Blood Orange Chiffon Cake

Happy Birthday to me! I don’t know why everyone is always so perplexed when I tell them I *like* making my own birthday cake. It’s a chance for me to try out a new technique or flavor and to splurge a bit on ingredients.

I think I went through three or four cake options over the past few weeks. Did I want chocolate? Lavender and matcha? Peanut butter? Nope, nope, and nope! This Blood Orange Chiffon Cake paired with this Whipped Frosting snuck up and blew the other contenders out of the water.

The blood oranges took forever and a day to candy, and I was a bit terrified of accidentally deflating the egg whites, but I’m quite pleased with the final results! The cake has a nice orange fragrance, and I cut the sugar by a half cup so the frosting isn’t overly sweet.

And not only do I have a cute 7″ cake for myself (Yes, I know the recipe called for 9″ pans, but I’m a rebel in my new age), but I also baked up a 9″ layer and cut it in half for a cake to bring to work on Monday. Part two of birthday extravaganza baking was a success!


Round Two: Rustic White Bread

I read Robin Sloane’s Sourdough this week, and, just like after watching The Great British Bake-Off, I desperately wanted to make bread. I figured I would turn my weekend birthday into a baking extravaganza, and round two with Rustic White Bread was part one of about five!

This loaf is definitely less rustic-looking than the last, but it wafted the same amazing fragrance around the apartment. I proofed it for a bit less time and made a smoother ball (and purposely scored it) before popping it in the oven.

Topped with some Kerrygold, I’m in for some delicious toast over the next few days. No sharing! 😉


Last-Minute San Diego Food

I ended up taking a last-minute trip out to San Diego last week, so cooking and baking my own food went on the back-burner. But being away from my kitchen didn’t stop me from experiencing all sorts of delicious food during my time out there! Shameless food pics below!

In addition to eating food galore, I also went to Pacific Beach and to Temecula. Whenever I wasn’t inside, I wanted to bask in the sun, because I knew winter was just a couple days away for me. I think I even got a little color from my beach day!

21 days until Houston!


Cream Cheese Peanut Butter Cookies

You want a cookie whose aroma will waft throughout your apartment building? This is your cookie! These Cream Cheese Peanut Butter Cookies came together super quickly, and I eventually got the hang of baking them.


At first, I didn’t roll the dough into balls before baking, which caused some frustration in not being able to get a decent cross-hatch on top. But by the last four, I rolled the dough into balls and got a lovely little design on each. These last ones also cooked and browned more evenly. So, note to self, don’t just plop the peanut butter cookie dough onto the sheet. Take another minute to get a smooth, evenly browned, cross-hatch-having cookie!


I didn’t have any sanding sugar like the recipe called for, but I did sprinkle some raw/Turbinado sugar over top each cookie before baking.



Baking, Uncategorized

Pumpkin Spice Latte Muffins

I’m trying to keep the momentum going on doing at least one semi-productive thing each weekend day now that I’m not consistently at work until all hours. Today’s productivity resulted in temporarily being the epitome of a “basic white girl” and making PSL muffins.


We definitely didn’t have a true Fall this past year, which means that all of my candle scents have shifted by a few months, hence the Pumpkin Banana Muffin in the background. How rude of the weather to not abide by candle season!


In even sadder news, the sugar/butter rule applies to these little delights, which means that I have to share them with my coworkers. At least they can safely go in tupperware containers in a tote bag to get them to work!


New Year, New Bread

Is this a New Year’s Resolution? Who knows? Maybe this lasts, maybe it doesn’t. All I know right now is that I made my best loaf of bread ever today! And I want to celebrate that personal achievement.


Coming off of watching 40 episodes of The Great British Baking Show over the holidays, I needed to make *something,* but a sugar-overload during the latter half of the year has put me off sweet baked goods for a bit. It also seems more reasonable to eat an entire loaf of bread than to eat an entire cake. That’s how it works, right? It doesn’t have a mountain of sugar or butter, so I can eat it all myself?


I used this Rustic White Bread recipe, and I’m quite pleased with this little loaf! Paul Hollywood was in the back of my head the whole time–knead well, don’t over-prove, have steam in the oven for a good crust! Using a Dutch oven didn’t hurt, either. When I brought it out of the oven and gave it a good knock on the bottom, there was a lovely hollow sound. Music to my ears!


All in all, not a bad start to the year!






So, um, yeah? Not a post I ever thought I’d write.

*Crawls out of the woodwork* Hi! Yes, I am actually here right now; no, I didn’t completely forget about this blogging endeavor. Will I be back for good? Who knows. . . . I just needed to write this particular post.

Celtic Thunder–Keith, Damian, Paul, Ryan, George. What can I say? I fell in love with those five lads at the end of my senior year of high school and have been a devoted Thunderhead ever since. It’s been a roller coaster of emotion along the way, what with the musical changes (Hey there, “Storm”), the lineup changes (Bye, Paul and Damo. Hey, Emmet and Colm. Bye, Emmet.), and the hair changes (Oh, the hair changes!). But this right now is without a doubt the lowest of lows we Thunderheads have ever experienced.

Two weeks ago, George suffered a massive heart attack and didn’t make it. 46 years young. Every so often I’ll feel a pang in my heart and it hits me all over again. I had only interacted with him a handful of times, but the special thing about the lads is that they let us into their lives and make us feel like family. You don’t get that same level of connection with many others in the spotlight. Sure, I’d shed some tears for their passings, but George just hits even harder than they ever possibly could. I don’t weap at the reception desk at work for just anyone.

I remember when I went to the Celtic Thunder show at the Tilles Center in Fall 2009–the first stop on my three-show whirlwind. By some miracle, I was second row in the pit, and I managed to scoot over to the center aisle seat. I came fully prepared with small signs to hold up to try to elicit reactions from the lads. They worked. Fantastically. I got winks and eyebrow raises from George (as well as other small reactions from everyone else).

And then when I went to their Boston show two days later, I met George outside the buses and got my first picture with him. Hanging out around the venue for the afternoon, I saw him passing in and out through the stage door a few more times, and he always stopped to interact with fans. I do remember him mentioning he had to get in for a sound check, but that didn’t stop him from stopping to talk briefly. He was that kind of man.


(Curse you, windy Columbus Day Weekend!)

In Spring 2012, he booked a solo gig at Paddy Reilly’s. Folk group’s post-Airneal stomping grounds. There was no way I was missing that opportunity! He played a lively and entertaining set, and it’s that night I got my second picture and one-on-one interaction with him. Those pictures are now even nearer and dearer to me than I ever could have imagined.

I guess what I need to take from his passing is that I have a life. I need to enjoy it. Attempt to experience it. Sure, sucky things seem to keep happening in 2014, but why should I let that stop me? Yes, not trying *might* avoid heartbreak and disappointment. Maybe. That’s not even a guarantee with how things seem to be going, though.

I try, I fail in an epic fashion, I cry a bit, and then I move on. But move on to something I enjoy/want or am even slightly curious about. I just need to try something. Anything. There are already so many things I regret not doing, and I need to stop adding to that list. At least trying and then failing affirms my gut feelings and instincts, and then I can stop “what if?”-ing. I already did one thing I was petrified and anxious about, and yeah, the end result was less than ideal, but now it’s over and I can work on putting it behind me. Time to find my next adventure.

George, I’m already missing you like crazy. I hope you’re up there singing with Harry Chapin–I’m certainly singing along with you down here as I figure out the next step to take.