Menu, Wednesday: HAGRID'S CHOCOLATE CAKE with endless rambling about Harry Potter

Bonjour, mes amis! I can't seem to do my weekly menu posts on time (Menu Monday), so I should probably change the name, right? *lol* It's just busy, busy, busy around here! I don't know how other women who work full-time with kids and a husband and a house manage it all. I can't imagine how some go to school, too, while they are already juggling all of that! I can't hardly manage Zach and Hobie and our home while working part-time. *lol*

Anyway, these days I'm living for the weekends. It's not that I hate my job or dislike it--it's just rather boring most of the time, and I know it is not what I am supposed to do with my life. What am I? Good question. Let me know if you find the answer before I do! I'm gearing up to start my first class at Phoenix next month (COM170). Last week I had almost finished reading all of the materials when I signed on Monday to find out that they had updated the class coursework! (This is part of the reason why I did not post then.) So I frantically had to finish up what I hadn't read yet while starting lesson planning and working on my syllabus. Thankfully so much is laid out for Phoenix's first time facilitators, not to mention the fact that a lot of the new material I will be covering was formerly covered in COM172, which I almost taught back in May. Sooo I am probably breaking even right now. :)

I also interviewed with the head of the English department at NWACC to teach composition there. Right now they don't have any openings, but once they do, I should be notified.

Anyhoooooo, unless you are living under a rock (which means you probably wouldn't be reading this anyway), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was released at midnight on Friday!!!!!!!! I had been waiting for this sooo long! It was very serious business. Because much of our journey with Harry Potter had been completed together, Monica and I decided we would attend the opening of this film together, too. We didn't get to go to Part 1 together because Zach and I were staying with his aunt and uncle after moving up here. Monica was supposed to come up and visit us a few months ago, but she fell ill with mono. As a result, we thought HP 7.2 would be the perfect excuse for her to come visit The Owlery finally! Of course, Zach came, too, as he finally read the series last summer and we watched the films after that. :)

Zach had promised Monica another cake many moons ago (i.e. last summer) after she completed her therapy because she enjoyed her cake I made her so much after her surgery last June. As she says, "Cake is my world." :)

I had to add the stars in the O's because they didn't turn out too well. I don't think the stars helped much. *lol* But overall the cake was cute!

Since I have a darling Harry Potter cookbook, I thought it would be appropriate to make a cake out of it. I decided on HAGRID'S CHOCOLATE CAKE because I could add some decorations on top, which I feel is a requirement for birthday cakes... unless you are Zach and Black Forest Cake is your favorite. Then it's all about the cherries and chocolate chips. :)

This is the cake Hagrid brought Harry in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I don't know if the cake just looks pink or if it actually was pink because brown sometimes looks pinkish in certain lights. Find the picture here.

(adapted from Dinah Bucholz's The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook)

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut wax paper or parchment paper circles to line two cake pans. Spray pans with cooking spray with flour, line pan with circles, and spray circles.

-Combine 1/2 cup cocoa powder and 1 tsp. instant coffee in a small bowl.

-Add 3/4 cup boiling water and whisk until smooth. It will smell heavenly!

-In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, and a dash of cinnamon.

-With an electric mixer, beat 1 stick of butter (at room temperature), 1 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup packed brown sugar until light and fluffy for five minutes. Be sure to scrap the bowl after each time you add a new ingredient.

I included all of the pictures of my whisking the butter and sugars together because it looks cool:

-Add 3 eggs one at a time, beating after each until incorporated.

-Add 1 tsp. vanilla and beat until combined.

-Add half of the hot cocoa mixture and beat until combined.

-Add the flour mixture and stir on the slowest speed until well combined. Finish by scraping the bottom of the bowl and folding it in.

-Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for 20+ minutes until the cakes feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs. Be careful not to overbake.

-Cool the layers in their pans for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely. Be careful to peel away the wax paper because it may stick. Your cake will be flat as Hagrid's cake was. :) Remember Rubeus Hagrid made rock cakes that literally could chip your teeth like a rock could!

-To prepare the glaze, place 8 ounces of chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, 3/4 cup whipping cream, 1/4 stick butter, and 1/4 cup corn syrup in a bowl and microwave for 15 or 20 seconds at a time until melted. It should take between 1 and 3 minutes to melt completely.

-Whisk until smooth. Cool the glaze until it is pourable and thick.

-To make the chocolate frosting, place 1 stick of butter (at room temperature), 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 Tbsp. whipping cream, and 1 tsp. vanilla in a large bowl and beat until light and fluffy about 7 minutes. Add half of the cooled glaze and beat until combined. If the frosting is too soft or runny, chill for 10 minutes or so and beat again. Continue chilling and beating as necessary.
I apologize I don't have any other pictures of the baking process after this point. Monica showed up earlier than I had planned, so she was there while I was assembling the cake.

-To make green icing, you can combine some sugar and water to perform a paste and mix in green food coloring until you reach your desired shade of green. I had some Wilton's buttercream made up already, so I just tinted it until it was green enough for me!

-To assemble the cake, place a large dollop of icing in the center of a cardboard round and center one layer on top of the cardboard round. Spread 3/4 cup of the chocolate frosting over the cake and smooth it with the edges. To smooth, use a spatula or a knife continuously dipped in warm or hot water. Place the second layer over the first and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides. Start to pour the remaining glaze over the top of the cake, smoothing it to the edges and allowing it to drip over the sides. You may need to warm the glaze and cool it if it is too stiff to pour initially. (I would warn to pour slowly and carefully because I had A LOT of glaze left and it just poured everywhere. It still turned out well, but you couldn't really see the frosting underneath the glaze. It's okay because, once again, it is supposed to look as if Hagrid made it. :)

-Place green icing in a pastry bag fitted with a round tip for writing and write "Happy Birthday" on top. For kicks, you could misspell the words, but, as an English major, that would bother me too much. *lol*

I made Monica a coffee cup cozy I saw on Etsy when I did my Muggle Baby, Magical Nursery treasury. It says, "Accio Brain." Get it?! :)

I decided to make this for Monica long before I decided to do this whole themed weekend. I swear!

Once we decided to go see HP 7.2 and I decided to surprise her with the cake, I just kept on with the theme. When we were at Brickworld in Chicago, I got some Harry Potter magnets, which is perfect because Monica just moved into a new apartment and needed some magnets!

modeling her cozy

Snape on a Chain!

Monica with her very delicious HAGRID'S CHOCOLATE CAKE
I'm telling you: I am not a cake person, but I have eaten at least one piece every single day since I've made it. Sometimes two pieces! The glaze and chocolate frosting is addictive.

Here I am prepared to go see the movie in my Gryffindor beanie, scarf, knee socks, and shirt. Yes, it was 100+ degrees, but I. did. not. CARE. That is devotion (as I told Zach). *lol*

I look like a Gryffindor field hockey player or something. *haha*

And here we are in the theatre!!!

We went to Table Mesa for dinner Saturday night, and they had butterbeer! It was not at all how I imagined. But it was quite refreshing. :)

I built my Burrow LEGO set after our guests left for the weekend to make the magic last a bit longer. I also started rereading the series. ;)

What can I say about HP 7.2?!?!?!?
I took so much for granted.

I don't remember the first time I read Sorcerer's Stone, but I remember I loved it.

I remember buying Chamber of Secrets in hardback at the Hastings in Benton because I could not wait for it to come out in paperback like my copy of Sorcerer's Stone.

I remember I loved that people at little ole' Bryant High were reading it and loving it and carrying around HP folders and wearing HP beanies.

I remember we did a layout on HP during my junior year on yearbook staff, and I knew we were cool.

I remember my friends got me a Harry Potter cake for my surprise seventeenth birthday party. I still cherish the little Harry Potter and charm Sara got me.

I remember when we thought the HP movies would always be released in the fall until we first saw Gary Oldman in the summer.

I remember my mama picked up Chamber of Secrets on VHS for me, and I still have it--among the last VHS tapes released.

I remember reading Order of the Phoenix while I was recuperating after being diagnosed with Crohn's.

I remember my heart skipped a beat every time a child checked out a Harry Potter book from Maumelle Library.

I remember skipping class my freshmen year to go rent Prisoner of Azkaban in the rain when it came out.

I remember how I passionately argued in defense of the series with my sister-in-law who felt magic = fear +/=sin--and planned to keep them from my niece and nephew. I remember I wrote a passionate defense for the series in my freshman composition class, arguing that the series helped spur on a child's vocabulary and creative skills. At that time, it was hard to find many academic articles on my thesis, although I cherished one on the value of learning communities at Hogwarts.

I remember watching my pirated copy of Goblet of Fire (courtesy Rocky and Steph) over and over when I was sick with a stomach bug at Brentwood after a disastrous first date.

I remember I had a crush on Oliver Wood until Cedric Diggory. Then I mourned the fact he joined the Twilight camp. *ick*

I remember being horrified to find that all copies of Half-Blood Prince had not been checked out at Lonoke Library UPON. ITS. RELEASE!!! Shame on you, Lonoke!

I remember going to the midnight release of Deathly Hallows at the Barnes & Noble in NLR with Monica and wearing a red and gold Jose Cuervo t-shirt from Mexico because I didn't have a Gryffindor shirt and getting a scar painted on my forehead that actually itched. (Part of it is missing in the pictures we took out in the parking lot because I scratched it off.)

I remember Monica purchasing Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans and handing them out to children in the bookstore and nearly vomiting over the vomit-flavored one. I still feel that the soap one is a palate cleanser.

Alas, I forgot about the picture that is currently serving as my profile picture until I found in my copy of Deathly Hallows when I reread it last summer.

(I also forgot that Monica and I attended to midnight premiere of Order of the Phoenix until Monica reminded me, and I remembered that I named her birthday album from that July "Harry Potter and the Electric Cowboy" in honor of the birthday gift Rowling bestowed upon her and how we celebrated it.)

I remember we goaded Katie into reading Deathly Hallows as she put it off and put it off some more to make the experience last longer.

I remember shaking my head when Katie said Voldemort was hot.

I remember that I ordered used copies of books five and six off of Amazon and how disappointed I was to find that the book jackets were missing. At least those books were given a good home! I hope they were given up because they were replaced with newer copies!!

I remember that I put off watching Half-Blood Prince because Zach wanted to read the series and go with me to the movies. I finally had to give him a deadline: to finish before the last movie was released or else.

I remember feeling annoyed when I heard that the Burrow was burned although it was not in the book and seeing Half-Blood Prince a month late and still feeling annoyed that the Burrow was burned although it was not in the book. You win some, you lose some.

I remember crying as I watched Dumbledore's death.

I remember Momo "bought" me a hardback copy of Sorcerer's Stone for my first Christmas as a Pharr, so all of my books now matched.

I remember how I compared the Terrible Things to the Dementors in Cuaron's film in an early draft of the first chapter of my thesis.

I remember a surprise from Zach: a child's XL Gryffindor shirt on clearance. He got a Muggle one. :)

I remember encouraging my magical husby to read the series last year and answering all his questions and ensuring him that all would be well in the end.

I remember knitting my hands off and buying cranberry-colored yarn at Hobby Lobby and cutting golden strands to make my own Gryffindor scarf with my blood, sweat, and love. I remember making Zach one and Tommy one and hoping to share more with others.

I remember how Zach and I got up early the Saturday morning after the release of HP 7.1 last November. We wore our magical wear and went to the Fiesta Square theatre to watch Deathly Hallows Part 1 before lunch. I remember skipping through Big Lots and looking at the red and gold Christmas balls on display and boohooing over the scene where Hermione erased her parents' memories of her.

I remember adding all things magical to my Amazon Wish List and using some of my Swagbucks to get a Harry Potter cookbook.

I remember counting down the days to Part 2.

I remember buying burgundy and gold knee socks from the sock store in Eureka on our Valentine's Day trip.

I remember picking up a Slytherin beanie at Five Below in Cleveland and happening to peer inside to see that the reverse was a Gryffindor beanie...and buying it for $1.

I remember that I tried to "Like" everyone's HP statuses this week.

I remember planning to go with Monica for her birthday. I decided to make her a Hagrid-inspired cake and a HP-related present. :)

I remember the wooziness I felt inside the dark theater and the stress I felt when the fake trailers were too soft to hear. I was going to blow a gasket if the sound was not up when the film started!

I remember the laughter and the tears.

I am so thankful Hogwarts will always be there to welcome me home.

I won my very first blog giveaway!

This week I have been so busy that I somehow missed the announcement that I had won one of Rhianne's giveaways! I was over the moon when she commented on my blog that I had WON!

I had almost given up on winning anything because I have entered giveaway after giveaway with no luck. Then one day this week Kaycie posted about how she believes in giveaways because she has one a billion--well, seven :)--since she got into blogging this year. So I decided to keep trying because you never know. I mean, I thought I did know because my husband is the luckiest man alive--he wins EVERYTHING--so I thought all of the luck had been bestowed upon him. But no more!

I have won a lovely print from CityofBlackbirds in honor of Rhianne's having reached 700 followers on her blog. Rhianne has such a lovely blog with very stunning photography, and I enjoy reading it each week. I am so looking forward to seeing my prize in the mail because nothing beats surprise post. Thanks, Rhianne!

Menu, Wednesday: EASY CORN CHOWDER

Howdy, folks! How's the day treating ya? I'm so thankful for today's rain because it meant I did not sweat bullets on my way home this afternoon! HALLEJUAH! Sorry that my posts have been few and far between, but Zach and I have both feeling rather poorly since early last week when we came down with some kind of stomach bug. It put me in a right terrible state because I had been sick a week or so before, so my Crohn's had already been stirred up. :(

Thankfully today it is much better than it's been. :)

However, having been sick for so long meant that we ate a lot of oatmeal and take-away, and I did not cook very much. Sunday we did venture out to Eureka to see Casablanca in BasinSpring Park, and we gorged ourselves on Italian at Ermilio's and treats in the park. Sadly it made me sooo verrry siiiiiiiiiick. It didn't help that we had lasagna Monday night when Tommy was over. We've had Italian a bit too much lately.

Last night we were supposed to have tuna-cucumber sandwiches and CORN CHOWDER, but I was feeling sooo badly and CORN CHOWDER just did not sound good. When I am ill, I usually want one of three things: 1) something sour; 2) ice cream; and 3) Cheez-Its.

Well, since I continually eat my weight in Cheez-Its every single day, I didn't have many left and was saving them for snacks at work. We also didn't have any ice cream, except for some Magnum bars, but those are actually Zach's because I had two out of the box of three before. So that left something sour. What did I have? Sweetarts claro que si! Then Zach made me some biscuits and gravy, which is both plain and rich and much better on my tummy.

Side note: since I got sick the first time, my tummy has swollen up like water balloon attached to a faucet nearly every time I eat. This means I have looked pregnant for much of this month. If pregnancy feels anything like this, no thank you. ;)

Onto the recipe, hungry babies! Zach loves Mimi's Cafe's CORN CHOWDER and have found it is hard to beat by anything else. We bought a pack of CORN CHOWDER mix at World Market one time with hiiigh hopes, but it let us down so very far. I had all but given up hope for finding something we could easily make at home that would compare with Mimi's...until tonight.


-Chop 1 medium onion, chopped--or enough chopped onion that equals what you would call a medium onion and saute the onion in 3 Tbsp. butter until slightly golden. We LOVE onion, so we say the more the merrier. :)

-Add 1 can creamed corn and 1 can of cream of potato soup.

-Add 3/4 cup milk.

-Add salt and pepper to taste. Heat, but do boil. We served us in our cute little soup cups Zach's parents got us in Florida. :)

I asked Zach to rate my EASY CORN CHOWDER on a scale of 1 to 5 with Mimi's being a 5. He didn't give me a number, but he said it was "up there" with Mimi's. ;)

Sorry for forcing you to look at pictures with even poorer quality than usual, but this soup was so quick, all I had time to grab was my iPhone!


Happy Independence Day!

Over the years, I've become known for my cobbler recipe in our family. I have to admit it is damn good. :) In honor of the holiday, I decided to share it with you. You can use canned or fresh fruit.

Last year, blackberry was all the rage, although my mama and I stuck to peach for years. This Fourth I returned to the roots and whipped up a FOURTH OF JULY PHARR PEACH COBBLER!

FYI, as I have altered the original recipe from the one my mama makes, I have renamed it the Cobbler Pharr.

I like to add some fruit on top to make it pretty and professional when it's the full recipe. :)

-If using canned fruit, do not drain juice.
If using fresh fruit, mix 4 cups of fruit with 1 cup sugar and 1-1/2 cups water in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir often to dissolve sugar. Drain ¼-½ of the syrup off fruit.

-Preheat oven to 350°F.

-Place 1-½ sticks butter in a shallow 3-quart baking dish and place in the oven until the butter melts. Combine the 2 cups self-rising flour and 3/4 cup sugar. To keep mixture from lumping, make an indention or crater in the flour-sugar mixture and slowly pour the milk into this, stirring thoroughly. This is your “cobbler” batter.

-Remove hot baking dish from the oven. Slowly pour in the “cobbler” batter in the baking dish. Do not mix butter and “cobbler” batter together. The batter will mix with the butter and rise as it cooks.

-Spoon fruit on top of butter-batter mixture. Spoon syrup over top of “cobbler.” Do not mix the batter and fruit together.

-Bake for 30 to 45 minutes until golden brown. Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream or whipped topping.

NOTE: If you do not have self-rising flour, you can easily convert all-purpose flour for your needs. Take 1 cup all-purpose flour minus 2 tsp. flour and add 1-½ tsp. baking powder and ½ tsp salt per cup of flour used. (This recipe would require 2 cups all-purpose flour minus 4 tsp. flour and 1 Tbsp. baking powder and 1 tsp. salt. I measure in the baking powder and salt first, then fill up the measuring cup with flour.)

NOTE: Be sure to scrub, peel, slice, dice, etc. the fruit based on what kind it is before stewing it. You can also use combinations of fruits, such as 1 cup blueberries and 1 cup raspberries. The amounts do not have to be equal one another, so you can mix 1-½ cups apples with ½ pears. Try to add up to 4 cups. (If you do not have exactly 4 cups of fruit, don’t panic. ;) The recipe WILL turn out. In the fall and winter, I throw in some raisins, dried cranberries, etc. with the fruit I’m using—peaches or apples work well—to make it an even 4 cups and to have a much more autumnal or wintry flavor.

In early 2010, I made a cherry cobbler with canned cherries, BUT I forgot to convert my all-purpose flour to self-rising. Thus the cobbler sunk to the bottom and the fruit rose to the top! However, it was ruby-red pretty. :)
Also, this one and the next two cobblers were half of the recipe.

I love how the blackberries look as they are stewing. The berries look like jewels.

This must have been the earliest blackberry cobbler of 2010 because it's in one of our dishes rather than my mother-in-law's.

This is the first blackberry cobbler I made at Zach's parents' house when we stayed with them last summer.

And this beauty was from the Fourth of July weekend last year!!

I hope you have had a wonderful holiday weekend. We spent it in Hot Springs poolside with family and friends over grilled BBQ chicken and my cobbler. While I love these things, I can't wait for cooler weather!

Wordless Wednesday

[someone with whom you spent a lot of time]

[a picture of you]

[a random picture of you and your significant other]

[a picture of something or someone that makes you happy]

[an old picture of you]

[a picture of your siblings]

[a picture you have never posted on your blog before]

[a picture of a person you miss]

[a picture of someone who know you now and then]

[a picture of your favorite place]

[a person to whom you can tell everything]

[a picture of your everyday life]

[a picture from a place you love]

[a picture that reminds you of great times]

[a picture of one of your favorite foods]

[a picture from the best day of your life]

[a picture that always makes you laugh]

[a picture of you in your spare time]

[a photo from a great night]

[a picture of the people who are closest to you]

[a picture of someone with whom you always have a good time]

[a picture of your parents]

[a picture of your closest friend of the opposite sex]

[a picture of you on your favorite vacation]

[a picture of your closest friend]

[a picture of someone of whom you will never let go]