Baking, Uncategorized

Goodbye Vacation

Winter break is officially over after this weekend, and I don’t know if I’m ready to get back to the grind quite yet. This break hasn’t been as productive as I wanted it to be, especially in the book-reading department. I had a list of books I wanted to get through, but I just couldn’t make it through all of them. I was only able to finish The Cupcake Diaries series (a cute little kids series from Simon Spotlight) and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

Oh my, The Night Circus was absolutely amazing. It actually took me a bit less than two weeks to read it, but it was worth every second. I had been itching to read it since August, but timing was never right and The Strand never had a used copy available.  I finally got my hands on a copy, though. When I first heard about this book months ago, I believed it to be a YA novel, but then I read that the author is very adamant about the fact that it is not. The length of time it took me to read it is also a testament to the fact that it is very much a work of adult fiction; I can usually get through a considerably long YA book in a matter of a weekend, but The Night Circus has so many details and intricacies to it that I was forced to slow down in order to even try to take it all in. The tendency to jump between years in each chapter was a bit troubling at first, but by the end of the book I was able to get the timeline straight.This book is definitely something I would not hesitate to read again, because I am sure that I missed at least a few things, especially in my moments when I was half-asleep reading. The characters are well-developed and the plot is not so predictable that reading becomes boring.

I’m also in love with the book’s physical design. If I may say, it’s very classy. The jacket is wonderful with its black, white, and red coloring (the same palate as the circus itself), and the actual cover is beautiful with silver designs inlaid on a black background. I’m a sucker for a beautifully designed book, and these colors all come together in a wonderful way. The only way to describe it is that it’s classy, pure and simple.

Okay, enough about The Night Circus. On to my most recent batches of doughnuts!

Unfortunately I have no pictures of my improved chocolate doughnuts. They were just too good to wait for natural lighting so I could take proper pictures. Instead, I just have the recipe I came up with, which was inspired the Lara Ferroni recipe I used before.

Baked Dark Chocolate Cake Doughnuts

*Makes 9 delicious doughnuts*


1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup granulated sugar                                                                                                                                                                                                                           3/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              5 squares of Trader Joe’s 70% Pound Plus dark chocolate, shaved/chopped


1.) Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly spray a doughnut pan with non-stick spray.

2.) Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda so it is all evenly incorporated.

3.) Add the sugar, nutmeg and salt. Stir to evenly incorporate.

4.) Add the melted butter, buttermilk, vanilla, and egg to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.

5.) Carefully stir in the finely chopped chocolate.

6.) Fill each doughnut well 1/2 to 3/4 full. I used a spoon. Don’t overfill the wells, or the holes will get baked over. That would be sad.

7.) Bake for about 8 minutes, until the doughnuts spring back when touched. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

8.) Once cooled, glaze if desired (1 cup powdered sugar, slowly add buttermilk or milk until it reaches your desired consistency, add a splash of vanilla).


The doughnut-making didn’t stop there. I made those ones a few days ago, and I couldn’t resist making one more batch of doughnuts this morning. But this time I went with the Baked Glazed Doughnuts from Iowa Girl Eats, and I spruced them up with a dark chocolate glaze. I love me some dark chocolate!

I followed the recipe for the most part, but instead of using the cinnamon it called for, I replaced it with my new favorite baking spice: nutmeg! I used a little more than 1/4 teaspoon of that glorious doughnut spice.

For the chocolate glaze, I shaved 3 squares of Trader Joe’s 70% Pound Plus dark chocolate. Then I added about a teaspoon of milk and melted it all in the microwave for about 15 seconds. Then I mixed it vigorously to melt the remaining bits. I added 1 cup of powdered sugar and a bit more milk to the chocolate and mixed it all together until smooth. As it was there was a distinction between the chocolate and powdered sugar, so I added a splash of vanilla and a pinch of salt. Perfection!

I cooled the doughnuts before dipping the tops in the chocolate glaze. Then I put them aside to further cool and set up. I may or may not have put each doughnut in one of the wells from my muffin top pan. A normal plate was too small to fit all six doughnuts, but the six over-sized wells were a perfect fit. It was fate.

I only hope I’ll be able to share the remaining doughnuts with my three roommates and a friend who are coming back to the city tonight. But if not, it’ll be a great excuse to make them again. The glaze really is perfection. I could swim in a vat of it. I especially like how it sets up and becomes a thin but fudgey blanket over the doughnuts. Yum!


Clockwork Prince Release Event

Here’s something a little different.

Interning at Little Simon has had so many perks this semester. I don’t know how many free books I’ve gotten from the give-away shelves, but it’s a lot. Yesterday topped it all, though.

I was introduced to Cassandra Clare’s books in the spring, and I read all of The Mortal Instruments series and the first book in The Infernal Devices series over the summer. Just like so many other fans, I was eagerly awaiting the December 6th release of Clockwork Prince (the second Infernal Devices book). And wouldn’t you know, her publisher, McElderry, is an imprint of Simon & Schuster! If that fact wasn’t obvious before, the giant poster at the end of the hall on my floor certainly clears up any doubts. Love it.

Needless to say, when I received the invitation to the in-house release event, I was literally through the roof with joy (and it was certainly needed that day). If the event wasn’t at a time when I wasn’t normally at S&S, you could be sure I would be there anyway. Thankfully it fell during my normal work hours, so no classes needed to be skipped to take part.

Well, the day and hour arrived and I was the second person to the conference room, aside from the people setting up. I quickly snatched up a copy of Clockwork Prince to get signed, and then the waiting began.

People wandered into the room bit by bit, and it was pretty packed by the time the guest of honor arrived.

We toasted the release and ate cake, then those of us who wanted to, got in line to get our books autographed. Despite the ton of people that showed up, not everyone was as enthusiastic as I was about meeting Cassie and getting books signed. I took that as a good thing, because I didn’t feel nearly as guilty about lining up 4-ish times.

When it was my turn, we exchanged pleasantries, and wouldn’t you know, Cassie had thought she’d met me before! I wish! She was so nice and personable, even after the fourth time I came around, haha.

I stayed until there were only a few stragglers left (mostly editors and such who were required to be there), and boy did I make out like a bandit. All of those pretty books on the table were ours for the taking, so I took. I now have in my possession a signed collection of Cassandra Clare’s works. I even managed to get a copy of Clockwork Prince signed and mailed off to the friend who introduced me to these books!

Now I just need to get back to S&S when the fifth Mortal Instruments book is released on May 8th. And wouldn’t you know, that’s my school’s Reading Day! Perhaps I’ll be paying S&S a visit that afternoon. . . . I can’t wait!



I went to work yesterday, and as soon as I got there I felt like it was a huge mistake. I would feel okay, then I’d feel worse, then okay, then worse. It was a super vicious cycle, and I did not enjoy it one bit. Thankfully it was only a half day and the kiddies were watching a movie during part of the day. I would have died without those things. But finally the day ended and I went to the store to buy real food. I bought some apples, bananas, strawberries, a tangelo (just for kicks because I’d never had one before), baby carrots, romaine lettuce, a cucumber, 2 yogurts, pomegranate/blueberry juice, a loaf of bread, eggs, a can of chicken noodle soup, and meats to freeze. By god produce is expensive here, even where I went.  I didn’t go to Trader Joe’s this time, simply because I knew I would not physically be able to make it there . . . curse you, you stupid cold.

Anyway, I made it home and made a rather large salad for myself. Granted the salad was only made up of lettuce, carrots, cucumber, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing, but it was yummy and “healthy”. Later that night I went for some strawberries, and I noticed something was “off” with them. They looked perfectly ripe and ready to eat, but upon first bite, they tasted funky. It took me a while to figure it out, but I realized they smelled and tasted like PUMPKIN! Now, I have NO idea how that happened, but I didn’t want to let the strawberries go to waste, so I cut and hulled them and sprinkled them with a teeny bit of sugar, then left them in the fridge to macerate overnight and become more “strawberry-y”. It worked. This afternoon I ate strawberries that actually tasted like strawberries and not a fall gourd. That was so bizarre.

I must admit that not all of my food choices have included something green today, but neither were they “unhealthy,” or at least not terribly so. I woke up around 11:30 after a wonderful night’s sleep, so breakfast time was kind of over, and I wasn’t really feeling the breakfast options anyway, so I made a peanut butter and jelly and ate a few strawberries with it. Then for dinner I made a large salad and added some chicken. It was too large. I couldn’t finish it all. So sad. I also used some leftover pizza dough to make a breadstick and sprinkled a small amount of mozzarella cheese on top. A girl can’t survive on salad alone. Sometimes I need some cheese-y goodness.


Down For the Count

It had to happen eventually. My lack of fruit and vegetable-consumption finally caught up with me, and I’m sure my late nights haven’t been helping matters at all either. I started feeling sick on Tuesday and was starting to die by the time I got home that night, and I hoped that it would just pass, but it wasn’t to be so. I woke up Wednesday and I could. not. move. I had to skip work because I literally could not get out of bed because I would get so light-headed and achy whenever I tried. I could manage for a couple of minutes, but no way was I going to be able to get through an entire day. I also didn’t want to expose the kiddies or my coworkers to my sneezing and mountain of gross tissues, so I crawled back into bed. I felt a bit better when I was laying down, and so I thought I’d be able to get some reading done for class. I managed a little bit before I fell asleep again. Then my roommate came home, which woke me up, but I can’t fault her for that because I’m sure she wasn’t expecting me to be home and sick in bed. I tried to do a bit more reading after that and finished with one class, but I just couldn’t start the other stuff. I slept on and off for the rest of the day and caught up on a couple of tv shows on my computer. There wasn’t much movement on my part aside from getting water and toast. I hoped and hoped to be better for today because I didn’t want to miss three classes, but it just didn’t happen.

I woke up this morning and wanted to attempt to go to class, but at the last minute I changed my mind because I still felt borderline. With my luck as of late, I knew that as soon as I got on that bus I would start feeling like death again, and I would just be miserable. I also had a feeling I wouldn’t actually be able to get to class once I got off the bus because I still had to walk about 10 minutes to get to the building, and then another 15 minutes to get to my next class. I ended up just playing it safe and staying in bed again today, and at least now I’m happy to report that I *will* be going to work tomorrow. While I haven’t really gotten out of bed, I feel like my light-headedness has dissipated and I don’t feel quite as lethargic anymore. Unfortunately I’m still a bit congested, but it’s completely manageable now. One thing I’m positive about, though, is that I’m going to the grocery store after work tomorrow and buying as many fruits and veggies as I can get my hands on . . . and probably a couple of cans of soup as well, just to be safe. And yogurt too, I’ve really been wanting yogurt lately.

Today also served as a mental health day since yesterday and the night before were so horrendous. To sum it up in three words: liquids hated me. Tuesday night I managed to spill orange juice all over my pillows, quilt, and floor just as I was getting ready to climb into bed after a long day. Not pleasant. And then last night I did the unthinkable. I flooded my bathroom. Yup. And I could have nearly electrocuted myself to death had my clothes not accidentally created a barrier around my plugged in hair dryer that was on the floor. Don’t ask me to explain how that happened, because I’m not even completely sure. All I know was that there was so much water on the floor and that I no longer have any clean or dry towels because I had to use them all to soak up the water. This means I need to do laundry. Now. What started out as a nice warm shower to decongeste me turned into a life or death ordeal because I couldn’t see if the hair dryer had gotten wet or not. You should have seen me trying to climb out of the shower to get out of the bathroom and into my room without touching the bathroom floor. It would have been a comical situation had I not been so pathetically ill. Thank goodness no one was around to witness my stupidity and it will only live on in my memory . . . until I soon block it out as yet another traumatic event in my life. I have a good habit of being able to do that. I can forget things for months or years at a time until something happens to call up the memory. I really like that time in between. It’s very enjoyable.

Monday night I made the Pomegranate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies. They are SO GOOD. I didn’t take any pictures, though, so I’m going to have to do the *official* bonanza another time.

My birthday cake is also finally gone. I took it to Irish on Tuesday and they all gobbled it up. Thank goodness. I couldn’t have that huge chunk of chocolate in my room another day. Too much chocolate for one person.


1.) Buy healthy foods, darn it!

2.) EAT said healthy foods!

3.) Don’t flood the bathroom again.

4.) Stop staying out so late. The only exception is for folk group on Tuesdays when I’m home by 11, and maybe an occasional Paddy Reilly’s outing with folk group. I’m realize that I’m not a normal college student. I need tons of sleep and I’m not stupid enough to ignore that blatantly obvious fact. Sleep = happy me, no sleep = grumpy, surly, sick me.

Crafting, Uncategorized

Oh Look!

And so ends another stay at home. My break here has ended, and I’m getting back to the city to work for a couple days and then begin classes the week after. All I can say is, I’m not sorry to be leaving. Three weeks here is more than enough, but I think I’ll miss certain materialistic things about being home, ie having a couch to lounge on while watching tv, having lots of counter space on which to make messes while baking, sleeping in a queen size bed, being able to have lots of sun coming through ample windows, having a light and airy atmosphere because of the sunlight, and the general cozy feeling I’ve been experiencing here. All in all, I want to get back to school and resume my hectic life, albeit I could do with a little less hectic and a little more calmness, but where’s the fun in that, may I ask? I still have some time before classes are in full swing, but work will keep me busy in the days leading up to it. I look forward to Tuesday when I go back; I haven’t seen those kiddies in five weeks, and I can’t help but think that maybe they miss me? Maybe I’m thinking too highly of myself, but if I miss them, who’s to say they don’t miss me as well.

I took a trip to my local Michael’s today in order to spend a gift card before leaving, but I have to say that I actually had a hard time spending money there. I went with the intention of procuring adorable fabric, fleece, and a matching button, but I was sorely disappointed. I found out that they no longer carry fabric squares or fleece. What kind of craft store is that? On a whim I looked for some Sharpies in assorted pretty colors, but oh look, those were no where to be seen either. I didn’t want a large set for $30, but just a couple of pretty colors sold by themselves. After wandering around for nearly 45 minutes, I ended up with only some new sewing needles in their own little case, two pieces of felt in a gorgeous shade of pink, a shamrock cookie cutter, some shamrock muffin tin liners, and a calendar on clearance for $0.50 (for my parents). It all came to a grand total of $6.35 . . . and I still have $18.65 to spend who knows when, because to the best of my knowledge, the closest Michael’s is up on Columbus Ave in the 90’s, and I’m not spending $4.50 in subway fare to get there and back. I wish they had an online store, but I guess that’s too much to ask, seeing as how they can’t even stock fabric anymore. I must give them some credit for their assortment of stickers though, it was very amusing to look at all of the adorable sets.

But I guess today was at least a minor success. I managed to spend (with the help of a friend) a Panera gift card that had been sitting in my wallet for three or four years. I also found two pairs of flats at Payless; they don’t stand a chance if I wear them outside to walk to work/home/class, but I can wear them inside while I’m at work or in class. There’s no way I would last the day wearing my big heavy boots, so until I get some all-purpose, sturdy as heck, miracle shoes, this is the best solution I have.

While I was packing up my things tonight, I looked at my clarinet case sitting at the foot of my bed, and for the first time since the end of senior year, I opened it and put the two center barrels together. I want to bring it back to school with me and try to play. I realized during my Celtic music course that I really miss it. Band was a part of my life from fifth grade, right through high school, and I can’t believe I just cast it aside once I got to college. Something that meant so much to me shouldn’t have been so easy to let go and to allow to fade away. I don’t want to let this go on any longer; I won’t be playing on a strict, daily schedule, but if I could at least get my clarinet out once I week I think I could get my abilities back soon enough. I probably won’t be playing some of the more extreme pieces I encountered in high school anytime soon, but just to play some scales and simple tunes would be wonderful. I used to get so much enjoyment out of it, and I want a bit of that old part of me back. It won’t be the same, but it will be something, at least.

Oh look! I’m using this entry as a means to procrastinate. I’m no where near done packing, and I leave at 8:30am. . . . It’s not even worth it to sleep now. I can sleep in the car, and that way I’ll hopefully avoid the sick to my stomach feeling I’ve lately been getting on buses when I travel. I’ll pop in my ear buds, listen to some good music, and sleep the hours away, like I *should* be doing right now. Instead, I’m blogging and watching the first season of Merlin–not a bad alternative, but not the best thing to be doing at the moment.