Visiting Blue Starlite Drive-in During COVID-19

The Coronavirus has led to the slowdown of a lot of our favorite pastimes; from bar hopping to concert-going, everything’s come to a standstill these last few months. An industry that has been forgotten about because of Coronavirus that is a personal blow is that of the movie theater.

Ah, the movie theater. I’m already feeling nostalgic about its stale popcorn, overpriced ICEEs, and customers who never actually turn their phone off. This void for seeing something on the big screen has been weighing on me for a while; The Princess Bride just isn’t the same on my 13” laptop screen. Then, I had an epiphany. The solution to my dissatisfaction without the silver screen hit me: “Go to a Drive-in.”

Now, the drive-ins of 2020 are not your grandma’s drive-in, and trust me when I say these aren’t just the venue for high schoolers to make their way to second base while a B-rate horror movie droned on through the radio. Oh, no. The drive-ins of 2020 are advanced. Austin’s own Blue Starlite Drive-In is a perfect example of this.

Going on their 10th year anniversary, Blue Starlite jump-started the drive-in resurgence we’ve seen over the last few years at their original Austin locations in Mueller and Round Rock. During quarantine, though, they decided to provide a new way for audiences to see their favorite cult classics and open their Downtown Rooftop location. 

I visited their downtown location on a lovely weekday night to watch Goldfinger (which, might I say, is truly a classic). It’s an adorable set up on top of a parking garage in the heart of downtown Austin; watching the skyline lights go in and out is just an added layer to the experience of watching the movie. It wasn’t crowded, and overall, because of their social distancing guidelines that come with a ticket purchase, I felt really safe watching a movie I love in my car with my windows cracked. Also, they encouraged customers to order food from delivery services if they wanted to; bye-bye $15 movie theater nachos!

During these times, it can be really difficult to find new things to try or to excite you, and I think this is a perfect outting. You could go with your friends, your family, your boyfriend, your dog – anyone in your quarantine circle! As the holiday season is quickly approaching, Blue Starlite is starting to show holiday classics as apart of their “Holidaze at the Drive-In” special, so you could take anyone and everyone out to see their faves, whether it’s Home Alone or Christmas Vacation.

In addition to their special holiday screenings, Blue Starlite is still showing their usual rotation, like classics such as Edward Scissorhands or new indie films, like Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks. If you’re really wanting something new and exciting to do, they also host live stand-up comedy shows. You drive-in, they stand-up!

Honestly, I can’t recommend a night at Blue Starlite more. They’re a great, Covid-conscious business trying to bring entertainment back to audiences at a time when it’s incredibly difficult to. Next time you’re going to have another Netflix night in, maybe see what Blue Starlite’s showing; it’s bound to be good.

You can find Blue Starlite at one of their three Austin locations and their Minturn, Colorado location, as well as their website, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Ariana Grande – Positions – An Album Review

Ariana Grande Is In Her Feelings In Exploring A Newfound Confidence On “Positions”

Ariana Grande is moving onto the next chapter in her life in finding newfound confidence in making peace with her past relationships. She is picking up the pieces in reconnecting with love again with all the glory, intimacy, and fears within a new relationship. Grande released her sixth studio album, “Positions.” Throughout the 14 song tracklist, Grande’s impressive vocals are captivating while her sound is a good balance between R&B and 90’s rhythmic pop.

“Positions” is a carefree continuation of her previous albums, “Thank U, Next” and “Sweetener.” It’s carrying on the themes of heartaches, sex-positivity, and contentment but among all, it is her most explicit album to date. Grande takes the listeners on the journey of self-worth and honesty in finding meaningful answers in a relationship.

From the beginning with the intro of “Shut Up,” it is introducing the album to a classical orchestral pop melody, with heavy violins playing in the background. Grande is showing her newfound confidence in singing, “All them demons helped me see shit differently so don’t be sad for me,” sets up the tone for the whole album in reminding listeners that she is sure about herself despite what the media says about her. Towards the end of the song, it reaches a swirling, cinematic climax sound in adding uniqueness to the storyline that Grande is conveying.

Grande expresses her flirtatious and seductive side with songs like “34+35,” “six-thirty,” along with “nasty,” that mixed the album up with faster, playful sounds. In “34+35,” Grande is looking for a soulmate in seeking answers from her partner if he is committed to being a lifelong lover.

“Safety Net,” ft Ty Dolla $ign, unveils Grande’s hesitation of the possibilities of loving again in bringing down the tempo into a subtle beat. In the lyrics, Grande questions her partner’s intentions in the way he is making her fall completely in love with him, “I’ve never been this scared before feelings I just can’t ignore/ don’t know if I show fight or fly.”

“Just Like Magic” picks up the album with a self-empowerment anthem. Grande is focusing on peace of mind to help her to manifest her thoughts into reality. As she sings the feel-good upbeat rhythm song, “Good Karma, my aesthetic/ keep my conscience clear/ that’s why I’m so magnetic/ Manifest it, I finessed it.”

“POV” (Point of view) is a sweet tribute to her partner for loving her for the person she is and reflecting on her self-image to see herself through her partner’s eyes. The smooth slow pace tempo beat will get listeners into their feeling as she sings, “I’m getting used to receiving still getting good at not leaving/ I love you even though I’m scared/ learning to be grateful for myself.”

The album wraps up with catchy lyrical, dance-pop songs with, “motive,” and her self title track, “positions.” Grande’s album explores her confidence, even when she is singing about self-doubt or uncertainty. Her openness in singing into her feelings is admirable and worth listening to.

A Love Letter to The Happy Grilled Cheese in Austin, Texas

Grilled cheeses are truly an art. Such simple ingredients yet every person makes them differently. But what if it wasn’t just cheese and bread?

The Happy Grilled Cheese, located in front of the Violet Crown Social Club on 1111 East 6th Street, is serving up cheesy goodness with a side of your choice of queso fries or tomato soup. 

The perfectly grilled and buttered bread was just the beginning. Paired with a side of seasoned fries topped with jalapenos, bacon and queso, I saw what happened to be one of the most beautiful sandwiches I’ve ever seen– the OMG Melt. 

The reason the OMG Melt caught my eyes is simply because of the inclusion of mozzarella sticks. When torn in half, the molten cheese pulled away so beautifully. I felt as though I were watching a famous play in a grand theater. This grilled cheese is superior. Cheese on cheese on cheese with a sprinkle of bacon bits…I don’t know what could top this.

Next up, I tackled the Daddy of the Mac. This grilled cheese had macaroni, the sweetest barbecue pulled pork and onion. The combination of all three made for a party in my mouth. The sandwich is a perfect option for those wanting more substance other than cheese. 

To end the night, I couldn’t help but try the S’more Melt. Marshmallow and chocolate in between sweet bread…nothing gets better than this. One thing I really appreciated was the graham cracker crumbles. They weren’t too hard and weren’t too soft– just perfect.

Whether you’re needing a dinner date idea or just want to indulge in an enhanced childhood favorite, The Happy Grilled Cheese is a great option. Open from 5pm to midnight, the possibilities are endless.

Best Fall Tea & Coffee Bars in San Antonio

Tis the fall season and with the fall season comes the undeniable need for hot drinks. Here I have some of the best coffee and tea bars in San Antonio that you definitely need to check out this year.

CandleLight Coffeehouse: Best Overall for Coffee and Tea

The best overall for both coffee and tea has to be CandleLight Coffeehouse. It is conveniently located near downtown and the Riverwalk, this bar can take your breath away with its scenery and atmosphere. If you’re looking for the fun ambience and affordable drinks, look no further.

Barrio Barista: Best Twist

Ever want a bit of spice with your coffee, because I definitely do. Barrio Barista spices things up with their fun and welcoming environment. Not only can you purchase coffee and tea here, but there is also an all around menu with some really good tacos. If you’ve never had tacos with your coffee, you’re missing out! Barrio Barista is located in a little spot near Woodlawn Heights.

San Antonio Barrio Barista Coffeehouse

Theory Coffee Company: Best Flavor

My favorite part about any coffee I drink has to be the flavor. Theory Coffee Company has just the right everything for that requirement. The flavors range from bold to smooth with a creamy aftertaste. If you’re picky with your coffee, then check this place out. It won’t fail to meet your expectations. This coffee truck is located along NE Interstate 410 Loop. It’s easy to miss but hard to forget.

Rain or shine, we’ll be here for ya with everything you need to get your weekend started right.  Come see us, we’ll be here until 2:00 today and then 7-12 tomorrow!!!

Poetic Republic Coffee Company: Best Aesthetic

Having a good vibe is essential nowadays! This coffee shop definitely has those good vibes. Perfect for Instagram stories and a great time, Poetic Republic Coffee Company definitely has the best aesthetic in San Antonio! It’s located South of Downtown in a bustling heart of major interstate intersections.

Garden Tea Lounge: Topper in Tea Time

What’s topping the charts for tea in San Antonio? I think that has to be the Garden Tea Lounge. Although it’s only available for pickup right now, the tea from this place is so worth trying. It’s located in North San Antonio and is conveniently placed near department stores. So basically, tea after some shopping sounds amazing.

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Madhatters Tea House and Cafe: Tea Twist

Just like the twist from Barrio Barista, we see a tea twist in Madhatters Tea House and Cafe. It’s all in the name really, We’re just drawn in. Aside from that, the drinks and atmosphere are superb. It’s also placed in the heart of San Antonio near a bunch of other cool stuff to check out.

Tealicious Cafe: Basic goodness

If you’re looking for a traditional tea place, then look no further. Tealicious Cafe has a wide variety of teas that all have great flavor. Looking past that, it has a comforting and welcoming look to it. I recommend this to anyone who wants a quick drink that’s worth the stop. This cafe is located in West San Antonio, not too far from the Downtown area.

PS5 – The Next Generation of Gaming

With the holidays fast approaching, I asked myself the biggest question. How can I reward myself for surviving a crazy 2020? The answer to that was simple – a new gaming console! For the first time in seven years, there is now the option to obtain the newest generation gaming console…the PlayStation 5.  

When I was around ten years old, I would always try to convince my parents to let me go over to my neighbor’s house so that we could play on his PlayStation 3. I never knew what a PlayStation was or what you could do on it, but I was addicted. We would play for hours and hours. After getting bombarded by phone calls from my mom to my friend’s mom, it was time to return home. Ever since then, I’ve been a PlayStation fanboy. 

The PS5 launched last week! A big question that’s always on everyone’s mind is which is why should I get the new PlayStation? I’m lucky that my PlayStation 5 arrived on Thursday so I can give you all the details and tell you everything you need to know.

The Size

I’m not gonna lie to you, this console is huge. It looks like a giant ice cream sandwich box. What’s even bigger, is the box it is in. The box could actually pass as a mini suitcase that you could take on a flight. To put it in perspective, the box can’t even fit under a king size bed. The console is much bigger than the old PS4 console, the PS5 is around three inches taller and wider and about two inches longer than the PS4. This might not be a big deal, but it matters because finding out where and how to fit this mini alien-looking tower in your room or living room might be difficult.

The Price

For the first time ever, the newest gaming system comes in two flavors.

One is $499. The other is $399. They’re both identical except for one key feature… the disc drives. For an extra $100, you can pay for the version that has a disc drive where you can insert and remove discs. I know what you’re thinking, why on earth would anyone ever pay that much for just a simple disc drive?

Well, the other type of PS5 is a digital only system. Meaning any game you purchase has to be downloaded from the online store onto your system. That means no more going to Gamestop or Walmart to pick up a new game. Personally, I purchased the PS5 with the disc drive, mainly because it was the only thing that was in stock at the time. The other reason was because new PlayStation 5 games went up by $10. So now Call of Duty costs $69.99 instead of $59.99. Knowing this, I decided that the disc version of the PS5 would be more beneficial because I can now return games for cash or credit when I’m done using them. Gamestop might give me $3.41 in store credit for a $60 game, but hey, it’s better than downloading a game and then playing it only to never play it again.

The Controller

My personal favorite controller of all time is now the new PS5 controller. The one feature I like on the controller compared to the PS4 controller is the rough texture on the handles. It’s almost like mini soft sandpaper which provides a strong grip so that your hands don’t slip  when you’re sweating playing for hours on end.

The biggest advertised feature is the “Adaptive Triggers” which directly adds realistic pressure to the L2 and R2 trigger buttons on the back of the controller to in-game objects that would require extra effort. Playing the new Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War there were certain details that really showcased that. For example, whenever I used a certain weapon in the game, the pressure was intense on the trigger. Like seriously, it was an index finger workout! But then there would be other types of weapons that made the triggers feel like air.

The last big detail is there is now a built-in microphone inside the controller. You can literally hear your friends talk and you can respond through your controller. It’s a really cool feature that allows everyone to communicate with each other. Now your friends have no excuse as to why they can’t join the party and talk while you’re all gaming. 

At the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong with choosing PlayStation over Xbox or Xbox over PlayStation. Both are great consoles and have been in the works to be released since 2013. It’s been a joy to be able to grow up with these consoles and see the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and now the PlayStation 5. There really is no better feeling than being able to play your new system with your friends, enjoy the moment and create memories.

Tis The Season – Hot Cocoa Bombs

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Well in some parts of the U.S at least, whereas here in Texas by Dec 24th, it’s still 90 degrees outside. Leading to November 1st, people around the U.S began to celebrate Christmas early. If not by wearing their PJ onesies, by playing Mariah Carey “All I want for Christmas is you” on repeat while putting up the Christmas tree right when the clock strikes midnight. When talking about the holiday season, we begin to dive into all the sweets that we begin to make around the house and indulge in. One being the tik tok famous “Hot Cocoa Bombs”. These balls of Christmas cheer contain hot cocoa mix and marshmallows dipped into that hot cup of milk in your favorite Christmas mug. Today, I will be teaching you on how to make this delicious drink. 

Step 1: Grab your comfiest Christmas pj pants and begin to play your Christmas playlist

Step 2: Gather your ingredients; For this recipe you will need, marshmallows, hot chocolate mix, chocolate wafers or any form of melting chocolate, and any shape of silicon molding for me, I used round molds that I found at my local crafts store.

Step 3: In a pot begin to boil water and place an oven safe bowl on top of the boiling water

Step 4: Begin to put the chocolate wafers in the bowl and constantly mix the wafers so that the chocolate does not burn, nor does it stick to the bowl.

Step 5: With a spoon begin to put the melted chocolate into the moldings making sure to coat the entire mold but enough to leave a hollow opening to place the hot cocoa mix later

Step 6: Once complete, place the mold into the freezer. With my experience, the chocolate froze very quickly

Step 7: Once the molds are ready begin to take them out of the molds and onto a plate. Be careful not to break the mold when taking them out, so be gentle with them

Step 8: Once all the molds are out on a stovetop, or a hot plate, grab a pair of the chocolate molds and melt the ends in order to “glue” them together once you fill them with the hot cocoa mix and marshmallows.

Step 9: Once they are sealed, I decided to make sure they are sealed completely by putting them back into the freezer for a few minutes

Step 10: Once the seals are complete you can either be creative and decorate the top of the bombs or dunk them into the hot milk and top with your choice of toppings. For me I decided to have fun by adding whip cream and a dash of cinnamon with a candy cane straw to get into the Christmas spirit. 

Overall this is more than a one-man job, so invite friends or family over and have a safe socially distanced Christmas party at home. Maybe make some cookies to dunk into your delicious hot cocoa. I also found that the molds I used were a bit too small for my liking, so I dunked two of the bombs into my mug but next time I will go out and buy a bigger chocolate molding and see how that works out. 

Craziest Pumpkin Spice Items

With Halloween behind us and Thanksgiving in our sights, we are all knee deep into eating pumpkin spice flavored everything for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Besides your classic PSL, shelves are stocked with food you never would’ve guessed existed in our favorite fall flavor. Put these items into your cart next time you go grocery shopping this season!

Pumpkin Spice Mac & Cheese

Kraft truly outdid themselves with this bad boy – imagine your childhood favorite coated in your current adult obsession. Pumpkin Spice Mac & Cheese is an invention way ahead of our time, and this seasonal dish will surely become a household phenomenon.

Pumpkin Pie Gelato

Destress after a long day of work with a nice heaping spoonful (or two) of gelato, but done the right way – the pumpkin way. With the cool fall breeze finally coming in, it is the perfect time to eat Talenti’s new flavor. My freezer is already stocked.

Pumpkin Spice Kettle Corn

Cuddle up on the couch, movie on, and impress your fall bae with this unique version of popcorn. This snack classic is bound to become even more addictive and will be a nice new pantry addition.

Pumpkin Spice Hard Seltzer

Yes, you heard me right. If you have ever wanted a drinkable version of pumpkin spice that can also add a little party to your day this is for you. This will literally ~spice~ up the weekends in the best way possible.

Pumpkin Spice Salsa

Whenever there are chips and salsa in front of me both items are devoured in less than 5 minutes. So, when I first saw pumpkin spice salsa was something you can actually buy I was instantly intrigued. I am wondering if the best way to eat it is with chips, or with butternut squash? Let me know.

Pumpkin Spice Twinkies

Hostess has done it again! These golden baked sponge desserts take the cake for potentially being this season’s tastiest treat. Buy a box, or four.

Pumpkin Spice Spam

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I  think this combination sums up 2020 perfectly: unexpected, confusing, yet some how very real. This limited edition item has no actual pumpkin inside (just like the original Starbucks latte!) but rather adds clove, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg to the spam mix to create this fall flavor.

Pumpkin Pie Hummus

The creamy texture of chickpeas and pumpkin puree were bound to eventually come together to create this master piece. Fall will never be the same, and you might find yourself pleasantly surprised by this unique combination.

Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter

Okay, now imagine this on top of a toast?? Game changer. Peanut butter lovers everywhere are quaking! This twist on a classic can be found sold among multiple different sellers everywhere.

Cookie pop Popcorn Oreo

Oreos, arguably the best invention of mankind, has now joined the fall craze with an invention of their very own. This team of cookies and popcorn creates a balance between sweet and salty, and leaves you craving for more.

Pumpkin Spice Almond Milk

Add this to cereals, smoothies, or just drink straight out the carton – no one here is judging you. This beverage opens doors to endless pumpkin possibilities! You will never need to consume boring drinks ever again.

LOOK FOR THESE LOCAL BRANDS ON STORE SHELVES

Shopping for groceries ultimately means giving money to billion-dollar corporations, so I try to be a conscious consumer by buying local when I can. Buying local means you are strengthening local economies, reducing environmental impacts from transportation, supporting local artisans and entrepreneurs, and personally connecting to your food. If you have the option to select a local product, you can help small businesses grow and even facilitate growth from one grocery store to many.

Whole Foods Market (a local celebrity itself), is one of the easiest stores to be able to shop locally. Items are clearly marked with a RED local tab, and often matched with a short description of the business, founders, or mission.

Next time you’re grocery shopping, here are a few of my favorite local brands to add to your cart:

Clean Cause

Clean Cause makes my favorite drink on the planet. High praise coming from an equal opportunity beverage drinker. It is an organic, sparkling yerba mate that has 160mg of caffeine. All the flavors are amazing, but my favorite is the Blackberry. Clean will give you a subtle jolt of energy without you having to drink something likened to battery acid. This Austin brand also has an amazing mission- it gives 50% of profits to people recovering from alcohol and drug addiction. Their sober living scholarships are given to people recovering in the area where you buy. This means that if you buy a can of Clean in Austin, you’re giving Texans opportunities coming out of rehab or homelessness. Drink a Clean to help someone stay clean.

YELLOWBIRD

These sauces have become my standard for spice. I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to the heat level, but Yellowbird has a spice for every tastebud. The Serano and Blue Agave Sriracha condiments are my two favorites. There is so much flavor packed into each one, and the best part is that they aren’t liquidy like normal hot sauce. Yellowbird doesn’t just make its products hot… it makes them sweet, multidimensional, and fun.

CECE’S VEGGIE CO.

This line of products is the easiest way to attempt healthy eating. Cece’s Veggie Co. has amazing veggie noodles and veggie rice. My go-to is a pack of “zoodles” (zucchini spirals). You can eat them raw or cooked, and there are a million easy ways to dress them up. They’re healthier than pasta, faster than boiling water, and they add color to your meal! I would rather mop the ocean than try and spiralize my own vegetables. CeCe’s delivers an easy component to any meal, and the package is big enough for multiple servings. Pro tip: BBQ pulled jackfruit on top of zoodles makes everything right in the world.

MILES OF CHOCOLATE

Miles of Chocolate truly makes an indescribable dessert. My friends made fun of me for buying a $6 brownie until they tasted it. It tastes like a brownie, truffle, cake, and ice cream all in one. It is super-rich and decadent while managing to be fluffy and crisp at the same time. I’m really not sure what kind of magic makes this taste possible, but if you’re missing out if you pass the bakery and don’t toss one in your cart.

ZILKS

The perfect snack doesn’t exist…wrong. Zilks pimento cheese is perfect for cracker dipping, omelet or grilled cheese making, and anything else that requires cheese. It manages to be chunky and creamy at the same time, and really has a nice tinge of sweet amidst the cheesiness. If you like spicy, Zilks also offers a Jalapeño pimento. Pro tip- this is the perfect snack for eating at it’s namesake, Zilker Park.

PADRINO FOODS

Padrino tamales are frozen tamales, handmade in the Dallas area. They are so easy to heat up, and make for the most authentic, at home Mexican experience you can buy. Do yourself a favor a grab a pack of any…or all…of their flavors. You’ll want to eat a bunch of them!

POPPI

One more Dallas based company because local can mean all of Texas, and it even won its pitch on Shark Tank! Poppi! This is a prebiotic soda in a hard to miss, brightly colored can. This healthy “soda” has less than 20 calories and boosts immunity, aids digestion, relieves bloating, and it tastes so good! It’s fun flavors like Raspberry Rose, Pineapple Mango, Strawberry Lemon (my fave), etc. are all infused with apple cider vinegar for gut health! These taste so uniquely refreshing, and you feel so much better after drinking one. Poppi is a fun drink and while it seems too good to be true… I promise it’s legit!

There are so many more amazing local brands you can find in the grocery store. While you’re shopping and your eyes are assaulted by a million brands to choose from, if you can support a Texas-based one, please do! You’re able to help sustain Austin’s economy, environment, and hard-working members of your community!

Here are a few more local brands to look out for:

High Brew                  Siete               Goodpop                    Culina                         Waterloo

Credo Foods             Lick Honest Ice Creams                 Easy Tiger

ALSO- don’t forget WFM takes 10¢ off your bill per reusable bag you use!

Lowkey Spots of Austin

One of the best things about Austin is there is so much to do outdoors. With COVID-19 a reality of our lives, many folks are heading outside to blow off steam and relax. The problem is… the popular spots can get super crowded. Everyone in Austin knows about 360 Overlook, Mount Bonnell, and the Congress Avenue Bat Bridge. While those are great places to visit and sightsee, you might want something more low key and chill like the destinations below. 

Pace Bend Park

Pace Bend Park in Lake Travis isn’t so hidden with its 1300 acre size land, but within those acres hosts one of the best cliff jumping spots in the state. These cliffs are no joke, some of these cliffs are as high as 45 feet, so you definitely get the full experience when debating your own life at the edge. Now I have experienced this for myself and it is definitely OK to be nervous. But once you jump and find out you’re not dreaming, you want to go back up and do it again. It is one of those places you want to knock off your Austin bucket list for sure.

Secret Beach 

The Secret Beach is really how it sounds. Located behind Krieg Fields near the Longhorn Dam, this place is very discreet even though it is less than 10 minutes from downtown. With it’s sandy shores it is actually a beach! While swimming is prohibited you may still find people tanning or playing with their dogs in the water. It is a nice spot to dip your feet in the water and relax then take a short drive downtown for a bite to eat or some ice cream to stay cool.

Common Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park 

As someone who grew up in the city of Austin, this place is my personal favorite. “The Commons”, is a true kickback destination. I can’t tell you how many times I met up with a bunch of friends here on the weekends. The best part is that the volleyball nets and barbecue grills are located right by the water. So you and your friends can dip in the water or play some volleyball while having some food cooking on the grill.

Saint Edward’s University Hilltop

Many people know that St. Edward’s University’s mascot is the hilltoppers (a goat), and instead of the 40 acres of campus like the University of Texas, it is “on the hilltop” for St. Edward’s. With being on the hilltop comes arguably the most beautiful view of the downtown skyline. At the very top of the hill above the soccer field you can see the whole skyline, and if you go at night you can see all the bright lights before your eyes.

Pumpkin Pie for the Holidays

Ingredients

¼ c unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces, divided

¼ c unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces, divided

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup ice water

1 – 15 oz pumpkin puree

¾ tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. ground ginger

¼ tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp. ground allspice

½ tsp. sea salt

¾ c sugar

1 – 12 oz can of evaporated milk

2 eggs, beaten

Directions

Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a mixer. Add refrigerated butter, and pulse to combine. Add frozen butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with some blueberry-size clumps.

Add ice water, and immediately pulse until water is just incorporated. Squeeze a small amount of dough to make sure it holds together. Pulse a few more times if needed.

Wrap press into disks, and freeze.

Dough can be frozen up to 1 month.

Preheat oven to 400˙F.

Let dough thaw until it is just malleable. Roll dough out on floured surface to a ¼ inch thick or thinner depending on preference. Place mini tart pans over the dough and cut two inches around the pan. Repeat for each tart pan. Mold pieces of dough into each pan, making sure to press the dough into the bottom corners of the pan. Trim excess dough off around the edges using a sharp knife. Use your fingers to fix any imperfections, while still remembering to keep all dough not being used in the freezer to not let the dough get too warm.

Poke holes in the bottom of the crust with a fork. Wrap pie weights or dry beans in parchment or cheese cloth and place in each tart pan to prevent dough from bubbling and shrinking.

Par-bake the tart shells in a 400˚F oven. Bake for 8 minutes or until the crust just starts to brown. Let cool.

Note:
Some large clumps (about the size of small blueberries) should remain after pulsing the butter with the dry ingredients. The finished dough should be mottled with large pieces of butter. The best way to transfer the rolled-out dough to a pie plate is by rolling it over the pin and unfurling it onto the plate.

Preheat oven to 400˙F.

Combine pumpkin puree, spices, and evaporated milk. Beat eggs and mix to combine. Make sure you mix the filling enough so that egg is full incorporated. Place tart shells on a baking sheet. Pour into par-baked mini tart shells.

Note: To prevent spillage, fill the tarts halfway. Place the tarts in the oven and finish filling them in the oven so prevent spilling the filling over the edges of the tart crust.

Bake at 400˙F for 10 minutes, then decrease the temperature to 300 ˙F and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Tarts should be set around the edges with a slight jiggle in the center. Let cool completely.

Serve with whipped cream if desired.