Hocus Pocus Party (with Drinking Game Printable!)

Hocus Pocus is one of my favorite childhood Halloween movies (Double, Double, Toil and Trouble is definitely on the list). if you haven’t seen Hocus Pocus, it’s the perfect blend of campy humor, silliness and plot holes that are fun to point out. Recently I found out that one of my friends has not seen the movie and that my husband was fuzzy on the details (indicating it has been too long since he’s seen it for my liking!) This inspired an afternoon dedicated to viewing Hocus Pocus. In typical fashion, I turned watching a movie into an Event!

An evening's entertainment - the perfect accompaniment to viewing Hocus Pocus!

I adapted a drinking game from PopHangover, made a printable (which I have since revised – you’re welcome!), and we had an afternoon of cocktails, wine, and witchy snacks. I have created an invitation and the recipe for our cocktail as well (modified from a McCormick’s recipe). I created some invites to introduce your guests to the fun.

THE GAME!

The game is the most important piece of the day. It is fun and silly even without the alcohol. Feel free to add any “house rules” you come up with. The PopHangover site has many more options, but I wanted some that were easy for everyone to remember. We added a prop, using a witch’s hat – anytime someone started chanting Amuck, Amuck, Amuck, the last to join in had to wear the hat. This was a really fun element in our party!

THE DRINKS!

Drinks can be anything you desire! Certainly we had witchy wine and bourbon, but our special cocktail was the Hocus Pocus Fizz. This was a very smooth (almost tropical) pineapple and coconut rum drink topped with sparkling wine and tinted  to a virulent shade of orange! You can make this with pineapple juice, coconut extract and top with sparkling juice if you have children/nonalcoholic party goers.  We also had wine, I used these labels. 

THE SNACKS! 

We don’t typically have Halloween parties, so I have a board of Pins that has been sitting around for precisely this occasion. I went a little crazy and may have made too many, but it was so fun! Some of them are so easy that they would be a great recipe for little hands to help with.

  • Witches Hats – I used Halloween Oreos instead of the upside Fudge Stripe Cookies. I found some orange glitter, Pumpkin Spice flavored gel frosting and couldn’t resist! You simply lay down a ring of the frosting on the cookie (or around the Hershey’s Kiss) and press into the center of the cookie. I used Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Kisses for extra impact!
  • Witches Brooms – Simple! Gently twist a thin pretzel stick into an upside down Reese’s miniature.
  • Veggie Tray with pumpkin dip holder – Carve the top off your tiny pumpkin, ensuring you make a wide enough top so people can dip within. If not, you can provide a spoon to assist them. Scoop out flesh and seeds. You can save the seeds for a roasted treat if you desire. Rinse and pat the pumpkin dry, then fill with your dip of choice.
  • Caramel Apples – Kraft now makes Caramel Bits – gone are the days of tediously unwrapping piece by piece to create meltable caramels. The bit-size makes for fast melting in the microwave. Melt a bag with 2 tbsp milk and stir. Dip in your apples, sprinkle with your choice of topping and let dry on waxed paper!  They are so beautiful whole, but I think my next event shall be a DIY caramel apple bar with wedges for dipping (they are SO much easier to eat!)
  • Cauldrons of chili – I also made my standard chili as well as a white chicken corn chili.
  • And of course lots of orange snacks and candies: Cheetos, Doritos, Sour Patch Kids, Skittles, etc. If I had more time, I would have created some creative tags describing them as some witchy potion ingredients.

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I hope you enjoy! Let me know if you have any questions!

Review: Plated – Pork Tonkatsu with Mizuna

Pork Tonkatsu with Cherry Jalapeno Salsa and Mizuna Salad

Another night, another Plated dinner! George and I went to the theater this afternoon to see Trainwrecked. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie; it was expectedly hilarious while being unexpectedly sentimental and heart-warming. LeBron James was fabulous, Bill Hader and Amy Schumer were amazing! By the time we finished the movie, I wasn’t sure if I had it in me to make dinner. I am sure glad that I did! I definitely saved time using my Plated meal (the ingredients were pre-measured) and the recipe time read 25 minutes (and was accurate!).

The finished product! Pork Tonkatsu via Plated

THE LOWDOWN:

This dinner was a study in balanced flavors: it truly covered the entire palate. The mizuna salad had ample soy and garlic dressing to fulfil the umami and bitter tastes. The cherry jalapeno salsa had both sweet, sour and spicy flavors. The mustard-soaked and panko-crusted pork chop was savory and juicy enough to balance the whole plate. This was actually a previous Plated dish that was so popular, they reissued it!


 

THE INGREDIENTS:

Yet again, Plated delivered a meal that was simple to prepare and carefully crafted around fresh, locally grown ingredients. The cherries looked plump and juicy, but the mizuna was new to me. Mizuna is also known as Japanese Mustard…it is slightly spicy and has a faint bitter taste. I also received fresh garlic, jalapeno, yuzu juice,  grapeseed oil, soy sauce, mustard, flour and panko.  The pork chops were thick and fresh and definitely held up to the pivotal role of this dish.

Pork Tonkatsu Ingredients

Pork Tonkatsu Ingredients


THE PREP:

I was overjoyed to have a cherry recipe because I’ve been dying to try my OXO Cherry Pitter from Sur la Table! It made quick work of the cherries and I am looking forward to trying it with olives. I threw a handful of sugar into the cherry salsa for good measure. OXO Cherry Pitter - DocLauraB

 


THE RESULTS:

I so enjoyed the complex flavors of this meal! More than any other Plated recipe that I have tried to date it felt like something I would never have tackled; but instead, would have ordered from one of my favorite restaurants for double the price! The salad and salsa had a clove each of raw garlic (that I have shied away from), and George does not love soy sauce, but enjoyed the salad paired with the cherries. The yuzu juice added another layer of flavor that elevated this recipe.

Plated - Pork Tonkatsu!

Plated – Pork Tonkatsu!


Review – Plated: Lamb and Eggplant Tacos with Greek Salad

Lamb, Eggplant, Pomegranate Molasses and  Za’atar Tacos with Greek Salad


The Lowdown

On a high from a delicious Plated meal yesterday (see here), I decided to try for a repeat performance. Tonight’s choice was intimidating on several levels: it included lamb (which I haven’t cooked with before), pickling, and an unknown spice (with an apostrophe). This one turned out great! The mix of herbs and spices infused my house with a heavenly scent and the taste of the meal was just as great (George said it was reminiscent of high-end gyros).

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Lamb and Eggplant Tacos with Pickled Onions & Greek Salad


The Ingredients:

There were a few ingredients that were altogether new to me! Za’atar (wikipedia) is a blend of herbs including thyme, basil thyme, oregano.  Here’s how to make it at home (Bon Appetit). Pomegranate molasses is a thick, sticky condiment that can be used for marinades, condiments and drinks (see this article spotlighting it from Kitchn). Also included this week was some lovely fresh produce: English cucumber, eggplant, oregano, mint and some stunning heirloom tomatoes.

DocLauraB - Lamb Taco Ingredients


The Prep

Preparing the meal started with pickling red onions in a red wine vinaigrette. This was so easy! I added a little sugar as well. We had tons leftover, so it will be making an appearance later this week!

Pour red wine vinaigrette over sliced red onions and sprinkle with sugar. Let sit...voila!

Pour red wine vinaigrette over sliced red onions and sprinkle with sugar. Let sit…voila!

The ground lamb was easy to brown and I added the Za’atar and molasses. The eggplant was perfect! My husband didn’t even know there was eggplant – it so perfectly absorbed the flavor of the meat.

DocLauraB - Lamb Taco's - cooking the eggplant and lamb

Sauteing the eggplant and lamb!

I mixed up the salad (I added some black olives) and we were ready to go! The tangy salad and savory meat was perfectly offset by creamy feta cheese. This meal pushed me past my comfort zone to a delightful end!

DocLauraB - Cucumber and Tomato Greek Salad

Review: Plated – Balsalmic Chicken Salad

After my first Plated meal (see here), I have finished the first box (three recipes in total) with success. Tonight was the first recipe of the second box (a salad seemed perfect for a steamy, summer day!).

the finished product

It was part of their Summer Grill Series and is the first salad I have tried through the service. They sent very fresh produce: a head of butter lettuce, green beans, and mâché still attached to the root.

what they sent

The chicken was marinated in a lovely Balsamic and herbs de Provence marinade which I will definitely recreate for future recipes. This was my first time blanching green beans for a salad and they were perfectly done (undone?) for the salad. It was accompanied by bleu cheese and Marcona almonds. I decided to toast the almonds and the increased nutty, buttery flavor was a perfect foil to a lemon and honey dressing. This is one meal that I was not sure of – my family doesn’t typically eat salads as a main course – but I was pleasantly surprised!!

(stay tuned as I try one of their desserts next time – profiteroles!)


My First Plated Box!

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Review: Plated – Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Succotash!

I have heard many things about meal kit delivery services (Plated, Blue Apron, etc.), but hadn’t tried it. My friend, Amy, referred me for a week of free meals from Plated –  the perfect chance to try it! You can select meal preferences (knowing my husband, I passed on the vegetarian entree). They allow you to select the number of people per meal (so we received three meals – two plates a piece). Here’s how it works. 

Today, I started the first day of my post-residency career and decided to celebrate with a dinner at home! The recipe George picked was a buttermilk-fried chicken and succotash. I really admire their commitment to locally sourced farms. My package arrived with four freezer packs (stated cold up to 24 hours). I threw these in the freezer to be used later!

DocLauraB Plated ingredients succotash

My Plated Ingredients – I saved the non-garlic plastic bags.

Everything was labelled for the recipe it is to be used for. They included everything (down to the butter and herbs) required for the recipe. It only required additional olive oil, salt and pepper! They have a handy recipe card with step-by-step instructions and photos.

It was true to the time stated on the recipe (thirty minutes total with fifteen minutes of active cooking).

Diced succotash veggies!

Diced succotash veggies!

I marinated chicken in buttermilk while dicing vegetables. I thought the poultry and vegetables were high quality! I started the succotash and then dredged and fried the chicken. I couldn’t help but use the remainder of the buttermilk to make a gravy!

DocLauraB Buttermilk Chicken and succotash

The Final Product (I threw some asparagus in there too!)

The Final Results:

George and I were both surprised by how much we loved the succotash. It had a hauntingly sweet quality and the garlic and thyme added a surprising complexity. The chicken was succulent and good enough to make me forget it was pan fried! I would not have otherwise tried this recipe, but I will definitely be making the succotash again. I would like to serve it with scrambled eggs and biscuits and gravy!

I am looking forward to cooking the rest of my meals – and will definitely order more! The price for this meal was $11 per plate and well worth it!


Feeling the chill of Autumn? Warm up with some chicken soup.

Earlier this week, I Stumbled Upon Martha Stewart’s Chicken Barley Soup. It inspired me to make my own version with a twist. So I came up with a chicken quinoa spinach soup. I simplfied some of it (boneless chicken breasts v. whole chicken ), fibered it up with some whole grains and spinach. Don’t be scared of the quinoa, you can find it at any large grocery store. If it’s too intimidating, substitute rice or barley.

Enjoy this soup, it’s perfect for the beginning of fall (and great for any friends that are stricken with the flu!). It makes a large batch, so freeze some for later!

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    Chicken Quinoa Spinach Soup

    Ingredients:

    • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 8-oz. bag of baby carrots, sliced (or 4 whole carrots, diced small)
    •  6 celery stalks, diced small
    • 1 medium purple onion, diced small
    • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    • 1  tsp. chicken seasoning
    • 1 tsp. coarse sea salt
    • 1 tsp. ground pepper
    • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1 cup quinoa
    • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
    • 2 cups water
    • 5-6 oz. baby spinach, washed and torn

    Directions:

    1. In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add carrots, celery and onion; cook until tender, about 8 minutes.
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    2. Rub chicken with chicken seasoning. Place chicken in saucepan.
    3. Add quinoa, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and quinoa (roasting it in the pan will release a nutty flavor). Cook until chicken is opaque, about six minutes, stirring frequently..
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    4. Add broth and water, bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until quinoa is tender. Around twenty minutes (but the longer the better).
    5. Add spinach and cook until wilted, around five minutes. Add more salt or pepper to taste. Store cooled soup in an airtight container up to four days in the refridgerator or 3 months in the freezer.
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    Salted Caramel Apple Cider

    Fall is here! And it brings the best flavors. And the coldness to merit some piping hot drinks.

    P90

    After taking USMLE Step 3, I treated myself with a visit to Whole Foods and squealed with glee at the jugs of cider arranged so neatly. My next reward was a visit to World Market, a premiere destination for home goods and kitchen finds. Lo and behold, Torani syrup in salted caramel flavor! Not only that, but sugar-free!

    So I mixed the two and it was heaven in a cup! Up next: trying the syrup with some dark hot chocolate. I’m sure Hungry Girl will have more ways to utilize this awesome sauce (totally legit use! For my Parks and Rec peeps). I’m thinking about some Rice Crispy treats