Friday, December 3, 2010

Thanksgiving Wrap-up

Brussels spouts, squash and pumpkin cheesecake bars, oh my!
and that was just my contribution...

I hope everybody is recovering from their Thanksgiving gluttony and enjoyed time spent with family and loved ones!  I realize it has indeed been 1 week since Thanksgiving and I have yet to post, but rest assured, it wasn't out of sheer laziness...I was simply still digesting.  I had a fabulous Thanksgiving spent with my mom's side of the family at my aunt and uncles house.  We did a potluck style where everyone is assigned (or chooses) certain dishes to contribute to the meal.  I love this because it lets you be creative with your food choice.  I was able to experiment and be creative with my dishes because I've never made the brussel sprouts or squash in this manner and I think they added something new and fun to the meal.  P.S. I also looooved the potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and multitude of desserts (including the my cousin's vegan chocolate mousse) contributed by other family members.  The dressing had sausage in it this year, so it was a no-go for me...but I'll still applaud my uncle for that concoction, along with the turkey he cooked on the Weber grill; I'm sure it was great :)

Now onto the recipes and pictures!  Why not  start with dessert first?  My cousin Brian and I were browsing Better Home and Garden's 100 Best Cookies issue when we came across the Pumpkin Cheesecake with Chocolate Bars.  See, I told you there would be more pumpkin.  But really, what is Thanksgiving without it?  Plus, they sounded delicious and it would be a great twist on the usual pumpkin cheesecake.  We also prepared them two days before the big feast to minimize the cooking madness and because they hold up well when made before hand.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Chocolate Frosting
17.5 ounce package oatmeal cookie mix
1/2 cup butter
Two 8 ounce packages cream cheese
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
15 ounce can pumpkin
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. salt
Chocolate Glaze: 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, 1/4 cup butter
Pecan halves

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Line baking pan with foil, extending over the edges of pan
  • In a bowl, place package of cookie mix, cutting in the butter until the mix looks like coarse crumbs.  Press mixture evenly (I stress, evenly; don't want burning) into the bottom of the baking pan and bake for about 10 minutes.
  • In another bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar, beating until mixed.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating in between each addition until combined.  
  • Stir in pumpkin, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.  Combine and pour pumpkin mixture over the hot crust.

  • Bake for an additional 30-35 minutes until top is slightly puffed, then let cool.
  • Chocolate glaze: In a microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate chips and butter, microwaving for about 1 minute, until softened and smooth after stirring.
  • Spread chocolate glaze over the top of the bars.  Top with pecan halves and enjoy!

The final product, Pumpkin dish not included
The result: so so so so good!  So easy to make and the perfect consistency.  Even better having leftovers :)

Now, let's talk veggies... Brussels Sprout!  If you're like me at all you may have wondered where these cute, mini cabbage-like vegetables got there name.  Even if you're not like me, I'll still tell you.  If you were thinking they obviously got their name because they originated in Brussels, Belgium than you are correct!  Yay, for fun culinary history lessons! 

(As mentioned in my last post both the Brussels sprouts dish and the acorn squash recipes can be found via the Well's Vegetarian Thanksgiving page)

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts
(serves 6)
1 1/2 lbs. brussels sprouts
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts (optional)*

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Prepare brussels sprouts by removing any discolored outer leaves, cutting off the stems, and cutting in half.
  • In a bowl, toss the brussels sprouts, oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Once coated, spread them onto a baking sheet (cover in foil to prevent sticky-ness)
  • Stir brussels sprouts after 15 minutes in oven
  • After 30 minutes, stir in maple syrup
  • Continue to roast until tender, about 15 more minutes
  • Optional: toss with hazelnuts

*didn't include hazelnuts because I couldn't find them anywhere!

Everyone that tried them, seemed to really enjoy them.  I thought they had the perfect amount of maple flavor, although some people wished there was more.  I think I'll be making these again, I've even had a request to do so!  Also, they come on the cutest little stalks...seriously, check out a place like Trader Joes and stop buying your brussels sprouts in bags!

Honey Roasted Acorn Squash
for every 2 acorn squash:
2 tbsp. honey
4 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 tsp. salt

  • Preheat oven to 375F
  • Cut ~1/4 inch from stem end and bottom of squash.  Cut squash in half crosswise.
  • Remove pump and seeds from each half.
  • Cut each half into two ~1 inch segments.  Should look like rings and 1 whole acorn squash should yield 4 rings total.
  • In a bowl, combine honey, olive oil, pepper, and salt.  Toss and coat squash.
  • Place squash on a coated pan or dish and roast for 30 minutes or until tender.
  • Serve warm and enjoy!

Nom nom nom.  I really enjoyed the squash, not just they taste either.  They just look like such a festival fall food.  They did taste great too.  Eat with skin on or off whichever you prefer.  Prepare yourself for a little sweet and a little savory ;)

annnnnd DONE.  If you read through that whole thing, I applaud you.  Now you can see why it took me so long to actually get it done.  Hoping to do some baking this weekend; onto the winter and Christmas treats!


  1. Adam did love the pumpkin cheesecake bars. So did our cat Sawyer who stole the ones we brought home. Sorry the brussel sprouts were a no go for me. But I did enjoy the squash:)

  2. I'm glad Sawyer liked them too! Yea, Brussels are definitely a like em or not kinda food. I love em! Can't wait to hear about more of your delicious treats :)