookbook.  Everyone was pretty happy to get it.  There were a TON of recipes in there from my own Grandma, some of which I clearly remember having.  There were other notable recipes in that book; two of my personal favorites are Jill Milbridge's sugar cookies (which I featured on my blog 3 years ago in my Christmas series) and Marcia Smith's Pumpkin Bars.

Hard to believe, but I hated Pumpkin with a PASSION when I was a child.  "Give me chocolate or give me death!"  That was pretty much my unspoken mantra, even when I was a child.  My Momma whipped out pumpkin recipes left and right starting in October though.  That's when life got boring for me...back then.  NOW, well...now I am A-O-K with pumpkin anything.  Pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bars, pumpkin bread...  Yepper.  One of the things she made multiple times without fail was Marcia Smith's Pumpkin Bars because they were my step father's favorite.  Ultra moist pumpkin bottom with a perfect cake texture and a rich, velvety cream cheese frosting on top.  What's not to love?  Right...nothing.  I promise this will be the only pumpkin bar recipe you'll ever want to use again after you try it.  Let's get to it!

Marcia Smith's Pumpkin Bars
4 organic free range brown eggs, at room temperature
1 c. salad oil (meaning Miracle Whip, etc) or vegetable oil
2 c. organic cane sugar
1-15 oz. can of organic pureed pumpkin
2 c. all purpose flour (I use King Arthur)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

8 oz. organic cream cheese
1 stick of unsalted organic butter
3 1/2 c. organic powdered cane sugar
1 tsp. vanilla paste or vanilla extract (I use Nielsen Massey)

Grease a jelly roll pan (large cookie sheet pan) with lard or butter and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Grease the WHOLE pan, even under the parchment paper.  Then preheat your oven to 350 F.

In your stand mixer blend together your eggs and sugar and let it go on the 2 or 3 setting, allowing some air to get into the mixture and give it some good volume.  While that is whipping in a separate bowl sift together your flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices and give it a short mix with a whisk and set it aside. Then, by large spoonfuls, begin adding your pumpkin to the egg and sugar mixture.

After the pumpkin has been well incorporated add in the oil component.  Whether it is miracle whip sort of "salad oil" or vegetable oil, add it in at a slow drizzle so the batter emulsifies it well and doesn't lose its volume.  When the batter has all of the wet together, start adding in the flour mixture in small spurts while the stand mixer mixes at the same time.

After batter is complete, spread into the jelly roll pan, making sure that you do it as evenly as possible and get it into the corners well so they don't burn during baking.  Put in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes.  

While bars are baking make the frosting and set aside.  It needs to remain close to room temperature to be spreadable later.  Cream together the cream cheese and butter, then add in the vanilla paste or vanilla extract.  After that is smooth and velvety, add in the sugar all at once, mixing on the very lowest setting on your mixer.  Let it go for at least 5 minutes and check it for possible lumps.  If there are any sugar lumps in there (there weren't in mine, but it can happen...) keep mixing until you are left with a smooth, voluminous frosting.  Set aside and cover.  Don't refrigerate as it will be TOO hard to spread on bars.

Check the bars at 30 minutes with a toothpick, when the toothpick comes out clean remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack.  When the bars are completely cooled portion the frosting out on top of the bars in 6 large globs for even coverage.

Spread with a butter knife over the bars, trying to keep the coverage as even as you can.  The bar to frosting ratio in each bite is truly key to these tasting wonderful.

Cut the bars into whatever size you wish...I mean look at that pan!  Lol...there are plenty of bars, no matter how you slice it.  My family tend to cut themselves rather large portion sized bars when they eat these.  Three inches by 3 inches is not unheard of in our house.

One thing I know for sure is that these taste fabulous and most of the time when I eat them...I can't eat just one.  The cream cheese frosting really sets off the pumpkin flavor which also gets a nice boost from the spices.  I can't even think of anything more to say other than...you've just got to try this recipe at least one time.  I feel like it is the best recipe for pumpkin bars I've ever come across.  Her recipe DOES say to sprinkle the top with nuts...I've never done that but if I DID...I would put on some pecans.  I would possibly make candied pecans but, the frosting is so sweet, it wouldn't bet truly necessary.  The only necessity to this recipe is that you do your best not to eat the whole pan.  It'll be a struggle.  Moist, flavorful, and perfectly balanced conglomeration of pumpkin and frosting.  Mmmm...enjoy!