Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. That might not surprise you considering the entire day is usually dedicated to cooking, baking, and eating- my favorite activities. Of course I love enjoying those processes, but I think spending the time preparing the meal, eating, and napping on the couch with family and friends all day is what makes the day special. Let's be honest, I cook for hours at a time on weeknights! Holidays are supposed to be spent with those you love. And with good food:) So, when I first think of "Thanksgiving," I think of family. But the second thing I think about? Pumpkin pie. Well... I'll admit that I also am obsessed with sweet potatoes so those cross my mind often, but for the purpose of this post, let's just say it's pumpkin pie! The thing about pumpkin pie is that you always know it's going to be there. That can be exciting, because it's so emblematic of the festivities, but at the same time, leftovers can be a little anticlimactic. But what if I told you that there's a solution to any potential boredom with leftover pumpkin pie? I can't take credit for this ingenious idea, I owe it all to Ted Drewes Frozen Custard in St. Louis... Make a pumpkin pie shake! Yes! You really add an entire piece of pumpkin pie, crust and all, to your favorite ice cream. Yes, you'll be addicted. I had it for dinner one day last week and breakfast the next morning! It makes sense right? People put ice cream on top of pumpkin pie all the time... why not just put the pumpkin pie into the ice cream?? I'll include a recipe for cast-iron skillet pumpkin pie just for fun, but feel free to toss any piece of pumpkin pie you've got into the shake!

mini cast-iron skillet pumpkin pie

---pie crust---
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into pieces
2-3 teaspoons ice water

---pumpkin filling---
1/2 can pumpkin
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves

To make the pie crust, add the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and process to combine. Add the pieces of cold butter and process until the mixture is homogenous. With the food processor running, slowly add the ice water, one teaspoon at a time, until the dough holds together. You can either refrigerate the dough at this point, roll it out with a rolling pin, or even just press it into your cast iron skillet- whatever works best for you! To make the pumpkin pie filling, combine all ingredients in a large bowl and then pour into the crust. Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F. Bake for another 45-50 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

the great pumpkin a la Ted Drewes

slice of pumpkin pie
3 scoops of ice cream (I'd use vanilla or cinnamon!)
1/8 cup heavy whipping cream (or milk as a substitue)

Add all ingredients to a blender and pulse away until you've got the texture you're looking for! Ti's amazing... I promise!


It's that time of year! Chili season! I'm not going to try to hide it- I've been waiting to make this chili since the first day I wore a jacket to work this fall. It is now November, and although Baltimore is 40 degrees (yes! 40!!) warmer than the November I used to know in St. Paul, I'm still slightly in denial of the fact that the crisp mornings of fall are now crisp days. The bright side? It finally feels appropriate to make chili!

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes. It's really simple, but you have to plan ahead because the meat cooks really slowly in the crockpot (or oven, if you prefer) before you add it to the chili. But it's worth it- after having this shredded beef chili, you won't be interested in even looking at ground beef chili! Plus, you can always roast the meat in advance and just refrigerate or freeze it until you're ready to use it. I love this strategy because then I just make way more meat than I need and use it for enchiladas, open faced sandwiches with melted cheese, etc. This recipe also makes quite a few servings, but it works out well because it actually tastes best reheated! I usually make one batch at the beginning of winter and freeze smaller servings to enjoy until spring. But, feel free to bring it to your next football game potluck- your friends will love you, and maybe even convert to cheering for your team;)

my favorite shredded beef chili

1/4 vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, chopped
Shredded beef from a 2 lb. chuck or round roast (cook on low, smothered in garlic, in the crockpot for 6-8 hours and shred using two forks)
Two 28 oz. cans diced tomatoes (I prefer unflavored but use what you'd like!)
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons cocoa (yes- cocoa! It gives a nice, rich, yet indiscriminate, flavor!)
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 bay leaves
2 cans drained kidney beans (I like to use one red and one dark red just to make it more colorful!)
1 can chickpeas

Sauté the onion, pepper, and garlic in oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the remaining ingredients except for the beans. Simmer for about an hour until very thick. Adjust spices and seasonings if necessary, then add the beans and heat gently. Serve with sour cream and sharp cheddar cheese. It's that simple! But you'll LOVE it.