Cookie Madness!

This post will be devoted to cookies! I’ve made three completely different recipes, and I don’t think I could possibly choose one that I love the most. They were all so different and delectable.

I’ll start with the Pomegranate White Chocolate Chip Cookies. These were one of my baking bonanzas from February and I just had to bake them again, even though once again I failed to document the process. Oh well!

I also had to make a substitution because I wanted them so badly and couldn’t get out to buy eggs. As a result I used half a banana in place of the egg. Thankfully it worked out wonderfully. The banana added a bit of something extra to the taste and I must say that I happen to like it better than the original recipe. I just might keep this substitution in mind when and if I make them for a third time.

They went over really well with my friends when I brought them to class one day. I kept the bag out during class, and one friend just kept reaching his hand into the bag and munching absent-mindedly throughout the entire hour. I think he liked them just a bit, haha.

For my next cookies I failed to get even one picture of them. I took the Glazed Lemon Cookies from Two Peas and Their Pod to a picnic in Washington Square Park the other day, and by the time I got there they were all SQUASHED and in chunks. Thankfully it didn’t affect the taste, but it would have been nice to get a picture of them in the park.

They were light and lemon-y and a perfect summer cookie. I omitted the glaze this time, and I might keep it that way so that they don’t become overwhelmingly sweet.

For my final cookie I made Oatmeal Raisin Cookie recipe from The Joy of Baking. I managed to transport these to the park without too much damage, but I didn’t take pictures of them there. Instead they became the first baked good to be photographed on my new windowsill.


I’m not really feeling the direct sunlight for my photos. I much prefer my old sill and the indirect lighting because it was much less harsh and didn’t create such bold shadows on my food.

I thought I might also include the sandwiches we ate on our picnic in the park. My friend made us ham and cheese with mayo, spinach, and Texas tomato on bird seed bread from Whole Foods.

Great sandwiches, Anne! You can be in charge of sandwiches any time.

Baking, Celtic Thunder

Bonanza #3 — Oreo Cupcakes

A little preface before I dive into the cupcakes:

I admit that my Bi-Weekly Baking Bonanzas have been failing. Even when I manage to make them, I either don’t take pictures or I’m trying to rush through them. That is NOT what I wanted when I first set out to do this. These are the points I wanted to accomplish, and it’s unfortunate that I’m not succeeding as I had wished.


1. Read through the ingredient list and physically check that I have EVERYTHING in the proper amounts.

* I’m doing okay at this, but honestly, I could do better — Half-Check.

2. Read through the instructions at least once before taking anything out.

* Okay, I’m definitely doing this — Check.

3. Pre-measure ingredients.

* NOPE — Check-Minus.

4. DON’T MAKE SUCH A HUGE MESS! (This one’s really important.)

* Who am I kidding, I’m making just as big a mess every time. BUT, I’m getting better about washing my dishes when I’m done, but I think that also has something to do with there never being any room in the sink to just let them sit. — I’ll give it a Check for that.

5. Take LOTS of photos of the ENTIRE process, from start to finish.

* Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. I’d probably take more pictures if I had natural lighting in my kitchen, rather than the gross yellow overhead lighting — Nothing.

6. SLOW DOWN and ENJOY the baking process.

* I wish I could give myself a Check for this, but I’m just so rushed lately — Check-minus.

I honestly thought this whole process would be such a fun experience. I hate being wrong, but honestly, did I honestly expect to accomplish all this during the semester? I should have known that school and work would ultimately get in the way. Other things have gotten in the way too, and I should have known they would. I was SO optimistic at the start, but as the weeks go on and things don’t get done, that optimism wanes and that depresses me. It also doesn’t help that I don’t really have anyone to bake FOR.

Okay, enough with the depressing stuff. On to the cupcakes.

Unfortunately, this Bonanza truly embodied the rushed nature of my baking. On the spur of the moment late one Monday night I decided to bake these for a friend to either celebrate her becoming an RA or comfort her if she did not get the job. That’s one good thing about baking, it can be either for celebration or comfort, and you don’t have to change a thing in the recipe.

Let me just say that I was terrible at separating the mint Oreos. The cream was too squishy and so not many of the halves separated cleanly.

I did half mint-bottomed cupcakes and half double-stuffed bottoms. The purple and green are mint, and the red and blue are plain.

I ended up crunching up the Oreos rather than just cutting them into big chunks, but I liked the outcome of how I did it. I know, I didn’t “follow the recipe” as it said, but oh well. They were still very yummy.

They domed up and didn’t spread out over the tin, which really pleased me.

However, I should have known that the Oreos would stick to the liners because I didn’t spray them. I may have consumed some wrapper with my cupcakes.

They turned out to be comfort cupcakes during lunch the next day. They cheered her up a bit, but she was still disappointed.

Which would you rather eat? This gigantic apple or a cupcake? It was a hard decision, but I did eventually eat my apple. The cupcake may or may not have been consumed first. The point is that I DID eat my apple.

In other news, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO PAUL BYROM, my beloved Swanky Tenor.

Baking, Celtic Thunder

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:


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.


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.


Baking, Celtic Thunder

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 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 :).


Bonanza #1 — Oatmeal Cream Pies

After the past few days, I have needed to bake like nobody’s business, so I started my Bi-Weekly Baking Bonanza a bit early. I wasn’t able to make my brownies Thursday night because I wrongly assumed that my suitemates would be clearing out of the common room. That’s what you get when you assume things. . . .

For my first entry in my Bi-Weekly Baking Bonanza, I wanted to make the Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies that I found on Beantown Baker’s blog, which she found on How to Eat a Cupcake. I thought I was so prepared, and I went to the store with a list of ingredients I needed (gelatin, light corn syrup, baking powder). I got those, and it turns out that I only had half of the amount of the most important ingredient! Silly, assuming me thought that I had more than enough quick-cooking rolled oats, but once again, I thought wrong, and therefore this time around I failed part of the bonanza.

This baking is not only supposed to get me to try out new recipes and techniques, but to also teach me to be patient and take the time to run down all the ingredients required and physically check to make sure I have the necessary amounts. In the end I decided to substitute in the other half of the rolled oats with steel-cut oats. I was a bit hesitant to do that, but in the end it worked out fine. I never ever want to have to do that again though, so the first thing I’m putting on my next shopping list is ROLLED OATS (and all-purpose flour, because I’m now running *really* low). I still can’t believe I didn’t have enough; usually I have rolled oats coming out my eyeballs! I guess it’s punishment for not checking before I had EVERYTHING all mixed up and ready to go into the oven.

The first thing I want to note about this dough was that it was extraordinary thick and hard to manipulate. I had a heck of a time mixing in the oats at the end. I think I must have done something wrong, but I really don’t think I mixed the flour too much and developed too much gluten. I didn’t see anything on Beantown Baker’s blog about this issue, so it must have been something on my end, I just don’t know what.

The overwhelming stiffness of the dough resulted in a VERY puffy first batch of cookies. I think maybe the baking soda and water mixture didn’t get sufficiently mixed into the dough, so there was nothing to counteract the baking powder that was sifted in with the flour. The cookies did not spread out at all like in the pictures on those other blogs, which rather disappointed me. For the second batch I only put three on the pan and I flattened them down myself before I put them in. Those ones came out much better, but they still didn’t look like the other bloggers’. So for the next batch I turned the temperature down to 400 degrees, put two tablespoons of dough together and patted them down into thinner disk shapes. I was very pleased with those results, and they were finally starting to look like everyone else’s–still a little on the thick side, but much improved.

Those other batches didn’t go to waste though, because the cookie itself is delicious both by itself AND with an added spread of peanut butter–they just weren’t suitable to be turned into the “ideal” oatmeal cream pie that I was going for.

It’s a good thing I wrote this first half of the entry before I started making the filling, because I would not have been nearly as happy after the fact. That darn filling nearly killed me and my little mixer (it did actually kill my shirt though, because I got so much stuff all over it). I should have known that this baking attempt was not going to be entirely pleasant just from how stiff the dough was and how dissatisfied I was with the initial cookie outcomes. Before I even started heating the ingredients for the filling I failed another aspect of the “Bi-Weekly Baking Bonanza” by not reading the ingredient amounts properly. Rather than mix 4 teaspoons of gelatin with 1/3 cup of cold water, I mixed the gelatin in 3/4 cup cold water; I accidentally read the 3/4 of a cup as water, rather than as sugar. Because of that mistake, I wasted nearly two packets of gelatin, and no, that stuff is not terribly cheap. Thank goodness I bought the four-pack.

Once I got it mixed with the correct amount of water, I heated up the sugar, corn syrup, and water. That went fine, as did mixing in the gelatin/water mixture. The trouble came after I was beating all of that up to make it marshmallow-y. As I was adding the powdered sugar, it was getting so thick that my little hand mixer couldn’t handle it. The filling was going up the beaters and toward the motor, greatly slowing it down. In the end I mixed it a bit with a knife, but I had to torture my poor mixer one more time when I added in the shortening. I didn’t plunge it all the way down to the bottom, so I had to go back and mix it some more by hand to make sure the shortening was well-incorporated.

I set up filling shop on the two tables in the common room and proceeded to use a rubber spatula to glob piles of filling onto the cookies. I think that must have been the easiest process of the entire afternoon. I ended up with 9 acceptable sandwiches and some open-faced ones of various sizes. Not quite the 24 sandwiches the recipe said it yielded. I did, however, use twice the amount of dough to make each acceptable cookie since they wouldn’t spread, so that explains the shortage.

After sitting overnight in my microwave and wrapped in plastic wrap, they’re not quite the soft cookies that I was told they’d be. They’re a bit on the crunchy side, but they’re still really good. The filling isn’t quite how I remember the packaged pies to be, but that might just be because I haven’t had one of those in YEARS. All in all it’s a good treat, but unless I can learn from my mistakes this time around (and can get a stand mixer), I probably won’t be attempting these again anytime soon. It was just too much work, which resulted in a mess of epic proportions and a very filled sink.

One thing I definitely learned from this experience is that I really want to take pictures of the ENTIRE process and not just the finished product. I generally like posts in other blogs better when there are a lot of photos, so why wouldn’t I post the same way? I also love photo-by-photo instructions, so why not give it a go myself. If only I had better lighting in the kitchen, but I’m still going to attempt this. In fact, I’ll add it to my list of goals with these baking challenges.


1. Read through the ingredient list and physically check that I have EVERYTHING in the proper amounts.

2. Read through the instructions at least once before taking anything out.

3. Pre-measure ingredients.

4. DON’T MAKE SUCH A HUGE MESS! (This one’s really important.)

5. Take LOTS of photos of the ENTIRE process, from start to finish.

6. SLOW DOWN and ENJOY the baking process.