Butterbeer Cupcakes

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…)

Butterbeer Cupcakes!

Butterbeer Cupcakes!

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 Β 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.

Try them. You won’t want dinner either πŸ™‚

Butterbeer Cupcakes

adapted from Sweet Tooth

Cupcake Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp butter flavor
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup cream soda (buy a 4 pack anyway)

Butterscotch Ganache Ingredients:

  • 1-11 oz bag butterscotch chips
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

Butter(scotch)cream Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup butterscotch ganache
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp butter flavor
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • splash of cream, as needed


Preheat your oven to 350Β°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.

Cookie Scoop

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

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

Piping Bag with Filling Tip

Insert tip into the center of each cupcake and squeeze gently until the ganache starts to slightly overflow.

Filled Cupcakes

Filled Cupcakes

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 πŸ™‚
  • 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 πŸ˜€



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 πŸ™‚



Prosciutto and Brie Sandwiches with Fig Jam

Time for my first recipe post in a while!

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.

Nope. I had it at the wine bar at the airport in Philly πŸ™‚

Yeah, you read that right. Airport Wine Bar.

How brilliant is that? I had a glass (or 2…) of nice wine, and then grabbed this delicious sandwich for my flight.


Of course, my version of the sandwich is much better (especially because there are no pickles within a 10 foot radius).

Unless of course you want to eat pickles with it. I’ll try not to judge you…

I made this sandwich for my Grandma, my friend Andreana, and my dad and they all liked it!

Actually, I ate this almost every day for a week, and they all happened to be there to enjoy it, haha.

Here it is!

Prosciutto and Brie Sandwiches with Fig Jam


  • Ciabatta Rolls (mine were frozen and then thawed/heated in the oven and they were great!)
  • Brie, sliced about 1/4″ thick (trim the crusts off)
  • Prosciutto
  • Fig Jam (I highly recommend the Fig & Ginger Jam from Stonewall Kitchen)
  • 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 400Β° 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…


Tomorrow: A treat for Harry Potter fans!

My Last Few Hours in Europe

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 πŸ™‚

So worth it!


Especially since we got to reunite the best apartment ever from senior year with Andreana πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜€

This meant that she got to go back through Paddington Station. Luckily she had time to stop and get a picture with…

Paddington Bear!

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!

And thanks for sticking with me πŸ™‚

London – The Best Day Ever

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 πŸ˜€

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 πŸ˜€ So exciting!

Heeeeere ducky ducky πŸ˜€ 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). πŸ˜€

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 πŸ˜€

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! πŸ˜€

Ooooh shiny πŸ˜€ 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.

Ok now, this next part is pretty exciting. During this ceremony, some motorcycle cops showed up and a motorcade rolled out. A green Jaguar and a few range rovers. In the back seat of the Jag were two ladies in “cake on your head” type hats. Hats quite like the one the Queen is wearing in these pictures from that very same day


Heck yes, ladies and gentlemen. We saw the Queen.

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜€

Chocolate frogs and lots of cool places that I didn’t take pictures of πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™ We went back to the hostel and had a drink with Emma

Then we went upstairs to pack and get ready for our play!

We saw Much Ado About Nothing at the Wyndham Theater starring…


Look! It's them! It's really them!

That picture was deviously snapped by Elisa on her cell phone, despite the “No Photography” rule πŸ˜€ 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 πŸ™‚

Well, my friends, that brings our final day in London to a close. Like I said: Best. Day. Ever.

Check out the full photo album on Facebook.

Next time, we wake up super early for one last meetup before I head back to the States πŸ˜€

(I bet you thought it was over…)

London – Day 2

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 (onlyΒ Β£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 πŸ™‚

This church spire inspired the first tiered wedding cake!

This seemed appropriate and adorable πŸ™‚

St. Paul's Cathedral and the beautiful blue sky πŸ˜€

This made me think of "A Knight's Tale"

Another shot of St. Paul's πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜€

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 πŸ˜€

Anyhoodles. On our walk, we came upon the Prince Albert Memorial.

Absolutely lovely

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 πŸ˜€

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! πŸ˜€

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.

Well, I hope you enjoyed that adventure. There are many many more pictures, so if you want to check them out, please do.

Next time, I will take you through our last day in London, my last day in Europe. It might be the best day ever, just so you know πŸ˜€

London – Day 1

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

We took this picture in case we got lost πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚

Here commences Big Ben photo shoot #1 πŸ™‚

From there we walked across the bridge and over to Westminster Abbey, yet another absolutely lovely old building.

Westminster Abbey

You might recognize it from the Royal Wedding! Β 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. πŸ˜€

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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.

The Globe

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 Β the full photo album from this day, check it out on Facebook!

Next time, we get our tourist on!

Glasgow – The Day of Rest

Thankfully we had a day at the flat between Edinburgh and our flight to London.

That morning, Gary made us a Scottish Breakfast!

Yes, that is a terribly large amount of food, I know. Apparently we were missing some thing(s), and it was mostly baked, not fried, so it was lighter than usual.

Thankfully, otherwise I might have passed out!

I did manage to eat almost all of it, though. I was quite proud of myself.

And yes, I ate black pudding, and no, it was not terrible.

After that we went into town so I could get 2 more ramekins (I’m sorry, 2 is not enough, so now I have 4 πŸ™‚

We also went to the Willow Tea Room for lunch πŸ™‚

Have I mentioned how much I love tea?

Nom Nom Nom

Elisa loves tea, too.

Then we went to go see Kung Fu Panda 2!


It was fantastic, which was to be expected.

The best part though?

The theater had COUCHES AND BEER!

Talk about style!

Anyways, after that we went to the market, Gary made curry for dinner, we packed and went to sleep for our super early flight to London! πŸ˜€

Next time… London! And more pictures of Big Ben than you probably ever wanted to see πŸ™‚

We were sooooooooo ready for penguins :)

Edinburgh – Day 2

On our second day in Edinburgh, we had one plan: PENGUIN PARADE!

Yes, it is as awesome as it sounds. But now that you know where this post is going, I’m going to start at the beginning and work my way there.

Be excited.

First, we checked out of our hostel and went to find breakfast. Directly across the street was The Larder.

I had the most amazing baked egg something or other. It was egg, cream, and some sort of crazy delicious cheddar.

Yes, it is on my list of things to figure out how to make.

Plus, I now have ramekins from Le Cruset, remember? πŸ˜€

Anyway, after that, we hopped on Β a bus to the zoo!

2:15pm could not come soon enough.

Before that, though, we saw looooots of things. Lots of animals. And I took pictures and video.

So, in the spirit of brevity, I’m just going to present you with the pictures and video that I took.


[slideshow id=9 w=600]

Alright, are you ready for penguins?

We were sooooooooo ready for penguins πŸ™‚


Penguins! πŸ˜€

After that, we got on a train back to Glasgow!

If you’d like to see the rest of my pictures from the day, you can check them out on Facebook!

Next up, a day of rest πŸ™‚

Good Night, America

Put on some patriotic music and enjoy:

[slideshow id=8 width=600]

Good night πŸ™‚

Caprese Salad with a Ciabatta Roll

Happy Birthday, America

Oh Hey!

Happy 4th of July!

I hope everyone is having a fantastic day so far, and that it continues to be filled with friends, family, food, and fireworks πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 85Β° 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 πŸ™‚

[slideshow id=7 width=600]

I had come up with witty captions for lots of those, but a slideshow is just so much easier πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

There are always bag pipers. They’re pretty much the reason I dragged myself out into the heat πŸ˜€

Oh! I also wanted to share my lunch with you…

Caprese Salad with a Ciabatta Roll

Nom Nom Nom. Nice and cool and refreshing πŸ™‚

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!