Soooo… have you started planning for Thanksgiving yet? If you’re still not quite in the spirit of shopping your way through throngs of people, cooking for days on end, consuming a nearly unreal amount of carbs, then collapsing in a happy, exhausted pile on the sofa in front of the yule log video with your given and/or chosen family…deep breath

…this will definitely tip you in that direction.

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Cream Cheese Pumpkin Bundt Cake

8 oz cream cheese, room temp
12 oz (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
2 c. sugar
1 c. light brown sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 c. pumpkin puree
6 eggs, room temp
3 c. all-purpose flour

for the streusel:
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
Pinch kosher salt
2 Tbsp candied orange peel, finely chopped
4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, ice cold, cut into 1/2″ pieces

Preheat the oven to 325F.
Butter and flour a 12 cup bundt pan. Set aside.
In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until combined and smooth.
Add the sugars and and salt and mix on medium speed for ten minutes, scraping the bowl down every 2-3 minutes.

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On low speed, add the eggs one at a time. Be sure to scrape down the bowl every other egg or so.
Still on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined.
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Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

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For the streusel: Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the streusel comes together and begins to form nuggets. Do not overmix. Sprinkle evenly over the cake batter.

Bake for 30 min., rotate the pan, and lower the oven temperature to 300F. Bake an additional 45 min., or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean and the cake springs back when gently pressed.

Allow to cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes before removing from the pan.

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Allow to cool to room temperature before slicing, then eat with reckless abandon.

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True confession: I am a texture person, on sort of a Sheldon Cooper level. If the flavor of a dish is good but the texture is bad, I am stopped dead in my tracks. Not one. more. bite. This keeps me far, far away from scrambled eggs, mung beans, and okra.
This also means that nachos are one of my absolute favorite things. Whereas mushy/springy and viscous are my mortal enemies, crunchy, gooey, and drippy -especially all at once- are divine in my book. Here is my way of making nachos. The cheese level is high, but what really makes it is the pulled pork.

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My Ultimate National Nacho Day Nachos

1 big bag of corn chips (Late July Spicy Mojo and/or Lime are the ones I use)
2 c. shredded white cheddar
2 c. of my favorite pulled pork recipe (recipe follows)
2 c. cubed, roasted butternut squash
Avocado crema
Spicy chimichurri

Preheat the oven to 350F

Place the chips on a paper-lined sheetpan. Spread the shredded cheese evenly over the chips and pop into the oven. Bake until the cheese is just melted. Remove from the oven and add the pulled pork and squash. Return to the oven and bake until heated through.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Preheat the oven to 400F. Peel and halve a medium butternut squash. Scoop out the seeds. Chop the squash into 1″ pieces and place on a paper-lined sheet pan. Drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast until soft throughout, about 45 minutes.

Avocado crema
1/2 Haas avocado
1/2 c. sour cream
Pinch kosher salt
1 Tbsp. cream

Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth.

Spicy chimichurri sauce
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
1 jalapeno, seeded, chopped
4 garlic cloves
Juice of 1 lime
3 Tbsp. chopped red onion
1/4 c. olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Place the first five ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil and continue to run until fairly smooth.

My Favorite Pulled Pork Recipe

1 8lb. pork shoulder (This is going to make a big batch, but it freezes beautifully.)
2 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. chili powder
4 tsp. garlic powder
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried orange peel
1/2 c. light brown sugar

1 bottle stout beer (I use Old Rasputin)

2 large yellow onions, peeled and quartered
1 large sweet-tart apple, like a Pink Lady, quartered and cored
4 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
4 sage leaves

Preheat the oven to 450F.

Using a few paper towels, dry off the surface of the pork. Place in a medium roasting pan with a 2″ side.

Combine the salt, spices, and brown sugar.

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Apply half of the spice blend to the bottom and sides of the roast (the non-fatty side). Flip the roast over and apply the rest of the spice blend to the top (the fatty side).

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Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. If the sugar looks like it is beginning to burn, add a cup of water to the bottom of the pan.

Reduce the heat to 350F. Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Arrange the onions, garlic, apple, bay leaves and sage around the roast. Pour an additional cup of water into the pan, followed by the stout.

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Cover tightly with aluminum foil and return to the oven. Roast for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the roast is fork-tender and shreds easily.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little. Carefully remove the roast from the pan and put onto a sheet pan or large dish. Remove three onion quarters and the garlic cloves and process or squash with a fork until smooth. Set aside. Discard the rest of the onions, apple, bay and sage. In a medium pot, reduce the pan juices by half (there will be a pretty good amount). If you want a leaner sauce, pour the juices through a fat separator before reducing.

Shred the pork while the waiting for the juices to reduce.

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Add the meat and the pureed onion mixture back into the pot and mix to combine.

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My resolve is firm, if I could choose my very last meal on Earth, it would be a very well-composed sandwich. It would be warm, crunchy, and balanced. There would be bacon. And something a little weird.

So, it’s National Sandwich Day, and without focusing too much on my own mortality, I have a sandwich that could contend for chosen last meal status.

It’s finally getting a little chilly out over here, and everything good (aside from apricots) that is orange is coming into season. I’m taking advantage.

The one actual recipe is pepita (pumpkin seed) pesto. It is made just the same way as basil pesto, but is 100% Autumn.

Pepita Pesto

1 c. roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
2 c. flat-leaf parsley, stems removed, lightly packed (about one bunch)
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
Salt & pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp water, optional

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Place the pepitas, parsley, lime juice, and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor, and process until smooth. Add the Parmesan, salt, and pepper and pulse until just combined. If the pesto seems a bit too thick, gently stir in the water to thin it out (DO NOT use the food processor for this step). Remove from the processor and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the sandwich

Ciabatta bread
Pepita pesto
Olive oil
Roasted yam, peeled, sliced, and kept warm
Bacon (I used applewood smoked)
Smoked gouda, sliced
Red onion, sliced
Baby arugula

Split the ciabatta lengthwise. Brush with olive oil and toast it under a broiler until golden and crispy.

Spread the pesto generously over the top half.

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Place the gouda on the bottom half and return to the broiler to melt.
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Once melted, place the still warm yam slices on top, followed by the bacon and onion. Pile the arugula on top of that, drizzle with a little more olive oil, and place the top half of the bread on it.
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Slice into portions and eat with reckless abandon.
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