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Instinct helps in recipe selection

By Staff | Nov 25, 2016

IT’S TIME TO take the magic bars, which are for Dorothy Dunn’s grandchildren, out of the oven. Dunn said the recipe is among her favorites.

MERRILL – One needs only a glance at the rack of food magazines in Dorothy Dunn’s kitchen to see they get a lot of attention.

Dunn said many have frequently thumbed pages.

“I find a lot of joy in being in the kitchen,” she said. “I love cooking, especially baking, because my family enjoys what I make.”

“There’s joy, too, when I’m lucky enough to find a special occasion to take (food) to a special event or (to) friends.”

Among her favorite year-round recipes are pumpkin ribbon bread, chocolate oatmeal magic bars and hamburger pie.

PUMPKIN ribbon bread.

“I love to read recipes in the magazines and my assortment of cookbooks and can usually get a feeling as to whether it’s going to be a keeper,” Dunn said. “When my daughter asks how I know that I tell her it’s the combination of things you’re putting together and makes me think it will taste good.”

“If it sounds good, it’s usually good. If not, you just throw it away.”

Dunn grew up on a farm north of Le Mars. She and her husband, Dean Dunn, will be celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary March 23. They’ve farmed near Merrill since buying their land in 1961 and raised their family here.

Their son, Jay Dunn, and his wife, Viki, have a hog operation on the farm and get a helping hand from Dean Dunn. Their daughter, Jane Willer, is an elementary school teacher at Kluckhohn School in Le Mars. She and her husband, John Willer, farm nearby.

Dorothy Dunn said her son’s children – Megan, Briana and Alex – are among her chief recipe testers.

“It was on one of their visits that when they came I’d mentioned having made the oatmeal bars,” Dunn said. “But when one of them asked about them the bars were nowhere to be seen.”

“They came the next day and I pulled out the box of bars. When asked why they’d not been ready for them before I said they were ‘magic bars.’ They’ve been called that ever since.”

Dunn is active in church circles at St. John’s Lutheran Church, in Le Mars, where she shares her kitchen creations with church members during potluck events.

She’ll occasionally take something made from a newfound recipe.

“I probably shouldn’t admit it, but in these instances the recipe usually makes a large quantity and no one’s going to tell you it tasted terribly,” she said with a quick chuckle.

Holidays, including Thanksgiving and Christmas, are special for the family, according to Dunn.

“I enjoy making different things as well as doing the decorating that comes along with it,” she said.

This week’s Thanksgiving observance was, however, a bit different.

Dunn was busy preparing to make the family dinner. Not at the farm, but at the family’s condo in Branson, Missouri, with all the family present.

Butterfinger baking bites


Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

11/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup butter, plus 1/2 cup butter-flavored shortening

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 10-ounce package of Butterfinger baking bites

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.

Cream butter and shortening and sugar and mix well.

Beat in eggs and vanilla; gradually beat in flour mixture.

Stir in Butterfinger bits. Dough will be stiff.

Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake 8 to 12 minutes until lightly browned.

Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then remove from pan to wire racks to cool completely.


ribbon bread


6 ounces cream cheese

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

1 egg

Beat cream cheese, sugar and flour together in small bowl.

Add beaten egg. Mix to blend. Set aside.


1 cup cooked pumpkin

1/2 cup oil

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon soda

1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Combine pumpkin, oil, and eggs in large bowl and mix.

Add sugar, salt, cloves, cinnamon, flour, and soda. Mix to blend. Stir in pecans.

Pour one-fourth batter into two greased and floured 7 1/2-by-3 1/2-inch loaf pans.

Carefully spread cream cheese mixture over batter.

Add remaining batter to each pan, covering the filling.

Bake 90 minutes at 325 degrees or until done.

Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans.


oatmeal bars


1 cup brown sugar

1 cup margarine

1/2 cup white syrup

4 cups oatmeal

Mix margarine to soften slightly.

Add brown sugar and syrup.

Mix well.

Add oatmeal.

Spread into a greased 10-by-15-inch jelly roll pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Mixture will look bubbly. Cool


1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup butterscotch chips

1/2 cup peanut butter, either chunky or plain

Melt together in microwave. Frost cooled bars.

Let cool at room temperature and then place in refrigerator.

Cut into bars and store in refrigerator

Hamburger Pie

1 can of crescent rolls

1 or 1 1/2 pounds ground beef

2 tablespoons chopped onion

2 tablespoons chopped celery

1 can cut green beans, drained

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

3 cups shredded hash browns, thawed

1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup mozzarella shredded cheese

1 cup cheddar shredded cheese

Press crescent rolls into a large 9-inch pie pan.

Cover rolls with the mozzarella cheese and the can of drained green beans. Saute onions and celery in fry pan. Add ground beef and cook and stir until no longer pink.

Add tomato sauce and simmer.

Place meat mixture over green beans.

Spread sour cream over meat cover with thawed hash browns and sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

Bake in 375-degree oven for 45 minutes.

Delicious bars

1 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon soda

1 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup melted margarine

1 cup milk chocolate chips

1 cup chopped nuts

32 Kraft caramels

5 tablespoons milk

Mix first six ingredients and pat into 9-by-13-inch pan. Save 1 cup for topping.

Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Melt caramels in milk

Remove from oven. Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts over partially baked crust.

Drizzle melted caramels over chips and nuts and add reserved crumbs.

Bake an additional 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

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