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I’m a little late to this party. A quick Google search revealed that this video made the rounds last Valentine’s Day, but I didn’t see it.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and Christmas follows shortly after. Although the fall season is a time for pumpkin lattes, holiday sales, and too much good food, it can also be a stressful time. A time when you’re trying to balance work, family commitments, budgets, travel plans, and relatives who don’t always get along.

D sent me a link to this video one evening when I wasn’t feeling so great. As soon as the video finished, I thought, “That man loves me so much.” And then I spent five minutes thinking about how much I loved him, basking in the fact that we’d spent five minutes each, back to back, just thinking of how special we are to one another.

I’ll stop being sappy now, but watch “The Love Competition,” and then spend five minutes thinking about all the love in your life. Come back to it this holiday season when your life starts to look like the awkward, fighty part of holiday family movies, and then imagine yourself in the ending, surrounded by all the people you love as the credits roll.

This was a few weekends ago, but it was during the one cool, autumnally-appropriate temperature weekend Austin has seen so far this season. As the last several weekends and the next few weekends show summertime-level temperatures, I’m reminiscing about the one October weekend when an outdoor fire was appropriate, and I stood next to the grill as much to keep warm as to get the first piece of chicken tikka masala. Enjoy.

Log fire
{ backyard fire }

Waterloo gin
{ gin }

Baby, playing in a wheelbarrow
{ baby, playing in a wheelbarrow}

Chicken tikka masala, on the grill
{ chicken tikka masala, on the grill }

Topo Chico sparkling water
{ topo chico }

Friday nights are generally pizza nights at my house. D and I come home, straighten the kitchen, put together a pizza (frequently just using whatever leftover odds and ends are in the fridge), and curl up with Netflix.

butternut squash and potato pizza

That was generally the formula when I still lived at home with my mom and sister. We’d stop at Blockbuster or whatever video store to which we didn’t owe a fine, pick up some soda, and either order a pizza or take a Chef Boyardee pizza kit out of the panty. Mom, Alyssa, and I would watch a romantic comedy, cover our slices in parmesan cheese, and eat boxed brownies straight from the pan.

The biggest difference now is that, since pizza night is no longer “just us girls,” the romantic comedy is generally replaced with Buffy the Vampire Slayer or a fantasy movie. The boxed brownies have become pints of Ben and Jerry’s. The pizza no longer comes in any sort of box, and the toppings have become more varied. I’ve moved on from being a strict pepperoni lover to embracing the presence of green things, fancier meats, and root vegetables on pizza.

This pizza feels like winter. The roasted, starchy veggies go so well with the melted cheese. A thin, crisp crust is the perfect vehicle for this marriage of sweet and salty. It was particularly exciting for me to make because I used butternut squash I grew in my garden, and olive oil and herbs that D brought back from a Paris business trip. (I came home to a Provence-themed package on the table: olive oil and herbs, plus regional wine and artisan soap.)

butternut squash and potato pizza

Butternut Squash and Potato Pizza
Note: Make the whole pizza crust recipe, and make it stretch for two people by dividing it into 4!
Serves 2.

You will need:
1/4 pizza dough recipe
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
4 (or so) small red potatoes, sliced into coins
1 cup shredded mozzarella
3 oz. pancetta or prosciutto, shaved super-thin
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Herbs de provence or Italian seasoning

Prepare pizza dough. When it’s about half an hour from being ready to spread out, proceed.

Preheat oven to 400.

Toss butternut squash and potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs until they are well coated. Spread on a cookie sheet and roast until tender and slightly caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven.

Bump oven up to 500 degrees.

Spread pizza crust onto your favorite pizza pan.Drizzle pizza crust with olive oil. Spread cheese onto crust. Scatter roasted squash and potatoes on top of the cheese. Lay pancetta or prosciutto on top of the vegetablesРthe thin pancetta will cook in the oven.

Bake pizza until crust is golden brown, cheese is melted, and prosciutto/ pancetta is nice and crisp, about 15 minutes. If desired, drizzle with more olive oil before serving.

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