The Happy-ish Hunchback of Queens Humbly Presents… An Apple Galette!

25 Nov

There is a chance that all of this pre-holiday food prep is the best diet ever. No one ever talks about it, but prepping for Thanksgiving leaves a person with very little time to eat. Especially if you work a full-time job, live a half-mile’s walk away from the closest grocery store, insist on purchasing twenty pounds of Turkey Day-related food items at said grocery store right after work, and then head home… to start cooking. (Btw, I have absolutely no idea how people with children/various family members to care for also manage to do all of this. Props to you. I do not know what I will do when I make the babies. I will probably try to turn them into helper elves as soon as they’re strong enough to sit up unassisted.) Four hours later, here I am, watching some crappy medical procedural and nursing a fancy cocktail while also nursing some busted shoulders that are giving me serious Quasimodo vibes. 

I wouldn’t trade a single second of it. The last week and a half or so have been a whirlwind of ups and downs– awesome shows and get-togethers with people I love, but also moments of feeling forgotten and sort of inadequate for various reasons. This is a welcome distraction. It’s nice to be focused on what’s cookin’ in our small-as-all-hell kitchen and NOT on what I’m missing out on (or fearing missing out on) on social media. I highly recommend this as a form of rapid-fire therapy. 

Speaking of therapy… an apple a day something something hooray. Right? I’m so good at this. Anyway, how about working on a rustic, sweet n’salty apple galette to add to your Thanksgiving table? 

Apple Galette (adapted from Bon Appetit)

For the dough

1 tablespoon of sugar

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 cup of all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons of cold salted butter, cut into small chunks

1 large egg, beaten

For the filling

1/4 cup of salted butter

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 pound of baking apples (I used Pink Lady apples and needed 2 big ones to fill this), washed and sliced to about 1/8″ thickness

1/4 cup of dark brown sugar

1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon of water

1 tablespoon of white sugar

So, I’m going to start off by saying this: a food processor would come in EXTREMELY handy for the recipe. I am proud and happy to say I have successfully made my first easy pie crusts by just sort of hanging back, not stressing, and using the bejeebus out of mine. 

On that note, if you are working with a food processor, here’s what I did. First, pulse together flour, sugar and cinnamon until combined. Add in cold butter chunks and pulse until pea-sized chunks form in the dough. With food processor running, pour in beaten egg and continue to pulse until dough forms in a ball, about one minute.

Jabba the Hutt, OR the easiest pie dough ever? You decide. (It's the second one, guys)

Jabba the Hutt, OR the easiest pie dough ever? You decide. (It’s the second one, guys)

If you’re not working with a food processor, sift together dry ingredients until combined, then cut in butter chunks with forks or a pastry cutter until pea-sized chunks are formed. Fold in egg mixture gently until dough is wet, then gently use fingers to bring dough together.

Form dough into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for at least two hours.

Now, preheat your oven to 375°F. (My food processor also hooked me up when it came to slicing apples, which is something I do not enjoy doing, especially when my hands are medium-rare from burns and I am bent over like a gargoyle. It’ll slice the apples for ya, people! Keep your apples set aside for the time being.)

Add butter and vanilla to a small saucepan and place over low-medium heat until browned and fragrant. Set aside. 

On a floured surface, roll out dough to a 14 x 10 inch rectangle or a 12 inch circle, whichever you prefer. Transfer dough to parchment-covered baking sheet. Overlap apple slices on top of dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Brush browned butter over apples, then sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the top. Fold edges of dough over gently to keep the shape you want. Brush egg/water mixture over dough, then sprinkle with white sugar.

Bake on the middle rack of your oven for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Remove when the crust is browned and the apples are nice and bubbly.

Let cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. OR, you can make this up to two days ahead, just wrap it tightly and keep at room temperature.

Sooooo…. about that. This is a make-ahead deal for me, so it’s currently resting until Turkey Day. And our city apartment is such a city apartment that my galette is currently wrapped up and resting comfortably on our coffee table with a sign over it… 

Animal acts as a sort of bouncer. Earning his keep over here. 

Animal acts as a sort of bouncer. Earning his keep over here. 

Yep. If you, too, plan on resting this, you can reheat gently… 200°F for 15 minutes should do it. Then, you can serve this with cheddar ice cream. Oh you heard me correctly. Stay tuned, friends, recipe’s a-comin!

Black Friday Savings Start Early! Save Up To 70% On Top-rated Favorites at SurLaTable.com!

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New Twist On An Old Fashioned, From An Old Lady With New Tastes

24 Nov
Gonna miss this band. :'(

Gonna miss this band. 😥

WHEW I’m beat, friends A few days ago I went to the last-ever Pearl and the Beard show, and it was bananas. In good and bad ways, that is. I think I’m getting too old for the standing-room only situation, especially when that room is packed with 600 people who are all rabid fans and think pressing up against you will get them closer to the stage. I mean, I love me some good music, but when the woman behind you gets kicked out for “wanting to just dance for everyone” and ends up instead shoving everyone around her, you kind of lose your taste for the small-venue game. Oh, also, it was pouring that night and I almost slipped into two different piles of garbage while walking down a narrow street to and from the venue. It’s the universe telling me to slow it way down, guys. (The show was still ridiculously fun and I’ll miss that band like hell. But I am outta the game, folks.)

Speaking of being old, let’s talk fancy drinks. We’ve already talked about snacks to keep us going while we’re cooking our respective feasts, now it’s on to the boozy booze, people! I’ve finally perfected the autumnal cocktail of our dreams (our includes all of my of-age drinking buddies. no babies allowed from this point on, sorry ya’ll! Tomorrow’s post will be fun for all ages, promise).

This is a pretty simple twist on an Old Fashioned that incorporates some Thanksgiving favorites. It’s easy and can be easily doubled or tripled if you’ve got guests and you’re feeling generous. I’d highly recommend it as your signature cocktail if your friends are bourbon people. Also, if your friends are bourbon people, have them call me please. We can be homies. 

Pumpkin Old Fashioned (makes one serving)

1 teaspoon of sugar

1 lemon wedge

1 heaping tablespoon of pumpkin butter (make your own!)

1.5 ounces ounces of bourbon (W.L. Weller is my absolute favorite)

Splash of water

Fresh cranberries for garnish, optional

Place sugar and lemon wedge in a cocktail shaker and muddle with a wooden spoon until lemon fragrance fills the space around you. Add in pumpkin butter, bourbon, water and a few ice cubes and shake until fully mixed. Pour into a tumbler glass and serve with ice and cranberries if desired.

Ok, so, this is POTENT. It’s delicious, but boy is it strong. Drink with caution and make sure you’ve got a designated driver/biker/razor scooter operator nearby to escort you home. Old people priorities, guys.

They See Me Rollin’ (These Easy Peasy Peanut Butter Banana Rum Rolls)

23 Nov

Do you ever feel like you’re being… watched? Holy bleepers guys, Dove be spying. 

But seriously, somebody stop me, and not in the quirky Jim Carrey way. I need to either not purchase anything for a long while or come into a large sum of money, stat. I think I’d do well with a great sum of money. I’d add the word “Von” before my last name and wear silk gloves and roll all of my R’s, like fancy people do. This is fancy, yes. Stop asking questions. Questions aren’t fancy. 

Anyway, I know I said I’d be back last week with some serious sweets, and I was totally planning on it, but then the only “sweets” I could permit myself for a while came in a bottle of gross cough syrup. Yup, of course, just as I was talking about exciting plans and busy days and fun fun fun, I was hit with a dumb friggin’ cold. Though I still did follow through on all of my plans. One of which fell on one of the rainiest days we’ve had in a while. I almost fell into a pile of garbage. Twice. It was awesome. I think it extended my cold by a few days. More on that in my next post. 

For now? GUYS! THANKSGIVING STUFF! How psyched are you? I’m crazy psyched, especially since I’ve just recently gotten my taste buds back (colds + loads of garlic + chicken broth = fresh hell on earth) and have spent the better part of the last three days recipe testing. While we get to the good, someone more time consuming stuff, why don’t we talk sweet snacks? I picked up couple of rolls of phyllo dough and want to gift you all with a quick, easy peasy treat. Let’s [chocolate peanut butter banana rum] roll.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Rum Rolls (makes one dozen) 

6 sheets of phyllo, thawed

1/4 cup of butter, melted

cinnamon sugar for sprinkling, optional*

2 large ripe bananas, sliced

1 cup of powdered sugar

1 cup of peanut butter, smooth or chunky, depending on your tastes (I used chunky)

1/4 cup of dark rum, optional but recommended if you’re feelin’ it

1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips or chunks

*for cinnamon sugar, sift together 1 teaspoon of cinnamon with 1/4 cup of white sugar until combined.

To begin, preheat your oven to 375°F and butter a large cookie sheet. In a large bowl, mix together banana slices, sugar and peanut butter. Using a hand mixer on medium speed (Jimmy got me this one, and it’s the absolute nicest gift ever, just in case you want to buy something frivolous *wink*), combine until pureed. Add in rum until fully incorporated, then fold in chocolate chunks and set aside.

Lay phyllo sheets out on a clean surface and place a clean, damp kitchen towel over the sheets to keep them from drying. Gently lay one sheet out on a clean surface and delicately brush with melted butter. Place another sheet over this one and brush again with butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar if desired. 

Drop a heaping tablespoon of the peanut butter mixture at the top of one of the sheets, then roll carefully and tightly into a roll. Brush lightly with more butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, until the top and sides are lightly browned and crisp. Let cool for 10 minutes, and serve while still warm.

So, these would totally be perfect as part of your Thanksgiving desserts, but I pretty much ripped into them as soon as they were cool enough to eat… the common cold meant that I had basically been without proper sweets for, like, three days. Do you know what that could do to a woman?!

Yup. Nuts. 

Yup. Nuts. 

If you’re cooking the entire Thanksgiving feast for your guests and are tired as all hell and kind of at a loss for the sweet portion, these should be your go-to dessert. They’re easy, quick and the yum game = strong. You could even swap out or add in some ingredients– mini marshmallows instead of bananas, pecans instead of peanut butter, etc. Get crazy, ya’ll. 

Psssst. You Know Thanksgiving’s Coming Right? Cool. Just Checking. We’re Cool.

13 Nov
This is a mac and cheese waffle, which you didn't know you needed until this moment. #postthanksgivingsnacks

This is a mac and cheese waffle, which you didn’t know you needed until this moment. #postthanksgivingsnacks

Happy Friday the 13th, ya’ll! Anyone else pretending this is your lucky day to avoid it being your totally unlucky day? Um… no? Ok. Moving on then.

YOU GUYS I AM MASSIVELY EXCITED.

Why? You’re asking me why? YOU KNOW WHY! (Jimmy’s been hiding from me lately. He definitely knows why.)

So, because I am nuts and also because Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away, I am insanely busy. Weirdly, for once, I am busy. It’s like all the cool/weird/random things decided to just wait until the end if the year to happen, and I am in the eye of the damned storm. It’s mostly event-related and cookie-related, and I am not complaining because the more time I spend at events and enveloped inappropriately in cookies, the less time I spend crying and whining. Woot!

So, with that said, while I am off recipe-testing sweets for this Thanksgiving– and yes, I will absolutely update you all with new sweets next week– I am leaving you with some of my favorite Turkey day recipes from years past. Enjoy, and I will see you next week, likely full of tears and butter! ❤


These Are The Material Goods You’ve Been Looking For.

10 Nov
It's the Rockefeller tree, ya'll! Granted, it has yet to be lit and also this picture is from around this time last year but... holiday spirit?

It’s the Rockefeller tree, ya’ll! Granted, it has yet to be lit and also this picture is from around this time last year but… holiday spirit?

Ok, so, full disclosure: this is a post in which I recommend products to you. I get a teeny commission if you decide to buy anything from any of the links provided, but keep two things in mind: I love you guys and I ain’t no sellout (I also ain’t no snitch, but I said two things so…). There is nothing on the below list that I haven’t purchased/wouldn’t purchase if I weren’t so darned broke and living in a tiny apartment. Most of the reason I’m doing this is I keep getting all of these crazy promotional emails for nutty sales that I want to share with ya’ll. Especially with the holidays coming up, I think now might be a good time to share some of my favorite things with you guys. Read on, friends!

First off, Sur La Table is having a BOSS Thanksgiving flash sale (link below), for those of you celebrating the holiday. If you’re brave and awesome and brave, there is a Waring Pro deep-fryer that is on super discount at almost 50% off, today only. Get on it, and then please save me a hunk of fried meat. Will love you eternally. 

Flash Sale! Today Only! Save Up To 60% On Popular Thanksgiving Products at SurLaTable.com!

Also at Sur La Table are these gorgeous Le Creuset mixing bowls, which I am inappropriately in love with and have just purchased myself because they’re on sale. My favorite thing about these bowls are the handles and spout, because you cannot know how disgustingly clumsy I am. I will take all of the help you will give, and then ask for more. There is also this fabulous autumnal-colored cast-iron dutch oven, also on super sale, that will absolutely last you forever. 

Now, for all of your cookbook needs, and specifically all of your cupcake-related cookbook needs, I’d like to present Robicelli’s: A Love Story, a book that combines saucy language with glorious sweet creations. This book is my best friend. No, but really though, we tell each other everything, me and this book. We’re, like, inseparable, me and this book. Guys I know, it’s weird. But the cookbook just gets me, you know?

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Created by the married couple who owns Robicelli’s Bakery in Brooklyn, this book will soon be my one real connection to one of my favorite sweet spots. That’s correct, friends, Robicelli’s is closing, and I am handling the news like the champ I am.

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Yup, total champ. Many of you know Robicelli’s because of the monster success of Nutellasagna, a crazy dessert that deserves every bit of hype it has received, and then some. Get over to the store and try some before it closes at the end of the year, or order a hunk of the stuff, plus pretty much everything else, online. If you do swing by the store, be on the lookout for me, creepily weeping just outside, by the window. 

And lastly, there is a certain popular film franchise that has been discussed quite a bit around these parts recently…likely because the force is being awakened in less than a month and some of us have been told to control ourselves despite the fact that we physically just cannot. If you’re looking for holiday presents for the Star Wars nerd baker in your life (there are more of us than you’d like to believe, sorry to tell you) look no further.

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R2-D2 COMES APART TO BECOME MEASURING CUPS. ❤ ❤ ❤ !!! 

So, that’s that for now. I’ll pop in from time to time with more recommendations, especially since we’re close to the holidays and I am hella ridiculous with finding deals. If you’ve got a specific question or just wanna be all “what’s up, Sad Shibow, let’s be homies,” comment below! 

Wobbly And Delicate. No, Not My Psyche: It’s A Panna Cotta Post!

6 Nov

You know how they always say that television is super healthy for your soul? They say that. Someone does. Well who cares who “someone” is? Readers, meet Television, my new BFFL.

And what, you might ask, am I watching? Well, given that I am uncool and often at least a year behind all of you hippy dippies, I’m on series one of The Great British Bake-Off, which is easily now my all-time favorite cooking-based competition show. Everyone on this show is so damned nice, and I’m amazed/worried over how emotionally attached I’ve become to every single contestant. Perhaps this says more about my current emotional state than it does about the quality of the show, but NO MATTER! You all need to be as obsessed as I am. This is the kind of show that could make a cold old soul like this one melt like buttah. I mean, there’s a freaking seventeen year old who is owning the season so far, and I’m too busy rooting for her to jealously question my own life choices. The show’s got HEART, people!

How was everyone’s Halloween? We ended up, at the very last minute, deciding to go to a friend’s party, which made me realize just how old I’m getting. I pretty much threw a tantrum at the thought of leaving the apartment after 8pm. Ten years ago I wouldn’t have even let the house until close to midnight, and these days I’m griping to my boyfriend about going to a party. That someone was kind enough to invite us to join. I’m a terrible human. 

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Yup, that’s correct, I pulled out the old three-minute Princess Leia costume and Jimmy decided to be… Luke Skywalker. And then, to prove to all the other guests that he was Luke, I present to you the above. Disturbing on all of the levels, yes. I never promised you a rose garden.

What can I promise you? Panna Cotta! Panna cotta is a sometimes annoying but mostly easy, quick dessert that, when done correctly, can impress your friends/best friends/television. I decided to add booze to mine, because what else would you expect from me? 

Rum Stracciatella Panna Cotta (makes 3 to 4 servings)

lightly inspired by

1 cup of half and half

1 cup of heavy cream

1/4 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 packet of powdered gelatin (about 2 1/2 teaspoons)

3 tablespoons of water

2 to 3 tablespoons of dark rum, optional

handful of chocolate chips

Place water in a medium-sized bowl, then sprinkle gelatin evenly over water and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.

 

In a medium saucepan, heat heavy cream, half and half and sugar until sugar is dissolved– it needs to be hot, but do not let the mixture come to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and rum. Set aside.

Lightly oil ramekins, tumblers, tea cups, or whatever other heatproof container you’d like to use to serve these. I used all three because I wanted to figure out which would be prettiest, and also I used the tumbler because I was afraid my panna cotta wouldn’t unmold. This is a trust circle guys. It’s important to be honest. 

Stir a handful of chocolate chips into your hot cream mixture and stir lightly just until the chocolate melts and leaves a lovely spotty, ribbony pattern. Pour this mixture over your gelatin, and stir until the gelatin completely dissolves. And I mean completely. The first time I made this I didn’t realize my gelatin hadn’t completely dissolved and I was left with a delicious but messy custardy thing that fell apart as soon as I tried to unmold. I was PISSED. Once it’s completely dissolved, pour into your receptacles, and chill for 2 to 4 hours, until set.

See? They're pretty in tumblers!

See? They’re pretty in tumblers!

Now you can totally leave these in your ramekins/tumblers if you’d like, but if you’re looking to unmold them, run a very thin knife around the edge of your panna cotta, place a plate on top and invert.

Thoughts?

Thoughts?

No matter how you decide to eat these… oh em gee, ya’ll. It’s a wonder. Believe it or not, the rum does not overpower these and instead gives them a nice caramel-like finish. These are also pretty quick to prepare and make quite a nice treat for your party guests/self. I just had one for breakfast. Ok, no I didn’t. I had two. I had two for breakfast. Like I said, circle of trust. 

 

Woooooo Social anxiety is scaaaaary! It's a Halloween cupcake post.

29 Oct

HI! Have we all calmed down from that Star Wars trailer yet guys? No? I know. It’s ok. This is a safe place.

Speaking of safe places, I got some cool feedback on my last post in which I explained a little bit of the Sad in Sad Shibow. That’s heartening: I learned about things like anxiety clubs (brings me anxiety just to think about, but I learned!) and got some very sweet support from some old friends, one of whom I’m hoping to work with on an exciting project soon! Stay tuned…

Are you intrigued? Curious? Slightly spooked by my constant sads and disturbing obsession with The Force? Well, now’s the perfect time to join the fun then, because All Hallow’s Eve is creeping up on us. What are your thoughts on Halloween? Halloween’s like New Year’s Eve for some people, and I admit that in the past I have been “some people.” There is crazy dumb pressure to have a rad time, especially in the age of The Facebook: A Place For Friends/People You Meet On Buses (maybe that’s just me?) and Instagram: A Place To Make Your New Pics Look Ancient But In That Hip[stery] Way. I’m trying not to let too much of that get to me this year, mostly because my last Halloween was all kinds of lame (the heavens rained down upon my homemade “We Can Do It!” headband sign thing and smeared all of the ink and my makeup until I looked like Zombie Rosie the Riveter. I’m sure I could have made it work if I were not freezing and cranky). This year, I’m going to pay more attention to the inside of the plastic Jack-o-lantern we have filled to its brim with Halloween candy (despite the fact that we have never, ever had a trick or treater anywhere near our doorstep. JUST IN CASE, guys!!). No-pressure holidays are the best kinds of holidays. Also holidays where your head is buried in candy like an ostrich in the Sahara are the best kinds of holidays. But before you ask, yes, yes I do have a homemade Princess Leia costume at the ready in case plans do arise and I also decide to arise for these plans. No, it is not the one from the scene where she’s chained to Jabba the Hutt. #feminism

That year Jimmy and I, dressed up as, respectively, the movie The Grey and a flapper. Total couples' costume win, I know. 

That year Jimmy and I, dressed up as, respectively, the movie The Grey and a flapper. Total couples’ costume win, I know. 

I also often think about some of the heartbreaking costumes of yesteryear. The time when I was in preschool and my dad threw one of my poofy dresses at me, applied lipstick to my cheeks to mimic blush, and took me around our ‘hood to collect candy as a “princess,” (bless his heart, I still love everything about this story and will die on this hill telling it). The time I dressed up as the Pink Panther because it was the last costume at Walgreens. Or when I was the Pink Power Ranger (yeah, I recognize the pattern, I guess I was really into Pepto Bismol-colored characters from popular culture for a while there) and tripped over a Snickers bar and almost down some subway stairs as a ten year old. The Snickers bar was full-size, btw, which pains me now–what a waste! And, my favorite, the time I tried to be a Queen by using a wrap skirt as a cape because I was too cheap to buy one. Shockingly, this did not work. Someone asked if I was “dressed like a hurricane,” to which I now realize I should have simply answered, “yes, and thank you for noticing.” 

What about you guys? Best/worst costumes of all time? Talk to me folks. In return, you’ll get candy-stuffed cupcakes. No tricks here, only treats.

Halloween Skull Cupcakes (makes 10 cupcakes)

For the cupcakes

1/2 cup plus one tablespoon of butter, softened

1/2 cup of sugar

2 eggs

1 cup of all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons of milk

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

10 fun-sized chocolates of your choice

For the topping

1 8-oz block of cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup of powdered sugar

Chocolate-covered raisins

Mini marshmallows

Oreos, separated

Mini peanut butter cups

Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a muffin tin with liners. Place a fun-size chocolate in the middle of each cup. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar using a hand mixer on high. When light and creamy, beat in eggs, one at a time. In a smaller bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder and baking powder until mixed, then add into wet mixture. Stir in milk until batter forms, then divide evenly between cups, over chocolates. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the cupcakes have risen and the tops have set. 

That's a Mounds bar sticking out. Mmmmm.

That’s a Mounds bar sticking out. Mmmmm.

Let cool completely. While cooling, make your cream cheese icing. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together cream cheese and sugar using a hand mixer on high until smooth. Spread on cupcakes, then get to decorating.

As you can see, we got creative. Mine, on the left, had mini marshmallow teeth, chocolate chip nose holes (technical term), chocolate raisin eyes, and peanut butter cup hats with Oreo brims. Jimmy’s had marshmallow eyeballs, chocolate chip irises, and Oreo mouths with crooked chocolate chunk teeth.

So, thoughts? I enjoyed these, though I will warn you that the cake portion tastes more like a muffin, so it’s not terribly rich. I kind of think that’s perfect, though, given that these were stuffed with either Snickers Peanut Butter squares or Mounds bars, so very chocolatey. They’re also SUPER cute and would be perfect for any Halloween party.

But oh, back to the “pressure” part, because as adamant as I am about pressure-free Halloween, I felt sort of sorry for myself over how messy these turned out, and had a bit of a pity party [inside the plastic jack-o-lantern full of candy] before Jimmy made me pull myself together. Baking’s hard guys. Sometimes I don’t know what’s harder: sharing all of my personal nonsense with you, or sharing all of the desserts I’ve made, both pretty and pretty darned messy. But I’m trying to realize that messy = real, and I will take real. 

So, from my real– and really kooky looking– brood of cupcakes to you, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! Maybe swing by for some handfuls of candy and a cupcake (or three). I’ll be here 🙂