Fun can Suck It.

You know that song We Are Young by the band Fun?  I know you know it.  It’s on the radio all the freaking time.  It’s super popular.  “Toniiiiiiiight….we are youuuuunngggg…gonna set the world on fiiiiiire…”  blahdy-effing-blah.  Seems like a great drunken anthem.  The kind of song that comes on at the bar when everyone’s had just enough booze to start singing all their favorite songs loudly and without shame, usually accompanied by hugs.  It’s probably very good for that sort of thing.  I can see myself singing it happily with a beer in hand…about eight years ago.

And therein lies the problem.  This song sends me hurtling into an early mid-life crisis every damn time I hear it.  But it’s catchy, so I listen to it anyway.  Because I’m really good at torturing myself and you’re supposed to play to your strengths, right?  So I listen to this song and think many things.  Things like:

  • But I’m not young anymore!  (insert hysterical sobbing here)
  • I barely managed to put on mascara today.  I think “burn(ing) brighter than the sun” is a little ambitious.
  • Then the doorman from the movie Knocked Up is in my mind saying, “I can’t let you in cause you’re old as fuck. For this club, you know, not for the earth.” (except I kinda think he means for the earth too…and if you aren’t familiar with that line, you need to be. You’re welcome.)
  • Wait…Target has quart-sized mason jars on sale?!  Oh HELLS YEAH!!
  • Holy fuck I am OLD!

It’s really depressing – and a little ADD – but mostly just depressing.

And the worst part of it is that I thought I was alone.  I thought I was the only person in the world who was thrown into an existential crisis every time this song was played.  I would ask people about their opinion about it, casually, of course:

Hey, so you know that song “We Are Young”?

Yeah!  I love that song!

Oh. Uh…Does it ever make you feel like you don’t know who you are anymore or like your glory days are already behind you or like maybe you need a cooler haircut…or something?

What?  No.  It’s awesome and I feel amazing every time I hear it.  In fact, you should totally see this adorable video of my toddler singing it with me.  We’re both very cute and youthful.

Then another little piece of my soul would shrivel and die.  Because I’m old and that’s the kind of shit that happens when you’re old and you get confronted with your oldness.  It’s the circle of life.

However, today I experienced a breakthrough.  Something amazing happened.  No, I did not work through all my issues and confront my mortality.  (Seriously, who wants to actually deal with their problems?  Why do you think bourbon was invented?!)  In a blessed turn of events I stumbled across something that gave me hope; proof that someone – somewhere – has a psyche as fragile as mine.  That lovely soul went so far as to parody this song and for that, I will be forever grateful.  My spirits are lifted and better yet, I am entertained.

Now, it’s possible that this little ditty went viral four minutes after Fun released their distressing single and I’m only just now hearing it because of, you know, The Old.  But I’m ok with that.  I just want everyone to get in on this sardonic naval-gazing goodness with me and have a little laugh.  I’ll warn you, there are a few rather rough bits in this.  Mostly just crude humor – nothing too awful – but consider yourself warned.

Disclaimer: Just for the record, I seriously love my family and my life and I wouldn’t trade my oldness or boring housewife crap for all the epic bar fights in the world.  

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Recipe: Texas Sheet Cake Cupcakes

This past weekend we celebrated The Hubs’ birthday.  We hosted a party here at home.  There was tasty BBQ to eat along with fun munchie foods, delicious salads (courtesy of my fabulous sisters-in-law) and an enormous pile of cookies from my mother-in-law.  A pile of cookies that seemed to disappear almost instantly once she set it down.  Now I can’t compete with those cookies, but I can say with confidence that the chocolate cupcakes I made were enjoyed with nearly equal enthusiasm.  They were hands down the best chocolate cupcakes I’ve ever made.  And I’ve made at least three times as many cupcakes as I have margaritas in my life so I’m pretty much an expert.  An expert at gluttony, apparently.

If you’ve never had Texas Sheet Cake then you are in for a treat but you should know up front that this isn’t going to be crazy, gooey, devils-foody cake that you’re making.  It’s rustic and homey.  It’s totally unassuming and low-maintenance.  It doesn’t require you to sift this or run out and buy dutch process that.  It won’t ask you to pour it a cocktail and rub its feet while fast-forwarding all the commercials on the latest episode of True Blood.  That’s just not how this cake rolls.  This is the kind of cake you take to a barbecue, a pot luck or a picnic.  You can also eat it straight out of the oven with no frosting at all while you congratulate yourself on your awesomeness.  Coincidentally, that is my favorite way to eat this cake.  A close runner-up would be at breakfast with iced foffee.  Carpe Diem, people.

Texas Sheet Cake Cupcakes

Yields 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

2 Cups flour

2 Cups sugar

1/4 tsp salt

4 heaping Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli)

2 sticks unsalted butter

1/2 Cup boiling water

1 Cup buttermilk

2 eggs

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two muffin pans with paper liners and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In small saucepan, melt the butter.  Once it is melted, stir in the cocoa powder and boiling water.  Mix until well combined.  Then add to dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  4. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk buttermilk, eggs, baking soda and vanilla.  Stir into the chocolate/flour mixture and mix until fully incorporated.
  5. Fill the prepared muffin pans with batter and bake cupcakes for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Don’t over bake.
  6. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

 

For the frosting:

1 3/4 sticks butter, melted

4 heaping Tbs cocoa powder

6 Tbs buttermilk (or milk, but I think the very slight tang of the buttermilk is really nice)

1 tsp vanilla

4 Cups powdered sugar (you can go a little easy on this if you prefer.  I used about 3 1/2 cups)

1/2 cup chopped pecans (classic for this type of cake, but totally optional)

 

  1. Melt butter in saucepan.
  2. Pour into large mixing bowl and add in cocoa powder, buttermilk and vanilla.  Whisk until smooth.
  3. Add in powdered sugar and finally pecans, if using.
  4. Frost the cupcakes!

A couple of notes about the frosting; you could choose to mix it all entirely in a large saucepan if you didn’t feel like messing up another bowl. Just be sure to take the pan off the heat.

You might want to sift the powdered sugar into the frosting.  I know, I know…I said no sifting!  And you don’t have to by any means.  You’ll just need to whisk a bit longer to work out the lumps if you don’t.  I prefer the extra step of sifting to the extra time spent stirring but it’s totally up to you.  It mixes up just fine either way.

Also, this frosting will be slightly runny (as opposed to fluffy like traditional frosting) and will firm up as it sets. Almost like a ganache.  To keep your cupcakes looking smooth and glossy, frost them FAST.  If your frosting starts to firm up while you’re still working, you can heat and whisk it just slightly to “loosen” it up again. The cupcake pictured above is one that I did not frost quickly enough.  So you can see the frosting went on just fine – and tasted great – but it doesn’t have that smooth, glossy finish that the first dozen did.

 

Finally, a variation.  Because I want you to have options.  I am a firm believer in lots and lots of options.

This cake is traditionally baked as a sheet cake.  Hence the name “Texas Sheet Cake”.  We Texans are clever like that.  Anyway, if you DO choose to bake it as a sheet cake, you can use a jelly roll pan or a large cookie sheet (Approx 11″ x 15″ and at least 1 inch deep).  The additional perk to this method is that you can simply pour the frosting on the still warm cake and it practically spreads itself.  None of that pesky “wait for the cake to cool completely” crap.  Then let the frosting set, slice it into bars and enjoy!

Recipe: Zucchini-Banana Muffins

I did a lot of baking over the weekend.  It made me realize that I have yet to share any of my favorites recipes with you, which is silly because I love to cook and I’ve got some tasty recipes over here.  Recipes that want to be shared.  Like these muffins.  They are easy and just a little bit sweet.  (Coincidentally, just how I like my men…wink wink!)  Seriously though, they are a cinch to throw together and make a great breakfast or snack and the fact that they include zucchini is a bonus in the height of zucchini season.

A couple of notes before we get started: this recipe is adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe.  I cut the sugar way down, it’s a muffin – not a cupcake – for goodness sake.  Also, I upped the banana a bit and I feel like that really helped to keep the muffins nice and moist.  The result is a light, flavorful muffin that will hit the spot whether you slather it with cream cheese at brunch or just nibble on it plain while you brainstorm about tonight’s dinner menu and field questions about Lightning McQueen.

(Please forgive my terrible photography.  The muffins are delicious, I promise.)

 

Zucchini-Banana Muffins

Makes 12 standard size muffins

Ingredients

1 3/4 Cups all-purpose flour

1/2 Cup ground flaxseed (I used Bob’s Redmill Flax Meal)

1/2 Cup lightly packed brown sugar

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt (I use Real Salt – finely ground sea salt)

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 Cups coarsely grated zucchini (about 1 medium to large-sized zucchini)

1/2 Cup mashed ripe banana

3/4 cup whole milk

1 egg – lightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prep 12 standard muffin cups with cooking spray or paper liners.  In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, flax meal, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Add banana and zucchini and stir to combine.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together wet ingredients: milk, egg and vanilla.  Add milk mixture to flour and mixture and stir until combined.  Be careful not to over mix.
  3. Divide batter among 12 muffin cups, the cups will be about 3/4 full.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let muffins cool completely in pan on a wire rack.  Or just eat them.  I’m not the boss of you.  Do what you want.

By the way, these freeze nicely.  So you can make a batch and keep the leftovers in the freezer for another day if you like.

Sticker Love

Today was a great day.  One of those days when you’re firing on all cylinders.  The kitchen is clean.  Dinner is in the crock pot.  The house smells delicious.  The kids are endearingly non-feral.  Complete bliss.  I needed this day.

The boys asked to color. Finally!  I’ve been practically begging them to do something that doesn’t involve throwing, running or jumping off furniture for oh…about six months or so.  It was nice of them to finally take me up on it.  They sat at the kitchen table with crayons and stickers and happily created stuff for a solid forty minutes.  I’m pretty sure this won’t happen again for another year.  It was awesome.  As if that wasn’t enough, Max decided to throw in some extreme cuteness.  It went a little something like this:

Max: Hey Mama!  Did you ever have stickers ever since you were born?

Me: Well, yeah.  I used stickers a lot when I was a little girl.  I don’t really have stickers now though.

Max: Mama, I will buy you some stickers so you can have some.

Me: Aww!  Well thank you Max!  That’s really sweet.

Max: Umm…but Mama, it will be a couple of days before I get the stickers, ok?  Daddy and I will buy some for you but it will be in a couple days.

Me: Ok baby. That sounds good.

And then I melted into a little puddle of happy mommy love.

I realize this is about a million times more adorable to me than it is to anyone else.  But here’s the thing that was so epic about it; it was serious affirmation.  It was evidence that I’m not doing everything completely wrong and that maybe, just maybe, I’m doing something right.  My baby thought about someone else’s happiness.  He was willing to spend his hard-earned money (hey – he had to pee in the toilet a LOT of times to get that money!)  to bring a little of that happiness to me.  I felt really proud of his curiosity, his generosity and even his funny little way of managing my expectations.  He didn’t want me to be disappointed that I wasn’t going to get stickers instantly so he made sure I knew that it would take him a while to get them.  My boy is growing up, thinking of others, being kind and generous.  And yeah, some of that is natural to him, he’s a sweet kid.  But I also like to think that some of the lessons we’ve tried to teach him; thinking of others, being kind, being helpful etc. are finally being put into action.  For all the days when I feel like I’m not getting through to him (“Why did you just push your brother down AGAIN?!”) this little moment is incentive to keep on going.  It was a proud parenting moment.

And then he asked me if his dinosaur had a penis.

Man, I love this kid.