Hello blog, I’m Emerald Thunder! It’s nice to meet you.

Wow, now didn’t I fall of the face of the earth? It’s been SO long. It’s now the END of March, spring break has been over for a long time, the CT promo trips are over, and I’m gearing up for the end of the semester and all of my final papers. I’ve also made a few yummy things and just haven’t gotten around to/had time to blog about them.

Another thing, my baking bonanzas are failing miserably. I’ve only blogged about ONE of them so far. . . . Yeah. . . . I’ve done the pomegranate white chocolate chip cookies, the Oreo Cupcakes, and the Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes, but their photos are still waiting impatiently on my memory card. I really need to post them. Soon.

Here’s what else I’ve been up to in the past month:

MACARONI AND CHEESE!!!

It was so super cheesy before I baked it. I think I kept it in the oven a bit too long, and so it dried out. I added some extra milk to my bowl and it turned out okay. I made this again last week and decided against baking it (also because I was just so hungry, haha). Much better that way. Maybe next time I’ll put it in the oven for like 5 minutes. I don’t need a crispy crust on it, so 5 minutes should be sufficient.

This is what happens when you’re making mac and cheese and not paying attention to which way you’re flailing your arms.

Burnt to a black crisp pasta has such a wonderful and fragrant smell. From now on, the box will ALWAYS be closed unless I am pouring the pasta into the pot of water. But it’s okay, this story had a happy ending.

BROWNIES!!!

I absolutely love the Best Cocoa Brownies recipe on Une Gamine dans la Cuisine. It’s been my go-to recipes for a few months now, granted with a few alterations in the form of an extra egg and a bunch of chocolate chips melted into the batter. This time, however, I forgot to add the chips to the batter, and so I just sprinkled some on top. I think I might just stick with doing that, as they were still super amazing without the added chocolate.

And some yogurt-covered pretzels that worked okay, but I don’t think I’ll try to make them again. This version didn’t even come CLOSE to the terrible-for-you store-bought ones. I wanted that, but I failed in creating it. Oh well.

And a sneak peek for the Irish Car Bomb Cupcake Bonanza

I didn’t make all of the batter into cupcakes (there was SO MUCH BATTER), so I poured the leftover into a 9×13 pan and baked it into a cake. Then I topped it with green buttercream for St. Patrick’s Day.

I planned on using my shamrock cookie cutter on this cake, but it just didn’t work out well. The cookie cutter was just too small and the cake was just too thick. So I cut it into small squares instead.

And finally, POPCORN.

I admit, I had no part in making the popcorn besides watching and laughing at my jumpy friend’s expense.

 

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Wow, What a Back-Log of Baked Goods

I have been remiss in posting about my baking exploits as of late, so now it’s time to catch up. I’m going back to my roots and blogging instead of writing 2 papers and 2 essays, doing a pile of reading, or putting laundry away.

To start it off, a no-bake item: chocolate-covered Ritz peanut butter sandwiches from kevinandamanda.com. I stumbled upon this idea one day and I can’t believe I never thought to do this. I love chocolate, and I love Ritz and peanut butter, so why not love the two together? I altered it a tad and used whole wheat crackers and semi-sweet chips and some shortening instead of white chocolate bark, but I’m itching to try the white chocolate version. I made these on a whim one night when I had the kitchen to myself, and it was a really quick process.

1.) Make peanut butter sandwiches.

2.) Melt chocolate and shortening together in the microwave.

3.) Dip in melted chocolate/shortening mixture.

4.) Refrigerate until hardened.

5.) ENJOY! These go quite nicely with  “The Story of the Grail” by Chretien de Troyes, if I do say so myself.

Next up is a Buttermilk Banana Bread from Two Peas and Their Pod. I still had some leftover buttermilk from my birthday cake, and it was getting near its expiration date, so how could I not make this. In addition to going into the bread, before I made it I actually froze the remaining buttermilk in ice cube trays and then put all the cubes into a freezer bag. No wasted buttermilk for me. I’ve read that it doesn’t taste quite the same when you drink it after freezing, but it works just fine for baking. Who am I kidding anyway? I’m not drinking buttermilk, so freeze away I did.

Now, I admit, while I was able to take some pictures of the process, I forgot to do something important. We’ll get to that.

Butter and sugar. I wanted to use some brown sugar in addition to the white, but my remaining brown sugar was rock hard and I didn’t want to deal with softening it up. I’m already bad enough at having room temperature butter and eggs. I can’t deal with hard brown sugar too, especially when I had to make this quickly. I should include the microwave as a material needed because just about every time I bake, I have to soften the butter/cream cheese/whatever first. It works wonders . . . especially if the butter is coming directly from the freezer. . . .

Some serious elbow grease went into creaming the butter and sugar, but it was nice and light and fluffy in the end.Now for the addition of two (just out of the fridge) eggs. Whoops.

And mashed up bananas. I just used two giant ones that I had, but I think I would have liked just a little more banana taste to the final bread. Oh well, next time.

And now we get to my idiot moment of this process. I defrosted my frozen buttermilk cubes (again, in the microwave). I then proceeded to happily pour nearly the entire bowl into the batter. . . . As I was pouring, it hit me that I hadn’t MEASURED IT! I only needed four tablespoons, and I don’t know how much actually ended up in there. I added a pinch more flour after to compensate for the possible extra liquid.

The buttermilk was interacting with everything else, and as a result the batter looked a little suspect at this point, but it was just all the acidity.

FLOUR and other dry ingredients. I used half all-purpose and half whole wheat.You can see the darker whole wheat in the back of the bowl.

Mix, mix, mix. But not too much.

Into the prepared pan you go, delicious, if buttermilk-y, banana bread batter.

With a sprinkle of cinnamon. I LOVE cinnamon!

And out of the oven!

I think I slightly over-baked it because it was a tad bit dry. It was still really good, though.

I’ll get it right next time, along with actually measuring the buttermilk before I go pouring it all willy-nilly into the batter.

It was my breakfast this week, and I still have one yummy piece left. I took to putting a slice on top of the toaster for a minute and then spreading the warm bread with some peanut butter. SO GOOD.

I also did my third Baking Bonanza on Monday. More buttermilk was involved, but this time in the form of milk and vinegar. That was me following the directions ;D. But wait, where is my second bonanza? I did it, but I’m waiting to re-do it so I can get some proper pictures this time.

I’m going to make a separate post for this, so this is all you get right now.

For my final back-logged creation, I give you: the most wonderful homemade garlic bread I’ve EVER had.

I came across this on Buns in my Oven, and it is absolutely heavenly.

Granted, it’s heavenly even with my alterations, namely: a ciabatta loaf from Trader Joe’s (LOVE those. I’ve also been making croutons out of it.), no Parmesan (I didn’t have any.), added ricotta, no onions or herbs (I didn’t have those either.), some pepper, and a liberal coating of mozzarella cheese before going into the oven. So maybe I should amend my statement to say that the premise is heavenly.

I can’t wait to make this again. Perhaps tomorrow? I still have bread and just enough cream cheese for one more half batch.

And in Celtic Thunder news, I purchased my first concert ticket for this fall’s tour! At 7:45am, no less. Yes, I was up that early on a Saturday. In fact, I was up a bit before 7. What is wrong with me? Perhaps it was because I fell asleep almost immediately after coming home from work yesterday and slept though the entire afternoon and night, save for about an hour to eat dinner (salad and the last of my garlic bread, yum!).

EDIT: I knew I was forgetting about something. I also made a pizza earlier in the week. I used Trader Joe’s pizza dough and pressed the bottom with cornmeal, then I topped it with marinara sauce, chicken, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, and a sprinkling of salt/pepper/garlic powder. It was so good, and I just finished up the last bit of it for lunch today. Even though it was in my fridge for a few days, I somehow managed to not take any pictures at all. Next time. Wow, that really should be my mantra. Next time I’ll do this, next time I’ll do that, it’ll be better next time, I’ll actually measure ingredients next time :).