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Pumpkin, a love story.

Dear Pumpkin,

I have loved lots of autumn things. Crimson leaves, fireplace nights, warm cider, soup. But you, dear pumpkin, I don’t just love you. I adore you like no other squash has been adored before. I first saw you sitting humbly amongst your taller friends all named jack at the farmers market in Portland, and it has been nothing but bliss for us ever since. You didn’t whisper my name, or tug at my sleeve to come have a look see. You leapt into my vision and embraced me with your soft lines and dusty exterior. The moment I saw you I didn’t think it could be true. There was no way something so flawless was still homeless this late in the day…especially with your measly $8 price tag! With arms full of honeycrisps, I guarded you until the pumpkin man with a dreadlocked beard took the five and three singles I was flinging at him and offered to help me carry you to the car. You rode in my lap for no other place was safe enough. You were patient during the 7 hour ride home, never once begging me to stop singing like everyone else does in the car with me. Darling pumpkin, you don’t have to sit out in the rain hoping that hooligans don’t come smashing you when the moon comes up. You have prime real estate in the living room, next to our friend the fireplace. I know our time together won’t be long, and that’s what makes you so special. Your post-pick/pre-rot time is limited, so I’ll have to fit a lifetime of love into your two month lifespan. Thank you for your presence, my pretty pumpkin. I shan’t forget you any time soon.Image

Love for always,

Audrey


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Catching Up

Duuuude, we’ve got some catching up to do. Since we last spoke, I’ve become a real estate agent, I’ve quit the real estate industry, I’ve taken up karate (blue belt next week holla!), the government has shut down, I’ve started looking at places for my own storefront, hi-lo skirts have gone out of style, I’ve decided that I sort of enjoy beer, I’ve catered a few events at Anthropologie (#dreamscomingtrue), and Kate Middleton had her baby. That’s a lotta stuff, yo. This whole time I was chalking up not blogging to silly things like busyness and writers block, and then I woke up and realized that writing cures writers block, and writing makes me more efficient. So write I shall. 

If you didn’t previously know, I’m a white girl. What does that mean? #PUMPKIN4LYFE So when Greenvale Anthropologie (a previous employer of mine) so kindly asked me to cater their first ever birthday event (the store is open a few hours later than usual for customers who have a birthday that month, so they can enjoy some refreshments and party fun while shopping with their 15% off birthday coupons), I dreamed up this gem. A Pumpkin Maple Cake Pop, with a hint of cream cheese. 

Please let me tell you that cake pops are not as much fun to make as they look. The chocolate may crack (cake pop too cold). They may ooze (too moist, lighten up on the icing). They may fall off the stick (which is why I use straws dipped in melted chocolate first, the cake sticks to the inside and outside). You may drop a half dozen on the floor (five second rule-unless someone’s paying for them). But it’ll be worth it. Humans worship the one who brings pumpkin maple cake pops to the party. 

Image

Pumpkin Maple Cake Pops

(makes about 40) 

Pumpkin Cake

ingredients

2 C flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 C light brown sugar, packed

1 C sugar

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil

4 eggs

15 oz pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 325, line a 9×13″ pan with parchment paper, butter and flour. 

Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg, set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together melted butter, oil, and the sugars. Once combined, whisk in eggs until totally homogenous. With rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in dry ingredients. Just before the last of the flour is combined, stir in pumpkin. 

Pour into pan and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 35-45 minutes, depending on your oven. 

Let cake cool in pan for 15 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. 

Maple Frosting

I don’t have exact measurements on this, but frosting is very forgiving, and this is more to hold the cake together than to have a perfect texture so don’t sweat it if it’s not perfect. 

Combine about a stick (less if you don’t have it) of softened butter with about two cups of confectioners in a mixer on a medium speed until well blended. Add a generous spoonful of cream cheese if you’re feeling it, and a good drizzle of high quality maple syrup (Aunt Jemima isn’t invited) if you want. At this point the frosting may be a bit loose and you may want to add a bit more sugar, or perhaps a dash of vanilla. That’s it!

Crumble the cooled cake into a large bowl, and work it with your hands until it is very fine crumbs. Add a good scoop of frosting (not all of it, you want to add little bits at a time because a too moist cake pop is tough to work with). Keep mashing it all together until you can roll a ball of it and it doesn’t fall apart. If you’re fancy measure the cake pops with a small ice cream scoop, if you’re lazy like me just eyeball it. Roll the balls of cake and let them take a nap on a wax paper lined cookie sheet in the fridge, for at least 2 hours. 

Next, melt ya chocolate (I use merckens wafers because they are available at my local confectionary store, but wilton candy melts are sold at Michael’s and AC Moore). Don’t use regular chocolate chips unless you’re a pro at tempering chocolate, something I have yet to master. If you don’t temper chocolate that was not made to be melted, you end up with nasty white spots on the chocolate and it won’t harden nicely. Totally edible, it just doesn’t look like it. Also, though candy melts are more stable than regular chocolate, they must still be handled gently. I like to microwave them in 30 second increments at power level 5, stirring between each one until they’re totally melted. Dip a paper straw, or lollipop in the melted chocolate and stick in the top of the cake pop. Next, dip the whole cake pop in the chocolate and tap on the side of the bowl to get rid of excess chocolate. 

You just made cake pops. Woohoo!
These keep in the fridge for up to 5 days yay!

Cheers!
Audrey


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The Obligatory New Year’s post. And Cupcakes.

I know you’re sick of it already. The celery. The treadmill. The lack of ice cream in your life. You’re sick of hearing about other people resoluting to be better and kinder and how they feel that taking up yoga these past two weeks has really connected their mind with their body and their soul.

I’m sorry. I need to tell you about my resolutions. So I don’t stop doing them.

First of all, I didn’t start them until January 7th. I gave myself a week of mind prep time/holiday hangover, stuffing my face with donuts every chance I had.

My resolution this year is not to lose five pounds. It’s not to run a mile every morning (never will I ever). It’s not to organize every item in my closet by color/shape/designer and keep it like that. It’s to be more aware.

Aware of what I’m putting into my body. You know, realizing that grabbing a handful of m&ms for breakfast doesn’t count as breakfast.

Aware of my posture (this is a big one).

Aware of what comes out of my mouth (I too often speak before thinking).

Aware of what I’m spending. Sometimes I look at my wallet and I’m like what the what, didn’t I just have lotsa dolla bills? Did they walk away? And then I’m like oh right. Starbucks ain’t cheap.

So far, four days in, I’m diggin this approach to resoluting. Keeping track of what I’m doing has really helped me realize that I was a little reckless with my spending and eating habits before. I’ve been using two different apps to keep track of my food and money, and it’s really nice to know exactly how much it takes to keep a body living. The first day I used the MyFitnessPal app, I found out that I was eating 159 grams too much of sugar. Bad vibes yo. Since then, when I go to reach for a handful of cinnamon toast crunch I’m like hey self, why don’t you have a handful of pistachios instead? Realizing how much bad stuff was going into my body has made me want to stop. I don’t know how long this will last, I’m hoping I can train my body to stop craving chocolate chip cookies every hour on the hour. (Just so you know, I am definitely NOT on “a diet.” I’m really just trying to be kinder to my body, I’ve been feeling really sluggish and stomachachy lately so I decided it was time to change). Also, I’m able to put in any recipe and it spits out the nutrition facts. I’m sure they’re not exact, but it’s really nice to know how many calories is in each cupcake I make for all of those diet crazy January humans.

The expense/income tracking app I’m using is Mint. I’ve had an account on their website, which I love love love. I can put in every dollar I make and every dollar I spend. It keeps track of all of my bank accounts and credit cards, and lets me know when bills are due. I’ve set up personal budgets and there was a little money left over that I can put towards a goal, which the site helps you figure out the exact cost of. So amazing.

I was not compensated to post about these apps, I’m just a little bit excited about them.

All of that being said, how about some cupcakes?

The photos I took were extremely out of focus, so here’s a dinky instagram picture for y’all.

French Toast CupcakesFrench Toast Cupcakes

Recipe adapted from Bakingdom.com

ingredients

Struesel

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 TBSP cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Cupcakes

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 TBSP vanilla

Frosting

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (real deal…aunt jemima is out)

To make the streusel, combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and cut the butter in using a pastry blender or a fork until it resembles crumbs. Alternatively, make this in a food processor. Freeze while you make the batter.

For the cupcake batter, combine all of the dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer. Then add the butter slowly (I did half a stick at a time so the dry ingredients wouldn’t go everywhere). Add the yogurt, eggs and vanilla and mix until combined and smooth. Note that this batter is very different from your average cupcake batter, it has a lot of eggs to make it bready-er and denser. Divide the batter among 24 standard cupcake tins, top with equal amounts of streusel. Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and the cupcakes spring back to the touch.

While they cool, make the frosting. Whip together the butter and confectioners sugar until smooth, add the vanilla salt and maple syrup and whip on high speed until super fluffy. I used a spatula to frost my cupcakes so I could make a well in the center for an additional sip of maple syrup, which I really think boosted the cupcakes up notch.

Share with friends, even the dieting Januarys can’t turn down these cupcakes!

Enjoy,

audrey

 


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Newtown

I remember being about twelve years old and watching the news with my mom one night. I asked her, “Was the world always this bad and I just didn’t notice or is it getting worse?”

She replied with, “Well, it’s our job as parents to keep you away from the bad stuff when you’re little. That way you can grow up with as little worry and as much happy as possible.”

I wish it were possible for those kids in Newtown to have just a few more years, months, days even of blissful ignorance.

Though we can’t turn back time, there are a few things we can do to help, no matter how small the act of kindness is. Roo at Nice Girl Notes has compiled a list of ways to help those affected.

Tighter hugs this week, my friends.

audrey


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Peppermint Bark Oreos

Four things I think you should know when shopping this holiday season:

1. Those perfect little stacks of clothing in every store? Yeah, real human beings are the ones that fold them. I can honestly say I thought it was some magical folding robot until three months ago.

2. When you say thank you, I want to hug you.

3. Eye contact every now and then means I’m going to treat you like a rockstar.

4. Cookies are shopping fuel.

homemade oreos

Peppermint Bark Oreos

I took the cookie part of this recipe straight from Deb at Smitten Kitchen.

The filling:

ingredients

-1 stick unsalted butter, softened

-3 cups confectioners sugar

-1/2 lb white chocolate, melted and cooled (I used two bars of Ghirardelli)

-1/2 tsp peppermint extract

-1 cup crushed candy cane

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the peppermint extract, beat to combine. Slowly drizzle in the white chocolate and beat once again until fluffy. Add in 3/4 cup of candy cane crumbs and beat to combine. Fill oreos with either a piping bag or just use a spoon to dollop it on one cookie before sandwiching the other one on top. Roll cookie in remaining candy cane. Refrigerate for about a half an hour just to firm up the filling, serve! (Refrigerate any leftovers if you have them!)

Cheers!
audrey


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Lemon Ricotta Arugula Deliciousness

crostini (1 of 1)

For someone who loves talking, I find myself pretty socially awkward unless there’s food involved. I get so concerned that I’ll run out of things to talk about at a party with people I only kind of know that I come up with topics in my head before I get there. Of course once I get there I’m so busy trying to remember what I wanted to say that I can’t think of a darn thing to say, and I stand there looking like a fool staring straight through the person I’m trying to have a conversation with.

And then I’m like, “Oh look! Cheese! I love cheese!” Their reaction to this sudden statement of mine determines how far our friendship will go. For example, if they immediately start describing the breadcrumbed portion of the mac n cheese they ate last week in detail, I know I could sit in a car with them for a few hours and it wouldn’t get awkward. If they react with a simple, “yeah me too.” We’re done buddy. I know all that I need to know about you.

One of my greatest friendships started this way, two strangers at a party in 6th grade (which you know haaad to be awkward since there was a pool and cool kids involved, of which I was not), we started talking about the proper way to pronounce, “fructis” as in Garnier Fructis. I don’t know how this conversation started or how it ended, all I remember was spending the better part of a half an hour saying the word over and over. Other friends would come over to us, and then realize that we were just weird before walking away to go show their cool friends their new ice pink RAZR phone.

And so I leave you with this recipe. A recipe for something you can bring to a party and not have the fear of running out of conversation. With an appetizer this delicious, you will have to put in no effort to speak, other people will talk for you. You’ll just have to answer a few questions every once in a while.

“Is this arugula organic?”
“Would I have it any other way?!”
“You’re just a doll!”

“Now this olive oil…”
“Yes, imported from Sicily.”
“How fancy you are!”
“I know.”

“The flavor is just so bright!”
“That would be the meyer lemons. Sweeter than a regular lemon, but they still wake up those pretty little taste buds of yours.”
“Let’s be friends.”

So it’s not quite a recipe, more like a guideline of flavors.
This time, I used crostini (french bread cut into 1/2″ slices, drizzled with olive oil and toasted in a 400 degree oven until both sides were light brown and crispy), topped it with super high quality ricotta (Polly-O just won’t do. Trust.), a little bit of really clean, really dry arugula, and zested a meyer lemon over the tops. This can be done a little bit in advance (although I wouldn’t do it more than an hour ahead because the bread might get soggy), but just before serving you can squeeze a little bit of the meyer lemon juice over the top and drizzle it with just a tiny bit of really good olive oil. I’ve also made these on top of toasted pita breads, which is equally delicious.

Cheers!
Audrey


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Happy Friday!

aruguala ricotta bread

 

(This recipe comin atcha next week yo)

2. This product is brilliant! A lot of times when I don’t have a speaker around and I want to listen to my music from my phone, I put it in a bowl and it amplifies it!

3. Should I?

4. CONGRATULATIONS ELISE AND PAUL!! So happy!

5. Love the skirt Katie’s wearing in that first shot!

6. haha being social is awkward.

7. Friday Senses.

8. This is far too pretty to be a bathroom.

9. Cool packaging is the best.

10. These exist now. Time to go make them.

Have a delightful weekend, friends!
Cheers,

audrey