Friendsgiving: Pulling potluck for affordability, fun

Layers of chocolate and pumpkin combine to make these brownies decadent and fall-appropriate.

Katy Vogt/Daily Senior Staffer

Layers of chocolate and pumpkin combine to make these brownies decadent and fall-appropriate.

Katy Vogt, Blogger

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it would be difficult to deny the fact many of us have turkey (and other season-appropriate foods) on our minds. Those ramen cups and microwaveable Lean Cuisines just aren’t cutting it anymore. As the absolute epitome of all holidays when it comes to cooking, Thanksgiving has always held a special place in my heart. OK, yes, the “giving thanks” part is important and all, but when it comes to brass tacks, I’m thinking about the food. Surprised? I didn’t think so.

Now, regardless of culinary prowess or amount of free time, I think it’s safe to say very few of us would be able to pull off a full Thanksgiving dinner on our own. Limited resources and off-campus ovens that leave something to be desired certainly complicate the process as well. So how can you satisfy that Thanksgiving craving before heading home for the holiday? Well, you could order a turkey sandwich at Bat 17, close your eyes and pretend you’re surrounded by a cornucopia of side dishes and smiling relatives, or you could have a potluck!

I was the fortunate attendee of a Thanksgiving potluck this weekend, and overall I’d call it a huge success. Marketed as “Friendsgiving,” each guest brought a different dish to the event. By combining forces, no one was saddled with an immense amount of work or an unfair price tag. Net gains: fun, friendship and fantastic food. Despite the 20-pound turkey being a little more of a challenge than we anticipated, the rest of the selection proved to be both succulent and satisfying. Indulging in everything from Aunt Michelle’s cheesy potatoes to green bean casserole to apple pie, we were all quite full by the end of the night.

For my contribution to the potluck, I decided to try something new: pumpkin brownies. I’ve experimented with pumpkin quite a bit recently and was excited to pair it with chocolate. After all, what doesn’t go well with chocolate? This is the recipe I used and I would highly recommend it to anyone seeking a decadent fall dessert.


  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a baking pan.

2.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.

3.  In a second bowl, stir together butter, sugar and vanilla, and beat in eggs one at a time. Slowly add in the flour mixture until batter is smooth. Divide batter evenly into two bowls.

4.  Blend the cocoa powder and chocolate chips into one bowl of batter and the pumpkin puree, walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves into the other.

5.  Spread half of the chocolate mixture into the bottom of the baking pan followed by a layer of half of the pumpkin mixture. Repeat layering. Drag a knife through the batter to created a swirled effect.

6.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Stick a toothpick into the middle, and if it comes out clean, the brownies are done.

Despite my slight obsession with the edible part of the Thanksgiving experience, I still find this time of year to be an important opportunity to reflect on what I’m most thankful for. So whether you’re participating in a potluck, splitting a sandwich or merely sharing a cab to O’Hare, let someone know you appreciate their company. They’re probably grateful for you, too.