Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Hogwarts (part 2)

I finally got more of the pictures from the Hogwarts Blue & Gold.
It is always difficult to know what is appropriate to post for the public to view. I tried to find pictures that the boys were either blurry or not showing their faces. If I have posted your child, and you would prefer I didn't, please let me know and I will remove the picture.

My own children I have no problems posting. Just don't mess with Hermione Kitty there. She looks like she knows a few spells and won't hesitate to use them.
 These are the ties that the boys got at Madam Malkin's. They got their pictures taken, and those pictures were printed and posted on the papers you see off to the side there.
 This is the Goblet of Fire. My mother-in-law was the creative genius behind this one. The boys wrote their names on slips of paper in their house colors so that a name could be drawn from each house for each tournament, and so every boy could have a chance to participate.
 The lady who designed the Honeydukes Sweet Shop is a professional graphic designer. She did an amazing job.
    In case you were wondering if I was ever going to post a picture of me as Rita Skeeter, your waiting has come to an end. What you can't see are the fishnet stockings I was wearing. Ludo would not give me an interview (something about being burned by my acid pen years before). Ludo may also be my brother-in-law.
 Professor Trelawney was telling fortunes.
This is what the great hall looked like. The boys were doing their opening flag ceremony. The flag was in the bubbling cauldron in the center there.
 Professor Dumbledore with the Goblet of Fire. Can I just say that I have amazing in-laws?
 The Care of Magical Creatures hunt, in action. Points for every creature picked up, negative points if that creature was a snake.
 Ollivander was passing out wands- the wand chose the wizard (it may have had something to do with which house they were in).
 Tom took the day off at the Leaky Cauldron, but his assistant did an excellent job making sure everyone's thirst was quenched.
 Dragon Slaying with javelins. Throw the pool noodle to see how many dragons you can knock over. The pvc on the bottom makes it easy to set them all up again.
 This activity required the boys to catch the golden snitch with their mouths, just like Harry caught his first snitch. The wings are candy melts that have been inserted into vanilla sandwich cookies.
The final results- Gryfindor and Slytherin tied. (I think they did a paper rock scissors contest to determine Slytherin the winner). Behind you can see part of the obstacle course.
Professor Trelawney, Ludo Bagman, Professor McGonagall, Professor Dumbledore, and Rita Skeeter.
It was a fun and memorable Pack Meeting. I am glad that I got to participate.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Strawberry Cheesecake

This is one of those family favorite recipes that needs to be preserved and shared (also so that I no longer have to rummage and search to find the recipe every time I want to make it).
First, I shall share the recipe as I have it, straight from "Mom's Kitchen" (aka Grandma)

Strawberry Cheesecake
2 pkg Danish Dessert
2 or 3 cups Strawberries
3 pkg Dream Whip
1.5 cups Milk
1.5 tsp. Vanilla
8 oz. pkg Cream Cheese
3 oz. Cream Cheese
.75 cup Sugar

Make Danish Dessert and refrigerate. Whip the dream whip, milk, and vanilla till fluffy. Cream the cream cheese and sugar, then whip it into the Dream Whip. Pour into a graham cracker crust. Cut Strawberries and put into Danish dessert. Spoon onto top of pie. Refrigerate.

Crust for Cheesecake
2 pkg Graham Crackers
.5 cup Sugar
.5 cup Butter or Margarine

Crush Graham crackers, mix in sugar. Melt butter and pout into the crackers and sugar. Mix well. Put onto cookie sheet or 2 large pie tins.

And now, I shall share how I actually make it.
Start with the Danish Dessert. To make it authentic (as in- the way that it is always made and tastes the absolute most amazing), make sure it is Strawberry.
Junket Strawberry Danish Dessert (Case of 12 boxes)
It comes in a box that looks like this. Sometimes you can find it on Amazon with free Prime shipping (this is important, cause it is not to be found in some parts of the country).
You will add 3.5 cups of cold water to a medium sized sauce pan and the two packages of the Danish Dessert. Whisk the Danish in quickly so that it doesn't become lumpy, and stir on a medium-high heat. You will need to stir frequently, if not constantly. Bring it to a boil and let it boil for 1 minute. Just to warn you, you don't want to be wearing a white shirt unless you wanted red polka dots on it. They don't wash out. After the Danish has boiled for one minute, pull it off the heat and stir in one bag of frozen raspberries. (Yup, Strawberry Danish, Frozen Raspberries- all other combinations are just not as good). Put the pan in the fridge to start cooling.
Can't find the Danish Dessert or don't have time to order it from Amazon? No worries- I have an alternative recipe for you. It isn't quite as tasty as the real deal, but it will definitely do in a pinch. You will need to double this recipe to make up the 2 packages called for in the recipe.

Kool-Aid Junket
1 pkg Kool-Aid (in this case Strawberry)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups water

Mix Kool-Aid, sugar, and cornstarch. Add to cold water. Place on medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute. 

Now that you have your Danish in the fridge, make your pie crust. I haven't crushed up my own graham crackers since I discovered that you could buy them precrushed. That also means I haven't got the ratio down yet. This last time I used 3 cups crushed graham crackers, 3/4 cup sugar, and 3/4 cup melted butter. I think next time I will reduce it to 2.5 cups grahams and leave the other measurements the same. That actually made a fairly thick crust in my jelly roll sized pan. I am sure that it could be made in other pans, but why mess with tradition (and anything smaller is just not big enough for how tasty this cheesecake is).

Now it is time to cream the cream cheese and sugar. 11 oz of cream cheese and 3/4 cup of sugar. I use my hand mixer and mix it until it is thoroughly blended and smooth.
After my cream cheese is blended, I put 3 packages of Dream Whip in my Kitchen-Aid. Please note that Dream Whip is not Cool Whip. It comes in a box in the baking aisle, near the jello section. Amazon also has it, but it is cheaper at the store. I've never tried it (I don't think it will set up the same and be as solid), but if you do use Cool Whip- don't add the milk to it. A friend tried it that way once and it just didn't quite work out for him:)
Dream Whip, Dessert Topping, 2.6-Ounce Box (Pack of 4)
Add 1.5 cups of cold milk and 1.5 teaspoons vanilla. Start your mixer out slow to combine the ingredients, but increase it so that it is going at a pretty good clip (ever wanted to see how fast your Kitchen-Aid could go? :). It will take 5-6 minutes, but eventually it gets some nice stiff peaks. When it hits that point, turn it off, take your spatula  and add the cream cheese and sugar mixture and  then turn it back on (not quite as fast this time) and continue to mix until it is thoroughly combined.
Now you can use that same spatula to gently spread the white floofy-ness over your graham cracker crust. When you have that all evenly spread, pull your Danish Dessert out of the fridge and gently spoon it over the top. Put the whole tray back in the fridge to finish setting up. It will take about four hours. If you don't mind it runny, you can eat it sooner.
This cheesecake might be a bit addicting. If there happen to be any leftovers, I promise not to tell anyone if you have some for breakfast if you promise not to tell on me:) Dairy, Fruit, Grains- that counts as healthy, right? :)