THANKSGIVING IS enjoying time with your family and friends

THANKSGIVING IS our American heritage and abundance we harvest

THANKSGIVING IS giving to those in need

THANKSGIVING IS reaching out to the lonely

THANKSGIVING IS being grateful for who and what you ALREADY have

THANKSGIVING IS a warm heart and welcoming hearth

THANKSGIVING IS being content after enjoying all the food you worked so hard to make all day

THANKSGIVING IS laughing with good company

THANKSGIVING IS sharing graceful smiles

THANKSGIVING IS showing unconditional love

Amongst the RUSH and STRESS of Thanksgiving and the up and coming Holidays, let’s actually THINK about them for a second.
I know it may feel busy all around you and you may start to feel overwhelmed with all you “need” to do, bake, get, cook, shop, shop, shop, and shop, bake.

But, when this happens, this overwhelmed-ness feeling, just STOP. And breathe slowly in-and-out five times and get that peace back.

It’s just about celebrating and enjoying life and being kind and understanding to the people you love.
It reminds me of a quote,
"I've learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did, but people will
never forget how you made them feel."
-Maya Angelou

Do you make people feel good when they are around you? or do they feel bad when they spend time with you?
Do you welcome them into the Thanksgiving cooking to help? Or do you shoo at them to get out of the kitchen?
Do you snap at them when potatoes fly all over the kitchen walls and ceiling? Or do you laugh with them?
Do you criticize that relative at the table? Or do you encourage them?
Do you choose to be offended at someone or something they said or did? Or do you take a deep breath, let it go, and give them the benefit of the doubt that they did not mean to hurt you?
Taking the time to be gracious to people you love, and grateful for what you ALREADY have will make all the difference in your heart and will shine through for others to see. Sure no one can be perfect but we can make an intentional effort to me kind and be a light in life.

And being a light in life sometimes means baking yummy things right? :)
So if you want to make an easy semi-from scratch pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, I strongly encourage it! It’s really simple to make and it will be waaaay better than store bought, I guarantee it. If you make your dessert pies the day before Thanksgiving it will reduce your stress level and you can then focus on the rest of the turkey dinner on THE day. You don’t even really have to find a recipe because there is usually a recipe for pumpkin pie right on the pumpkin can label. Plus you are about to read one right here...
Here’s my adapted version from Libby’s

The Crust:
I make (or buy to save time) a graham cracker crust-chocolate or vanilla. For some reason, I am  just not crazy about the regular pie crust for pumpkin pie.

2 cups chocolate or cinnamon graham cracker crumbs (blend chunks of the cookies in your food processor or blender until you have fine crumbs.)
½ - ¾ cup butter, melted

-Whisk butter and crumbs together until just moist.

-Press mixture into you pie plate on the bottom and sides.Set aside. No need to pre-bake.

The Filling: Extra spices for me please!
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1-2 tsp All Spice
1-2 tsp ground ginger
1-2 tsp nutmeg
Pinch cardamom
Or if you want and need it to be easy, 2-3 Tbs pumpkin pie spice instead of all the above
½ tsp salt
¾ cup sugar
1-15 oz plain pumpkin
2 large eggs, room temp
1 -12 oz can evaporated milk

-In a small bowl, whisk all spices, salt and sugar together, set aside.
-In a large bowl, lightly whisk eggs
-Add in pumpkin and sugar/spice mix
-Slowly pour in milk while mixing slowly. Add only ¾ can of milk if you want a thicker pie that has less chance of being runny.
-If you want to get fancy, melt ½ cup semi sweet chocolate chips with ¼ cup heavy cream, and 1/2 cup of your pumpkin batter, then swirl it into the rest of the filling and pour into pie crust to bake.
-Or if you want to get fancy, beat 1 pk cream cheese at room temperature until fluffy then add your sugar, eggs, pumpkin, and milk.
-Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for 45 minutes until knife in center comes clean.

And if you can make your own whipped cream topping, it is again, totally worth it!!!

The Whipped Cream Topping:

1 pint whipping cream
1 -2 Tbs powdered sugar
2 Tbs vanilla extract or paste

-Chill your completely dry steel bowl and whisk attachments for 15-20 minutes in the freezer (this will make your whipping go much, much faster)
-Pour whipping cream in the bowl and whip with electric beater until you have soft peaks (5 mins)
-Then add your sugar and vanilla.
-Continue to whip until you have stiff peaks (another 3 mins). Store up to a day in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap.
-Or make chocolate whipped cream by melting 1/2 cup chocolate chips, let cool for 10 mins. Fold 1/3 of your whipping cream with the chocolate. Then add the chocolate/cream to the rest of your whipped cream.
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with amazing food and company.


Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Bread

It's November! The month of Thanksgiving. Wow! There are so many things to be thankful for in my life. At the top of my list right now...Thanksgiving food! :) I can't wait. The Turkey, stuffing, and homemade cranberry sauce are my favorites and I have to eat them together(a little in each bite-is that weird?) I know some people, like my husband, eat each food separately...The turkey, then the stuffing, then the potatoes, then the cranberry sauce. How do you eat? Are you like me wanting to have the salty and the sweet together, or do you savor each one by itself? 

Ohhhh, and then there is dessert. I grew up mainly on homemade pumpkin pie and real whipped cream-It was always so good.

I like to wait until Thanksgiving Day to have a slice of  pumpkin pie though, because if I start eating that stuff too early, I will be sick of it before Thanksgiving. So, I make other pumpkin things to tide me over. Last year I made these bomb pumpkin spice cookies. You mix pumpkin with a box of spice cake-mix and like.. 1 egg or so. The batter is thicker than a cake batter..then you spoon them onto parchment as cookies and bake them. And top with cream cheese frosting. They were super addicting. 
Anyway, this year, I have stumbled upon making a yummy pumpkin chocolate swirl bread and it turned out deliciously moist and beautiful when sliced into pieces.

Ivy's Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Bread Recipe:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp all spice
3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne
pinch of cardamom
2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup butter, room temp
3 eggs, room temp
1 can pumpkin
2 Tbs Vanilla Extract
3/4 cup milk
-Preheat oven to 350F
-Butter a 9x9 square baking pan.
-In a medium bowl, whisk all dry ingredients and set aside
-In a glass bowl over a pot of 1/2 cup simmer water, melt the chocolate chips, stir to smooth, take the bowl off the heat and set aside.
-In large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy to to the max
-Add eggs (one at a time) and vanilla.
-Add in pumpkin, mix well.
-Mix in half the flour mixture, mix.
-Pour in half the milk, mix.
-Add the rest  of the flour, mix.
-Add the rest of the milk, Scrape sides of bowl and bottom, and mix well.
-Separate the batter into two bowls. In one, mix in the melted chocolate.
-Alternate pouring each batter type into the baking pan. The pan should be 3/4 full.
-With a wooden spoon, swirl the batter around a little and smooth out the top.
-Bake for 45 minutes or until a knife comes clean when stuck in the middle.
-Let cool, then invert onto a cutting board and cut serving size slices.



"Restaurant Style" Chicken Enchiladas
I ALWAYS order enchiladas when eating out at a Mexican restaurant. I love them sooo much! So I decided I was going to try and make them like they do at the restaurants...then I could have the yumminess anytime I wanted. HELLOOO! (It's pretty smart of me, I know).

Here's the recipe if you are interested
Recipe makes about 6 enchiladas...
You Need:
Chunks of shredded chicken pieces preferred to come from a whole cooked chicken
4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1-2 tbs taco seasoning
3tbs lime juice
3 tbs butter
1/2 Red onion, diced
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
pinch of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper
Pack of tortillas, I prefer corn tortillas but my hubby likes flour. Sometimes I do white corn tortillas.
Veggie oil for cooking tortillas
Small can of diced green chilis
Small can diced jalapenos if you want it to be spicier
10 oz can enchilada sauce

What you need to do is....
-Mix grated cheese with taco seasoning and set aside.
 -In a medium skillet, saute lime juice, butter, onion, tomatoes, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper until onions are translucent. Take off heat and pour into a bowl. set aside.
-Then in a clean skillet heat veggie oil or grape seed oil (a couple tbs to start)
-cook both sides of tortilla, lift the tortilla up with a spatula and put your next tortilla underneath it, you should now have two tortillas in the the pan-new one on top. Repeat until you have 6-7 cooked tortillas. add more oil occasionally if you need to. You just want to make sure that your tortillas are pliable and will not break when you stuff and roll them.
-Place your tortillas on a plate and cover with a papertowl. If they seem to
oily-dab each one.
-Preheat oven to 450F
-Build your enchiladas with sauteed onion mixture, geen chilis, chicken and cheese. Don't stuff them too much.
Ross and place in baking dish lined with foil and buttered. Have the fold of the tortilla facing down. Save about 2 cups of cheese for the top of the complete dish.
-When all tortilla's are rolled completely cover in yummy enchilada sauce. cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes until bubbly.
-Sprinkle rest of cheese over top with some chopped green onions or cilantro and bake until cheese is nice and melted(about 5-10 mins)
Serve with black beans, Spanish rice, 1 whole black olive, and a raddish rose. :)