Wednesday, November 16, 2016

How We Can Solve Facebook's Fake News Problem

I'm going to take a departure from our typical content today because I have something to share with you. Something important.

It's been hard to adult lately. My heart is sore and my brain is full of despair. What will happen to our world? It's frustrating to feel so helpless.

Except we're not. One of the things that is contributing to the polarization of politics and the spread of misinformation lays at your disposal. Facebook. Yep. We run that mother. All of us. Facebook is like family. It's where I share myself and the things that matter to me. I suspect most of you feel the same. But Facebook has a problem.

Facebook Fake News

Fake news. Just like Twitter has trolls that promote hate speech and online harassment, Facebook has propaganda. Lots of it. From both sides. Articles that look real, headlines that feel authentic. But they aren't. And we've fallen in love with news that feeds our prejudices. Hook, line, and sinker.

Zuckerberg released a statement just a few days ago in response to criticism that misleading articles on Facebook lost the election for Democrats. He said actual hoaxes are a minority of the sources shared (1%) and while Facebook has taken some steps to address that type of content, they simply can't be an arbiter of truth. And he's right. They can't. But you can.

I saw this list circulating on Facebook. It's a great place to start, but ultimately it's a futile exercise. You'd finish blacklisting a slew of sites only to have new ones crop up the same day. The solution here is not to consult some magic list of approved sites that create authentic content. The solution is to help people understand how to become arbiters of truth for themselves. 

I come at this from the perspective of a journalist. Someone who has spent her life passionately pursuing knowledge. And I can tell you that the average person does not know how to critically evaluate a source. Academia is rife with this problem. We live in the age of the internet, where we swim in a vast cesspool of information. It allows us to pick and choose facts in ways that reinforce our own narratives. It keeps us drowning in our own self-righteousness.

Let's conduct a little experiment to illustrate the problem, shall we? I'm going to link up several sites with similar titles that you might see shared on social media, along with their slogans. They are all purported news sites that carry some variation of the word "Daily". But that, friends, is where their similarities end.

The Daily Beast: "A smart, speedy take on news around the world."
Daily Dot: "Your internet. Your internet News."
Daily Kos: "Daily weblog with political analysis on US current events from a liberal perspective."
The Daily News: "Breaking News. World News. US and Local News."
Daily Caller: "An American News and Opinion Website"
The Daily Mail: "All the latest US news, showbiz, science, sport and health stories."

These rags look legitimate enough on the surface, although there are some obvious clues just in the taglines. Let's go pop into Wikipedia and see what they have to say about each of these publications. Wikipedia is a good place to start, but it is by no means where you should stop when it comes to researching a credible source.

Facebook Fake News

Described as a reporting and opinion site with liberal, progressive views. The Daily Beast actually won a webby for "Best News Site" in 2012 and 2013. But should it have?

Current featured article's headline: "Is Trump Playing Into Terrorist's Hands?"

Analysis: This one skews liberal, and they're not even interested in hiding it. Fact check any articles against other credible sources.

Facebook Fake News

Wikipedia indicates this one covers life on the web and news around the internets. Based in Texas, there are no obvious affiliations here.

Current featured article's headline: "Axl Rose is still trying to get the Fat Axl meme off the internet." Ummmm, okay.

Analysis: I dug a little deeper here by looking at articles written by the founder, editor, and managing editor for this publication. I found content from both sides and an equally dispersed mention of positives for both Trump and Clinton. Looks like this one is trustworthy, folks.

Dk logo med

This is a progressive political blog focused on advocacy. It's not considered a legitimate news source for anything. Oops.

Current featured article's headline: "Open thread for night owls: Hundreds of groups at COP22 urge end to fossil fuels."

Analysis: Nope. We don't even need to discuss this. Not a news source.

Facebook Fake News
This is an actual newspaper. Whew. Finally! The New York Daily News. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about their political leanings.
"The Daily News's editorial stance is "flexibly centrist"[7] with a populist streak.[8] In presidential elections, the paper endorsed Republican George W. Bush in 2004,[9] Democrat Barack Obama in 2008,[10] Republican Mitt Romney in 2012,[11] and Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.[12]" (Wikipedia, New York Daily News)

Current featured article's headline: "North Carolina parents featured on ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ gave away custody of five foster children." Seems like there could be more important things going on, Daily News. Just sayin'.

Analysis: This one is fairly trustworthy, with a healthy smattering of content from both sides of the political spectrum. It can come off sometimes as a bit of a gossip rag, but not usually when it comes to politics. Share away.

Facebook Fake News

Founded by Tucker Carlson, a famous political pundit and libertarian conservative, this publication is labeled as a news and opinion site.

Current featured article's headline: "Emails: Clinton Donor Claimed To Be In Cahoots With Conservative Think Tank Chief" I almost snarfed when I read cahoots. At least someone still uses the word.

Analysis: Yeah. Pretty obvious what is happening here. They even have a section devoted to gun reviews and a healthy sidebar ad from the NRA. Oh, goodie.

MailOnline US - news, sport, celebrity, science and health stories

A British tabloid? You don't say! This newspaper can boast that it is the only British newspaper where females make up the majority of the readership. Wikipedia labels them as conservative.

Current featured article's headline: "It's a steak out! Trump hoodwinks reporters and sneaks out of Trump Tower to eat with family at famous 21 Club - and promises diners 'we'll get your taxes down' before taking his favorite table." Yuck. Who the hell is writing their headlines?! Moving on.

Analysis: Do you like facts? Do they taste good to you? Then you should run far, far away from The Daily Mail. This is not for you.

Are you beginning to see the problem? I picked 6 "news sites" randomly that contained the word daily. Only two of them had content that didn't have obvious skew. But you're sharing this stuff. I'm sharing this stuff. We all are. And we need to stop. 

Before you hit that share button, let's commit to each other to ask these questions.

1: What's the source?
This is kind of like the rules your Mom has for eating stuff off the ground. If you don't know where it came from, don't put it in your mouth. News is like that, too. If you can't determine the source, that's a bad, bad sign. Memes, maps without links or citations, etc.

2: Where does it live?
A site's domain tells you a lot about it. .Coms are in it for the money. .Orgs have an advocacy agenda. .Gov is, well, you get the idea. This is grade school stuff, but we forget all the time. Judge a book by its cover, or more specifically, a site by its address.

3: Is there authority?
Look at the author's credentials. Do they have the background to talk about this topic knowledgeably? Not sure? Google is your friend. Because every writer leaves a trail of breadcrumbs and you can follow it right back to their political affiliation. Every damn time.

4: Accurate and objective?
This one is hard. Because it seems so subjective. Here's how you trick yourself past your own bias. Look for the facts. The headlines are meant to trigger an emotional response, so click past those. Mine the article. It should link out to other credible sources that support the assertions. It should present not speculation but evidence.

5: Is it current?
This is the biggest mistake I see well meaning people make. I did it just recently. We feel outraged. And we skim right past that telltale time stamp at the beginning of the article. Facebook is a fantastic perpetrator of this because often, pages recycle content. We end up posting articles from years ago, unwittingly feeding into the echo chamber in a very literal way.

Facebook Fake News

Let's make a promise to hold each other accountable on this. Facebook isn't willing to police fake news, but they'll let you report it. So next time you see something in your feed, you can use the drop down menu to select "report this post". And instead of reporting it to Facebook, you can privately let the person who posted it know that you found the content misleading and ask them to remove it. It's hard to confront someone. I get it. But if we want to make our world a better place, we need to do this. Gently, politely nudge each other towards a healthier dialogue.

But I am a libertarian conservative or a liberal progressive, you'll say. Those are my views.Okay. But think of it this way. You're like those annoying evangelists, who canvas the neighborhood repeatedly, trying to give you pamphlets. Read those publications by all means. But don't litter our shared space with that propaganda masked as news. We owe each other more respect and civility than that.

Want to ferret out more fake news sites? Snopes has a pretty good list going on as well.

Facebook Fake News

Facts matter, friends. And I hope they matter to you. There are lots of things we can't change right now, either about this election or the chaos our country is experiencing. But this we can do. We can hold each other accountable to sharing responsibly.

Facebook Fake News

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Sweet Potato Pie Pots De Creme

Pie is a beautiful thing. I've mentioned this before, (Me, Oh My Pie) but it really can't be overstated. Flaky and buttery, all that gorgeous crust becomes the perfect delivery vehicle for whatever flavor you'd like. It's a traditional highlight of Thanksgiving dinner for an excellent reason. Because pie is practically perfect.

As the holiday approaches this year, I began wondering what I might be able to whip up that went beyond the classic. Because pumpkin pie is lovely, but really, really overdone. If you're sticking with an original, visit my previous post on the best little Pumpkin Chiffon Pie in the world. If you'd like to cross over into a culinary adventure, follow me. Cause we've got some exploring to do.

Sweet Potato Pie Pots

Pots de Creme. Petite little cups that are actually a delicate custard, featuring whatever profile you'd like. Traditionally, they're chocolate but I've seen them in  all varieties from salted caramel to pumpkin. And that's when it hit me. Sweet Potato Pie.

Sweet potatoes are a traditional side dish for Thanksgiving, but this recipe brings them to the table where they belong. As dessert. Unlike pumpkin, sweet potatoes are a naturally sweet squash that provides a great contrast with a salty crust in this pots de creme version of pie. It begins as a simple sweet potato custard, creamy and with a hint of spice. Then we top it with marshmallow cream and a generous portion of toasted bacon pecan pie crust crumble. Yeah. Every spoonful is like a sweet potato pie explosion in your mouth. If there is happiness in this world, it probably tastes like this.

Sweet Potato Pie Pots

A word about the crumble before we begin. I made mine by simply toasting some pecans, including a handful or two of cooked, homemade pie crust, and some bacon crumbles. I ran it in the food processor briefly and behold. A pie garnish that taste a bit like revolution. It should go on EVERYTHING.

Sweet Potato Pie Pots

The custard gets simmered briefly on the stove. Look at all that creamy, swirly richness. Yum.

Sweet Potato Pie Pots

Next comes the tricky part of custard, which is not to cook the eggs into some sort of congealed mess. This involves tempering and it's just what it sounds like. Slowly adding warm mixture to bring the egg solution up to temperature. This takes patience and lots of whisking. But you got it, girl.

Sweet Potato Pie Pots

Next, you're going to bake these petite pots in a warm bath. Just nestle them in there and let them get comfortable, okay?

Sweet Potato Pie Pots

Once they're baked, these pots need some time to cool off and set in the fridge. Then top with marshmallow cream and bacon pecan pie crumble for a glorious alternative to pumpkin pie fit to grace any Thanksgiving table.

Sweet Potato Pie Pots

This Thanksgiving, as you gather family and friends around your table, I hope you'll take sometime to enjoy the sweet things about your life. And to feel grateful for each bite you get to share with the people you love. Happy Thanksgiving from my table to yours!

Sweet Potato Pie Pots

Sweet Potato Pie Pots

Sweet Potato Pie Pots

Sweet Potato Pie Pots de Creme

For the Sweet Potato Custard (adapted from Steele House Kitchen):
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup whole milk
2/3 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup sweet potato puree
7 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg, plus more for garnish
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon salt

For the Marshmallow Whipping Cream (Bright Eyed Baker):
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup water  Coupons
5 1/2 ounces granulated sugar, divided (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
9 ounces light corn syrup (3/4 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Bacon Pecan Pie Crumble:
2 Tbsp. bacon crumbles
2 handfuls baked pie crust
2 Tbsp. toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 325°F.
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine cream, milk, syrup, and sweet potato – stir. Bring to a simmer. Once simmering, remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk to combine egg yolks, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and salt. Very slowly, in a small stream, pour the sweet potato mixture into the egg mixture while whisking.
Place 6 4-ounce ramekins in a roasting pan or oven-safe dish with high sides. Pour the sweet potato filling into each ramekin leaving a 1/2 inch space at the top. Pour hot water into the roasting pan until the water reaches halfway up the ramekins (or mason jars). Place the roasting pan on the middle rack in the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until the custard has set. It will still have a jiggle to it. Allow to cool at room temperature for 10 minutes then carefully remove the ramekins from the water bath. Place in the refrigerator and allow to finish setting for at least 4 hours or overnight.

For the marshmallow cream: 
Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the cream of tartar over. Beat, increasing the speed to medium-high, until the eggs starts to get light, airy, and frothy. With the mixer running, slowly pour in 7/8 ounce (2 tablespoons) granulated sugar. Continue to beat until firm (but not stiff) peaks form. Set aside.
Fit a small saucepan with a candy thermometer, or have a reliable digital thermometer ready nearby. Combine water, sugar, and corn syrup in the saucepan and stir together. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and then, using a heat-safe spatula, stir very frequently as you cook the syrup mixture to 240°F, maintaining a consistent boil. Once at 240°F, remove from the heat immediately.
Start the mixer on second speed and slowly pour the syrup in as it mixes until all of the syrup has been added. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl if needed, and then increase speed to medium-high and beat for another 5 minutes. The mixture should have expanded and you should now have a white creme that's able to hold some shape. Add the vanilla, wipe down the bowl and beater, and beat for about 1 more minute, until the mixture is even in color again and has reached the desired consistency of marshmallow creme.

Pulse ingredients for crumble together in a food processor.

Once the pots are set, top with marshmallow cream, a generous amount of crumble, and then marvel at the sweetness you've brought to your table for Thanksgiving. Enjoy, friends!

Did this post bring a little more sweet into your life? Follow A Sweet Little Life on Facebook for more.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The 3 S's of Self-Care

Check yo' self before you wreck yo' self.

But seriously, friends. I'm tired. Exhausted really. And it's not the kind of fatigue an early bedtime or a lazy afternoon nap can solve. It's a deep sort of despair, an anxiety that has settled into my bones. I ache. For long stretches of silence and entire days without a single ounce of productivity in them. I feel as if I have misplaced my relentless ambition beneath a pile of unfolded laundry or dirty dishes and I just can't summon the energy to care. About anything.


And the very last person I have time to think about is me. When I have anytime at all to wedge between our brutal after school schedule, I spend it worrying about all the things I'm not doing. The notes I no longer tuck into lunchboxes, the spelling lists that get shuffled and forgotten in the pile of mail on the counter. The daughter who doesn't like to read. Our elderly dog that no longer eats. My friend who is dying. The phone call I never returned. That damn bill I forgot to pay.

Sound familiar?

You're probably catching onto the fact that like most women, I am a fiercer multi-tasker. And the person I am cruelest to is myself. But until recently, I've been drinking from what seemed to be a bottomless well of energy and motivation, running on empty and still managing to crank it out. Day after day, hour by hour. And then, a few weeks ago, I tapped into the source of my inspiration and came up dry. Hollowed out, I began to crack in noticeable ways.

After my managing editor found me sobbing at work, he kindly suggested I might need to take some time. The idea was like a lightening bolt. I could take time? For me? Oh, my God. I could! But what would that even look like? I had no idea what I would do with an entire day, alone in the house, forced to disregard anything productive and focus solely on relaxing.

Relaxation was a luxury I had never afforded myself. And I'll admit at first this whole self-care thing was a bit awkward. But I got over it. I think self-care can be different depending on the person. For some it would be a day wandering a museum, feeding their soul or going to the gym and sweating it out. This is what self-care looks like for me.


It's baking (and eating!) something entirely for myself. I can't even remember the last time I baked something just for me. I use baked goods to express my love and gratitude for others. But for just one day, I did it for me.


It's watching Spanish soap operas with subtitles in the middle of the day. TV, guys- in the middle of the day! Pretty sure the last time this happened, it was high school and I was home sick watching The Price is Right.


It's eating an entire bowl of homemade kettlecorn by myself and NOT sharing a kernel of it. Nope. Not one.


It's listening to Linda Rondstadt in a rose petal bath. But classic Linda Rondstadt, not bad 80s/90s duets with Aaron Neville Linda Rondstadt.

Now that I've done this whole self-care thing once, I'm totally an expert. So I thought I'd share the three S's that can help you make self care a priority. Because sister if you don't do it, nobody else will.

Schedule It

Put it on the calendar, block the time off, and keep the commitment. It's an appointment you've made with yourself and a promise you need to keep. It's like the nice stewardesses say on the airplane when they are politely explaining what you should do when the cabin loses air pressure. You know, besides panic. You put your mask on first, then help others. Because you're no good to anybody passed out due to lack of oxygen. Gots to take care of yourself, lady, before you can help somebody else.

Support. Ask For It.

If your life is anything like mine, you are the primary caregiver and you don't have anyone in your life who is going to clear the way so you can take the time you need. Don't be bashful. Ask for support. Get a babysitter, ship the kids off to Grandma's. Whatever you have to do. But get the support you need to make this happen because you deserve it. And the people in your life deserve the best of you. None of that happens if you don't take the time to relax and recharge.

Sacred it is. Keep it You Shall.

Yoda yourself right into this commitment and keep it. It's a promise you make to yourself, an investment that will provide you with long term benefits for stress management and creativity. If you respect the time, others will too. 

I waited too long to take care of myself, until the engine of my motivation threatened to break down entirely. Don't do that. Don't be Kaz. Find a way to take this commitment to care for yourself seriously. Because if you don't, nobody else will.

Care to read more? Follow A Sweet Little Life on Facebook and don't miss a post.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Nutella Espresso Marshmallows

For many, comfort food is an enormous tureen of soup, fragrant with spices and steaming. It's hearty dishes that are reminiscent of childhood or coming home to the smell of dinner wafting through the air from a simmering Crock-Pot. It's a toasty fire and a big blanket and more Netflix than you could possibly watch in one lifetime. But for me, comfort is soft and sweet and squishy. Comfort is marshmallows.

This sounds weird, but hear me out. I adore marshmallows. As a little girl, my Mom would warn me about that one time when she ate an entire bag of marshmallows and regretted it. Big time. She claimed it was the sole reason she couldn't stomach even one as an adult. This sounded like crazy talk. A whole bag of marshmallows to myself? Bring it. My love affair for marshmallows waned a bit and then was revitalized when I discovered one very important thing. Homemade marshmallows.

Homemade marshmallows are as different from store bought as night is from day. They're soft, flavorful, and gloriously adaptable. I don't allow myself to make them often (see previous comments about eating an entire bag), but around the holidays I whip up a few batches for friends and family. And me. In truth, I make them for me. They sit in my cup creating clouds of sweetness, infusing my coffee with the flavors of vanilla and a rich froth that creamer just can't duplicate. When I pop a homemade marshmallow into my mouth, it becomes Christmas, and I'm curled up by the tree, enjoying a cup of something warm.

Nutella Espresso Marshmallows

These homemade marshmallows are swirled with Nutella and espresso syrup, then dredged in confectioner's sugar and cornstarch to preserve their gooey goodness until you're ready to give them your full attention. You'll marvel at how easy marshmallows are to make and wonder why on earth you've waited this long to enjoy popping one into your coffee or tea. It's a mistake I'll help you rectify. Right now.

Nutella Espresso Marshmallows

First assemble the ingredients. Pretty basic, right? You're making a syrup essentially, so the first step is boil that sugar.

Nutella Espresso Marshmallows

Next you'll need to whip it. For longer than seems reasonable. No, really. Keep going. When you're done, it'll look something like this. Stiff, sticky peaks.

Nutella Espresso Marshmallows

You'll need to swirl in the Nutella, and then the espresso syrup. Hurry up- you don't want those marshmallows to solidify before you can can get the good stuff in.

Nutella Espresso Marshmallows

To make the espresso syrup, you just need sugar, espresso, and a vanilla bean. Similar to how the marshmallows began, you'll want to boil first, ask for forgiveness later.

Nutella Espresso Marshmallows

Swirl and let them firm up before serving.

Nutella Espresso Marshmallows

Just a couple of hours of patience and you'll be rewarded with these little beauties for your cup. Any way you cut them, they'll create clouds of sweetness in your coffee, laced with the nutty richness of Nutella and an extra punch of espresso.

Nutella Espresso Marshmallows

I hope you enjoy this little piece of sweet comfort in the same way I do. Until next time, friends, keep your cup brimming with confection and you'll never be sorry.

Nutella Espresso Marshmallows

Nutella Espresso Marshmallows

Nutella Espresso Marshmallows

Nutella Espresso Marshmallows

Nutella Espresso Marshmallows

Nutella Espresso Marshmallows

For the vanilla marshmallows (from Baking Bites):
75-oz unflavored gelatin (3 envelopes of Knox gelatin)
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cups light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 Tbsp. Nutella

For the espresso syrup:
1 cup strong brewed espresso
2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean

Prepare espresso syrup first. Boil espresso, vanilla bean and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to low, simmer 10 more minutes. Let cool.
Line 9 x 9-inch pan with plastic wrap and lightly oil it. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water. Soak for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil and boil hard for 1 minute.
Pour the boiling syrup into soaked gelatin and turn on the mixer, using the whisk attachment, to high speed. Add the salt and beat for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, add in the vanilla extract beat to incorporate.
Scrape marshmallow into the prepared pan and spread evenly (Lightly greasing your hands and the spatula helps a lot here).
Using a butter knife, swirl with 2-3 Tbsp. espresso syrup and Nutella. Do this right away as the marshmallows will harden quickly.
Take another piece of lightly oiled plastic wrap and press lightly on top of the marshmallow, creating a seal. Let mixture sit for a few hours, or overnight, until cooled and firmly set.
In a shallow dish, combine equal parts cornstarch and confectioners’ sugar. Remove marshmallow from pan and cut into equal pieces with scissors (the best tool for the job) or a chef’s knife. Dredge each piece of marshmallow in confectioners’ sugar mixture.
Store in an airtight container.

Did this recipe fill up your cup of comfort? Follow A Sweet Little Life on Pinterest for more sweet ideas.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

10 Thoughts Every Parent Has at Cornbelly's

Wait- you don't know what Cornbelly's is? You must not live in Utah then. Let me explain. It's like a fall festival on steroids. As if some farmer took one too many falls off the wagon and decided to keep building an amusement park until he ran out of space. Don't get me wrong. It's A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. The corn maze is gigantic and voted in a USA Today Reader's Choice Poll as one of the top ten mazes in America. And around every corner there's a doughnut and apple cider waiting to be eaten in the company of a toasty warm fire. What's not to love about that? It's the reason that Cornbelly's has become our fall break ritual for the past three years, despite the colder weather and the crowds.

Cornbelly's Parent

And yet... every year when we go I find myself having the same thoughts. Thoughts that come to me as I'm staring at my phone so I can pretend I didn't just see that boy stuff a handful of corn down his pants at Corn Beach. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone on this one. Here, in no particular order, are the things that occur to me at Cornbelly's.

1. Why can no one ever get a good picture of their kid coming down the giant slide? We all stand there at the bottom like paparazzi, desperate for the perfect shot. And all you get is your kid, eyes closed, mouth open, obscured by messy hair and snotty nose, as they land in a heap of burlap at your feet and promptly begin to cry.

Cornbelly's Parent

2. Dear, God please let my kid come out of that Rat Maze still breathing and without any communicable diseases. Why can't I see her? Where is she? Is she stuck? Is she crying? Oh, my God. I can't even breathe right now.

3. So I guess I'm eating kettle corn for dinner. Yep. Definitely happening.

4. Why, oh why do my kids legs stop working exactly five minutes into the corn maze? They were perfectly fine when he was running away from me and cutting in line for the Cow Train. And now they appear to be permanently broken. Sigh.

Cornbelly's Parent

5. For the love of God, kid, don't put that piece of corn in your mouth. See this gigantic expanse just waiting to be waded through and buried under? It's all been in someone's pants today. Every last kernel of it.

6. I appreciate that you're excited little boy but if you shove my kid one more time, I'm gonna punch your momma in the mouth. Just kidding. But really, hands off, buddy.

7. Does it seem like a good idea to you to have a mass of children gather and then shoot candy at the crowd from a water cannon mounted on a truck? Cause I'm having Lord of the Flies flashbacks right now.

Cornbelly's Parent

8. You want how much to airbrush an intricate design on my kid's face that will be smudged into raccoon circles by the time we hit the car? Ummm... no thanks.

9. I didn't even know it was possible for a kid to jump that high. On these giant pillows filled with air and 25 other maniacs high on sugar. Where's first aid again? I better check the map.

Cornbelly's Parent

10. Why is my car so FAR away? I want to cry. I need coffee. Where is the closest coffee?

Cornbelly's Parent
PSA: Parenting Service Announcement. Closest Coffee to Cornbelly's.
Later, as I tuck my kiddos into bed, sticky with marshmallow and chocolate from their nightcap of smores, I think the same thing. Best autumn outing ever.

Looking for more local reviews and recommendations? Check out my articles about Salt Lake City on Parachute by Mapquest. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pumpkin Spice Latte Poptarts

We're deep into pumpkin season here. It's all over knee boots and scarves and big steaming mugs of deliciousness. Despite the fact that it's still 70 degrees. Pfft. If we can't have fall, we'll conjure it out of thin air. Am I right?

It is definitely past due to pumpkin spice all the things here on A Sweet Little Life. And like many of my petite sweets, I wanted to focus on a unique, complex flavor pairing. So I rolled up my sleeves and asked the internet one important question. Is there anything we haven't given the PSL treatment to? The short answer is no. No, there isn't. But I did manage to unearth one potential stroke of genius. Poptarts.

I've never been a big breakfast eater, which is strange because I really love breakfast food. Just not at breakfast. Coffee first. Always. Breakfast much, much later. Even in middle school I rebelled against the idea of food before ten. My Mom tried to force me into those terrible, chalky Carnation Instant breakfasts for awhile. Shudder. Eventually she gave up and did what every Mom from the 80s and 90s did. She pushed a Poptart into my hand seconds before the bus rounded the corner and tried not to feel guilty about it. Pretty sure she still worries about what I eat for breakfast. (Don't worry, Mom. Caffeine is a food group. Science says so. Sort of.)

In truth, my Mom shouldn't have wasted one second of worry on those sugary pastries. Because Poptarts are basically handpies. And nobody should ever, ever feel ashamed about eating pie for breakfast. It involves fruit and grains. Pretty sure that's the same as oatmeal with blueberries. See how that works? These Poptarts get the Pumpkin Spice Treatment both in the crust, the filling, and the double glaze. So much PSL. Can you have too much Pumpkin Spice? Guess you're gonna find out.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Poptarts

We begin with my mother's piecrust. And really, that's how all good things begin. 

Pumpkin Spice Latte Poptarts

I added plenty of pumpkin spice and everything nice to this crust. As you can see, it's spectacularly speckled. 

Pumpkin Spice Latte Poptarts

Before we go any further, let's get the pumpkin spice filling on the stove.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Poptarts

This filling covers just the basics. Pumpkin, sugar, a little egg to thicken the deal, and of course, pumpkin spice. Remember- we're gonna PSL all the things. ALL of them.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Poptarts

Isn't that gorgeous?! I'll confess that I had some left over and it made a perfectly acceptable breakfast. #noregrets
Pumpkin Spice Latte Poptarts

Cut out rectangles from your dough, slather them with filling, and top with more crust. Crimp the edges with a fork but also prick the tops a few times. These beauties need room to breathe. They emerge from the oven warm, golden, and absolutely fabulous.

pumpkin spice latte poptarts

Next, you'll want to whip up some latte glaze. It's really just a standard glaze with heavy cream to give it that rich, frothy texture.

pumpkin spice latte poptarts

Reserve about a third of the glaze and add the pumpkin spice and some additional powdered sugar to it. 
Pumpkin Spice Latte Poptarts

Slather the baked Poptarts with latte glaze, then finish by piping on some pumpkin spice glaze. Double the glaze, double the awesome. 

Pumpkin Spice Latte Poptart

These pumpkin pastries are your next best bet for the breakfast of champions. Easy to grab and go, contains fruit, and perfect for dunking in coffee. What's not to love? See you next week, friends where we'll explore more flavors of fall. Until then, spice up your life with plenty of sweet, pumpkin delightfulness. PSL all the things. I totes approve.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Poptart

Pumpkin Spice Latte Poptart

Pumpkin Spice Latte Poptart

Pumpkin Spice Latte Poptart

Pumpkin Spice Latte Poptarts

For the crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pumpkin spice blend
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup cold water
1 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. vanilla

For the pumpkin filling:
1 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. pumpkin spice blend
1 egg

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 tsp. pumpkin spice blend

1 egg


Toss 1 cup flour with sugar, pumpkin spice, and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup cold water with flour and vanilla to make a paste. Add to flour mixture and stir until dough clumps and follows fork. Roll into large rectangle 1/4 inch thick. Cut into rectangles using a ruler to ensure similar sizes.

To make the filling, add the pumpkin, pumpkin spice blend and sugar to a saucepan on the stove. Mix and heat just until sugar dissolves and pumpkin begins to stick to sides of the pot. Remove from heat and stir in egg.

Spread 2-3 Tbsp of filling on each rectangle of crust. Repeat. Top with rectangular crust pieces and crimp edges with fork. Poke small holes once or twice with the fork into the top of the pastry to allow air to escape while baking. Whisk egg and brush edges to seal the poptarts.

Bake in a 425 degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until edges begin to brown lightly. Remove from oven and cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and cream until smooth. Remove 1/3 of the glaze and mix with pumpkin spice and an  additional 1/3-1/2 cup of powdered sugar until thickened. Spread cooled tarts with loose glaze, then pipe thicker pumpkin spice glaze on the tarts.  Marvel. Devour.

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