Well, Harry Potter fans, the day is almost upon us!
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II comes out this Friday!
I hope lots of you are planning on going to a midnight showing, because I now present to you a surefire way to ensure you make new HP friends (and possibly bribe your way to perfect seats…)
Heck yes, my friends. Heck. Yes.
Now, I have not been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, so I don’t know what the “official” version of butterbeer tastes like, but if it tastes anything like these cupcakes, then I think a trip to Orlando is in order, ASAP!
I made these for a mini Harry Potter marathon that I had with my cousin and some friends last weekend. We only made it through the first 2 movies in one sitting, but I’m pretty sure these cupcakes (and my improv version of butterbeer) were the highlight of the evening. We didn’t even need to eat dinner.
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line your cupcake tins, and set aside.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and set aside.
In your mixer bowl, cream butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs in one at a time, scraping in between additions. Then add in the vanilla and butter flavor and beat to combine.
Combine buttermilk and cream soda in a measuring cup. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the liquids to the mixer, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
Fill the cupcake liners 1/2 to 3/4 full. A cookie scoop works well for this, if you have one.
Bake for 15-17 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before filling or frosting.
To make Butterscotch Ganache:
Melt butterscotch chips and heavy cream together in a double boiler, stirring frequently, until completely smooth. Cool to room temperature.
Making Butterscotch Ganache
Once the mixture has cooled, use a plastic squeeze bottle, or a piping bag with a filler tip to fill the cupcakes.
Piping Bag with Filling Tip
Insert tip into the center of each cupcake and squeeze gently until the ganache starts to slightly overflow.
For the Frosting:
Using your mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in ganache, vanilla, butter flavor, and salt until well combined. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating well and scraping in between each addition to ensure a smooth texture. Add 1 tbsp cream if necessary to reach desired consistency.
Pipe frosting onto cupcakes, and top with extra ganache.
Note: Don’t overfrost. I ran out of frosting, so I had a few naked cupcakes :/
Make sure you eat one before your HP friends get their hands on them. Someone might use their wand and make them disappear…
Oh Yeah! Bonus Recipe!
Improvised by me!
Leftover Butterscotch Ganache
Leftover heavy cream from the pint you bought 🙂
salt, to taste.
Remaining 3 bottles of Cream Soda from the 4 pack you bought.
Using your electric mixer, beat the cream together with about 2 tbsp ganache and 1/4 tsp salt. Adjust amounts of ganache and salt until the mixture is too delicious to even speak of. Then whip this into the world’s best whipped cream.
Pour cream soda into 4 glasses, chilled if possible. Top evenly with whipped cream. Insert straw. Consume. Pass out from joy and/or calorie overload 😀
I attempted to drizzle ganache into the glasses. You can if you want, I don’t think it contributed anything :p
Alrighty now, get your wand, glasses, owls, and brooms, give a good Expecto Patronum! and you’re all ready for the movie 🙂
As promised, this recipe was inspired by my trip. You may notice that this sandwich was not featured in any of my many meals I talked about in my previous posts. In fact, I didn’t have this sandwich in Europe.
Arugala, Baby Spinach, or some sort of baby greens
Whether or not you are using the frozen ciabatta rolls that I was using, I’d recommend warming them up first. A 400° oven for a few minutes should do the trick (or a toaster oven!).
Cut the rolls in half. Spread a solid layer of jam on the bottom. Then add a single layer of brie. Then 2-3 slices of prosciutto (if using a small roll, use more for bigger rolls). Then add a nice handful of greens. Top with the other half of the roll.
It is that simple, my friends! Next step:
Just an fyi, when using small rolls, you’ll probably want 2 of these per person. Or more…
Some people like to have nice and easy travel days.
Well, waste not, want not, I say.
Also, Go Big or Go Home.
And, No Excuses, Play Like a Champ.
And of course, Shake and Bake.
Just some of my many inspiration phrases. Feel free to refer to them in your times of need or doubt.
Now, while I was, of course, sad to be leaving the UK and returning home to hot, dry California, I decided to stop being sad and be awesome instead (You can use that one too, thanks Barney Stinson (watch at about 1:30)).
Thus, instead of having a nice easy morning getting to the airport, we woke up at 5am and caught the first tube trains to Paddington Station, and then took the Heathrow Express to get to the airport around 6:30 am.
Our flights were at about 1pm and 2pm, btw.
Now many of you would be asking why the HECK we would want to get there that early. There is a simple and awesome reason for that:
Yes, my dear friend, freshman roomie and sorority sister Jessie, who now lives in Texas, was arriving at Heathrow that morning to visit her brother who is currently attending Oxford.
I miss her terribly, so I literally scheduled my departure to have these few hours of reuniting 🙂
So worth it!
Especially since we got to reunite the best apartment ever from senior year with Andreana 🙂
So we hung out and had breakfast and tea at the airport, I gave Jessie the rest of my British coins, and then she got on her bus to Oxford! Hooray European Rendezvous!
After that Elisa also had to get back on a train, since she was flying out of an entirely different airport 😀
This meant that she got to go back through Paddington Station. Luckily she had time to stop and get a picture with…
Anyways, after that I sat at the airport for a few hours and then commenced the longest flights of my life. Gotta love that headwind coming back.
And that, my lovely friends, concludes my Adventures in the UK.
Well, mostly. I will have a few recipes and other inspirations popping up here and there, I’m sure. Actually, you’ll be getting the first recipe tomorrow! Get excited!
Alrighty, time for me to tell you about my last day in London.
While it was a bit bittersweet, it was also pretty much THE BEST DAY EVER.
Let me walk you through it. Please bear with me.
First off we went downstairs for our free breakfast and ran into Emma, an Aussie that was also staying at our hostel. We had run into her a few times and chatted a bit. Today We decided that instead of taking our bus tour over to Buckingham Palace we’d walk so that Emma could come too. She was on her way to Harrod’s, a giant super fancy department store.
So the three of us set off bright and early (at like 9:30) which was a great decision because when we arrived at Westminster Bridge the lighting on Big Ben was PERFECT.
Here commences Big Ben photo shoot #3, featuring part of Emma’s face (self-portrait fail by me…)
We also passed by Westminster Abbey
After that we made our way over to Buckingham Palace where we had another photoshoot 😀
There was a pair of ducks swimming around the fountain. They seemed very friendly. Luckily Emma had a bagel and volunteered it to give them a snack so we got to feed them 😀 So exciting!
Heeeeere ducky ducky 😀 It was adorable.
Then, since we were about an hour early for the changing of the guard, we wandered through Green Park where we happened upon some more friendly creatures…
Squirrels! Emma volunteered the rest of her bagel. This pretty much made my day (so far). 😀
After that we headed up towards Hyde Park and the Wellington Arch. While crossing the street, we found a button for horse crossing. We thought it was novel 😀
And then, completely unexpectedly, who should come parading through the Wellington Arch (and across the street via the horse button) but a whole troop of Horse Guards! 😀
Ooooh shiny 😀 Bonus!
Then we grabbed a quick lunch in the park before parting ways with Emma to head back over to the Palace.
What did I have for lunch? A BACON SANDWICH. Not sure how I didn’t take a picture of it, but it was seriously just bacon, cheese, and grilled onions on a bun. So simple and so delicious.
Then we headed back over the watch the changing of the guard. We were about 15 minutes early.
Unfortunately, everyone else was probably about 30 minutes early…
We still managed to weasel our way forward and had a pretty decent view of the beginning of the ceremony.
Now, while we didn’t get any pictures of the car with the ladies (we didn’t realize what was happening until later), I do have this photographic evidence for your consideration:
So yeah, that was pretty exciting. Remember how I said this was the best day ever? Yeah.
The next planned event of our day was a Harry Potter Film Location walking tour that was included with our bus tour. Marta and Emma were meeting us at Trafalgar Square for this event. So we headed off up the Mall.
Looking back towards the palace
On the way we passed the entrance to St. James’s Palace where we were able to get a closer view of some of the Queen’s Guards
While we were here, another Range Rover left, and one of the other ladies that was taking pictures swears that it was Kate Middleton. We have no proof of this. It would be cool though 🙂
Then we took a detour to see some of the Horse Guards, who we could actually take pictures with.
Next we met Marta and Emma and headed off on the Harry Potter walking tour 😀
Chocolate frogs and lots of cool places that I didn’t take pictures of 🙂 Our tour guide, Mark, had pictures with stills from the movies to show us the different places. It took a very long time, but it was really cool. The sweet shoppe was totally the highlight, though, and we went back later.
Now, remember that boat ride on the Thames that came with our bus tour? Our master plan for the day had been to take the boat up to the Tower of London after the Harry Potter tour, but HP took a lot longer than planned, so we didn’t get to do that 🙁 We went back to the hostel and had a drink with Emma
Then we went upstairs to pack and get ready for our play!
That picture was deviously snapped by Elisa on her cell phone, despite the “No Photography” rule 😀 10 points!
Now, even if I wasn’t absolutely in love with David Tennant (and his real Scottish accent *swoon*) I would still have enjoyed myself, as this play was brilliant. This was the first time I’ve seen Shakespeare performed live, and as it was a modern interpretation it was terribly entertaining. Hilarious.
When we left the theater, the tube station on our side of the street was closed, and the other side was jam freaking packed full of people. Now, as it was only raining a tiny bit (and I was not okay with the crowds underground) we decided to walk back to Lambeth.
This, of course, took us right past Big Ben at night, and gave cause for our final Big Ben photo shoot 🙂
Well, my friends, that brings our final day in London to a close. Like I said: Best. Day. Ever.
On our second day in London, we decided to take a bus tour around town. We walked back to Westminster bridge where we picked up the Big Bus Tour. We’d grabbed a pamphlet the day before because it had a map, and after studying it had decided it was totally worth it. And man, were we right!
Not only did we use this as our main form of transportation for 48 hours (only £5 more for a second day!), it also included numerous walking tours and a boat ride on the Thames. More on those tomorrow!
So, the first half of our day was spent on the top of an open-top bus taking lots of pictures of things! I’ll give you the highlight reel, with as much explanation as I can manage to remember. (Ugh, can you believe I’ve been back for 2 weeks?? BOO)
Ok now, imagine you’re on top of the bus, it’s a beautiful morning, you’ve had your tea (or coffee, if you must), the breeze is blowing through your hair, and you’ve got headphones in playing witty and insightful commentary.
Remember: witty and insightful.
Ah, the London Eye, our first landmark 🙂
This church spire inspired the first tiered wedding cake!
This seemed appropriate and adorable 🙂
St. Paul's Cathedral and the beautiful blue sky 😀
This made me think of "A Knight's Tale"
Another shot of St. Paul's 🙂
The Tower Bridge (no, not the London Bridge)
The Tower of London
This dude thought he was invisible, but the little boy in front of us said "Psh, you can totally see the top of his head sticking out." Win, kid. Win.
Hooray for the bus tour!
Hello my lovely friend 🙂
Yup, you're gorgeous. I want one.
Westminster Abbey, enjoying the sunlight
The bus stop where free tour headphones go to die...
Phone boxes! They're red! Like in the movies! :p
Well, I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did 😀
We got off the tour at Hyde Park and strolled through the Park and Kensington Gardens to check out Kensington Palace. It was a lovely walk, drizzled a bit early on. We got some hot dogs and ice cream.
Oh, and we also tried to rent bikes. Unsuccessfully. This is important because it was the only real hitch in my trip.
You see, they have these stations where you can rent bikes. I think it is a fantastic idea. Only, sometimes when the bike unlocks it doesn’t want to come out of the stand. So then you end up with only one bike when you paid for 2, and it won’t give you another because you’ve already rented them. Oh, and it wouldn’t take my card because I don’t have a fancy shmancy chip in mine.
Long (and very frustrating) story short, we had a lovely walk in the park that day 😀
Anyhoodles. On our walk, we came upon the Prince Albert Memorial.
We finally found our way to Kensington Palace, only to find it under construction.
And also hosting a garden party that we were not invited to. How rude. :p
Next we walked down a street full of embassies. It looked important and I don’t think we were allowed to take pictures. Then we got back on the bus and took it a few stops to go and visit the Sherlock Holmes museum!
And then back on the bus (like I said, totally worth it)
We stopped off at Hamley’s, which is a giant 6 story toy store.
It was amazing. We bought tiny little lego-ish Daleks 😀
Then back on the bus once more (in the rain this time). We took it a few more stops and then walked up through Trafalgar Square to Leicester Square and Charing Cross.
We found some Mexican food for dinner that was actually not too bad!
This was exciting for Elisa because she doesn’t get to have Mexican food much, living in Scotland and all.
And then we found a pub that looked nice (and had some sort of sale on wine…)
Aaaaand then we managed to find our way back to Lambeth all by oursleves! Hooray! 😀
We were quite excited. Sorry about the blur.... :p
And that just about sums it up for the day! Man, that was a long day. And I totally summarized too. You should all be very proud, haha.
First things first. I took a looooooot of pictures in London. A lot. (Not alot) You can basically follow my entire first day through pictures. So I just wanted to let you know that this is going to be a very picture heavy post. I’ll try to pare it down, as you can view the full album on Facebook 🙂
Ok. So. Are you ready for this?
We woke up at about 4:30am to get a cab by 5:30 for our 7am flight.
I have no idea what I was thinking when I booked that, but I think in the long run it was a good decision, because it meant we arrived in London at about 9:30 and by 11 had taken a train, the underground, dropped of our stuff at the hostel and were ready for a full day of exploring 🙂
We took this picture in case we got lost 😉
From our hostel we had pretty much no idea where we were, and we couldn’t find our street on my map (helpful, right? lol).
So we walked back towards the tube station to check out their map. On our way we saw the London Eye over the buildings, and decided to just walk in that general direction. Maps? We don’t need no stinking maps. (or badges…)
And lo and behold where did we arrive but Westminster bridge, gateway to pretty much everything that we wanted to see 🙂
Here commences Big Ben photo shoot #1 🙂
From there we walked across the bridge and over to Westminster Abbey, yet another absolutely lovely old building.
You might recognize it from the Royal Wedding! That’s right, we totally walked where they all walked! We saw where the Queen was sitting for the whole thing!
Believe it or not, it is even more beautiful inside when it’s not all tarted up for a wedding. Sadly, though understandably, we weren’t able to take any pictures inside, but the whole thing is filled with amazing history, beautiful stained glass, tombs and memorials for many important historical figures (including Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, G.F. Handel, Chaucer, etc). It was an extremely humbling experience, to say the least.
When we got out of the abbey, it was raining. Of course. 😀
Our next adventure was to meet Marta in Trafalgar Square for lunch. Marta is one of my sorority sisters who was finishing up her study abroad term in London, and I was pretty excited to see her!
Of course, first we had to figure out where the heck Trafalgar was.
Luckily my map had main landmarks on it, which included both the square and the abbey. Between this and the bus tour map we’d gotten from some guy on the way, and asking the nice man outside of the abbey shop to confirm, we managed to figure out that we only had to go up one street and it would take us straight there. Victory!
So off we went in the rain, armed with our umbrellas and scarves 🙂
We arrived before Marta and the rain let up, so we took some touristy pictures whilst we waited.
Look! We're in Trafalgar Square!
Countdown to the Olympics!
Then Marta arrived and we went to lunch!
Hey look, it's Marta!
I brought her an origami velociraptor 🙂
We had tasty Japanese food!
The soy sauce must have been related to the Daleks...
After that we went back to the hostel to actually get our room and get settled. Then we met back up with Marta and went for a bit of a walk on the Thames.
The result of our exploring? Dinner.
The very prominently featured dish up there was fried goat cheese with honey and pomegranate and chives. It’s on my list of things to recreate, it was sooooooooo very delicious. Everything else was good too, Chorizo, Chicken, Fish (trout?), Churros, and Baileys (T-B, L-R).
Marta had never had Baileys, so I felt it was necessary.
After that we walked the river a bit more, and we saw Shakespeare’s Globe Theater.
Ok, it’s not the actual Globe Theater. That one was destroyed in 1644. This one was built in 1997, not too far away from where the original one stood. (The site of the original is now an archaeological site).
Still pretty cool, though.
After that we did our last bits of photo-shooting for the day. Again, the sun sets really late here, so we had great lighting.
Then we scuttled off to our various lodgings for the evening. We were desperately in need of sleep.
We must have walked 6 miles, some of which involved me dragging all of my luggage up an down lots of stairs.
Totally should have taken a pedometer :p
Anyway, that concludes our adventures from our first day in London! If you would like to see the full photo album from this day, check it out on Facebook!
I hope everyone is having a fantastic day so far, and that it continues to be filled with friends, family, food, and fireworks 🙂
My main goal, if course, is fireworks.
Did you know I have an deep rooted love for fireworks?
They take my breath away every time 🙂
Luckily, the Corona fireworks are maybe a mile away from my house, so I’ll be heading up there later this evening, without fail!
I could probably see them from my roof, but where’s the fun in that?
I managed to drag myself out of the house at 10am today, despite it being 85° already, and I walked the half block over to Main Street to catch the parade. I thought I’d drop in here and give you guys my highlight reel 🙂
[slideshow id=7 width=600]
I had come up with witty captions for lots of those, but a slideshow is just so much easier 🙂
As usual, it was full of marching bands, men in uniform (who received much deserved applause), classic cars, and lots of small children in various adorable attire. You know, tiny cheerleaders, tiny football players, tiny karate kids, etc. Gotta love it.
Oh, and the pets on parade, always a classic. One time, one of the tiniest dogs ever came over and peed on my cousin’s foot at the parade! Hey Hilly, remember that? lol.
(She’s gonna yell at me….)
There was also a live band on the back of a truck, a private school group playing “Our Country, ‘Tis of Thee” on recorders, a church group playing “God Bless America” on kazoos. Good times.
And of course, the bag pipers 🙂
There are always bag pipers. They’re pretty much the reason I dragged myself out into the heat 😀
Oh! I also wanted to share my lunch with you…
Caprese Salad with a Ciabatta Roll
Nom Nom Nom. Nice and cool and refreshing 🙂
Anyways, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!
We return to our regularly scheduled travel blogging tomorrow.
And I have a few recipes ready for after that, never fear!