Friday, October 21, 2011

my baby shower

last weekend, three of my best girlfriends threw me the best baby shower i’ve ever had. (it’s the only baby shower i’ve ever had, but still. it was the best!) we played games, ate homemade red velvet cake, sipped white wine—well, not all of us sipped white wine—and caught up on each other’s busy lives. one of my friends brought her five-week-old baby girl, so i got some good practice holding and rocking her. (note to self: lift weights and get buff before baby arrives. babies are hea-vy.)

we played the guess-which-type-of-chocolate-is-melted-in-the-diaper game, when everyone takes turns observing, sniffing and even nibbling the poopy-looking chocolate in the diapers to determine what it is. ew! we also played guess-how-big-mama’s-tummy-is. almost everyone guessed too big.

baby-to-be got a hot-pink tutu (so stinkin’ cute!), a winnie the pooh bathrobe and slippers, a ton of onesies, some extra-soft blankets and rattles, ruffly socks, a pink nike hoodie-and-pant set, a plaid christmas dress, a juicy couture suit, a sophie the giraffe teether, and so much more! i can’t wait to see her in all of her new adorable outfits.

thank you monica, emily and alexa for throwing such a wonderful shower. and thank you, liz, for these beautiful photos!

Monday, October 17, 2011

sure, i can eat 24 cupcakes.

today, portland was absolutely beautiful. i'm talking red and orange leaves against a bright blue backdrop. cool air. distant sunshine. (just what i want for my wedding day, in fact.) it was the kind of day that reminds me of high school football games and pep rallies, of carefree teenagedom.

and it was monday. 

(i'm never in this great a mood on a monday.)

my rare, early-in-the-week spunk (and perhaps the pregnancy hormones) prompted my decision to bake two dozen pumpkin spice latte cupcakes from scratch this evening. (i may be eating for two, but jeff and i most certainly can't finish twenty-four cupcakes ourselves.) (not sure what i was thinking.)

even though we just ate ourselves sick, i still think these things are delicious! you gotta try them. just remember to cut the recipe in half unless you have an extremely large family or are planning to take most of the cupcakes to the office, to share with your coworkers. oh! and borrow an electric mixer if you don't have one. turning milk and sugar into whipped cream using a "manual" whisk is a slow, painful process. (yes, i just learned this the hard way.)

here's the recipe, courtesy of annie's eats:
 For the cupcakes:
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. espresso powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. salt
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
4 large eggs
½ cup coffee or espresso, for brushing
For the whipped cream:
2¼ cups heavy cream, chilled
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

For garnish:
Ground cinnamon
Caramel sauce

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.  Stir together and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar and oil. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  With the mixture on low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions, mixing just until incorporated.

Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full.  Bake until the cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 18-20 minutes.  Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pans.  While the cupcakes are still warm, brush them two or three times with the coffee or espresso, allowing the first coat to soak in before repeating.  Let cool completely.

To make the frosting, place the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip on medium-low speed at first, gradually increasing to high speed.  Blend in the confectioners’ sugar gradually.  Whip until stiff peaks form, being careful not to over-beat.  Use a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip to frost the cooled cupcakes.  Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and drizzle with caramel sauce.  Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.