David Lynch, Lindsey Stirling, and Cola Carnitas (Or How to Make Slow Cooker Cola Carnitas)

Guys! Exciting things are happening!

First of all, I’m almost done with season 4 of Game of Thrones, and I got HBO back yesterday — just in time for the April 12 premiere of season 5.

So this is all terribly exciting in a nerdy kind of way….

Also? I saw Blue Velvet for free at the Arclight Theater in Hollywood last night. The movie is beyond super messed up, and I wrote my honors thesis on it when I was a wee one in undergrad. (Another nerdy thing.) Seeing it again all these years later I was like, “Wow. I should not have watched that movie when I was 12. No wonder I had to write 75 pages about it in college. I was probably trying to heal my adolescent trauma through academia.”

David Lynch?

Is not for kids.

Who knew?

ANYWAY…

In other news, I finished yet another pass of my script last night before watching Dennis Hopper torment Isabella Rossellini and Kyle MacLachlan for two hours. I can’t REALLY say the fourth draft is done because I know I have messy bits that I still need to tie together, but it’s CLOSE to being a fourth draft. This makes me SMILE.

Do you know what else makes me smile?

Carnitas.

True story.

I made cola carnitas in the slow cooker for my cousin Maddie on Tuesday, and it was so delicious we almost died.

More pig. Duh.

More pig. Duh.

I did a whole taco spread with gluten free chips, corn tortillas, cotija cheese, salsa verde, and black bean dip. We talked about boys, I gave her half of the clothes in my closet, and we laughed our heads off while we stuffed our faces with piggy goodness.

It was beyond.

If you want to make some cola carnitas yourself, here’s the recipe.

Slow Cooker Cola Carnitas

4 Pound Pork Shoulder
1 Medium Onion, sliced
4 Garlic Cloves, Peeled
2, 12 oz Bottles of Mexican Coca Cola*
1 7 oz Can of Chipotle Chiles in Adobo Sauce**

Put all of the ingredients in the slow cooker on low and allow the pork shoulder to simmer all day. If you’re in a rush, you can put it on high for about 4 or 5 hours.

Once the pork is cooked thoroughly, take it out of the slow cooker, remove the fat, and shred the pork with a fork. I discard the other ingredients, but you could use the onions if you’d like. They’re really tender and sweet.

After you eat the carnitas, try not to dance like a lunatic like my family does when we have Mexican food.

My family is super fun.

We are mentally ill for Mexican food.

(We are also super fun.)

And because I’m into spreading fun, here’s a song I’m way into right now. It’s Lindsey Stirling, and the video has a whole M.C. Escher thing going.

❤ I LOVE Lindsey Stirling. And M.C. Escher. ❤

*Mexican Coca Cola is made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup. I’ve never tried it with traditional cola, but I’m sure it would be fine if you can’t find Mexican Coke.

**Sometimes I only use half the can if I want it less spicy.

OK, I’m done rambling now. I’m off to USC to handle some bizznass.

Peter Pan Party Aftermath Post 6 (Or Babies and the Best Banana Cupcakes Ever)

Banana Cupcakes, mateys.

If you’ve been reading my little bloggy for a while, you know I was prepping for a baby shower as well as my birthday party last week. And if you’re starting to feel like I’ve been a total only child by only writing about my Peter Pan Party, let me take you back to last Friday for a moment.

Picture this: It’s August 3. It’s 5 am. And it’s my birthday.

A certain puppy’s plaintive cries rouse me from my sweet birthday slumber. I decide to stay up even though it’s still dark outside because I’m absolutely up to my eyes in sewing owl sachets and baking and whatnot.

We never wake you up before dawn and go back to bed. Ever.

After walking the baby beasts, I settle in with my latte and tear into my stack of birthday presents like a wild dog. After the requisite calls to thank thoughtful family members (who were all in the eastern time zone, where it wasn’t OBSCENELY early), I settle in to do battle with the bobbin on my sewing machine. More on that later….

After sewing 19 owl sachets I decide to switch gears and begin baking the banana cupcakes that would be the base for these owl cupcakes.

I am just about to pour the banana cupcake batter into the owl cupcake liners when I get a phone call from my friend and co-host of the shower saying, “Stop everything! Jody’s water just broke.”

True story.

It was five weeks before our friend’s due date, so we thought we were totally in the clear holding the shower on August 4. Nope.

I pull out my lime green polka dotted liners and decide we will be having banana cupcakes at the Peter Pan Party instead of chocolate ganache-filled cupcakes with seven minute meringue frosting.

See, I had planned to make the chocolate ganache-filled cupcakes for the shower and since the recipe makes 24 cupcakes and is not easily halved, I was going to split the confections between the two parties. (Obviously I was going to wait to frost the second dozen until the next day with a fresh batch of frosting because the frosting looks way heinous if it sits out.)

Change of plans.

I totally switch gears from baby shower prep to birthday prep and go about my day hoping everything is going smoothly for my friend over at Cedars-Sinai, where absolutely everyone has their babies.

A few of my friends join me later for low-key take out and drinks and I force them to watch the Twin Peaks pilot like the spoiled birthday brat I am.

Then the news comes that Connor has arrived. On my birthday.

The funny part is both of his parents went to Michigan with me, and we’re all a little obsessed with Michigan football — like someone should probably check us in for treatment — obsessed. (I should mention Connor’s uncles and grandfather also went to Michigan, and so did the co-host of the baby shower. When you get all of us in the same room together, it’s a little frightening.)

Connor’s dad had been teasing me earlier in the day on Facebook about my love of Tom Brady, the Super Bowl MVP and former Michigan quarterback, with whom I share a birthday. And now his son shares a birthday with him too, which seems absolutely appropriate for the ultimate Michigan Wolverine baby.

So, anyway, the good news is everyone is happy and healthy, and my friend got to skip five weeks of pregnancy while it’s like 100 degrees in LA. Plus the people at my birthday party loved the banana cupcakes even though they weren’t on the original menu.

And now I have a new birthday buddy to add to my list that already includes two of my closest friends – plus Tom Brady, Martha Stewart, and Tony Bennett.

So, here’s the recipe for the banana cupcakes. It’s adapted (err, mostly stolen) from this recipe for the most amazing banana cake ever that I bake absolutely all of the time.

May the cupcakes make your friends go into labor too. Or something.

Banana Cupcakes

2 1/4 C cake flour (not self-rising)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about two large bananas)
1/4 cup buttermilk*
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 C unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature

Mascarpone Cream Cheese Frosting 

1/2 C butter, room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 C powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
4 oz mascarpone

Sliced bananas for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Place 16 cupcake liners in cupcake tins.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Mix bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla in a separate bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until blended. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing to blend after each addition. Add half of the dry ingredients and beat the mixture until just blended. Next add the banana mixture, followed by the remaining dry ingredients, just barely beating after each addition.

Pour the batter into cupcake liners. (Do not fill the cupcake liners to the top. You need to leave a little more room in the liners than you would ordinarily. This is because these cupcakes rise more than regular cupcakes.)

Bake until the tester inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, and the tops of the cupcakes have begun to change color, about 18-20 minutes.

Cool cupcakes completely on wire racks.

For the Frosting

Cream butter and cream cheese with the paddle attachment of your electric mixer. Add vanilla and a pinch of salt and mix to blend. Gradually add sifted powder sugar and mix until fluffy. Add mascarpone and carefully mix the frosting. (Mascarpone can curdle if it is whipped too much, so this last step is a bit delicate.)

If you want to skip the mascarpone altogether, just use 8 oz of cream cheese instead.

Place the frosting in the refrigerator until it’s the proper consistency for spreading, about 10-15 minutes.

* I don’t buy an entire container of buttermilk when I only need ¼ C. It’s a colossal waste. I make my own buttermilk instead. You can do this by adding a few teaspoons of vinegar to whole milk and allowing it to sit and curdle, about five minutes. If you don’t have vinegar, lemon juice works as well.