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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Have a great week from my real favorite pumpkin

Flash Back to Apple Crisp Slices

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It all started with the squirt of an aerosol whipped cream can. You know the sound….shirrrrrrrrg. The memories flooded in. Back to the days when the kids would scream with laughter as they filled their mouths with the sweet pillowy stuff and William would impersonate the famous John Belusi Animal House cafeteria scene. Duck for cover, I sure miss that goof-ball.

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Will: Hey mom guess who I am Me: Who? Will: I am a sugar cookie

But where was the shirrrrrrrg coming from? I haven’t bought whipped cream in a can in years. Enter husband and daughter. I find them in the kitchen filling their mouths like back in the old days. They are delighted and I am cracking up that husband smuggled in a can without me knowing.

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The kitchen antics remind me that many years ago I represented Connecticut in a recipe contest sponsored by a company that makes aerosol whipped cream. As a winner I was given a set of recipe cards that included all the state winners and their recipes. I dug those out and looking back I am so pleasantly surprised to see some of my dearest contest friends among them. We’ve come a long way and am so humbled to be in your company.

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Moving on and creating new memories I took Annabelle to  Barnard’s Orchard to pick up some fresh apples. The farm is 74 acres of preserved land that has been in the Barnard family for 4 generations. It’s a real gem of a place open all year long.

f2f2c1af-0b5e-45b6-ad08-88d466ab6873Annabelle loved her first farm visit with Kiki (I think) and we were delighted to find some of my favorite heirloom varieties.  This grandma will probably have Annabelle cooking before she can even eat solid food let alone stand at the counter, but she watches me in action and you know the best food memories have to do with the aroma of the kitchen.

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So, let’s bake some apples and create some warm memories. I love baking with a Stayman apple. These apples are crisp, juicy, spicy and tart, but best of all bake up tender and still hold their shape. This seasonally delicious and memorable recipe is just as easy to bake for two as it is for a whole crowd.

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Apple Crisp Slices

2 baking apples, peeled, cored and each sliced into 4 rings

3 tablespoons butter, melted

6 Stauffer’s Apple Pie Snaps*

¼ cup pecan halves

2 teaspoons turbinado or demera sugar

Aerosol whipped cream

Heat oven 450F. Line a rimmed baking sheet, just large enough to hold the 8 apple rings in a single layer, with heavy-duty foil. Brush foil with a little of melted butter. Place cookies and pecans in food processor; pulse until mixture is just crushed. Place cookie mixture on a flat plate. Brush apple slices all over with melted butter and then press each side into cookie mixture to coat. Place apples in prepared pan. Mix any remaining butter with any remaining crumbs and sprinkle over apples. Top apples evenly with sugar. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until apples are tender. Watch carefully to make sure crumbs don’t burn during the last few minutes. Serve with your favorite whipped cream. Serves 4.

*Note: if you can’t find Snaps then substitute cinnamon graham crackers

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