Spirited Butternut Pecan Cookies

IMG_8091Today’s recipe is brought to you by NOT the great pumpkin, but the butternut squash. It’s not that I am not tempted to share some great pumpkin idea, but if your inbox is anything like mine you have been completely inundated with pumpkin recipes. Besides that I did not plant sugar pumpkins this year. I like to rotate my crops and the butternut squash did not disappoint.


There is nothing like a fresh picked butternut squash. The biggest difference from store bought? The tender skin! There is no battle slicing through it nor the fear of chopping off a finger. Most of the dozen or so I got from just 1 seed grew quite large, but my final pick was a wee 5-inches.


Chopped, cooked and smashed this little beauty yielded just 1/2 cup of butternut squash puree. It was more than enough for this cookie recipe that I wanted to test out.


Yes! It is a spirited cookie. I guess you could say a certain Sailor inspired this one. He has been around a lot lately. The recipe also calls for a few other complimentary flavors like vanilla bean paste, pumpkin pie spice, toasty pecans and demerera sugar. The cookie bakes up soft, but not cake-like, on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside from the sprinkle of sugar.


Here is a tip. If you are roasting or boiling up a butternut squash for dinner set aside 1/4 cupful for these cookies before adding any seasoning. You will be glad you did.


Spirited Butternut Pecan Cookies

  • Servings: 3 dozen cookies
  • Print

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 egg yolk

¼ cup mashed butternut squash

1 tablespoon Jack Daniel’s whiskey

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

2 tablespoons demerera or turbinado sugar

36 pecan halves

Heat oven to350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In medium bowl, whisk flour, spice, baking soda and salt; set aside. In large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar for 5 minutes or until light and well mixed. Add egg yolk; blend well. Add squash, whiskey and vanilla bean paste; blend well. Add flour mixture; stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until well blended. Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon drop cookie batter onto prepared baking sheet. Press 1 pecan into center of each cookie. Sprinkle each with a pinch of demera sugar. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown around edges.


Have a great week from my real favorite pumpkin

Here For Me & You & the Guacamole

“whole” foods guacamole

This week marks one year since I started this blog. I have to wonder how I ever got to this place spilling my private life and innermost thoughts. It’s unlike me to share in this way. To grieve and to mourn so openly not only with friends, but with complete strangers. Why am I here? This blogging thing is hard work. It’s not only the writing, but the technology, too. Why in the hell am I in this struggle?

my sweet William

my sweet William

My very first blog post https://goodgriefcook.com/2013/10/21/following-in-his-light-with-cookies brought it all back. In an instant, I remembered. Stepping out of my comfort zone. Following in his light. Being brave in the way he would want me to be brave. Celebrating his life and never forgetting HIS struggles is why I am here.100_1911

The blog started with a chocolate chip cookie recipe spirited with a little Jack Daniels and retrieved from the oven…perfectly baked…in the shape of a heart. Is it a sign from him that this is a good thing cooking, baking and sharing?

Sweet William's Fancy Chocolate Chip Cookie

Sweet William’s Fancy Chocolate Chip Cookie

It is clear that cooking and baking are my coping skills. Right now, it is what I do best and what gets me through the day. One recipe at a time like one foot in front of the other it works for me. Some recipes for my own enjoyment, some for sharing with family and friends and still others to share with complete strangers. Each and every recipe celebrating who I am, where I have been and inspired by those who I love. Every recipe, putting pieces together in hopes of making something new and whole.guacamole

And along with that I hope my story is helping others to grieve or to learn about grief. To dispel some of the myths about this subject that no one ever really wants to discuss. A subject no one ever wants to think about or be a part of it, but then it happens. Eventually it will. And so I am here.

And sharing this “whole” food recipe. Whole foods means fresh and not processed. I think this guacamole is perfect for the upcoming holidays or your favorite tailgate party. Unlike blogging it is super simple to throw together. Enjoy and from the bottom of my heart thanks for hanging out with me this past year.

Pomegranate Guacamole

2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted and mashed–chunky or smooth -your choice

juice from 2 fresh limes

1 tablespoon each finely chopped cilantro and red onion (rinse the onion in cold water to remove those nasty sulphur compounds that make us cry)

1/2 teaspoon each ground cumin, smoked paprika, kosher salt (more or less to your taste)

1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

Mix it all together with half the pomegranate seeds. Sprinkle the rest on top along with a sprig of cilantro. And I don’t know about you, but I hate double dipping, so pull out those shot glasses (unless of course you are doing shots of Jack Daniels) and fill them with guacamole along with some fresh carrot and jicama sticks..so pretty and festive and wholesome.

Following in his light with Cookies


Once the news got out the food started arriving almost immediately and in enormous amounts. Neighbors arrived with hot coffee and bagels. The local grocers hand delivered pans of baked ziti, large trays of deli meats and cheeses all rolled into neat little packages. There were decorative trays of salads with tomato roses and steaming aluminum containers of chicken marsala. Next came those beautiful edible arrangements of fruit and even the florist got involved showing up with an herb garden. Let’s not leave out the UPS man and his near daily visit over the next month carrying boxes of cinnamon scented coffee cakes, buttery cookies and more gourmet gift baskets of goodies than can be counted. It was an amazing outpouring of love and sympathy from family and friends, but I could not eat a single bite. In fact, in the first week, after the tragic news was delivered, I lost 11 pounds. I suddenly lost my child. I was shocked, confused and had absolutely no appetite.  I wondered what was the deal with all this food?  How could anyone think I could eat at a time like this? Chef Art Smith helped me understand. In his book, Back To The Table The Reunion of Food and Family, he sums it up nicely:

     Food As Love

     Few of us think of food only in times of celebration.

     We also think of it in times of sadness and need.

     Cooking for others is a way to extend your heart.

my sweet William

my sweet William

It has been 2 1/2 years since I lost my son. I have vowed to follow in his light, to celebrate his life rather than mourn his death and with this blog step out of my comfort zone much like he did throughout his life at home and in the military. He encourages me to write about the sad experience of losing one of my life’s most precious gifts. From my heart to yours enjoy this recipe inspired by my sweet William.

Sweet William's Fancy Inspired & Spirited Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sweet William’s Fancy Inspired & Spirited Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sweet William's Inspired & Spirited Chocolate Chip cookies

2 1⁄4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

12 tablespoons (11⁄2 sticks / 6 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temp.

1⁄2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1 large egg, at room temp.

1 large egg yolk, at room temp.

2 tablespoons good bourbon or whiskey (William liked Jack Daniels)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 (12 oz) bag Ghirardelli double chocolate bittersweet chips

Heat oven to 325° F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, cream butter, both sugars and corn syrup on high. Beat in egg, egg yolk, bourbon and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and mix the flour mixture in gradually until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop onto prepared sheets in 2 tablespoon (1 oz.) cookie scoops, leaving 2-inches between each cookie. Bake until cookies are lightly browned on the edges (rotating pans halfway through if baking two at once), 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Makes 3 dozen.

Note: Once you’ve scooped the dough into balls, you can freeze them like this on the trays. Transfer the frozen balls to a freezer-safe zippered bag for up to 1 month. Do not thaw before baking.

Thanks to my friend Debbie Vanni for the Art Smith Book from her culinary cellar.