Thanksgiving '08 - Bacon Brussles Sprouts and Pumpkin Cookies

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, mostly because it's the only one that's all about food and mandates that people get in the kitchen and cook things from scratch for a change! Uncharacteristically, I didn't cook a Thanksgiving meal this year. Instead I visited a friend in Portland and she cooked, which was fun for a change. I still managed to do a lot of cooking leading up to the holiday however, and created a few dishes that I was pretty proud of:

On the day before Thanksgiving (which is always the busiest day of the year,) the Co-op has an annual Thanksgiving themed employee potluck. The Co-op provides the turkeys, and everyone brings side dishes and desserts. One of our cashiers was convinced that he didn't like Brussels Sprouts, but I was certain that he just hadn't had them cooked deliciously enough, so I challenged myself to create a Brussels sprout dish that he would like.

I started with maple syrup and minced ginger heating in a saucepan.

I mixed some pecans around in the maple syrup to coat them,

spread them out on a pan, and put them in the oven to crisp up.

Meanwhile, I started cooking some bacon.

I cooked an entire package, which was two batches in the cast iron skillet. I thought it might be too much, but it ended up being perfect since I accidentally burnt quite a bit of it - I really need to work on my bacon frying skills!

After being in the oven for about 10 minutes, the maple syrup kind of poofed up a little and became very sticky. I made the mistake of letting this cool down too much and the syrup solidified and it became completely impossible to scrape the nuts off the pan. I put it back in the oven to rewarm, and then quickly scraped them off onto another pan without so much residual maple syrup on it.

Here's what they looked like when they were finally cooled. They were delicious! This would make a wonderful sweet crispy snack on it's own.

Here are the Brussels sprouts washed, prepped, and ready to go into the oven. I poured on the bacon grease from the skillet (all of it!) stirred it around to coat the Brussels and put them in a hot oven (425 degrees.)

Here they are after about 20 minutes. Perfectly roasted!

I mixed in the bacon bits and nuts, let the whole thing cool, and put it in the fridge overnight. I brought it in to the Co-op cold and heated in in the breakroom oven till it was sizzling. It was a hit! The only bummer was that it disappeared so quickly that I barely got to eat any of it. The combination of the salty fatty bacon and the crisp sweet pecans was perfect! The cashier I'd made it for said he liked it, but he still didn't think he liked Brussels sprouts....oh well, I guess you can't win them all.

I wanted to bring something with me for my Thanksgiving in Portland, so I decided to use up the last of my Winter Luxury Pumpkins in some pumpkin cookies. I loosely followed a few recipes that I found on the Internet, but mostly just made up my own recipe.

I started with lots of fresh minced ginger.

I had some maple pecans left over from the Brussels sprouts, so I chopped those to add some crunch to the cookies.

Then it was time to mix up the batter. I mixed two cups of Sucanat with two eggs and then creamed in a cup and a half of homemade butter.

Then came four cups flour (I use whole wheat for everything,) 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and a sprinkling of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

Finally, I added the ginger, 2 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree, and the pecans.

Is anything as good as cookie dough?

Here they are baked and cooling. They were very cakey textured cookies, but really good none the less. The fresh pumpkin flavor came through and was complemented really well by the maple pecans and the ginger.

It's really a shame how many people use canned pumpkin on Thankgsiving. It's really not that hard to cook pumpkins and puree them, and it tastes so much better. Canned pumpkin isn't really pumpkin at all, it's butternut squash. How sad that people don't know the flavor of real fresh pumpkin!
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