Pumpkin spice lattes ain't got shit on these

Does anyone else ever wonder how Ellen Degeneres is able to watch so much reality tv in addition to hosting her own show and being fucking awesome?

I'm thinking she doesn't sleep. Or she has someone on her staff filling her in on what is happening with the most influential members of our society including Amber Portwood, Emily Maynard, and Spencer Pratt. But that would be cheating, and something tells me my girl Ellen isn't a cheater. In any case, I admire her proven dedication and genuine interest in all things reality. It allows us to connect on a spiritual level. 

I, on the other hand, have fallen behind on nearly all of my shows and it's almost as if my soul has been ripped from my very own body because reality tv is essentially my identity. My purpose in life. I'm ashamed to admit I don't know what's going on with So You Think You Can Dance, I have yet to see any episodes of the Real Housewives of Miami, and I'm not even sure if Kourtney Kardashian birthed her second child yet. It would be cool to tell you I've been too busy with work, or cleaning out my basement, or maybe doing good things for the community, but mostly I've just been drinking. Not alone, don't worry.

But luckily fall is upon us. In addition to honeycrisp apples, tailgating, and the sight of school supplies in stores, fall is my favorite season because it means I can partake in an excessive amount of tv watching without the guilt I feel during the summer. It's actually still been pretty nice out around here but I'm just going to ignore that.

Fall is also the best season because we get to go buckwild with pumpkin.

Pumpkin spice cupcakes, to be exact (with cinnamon cream cheese frosting!). You are quite possibly already sick of the words "pumpkin spice" due to the onsalught of facebook statuses clogging your mini feed right now written by girls confessing their love for pumpkin spice lattes. But please make these, they are so good.

Please enjoy the nerdy pumpkin cupcake liners. These are often mistaken for apples, which upsets me probably more than it should. I snuck these in my mom's cart one day when we were shopping because I'm 4 years old.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients
Cupcakes
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 can (15-oz) solid-pack pumpkin
2 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbl. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup buttermilk

Frosting
1 package (8-oz) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Directions
Cupcakes
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Add pumpkin.
5. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, pie spice, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, ginger, and nutmeg.
6. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.

7. Fill paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full.
8. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.


Frosting
Beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the confectioners sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Beat until smooth. Frost cupcakes.

 

Real talk (and a recipe for blueberry lemon cake)

Let's talk about things I'm bad at.

I'm really bad at losing. I'm a terrible sport and it's best not to be anywhere near me when I'm losing at Scrabble, blackjack, or Mario Kart. I made a scene when my team lost the beer olympics at our most recent cabin trip, but I'm almost positive the other team was cheating. Omg see? I can't even control myself.

I'm bad at being on time pretty much anywhere. Tell me to be to your place by 6:00 and I'll be there by 6:30. Tell me to be there by 5:30 because you know me and I'll be there at 6:30. I know, it doesn't even make sense. I've been this way forever and it's not because I view my time as more valuable than yours, it's just because I'm wired this way. Yeah that's it, I'm blaming it on genetics.

I'm terrible at blogging frequently. How do others do it? And does their strategy involve cocaine or maybe crack?

I'm bad at trivia. Really incredibly bad at trivia. I don't think of myself as a dumb individual but I do when I attend trivia night. I contribute absolutely nothing to the group except maybe help with the team name at the start. Boy does that activity do a number on my ego. Then I go home and watch Jersey Shore and feel smart again.

And because it's only fair, now let's talk about things I'm good at.

I'm really good at singing in the car. Holy shit I sound so good! If anyone heard me singing I imagine they would say something like, have you auditioned for American Idol yet? My harmonizing is top notch. No but really, why does my voice sound so much better in the car? Please don't ever ask me to sing, because I'm actually terrible.

I'm so weirdly good at parallel parking. Not so good at driving in general.

I'm good at making Christmas lists for myself because I'm a huge brat. These lists take a lot of time and are very detailed and some say I ruin the surprise. I say I win at the game of Christmas. I'm also good at pretending these lists are the most important things to ever grace my parent's inbox. IT'S THE DAY YOU'VE BEEN WAITING FOR! was the subject of my Christmas list email this year. My mom thought I was super jazzed about election day because I sent it November 6. Nope, we have much more pressing topics to address here, mother. 

I am really good at eating really fast. By the time my parents are finishing their salads I'm already eyeing dessert. This particular point probably could have been placed in the bad category because some would say perhaps I don't savor my food but I prefer to view it as a positive. You know, in case I ever find myself in the middle of an eating competition.

I'm good at making cake that pairs perfectly with brunch.

Make it, just do it!


Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake

Ingredients
Cake
2 2/3 cup flour
1 tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs, room temp
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 pints blueberries




Glaze
1 tbs. butter, softened
1 tbs. milk
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
 

Directions
Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
3. Toss blueberries with a little flour to coat. Set aside.
4. Mix together butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and lemon juice/zest and mix well.
5. With mixer on low, add about 1/3 of the flour mix, then 1/2 of the buttermilk alternatively, ending with the flour mix. Scrape down sides of bowl between additions. Do not overbeat.
6. Spoon a generous couple spoonfuls of batter into a greased bundt pan. Gently fold blueberries into remaining batter and scrape into pan.
7. Bake 40-50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted near the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool cake in pan for about 20 minutes, then turn onto a rack to cool completely.

Glaze

Cream butter, milk, salt and vanilla. Add powdered sugar and additional milk to desired consistency. Pour that sucker over the cake.

Monday mornings: synonymous with death, misery, pain

You know when you get back to work Monday morning, feeling like absolute hell? And everyone around you is chipper, practically glowing from 2 full days of rest and relaxation? Because they are adults. And they actually have their lives together. Then they ask, what did you do this weekend? And at first it takes you a couple minutes to remember what in the hell you did. It then takes a couple more minutes to come up with a lie, because the only think you actually did do is participate in complete debauchery, spend entirely too much money at the bar, and eat Thai food on the couch in last night's makeup while suffering from a massive headache.

Cue homemade Oreos.

People so easily get distracted by these little guys because they instantly get struck by nostalgia. They also get weirdly impressed, it's great. I'm like, Yeah! I just spend my free time making good ol' Oreos, people. I'm super wholesome and domestic like that.

I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen. As the original recipe states, this is a sweeet cookie. But as we all know, the wafers in real Oreos are pretty un-sweet to contrast the super sweetness of the middle. If you want your cookie to be closer to the original, remove a half-cup of sugar in the chocolate wafer. Be aware if you do this, I will think you're a total pansy. Just sayin'.

Homemade Oreos
From Smitten Kitchen
Makes 25 to 30 sandwich cookies

Ingredients
Chocolate wafers
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar [see recipe note]
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons room temperate, unsalted butter
1 large egg

Filling
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room temperate, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions
Chocolate wafers
1. Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375F.

2. In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass. 
3. Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. Slightly flatten the dough with moistened hands.
4. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.


Filling
Place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy. 

Assembly
In a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. This is where it's totally chill for your inner fat kid to surface. Can anyone say Double Stuff?! Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue the process until all of the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.