baking · cake · Cheesecake · chocolate · comfort food · Dating · dessert · vegetarian

Brownie Cheesecake for a Visitor

As previously mentioned, my love language is “acts of service,” which is primarily demonstrated through cooking and baking. Since the guy was visiting from Hawaii last week, and I had missed his birthday by a few weeks, I made him this birthday cheesecake (which is better than a boring normal birthday cake). He mentioned in passing once that he loves cheesecake. I pay attention to these things. He also mentioned that he doesn’t like cream cheese, which obviously doesn’t make any fucking sense. Honestly, it was almost a deal breaker, but I was able to move past it. I’m mature like that.

The cleaning frenzy was out of control to prepare for his visit. I bleached my bathtub for God’s sake. WHO AM I? I just kept hearing my friend, Liz, teasing me for the mold and soap scum during her last visit. To drive her point home, she drew a heart in the soap scum with her finger, which was both cute and disgusting.

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Y’all. This visit was incredible. We saw so many things, and had so many conversations and experiences. He tried AcroYoga for the first time. He attended a Yin class that I taught. We drove to Duluth and walked along the shore of Lake Superior (where he picked up trash and I swooned). We went to the science museum and the sculpture garden. I cooked dinner while he made cocktails. We went to fancy ass restaurants. We ate the most marvelous food together, including peanut butter stuffed jalapenos (The Butcher and the Boar) and a hamburger that was sauteed in duck fat (New Scenic Cafe). I ate meat despite my vegetarianism (FML, that shit was good). I don’t know why he has that effect on me. I just so rarely have dinner with someone else that loves food as much as I do. It makes me want to try everything being served.

Despite all the fun things we did together, my favorite part of the whole trip was simply walking around the city. We sat together. We people-watched. We talked. We held hands. We watched the sun set. I was basically living inside a movie. Obviously.

At the end of the visit, I cried a bunch at the airport. Like, a bunch. It was messy and embarrassing, as most human experiences are (at least the ones worth having). When I apologized for crying and “being weird,” he simply said, “Don’t apologize. You’re open and honest. I appreciate that about you.” I’m sorry… what? Who the fuck is this guy? What the fuck is happening? Am I being punked?! (Does that reference make me sound old?)

There’s still a 4,000 mile barrier and a lot of uncertainty. I get that. But, fuck it. I’m holding on as long as I can, while remaining open and honest. Isn’t that what life is all about? Staying open to the experience? #noregrets

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Anyway! There are several steps in this recipe. I sort of enjoy the fact that it looks really complex (and comes across fancy as fuck). While it can be a bit time consuming, it’s actually fairly simple. Don’t let all the steps scare you! Go make this for someone you care about, or just for yourself. I have a friend that likes to eat this cheesecake in the bathtub while listening to Tom Waits. My guy ate it for breakfast in his underwear (which is the biggest baking compliment I’ve ever received – also, y’all know how much I love eating sweets in my underwear). This is a judgement-free zone. You do you.

The trick to making this pretty is not skipping the ganache layer. Ganache provides it with a smooth, luxurious finish. Otherwise it can look sloppy as fuck. Don’t be a sloppy fuck. Plus, why would anyone even consider skipping an extra chocolate layer? It’s absurd.

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Brownie Cheesecake (originally from Smitten Kitchen)

For the brownies: Follow the instructions here. Set in fridge until cool (I made these the night before). Once cooled, cut into smallish squares (approx. 1″).

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For the crust:

1 1/2 cups finely ground chocolate Teddy Grahams (or Annie’s brand Bunny Grahams)

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

Mix all the crust ingredients in a medium bowl. Press into a greased pie pan, getting some up the sides as well. Set in fridge until ready to fill.

For the cheesecake:

3 (8 ounce)  packages of cream cheese, softened

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup sugar

2 cups brownie cubes (You will have extra! You’re welcome!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat cream cheese in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. On a lower speed, add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla and sugar.  Make sure to scrape the bowl occasionally to get all that good stuff mixed together. Once everything is fully incorporated, fold in the brownie cubes. Pour filling over the crust and bake for 45 minutes. Outer edges will brown slightly. Let cool completely. I usually throw it in the fridge right away, but that’s not what the pros do because it can cause the top to crack. We’re not worried about cracks, though, because we have some motherfuckin’ ganache to cover all of our mistakes. Only cover with ganache once fully cooled.

For the ganache:

3/4 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Bring heavy cream to a simmer (basically once the edges start bubbling), and pour over the chocolate chips. Let sit for a minute or two, then whisk together. Pour over the cooled cheesecake and place back in the fridge. Once set, dig in!

Now then, I’m off to finish the last piece of this… while watching Netflix in my underwear. I suggest you do the same.

baking · cake · chocolate · comfort food · dessert · easy · vegetarian

The Best Chocolate Cake

I made this cake a few weeks ago for Hannah’s husband’s birthday. He requested chocolate cake, and gave me no other fucking information. I was like, “But what kind of chocolate? Chocolate on chocolate or vanilla frosting? Maybe a raspberry filling? German chocolate? Nuts? Ganache? Dark or milk?” Honestly, my chocolate questions can go on and on… and they did. Hannah told me she was just going to pick up a sheet cake from the grocery store if I didn’t shut the fuck up (how dare she). Who the fuck would choose a shitty sheet cake over homemade? Fuck.

So I found this recipe on Pinterest, and was very excited about it’s simplicity. I guess I don’t need to add all the bells and whistles to end up with a delicious cake. This shit is moist as fuck, and the frosting begs to just be eaten by the spoonful. Now, I understand my cake decorating skills are lacking. This surprises no one. Despite my art degree and love of baking, I’ve never been great at making my cakes beautiful. But who the fuck cares? Some day I’ll take a class to learn, but until then… my ugly cake still tastes better than your masterpiece. Besides, everyone knows fondant tastes like shit.

Unrelated Hawaii story: Cortney took me to the Polynesian Cultural Center on one of my last days. I know this place is supposed to teach us about all the different Polynesian cultures (which it did!), but our favorite part was the half naked men dancing. During the first performance we stopped at (I believe it was the island of Tonga), there was one dancer that was so attractive that Cortney and I immediately started aggressively elbowing each other and gesturing with our eyes. He was one of those guys that you think has to be famous or a model or something. I mean, normal people don’t just walk around looking like that. It’s distracting. He must cause so many car accidents by just crossing the street every day. Fuck. So there we were, in the middle of all these wholesome families, just losing our goddamn minds. At one point during the performance, a few of the dancers walked into the audience. Our guy stood a few feet away from us and we got the giggles like a couple of fucking inappropriate teenagers. I was actually pretty embarrassed, but I could not stop. It was completely fucking involuntary at that point. I couldn’t even look at Cortney because I knew the giggling would amplify to uncontrollable laugh-snorting. By the end of it, I was full on crying. I would like to remind everyone that I am 31 years old.

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The Best Chocolate Cake

2 cups flour

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk or half and half

1/2 cup canola oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup strong hot coffee

 

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

4 cups powdered sugar

4 tablespoons milk or half and half (or more if it needs thinning)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9 inch cake pans and set aside. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, both sugars, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, and salt. Set aside. In a mixer, mix together milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Once fully combined, add in the hot coffee. Divide between the 2 pans and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

My trick to keeping the cake from drying out is cool it in the freezer. Just throw both pans in the freezer straight from the oven. Leave them in there for about 20-30 minutes.

For the frosting:

Beat the butter in the mixer until fluffy. Add in the rest of the ingredients and whisk until creamy. If the frosting is too thick, add a little more milk.

Frost the shit outta that cake.

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There was a lot of alcohol involved.

baking · brunch · cake · comfort food · dessert · easy · Mochi · quick · snacks · travel · vacation · vegetarian

Taro Mochi Cake

This is the first of what will become many attempts to recreate the amazing taro mochi cake I had on Kaua’i.

I’m definitely going to have to cut the recipe in half next time, though, considering I can’t really get anyone to eat this. I love the texture, but Minnesotans are not about it. I get a lot of crinkled noses and comments like, “It’s interesting…”

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I was fucking obsessed with the feral chickens.

For those that don’t know… mochi is made with rice flour and is very chewy. This cake is kind of gelatinous, which I am obsessed with. But, you know, it’s not for everyone. And as much as I love it, I can’t eat an entire 9 x 13 sheet of it. Sigh.

I’ve been home from Hawaii for nearly 2 weeks now, and I still desperately miss it. Cortney and I have had marathon phone conversations almost daily. We’re out of control. Seriously. Why don’t we live in the same city already?!

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Cortney and I visiting a lighthouse, looking fucking adorable.

There were so many amazing moments in Hawaii, but I think one of my favorites was when Cortney and I volunteered at a horse ranch for an afternoon. If you know me, you know I don’t like to get dirty. I don’t like bugs, or mud, or going camping, or a lack of indoor plumbing. I like to do what I call “day camping,” to which a friend once responded with, “Kelsey… that’s just called going outside.” Exactly! I like being outside… in a park with a clearly marked path, or a nice little pond/lake with a bench to sit at where I can read my book. I don’t want to sit on the ground, especially if I don’t have a blanket to sit on. You get it. I would say that Cortney is the same way, but she can correct me later if I’m wrong. (I would like it noted that all these rules go out the window when it comes to the beach! I’m all about sitting in the sand and swimming and giving no fucks. It is where I feel the most free.)

I made a makeshift steamer. Don’t do this… unless you want to melt your strainer.

So we volunteered with the horses because Cortney is a secret horse girl (you know what I’m talking about… those girls in high school that can’t stop talking about horses and riding and all that shit). She’s quiet about it, but she fucking loves horses. I love this about her. I was also excited to go because I’d never really spent much time with horses, and I think they’re really beautiful. So we get there, and help clean out some stables (I didn’t even mind the smell!), and then got to bathe a miniature horse named Teddy. We were both fucking psyched about this shit. Bathing a fucking mini horse?! Fuck yes. I don’t know what we did to deserve such an honor, but we didn’t ask questions. We just got to fucking business.

Y’all.

Teddy is a fucking asshole.

I mean, at first it was fine. He was being kind of a dick, but it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle. We hooked him up outside as it started to drizzle, and slowly started spraying him down with the hose. He fucking hated having the hair on the top of his head touched. Like, he was cool with the rest of it, but God forbid we get near his ears. Cortney was better at this because she has a dog that acts like a horse (I love you, Ellie!), so she did most of the spraying down. Unfortunately, being on the other side from her, that meant I got hosed down as well. Luckily, we were headed to the beach afterwards, so I gave zero fucks.

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I can’t even believe this is a real place.

We got Teddy cleanish, and then brought him back inside to do his hair. Yes… you read that right. We brushed and then braided his fucking mane. I was pretending he was a fucking unicorn the whole time. Cortney was beside herself with excitement.

But then that motherfucker started bucking. Hell no. It was terrifying for a minute, but then Cortney shut that shit down. We were both like, “Fuck this, we’re done!” Then she forced him into stillness and marched him to his stable. She’s such a badass.

He was absolutely pissed about the four braids I put in his hair. Masculinity is so fragile.

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Taro Mochi Cake

1 lb box mochiko (sweet rice flour)

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 cups coconut milk

5 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cup steamed and grated taro (you can substitute chopped macadamia nuts or shredded coconut if you can’t find taro, though it should also be at your local Asian market)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9 x 13 pan. Melt butter and put aside to cool, and don’t forget about it in the microwave like I did (I found in hours later, way after the cake was done). Combine mochiko (which can be found at most Asian markets), sugars and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Add melted butter, coconut milk, eggs and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Stir in taro and mix well. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour or until top is slightly golden brown. Remove pan from oven and cool before cutting. Or cut it right away and burn your fucking mouth like an idiot (that’s what I did). 

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baking · breakfast · brunch · cake · comfort food · Dating · dessert · easy · quick · snacks · vegetarian

Pistachio Cake and Tinder Nightmares

I joined Tinder again, because apparently I’m a masochist. The first person I matched with started out the conversation by saying, “Thanks for having a booty. #rare” That, right there, is a direct quote. I thought maybe he would be funny, so I responded with, “Apparently that’s what happens when you love to eat donuts and do yoga all the time.” I then went on to ask him one of my classic Tinder questions… “If you could be one animal for a day, without having to worry about predators and such, what animal would you choose?” This is a fun question, and can tell me right away if I’m intrigued by someone. Basically, the in with me is choosing a sea creature of some sort, though there are really no wrong answers. He chose a T-Rex (stupid) at first, but then backtracked to a dolphin (better). When I asked why a dolphin, he stated, “Because they have sex for pleasure.”

I can’t.

I said, “I mean, it’s only for a day. You would waste the time having sex rather than exploring the ocean?”

He responded with, “Sex WHILE exploring. You gotta open your mind.”

And we’re done. (Also, to quote an interesting human I met recently, “Dolphins are the frat boys of the sea.”)

I’ve been back on this app for 1 day, and I’m already being bombarded with sex crazed men. On top of that, I’m currently being strung along by the guy that crushed my soul last month after he sought me out a couple days ago (Dude, I’m a human being with real fucking thoughts and feelings – stop fucking with me), another person can’t set a date for our first meeting despite talking for like 2 months, and the only person I actually like lives a million miles away. A MILLION. No, I’m not being dramatic about that at all. Fuck off.

Sigh. I do not live in a romantic comedy.

In times like these, I could turn to booze. I strongly suspect no one would judge me for it (nor would I care). Instead, I baked a cake in my underwear. Naturally. I got this recipe from my mom’s dear friend in Florida, who is basically like an aunt to me. Thanks for sharing this, Michelle (and for all the wine)! ❤

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I was going to try giving up sugar for a few weeks, because I tend to get carried away. But then I signed in to Tinder. You understand, right? Of course you do.

Seriously, I just need a normal human to go on a few dates with. I mean, fuck, can we just make it to maybe 4 or 5 dates? Do I have to keep having first dates only? Everyone is horrible.

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Pistachio Cake

For the cake:

1 box yellow cake mix

2 boxes pistachio pudding mix

4 large eggs

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 cup milk

For the frosting:

3/4 cup milk

1 box pistachio pudding mix

8 oz cool whip

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the cake mix and pudding mix together in a large bowl. Add the eggs, oil, and milk, and mix on low speed (or by hand) for 2ish minutes. Pour into a greased bundt cake pan and bake for 50-60 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pan. To remove, just cover the top with a large plate, and flip. If it’s a mess, what the fuck ever… just throw that shit in a bowl and top with globs of the frosting.

Speaking of which, to make the frosting, start with whisking together the milk and pudding mix. Then fold in the cool whip. Serve each slice with a dollop of frosting. You could also opt to skip the frosting and just dust with powdered sugar, which is what I did because my store didn’t have any cool whip (wtf).

Try not to get down about dating apps! Love is out there! Or it’s not, and you’ll die alone. At least you’ll have cake. Win, win. 😉

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baking · cake · Cheesecake · chocolate · comfort food · dessert · peanut butter · Yummy

Butterfinger Cheesecake

I am exhausted.

I went to the grocery store the other day, and had all this baking shit to buy. The shopping basket was overflowing. I got half way through my shopping, and decided I couldn’t carrying anything else, so I went home. Does that ever happen to you? Like, I just no longer had the energy to even carry my groceries.

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I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for weeks, but then I thought I’d wait, because all I’ve been posting is sweets. I promise that’s not all I’m eating – but it’s the holidays! Baking is mandatory. The other cookie and cake recipes will be shelved for the time being – this is my last dessert recipe for awhile.

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So. Butterfinger cheesecake came about for a coworker’s birthday at the beginning of the month. She requested cheesecake. When I asked what kind, she thought about it for a moment, then shouted, “Butterfinger!” as if it was the best idea she’d ever had.

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My cheesecakes are always baked in a pie pan. Why? Because I’m not fancy enough for a spring form pan. Fuck that shit. I wouldn’t even know how to use it. Pie shaped cheesecake is just as good. Don’t judge me.

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Butterfinger Cheesecake

For the crust:

1 1/2 cups chocolate graham cookies (I used Simply Amy Bunny Grahams)

1/3 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons peanut butter, melted

Whisk melted butter and peanut butter together. Mix all ingredients together, and press into the bottom and up the sides of a pie pan. Fill immediately, or refrigerate to use later.

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For the filling:

2 (8oz) packages of cream cheese, softened (please don’t use a low fat variety – that’s gross)

3 eggs

2/3 cup sugar

A splash of vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat cream cheese in a mixer, until light and fluffy. Then add eggs, one at a time, vanilla, and sugar. Mix well, until everything is fully incorporated. Pour into prepared crust. Bake for 40 minutes. The center should still be slightly jiggly, with edges slightly browned. Let cool before adding the topping.

For the topping:

1 1/2 cups Butterfinger bars, chopped

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy cream

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Sprinkle the candy over the cake in an even layer. In a small sauce pan, bring cream to a boil, and immediately remove from heat. Place chocolate chips in a small bowl, and pour in the hot cream. Let sit for 2 minutes. Stir together until chocolate is fully melted. Drizzle over the top (or glob, in my case). Refrigerate until ready to serve. If you’re lucky, you have leftover candy that you get to eat in private. Maybe top it off with a salad, because, you know, balance.

breakfast · brunch · cake · comfort food · cupcakes · dessert · pumpkin · snacks · vegetarian

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

20151124_150358Is there anything better than pumpkin cake?

I think it’s better than all the other pumpkin desserts. It might even be better than a pumpkin spice latte.

I found this recipe a few years ago, and it has become somewhat of a tradition at this point. I make it every year for Thanksgiving, and sometimes for Christmas. This year I cut the recipe in half, and made it in cupcake form. I brought extras to work with me. Hannah’s response after hardly finishing her first one was, “Can I have another one?”

20151124_160004This is literally the best thing I make.

My best friend and I recently started trying this new “diet.” We’re calling it “being kind to ourselves.” It consists of eating healthy and delicious things, while not restricting anything. My version also includes tons of yoga. Basically, we can eat whatever the fuck we want, as long as we’re hungry. No more emotional eating. No more beating ourselves up for eating cupcakes. We will no longer let food control us. And we will not let society tell us we don’t deserve dessert.

I ate chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast this morning, plus one of these cupcakes. For dinner, I’ll eat leftover turkey with sauteed bok choy. It’s all about balance.

Is this getting too rant-y? Oh wait, I don’t care.

20151124_161742Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting 

Cake ingredients:

3 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 can (15oz) pureed pumpkin

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 cup milk

 

Frosting ingredients:

12oz (1 1/2 packages) cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

3 tablespoons maple syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons cinnamon

4 cups powdered sugar

A generous dash of each: nutmeg, ginger, ground cloves, all spice

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease cupcake tins, or use paper cups. This can also be made into a 3 layer cake, if you’d prefer. In that case, grease 3 round cake pans (8 or 9 inch).

For cake: In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Cream together butter and sugar in your mixer, or by hand in a large bowl. Mix until light and fluffy, then add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla, pumpkin, and oil. Slowly add in flour mixture, alternating with the milk. Divide into cupcake tins or cake pans, and bake for 25 minutes(for cupcakes) to 35 minutes (for cake). Check to make sure it’s done by sticking a toothpick or a clean knife in the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, they’re done! If not, bake for a few more minutes. Once done, place into the freezer. Since learning this trick, I do it with pretty much all my cake recipes. It really keeps the cake from drying out. Leave it in the freezer for 20-40 minutes (until cool).

For frosting: Cream together butter and cream cheese in a mixer. Add remaining ingredients, saving the powdered sugar for last. Slowly beat in the sugar until combined, then beat on high until smooth.

Assemble the cake with layers of frosting in between. Or! Top cupcakes with a generous layer of frosting. Serve right away, or keep refrigerated. When cut in half, this recipe makes about 36 cupcakes.

Make extra frosting, and just eat it out of a bowl.

 

 

breakfast · cake · dessert · pumpkin

Pumpkin Cake with Maple Icing

I’m out of control with my pumpkin spice lattes. Seriously. I need an intervention.

With the exception of pumpkin flavoring, I’m not embracing fall at all. In fact, I got a pedicure yesterday, because I intend to keep wearing flip flops until the snow flies. Firm denial. Plus, I have a new adorable paw print tattoo on my foot that it pains me to cover. I won’t do it. Fall can just fuck right off.

DSC_0232This is the time of year I start nesting like a crazy person, though. I’ve been canning and baking like I’m someone’s grandmother, which is insane because I’m not having kids, and will never be anyone’s grandmother (Thank God!). So I made this cake the other day, on the same day I canned a bunch of tomato sauce and salsa. I also made a zucchini gratin casserole that morning, and topped it with an egg for breakfast (see pic to right). Out. Of. Control.

The pumpkin cake didn’t actually look exactly like the pictures from the original recipe. I’m not sure what I did wrong, but the icing is way thicker on my cake. This isn’t really a problem, but an improvement, in my opinion. The cake itself isn’t very sweet, but the crumbly top and icing makes up for it. I honestly think I’ll double the topping next time. If you do that, let me know how it turns out.

This recipe originates from Pinch of Yum.

DSC_0255Pumpkin Cake with Maple Icing

For the cake:

1/2 cup salted butter, mostly melted

1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree

3 eggs

2 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon all spice

1 pinch of nutmeg and ground cloves

DSC_0243For the topping:

6 tablespoons flour

6 tablespoons brown sugar

6 tablespoons white sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons butter, melted

DSC_0253For the icing:

2 tablespoons butter

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 6×11 (or equivalent) baking dish. Whisked together butter, brown sugar, pumpkin, and eggs until smooth. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Mix until combined, and pour into prepared dish.

Mix topping ingredients with your hands, until it becomes crumbly. Sprinkle over top of cake. Bake for 45 minutes.

Melt butter for the icing in a sauce pan over very low heat. Add the maple syrup and vanilla, then the powdered sugar. Whisk over low heat until all the sugar dissolves into the liquid. Pour over finished cake. Eat immediately, preferably with a PSL. Tell fall to fuck off (except for its pumpkin flavored treats).