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!

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Cherry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

So I had a little time off because my rotation this month has had a lighter patient load than expected. Enough time to brainstorm some Valentine’s Day sweets for my family and colleagues.

I was deciding between Cherry White Chocolate Pudding Cookies from Chocolate, Chocolate and More and Sally’s Baking Addiction’s Strawberry Chocolate Cookies

What sold me was the use of jello in the pudding cookies. The initial recipe has a beautiful pale pink color. I wanted something a little more vibrant, so I used a little hot pink gel coloring in addition to adding extra cherry jello powder to make a reddish cookie. I also swapped the white chocolate pudding mix for french vanilla. They are tender, delicious and full of flavor.  I am brainstorming other combinations of jello for future cookies now!

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Cherry White Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp cherry flavored Jell-o mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp concentrated food coloring in pink or red
  • 1 4-oz package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 bag white chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream butter, sugar and jello mix together.
  3. Mix in eggs and vanilla.
  4. Thoroughly mix in coloring to achieve desired color.
  5. Sift together pudding mix, floud, soda, salt.
  6. Fold in white chocolate chips.
  7. Drop by tablespoonfuls (or 1″ scoop) onto parchment lined cookie sheets.
  8. Bake 8-10 minutes andlet cool 5 minutes prior to transferring to cooling racks.

 

Cake Batter Blondies

So these have been all the rage across Pinterest (my latest obsession and inspiration). So I went to the website that lit up Pinterest: Six Sisters’ Stuff (their inspiration was Girl Meets Life). This recipe looked so easy and sounded so delicious I had to try it at the soonest available opportunity.

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Which turned out to be the next day for a work party. They were fabulous: dense, gooey bites of birthday cake that caused childhood memories to come bubbling up! They were so rich I cut them in smaller squares and had leftovers for a gathering later that night and some to share with my family. My boyfriend would only eat a bite at a time to prevent a “sugar fit.” I like sweet sweets, but if you don’t, they may not be for you. They were a perfect fuss-free way to share cake at any event. No forks or plates needed! I used yellow cake mix beause i like the flavor better than white, but you can simpify and use Funfetti mix instead. I want to do a red velvet version with devil’s food cake next.

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Birthday Cake Blondies

Ingredients:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used applesauce)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sprinkles (choose your preferred color and shape!)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 
  2.  Combine first three ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Add just enough milk to make a thick batter (I used 1/3 cup or less, but if needed  you can add more. Just know that the less milk you use, the more dense and brownie-like the outcome). 
  4. Mix in sprinkles and white chocolate chips.
  5. Spread in a 9×9″ pan (or make a double batch to fill a 9×13″ + a loaf pan – this way you have some for grabby hands in the kitchen).
  6. Bake for 20-25 mins. When you take out of the oven, they will be soft and gooey. Just wait and they will firm up. Or don’t wait and eat a deliciously gooey treat (best served with milk).
  7. I waited until mine cooled and frosted them. They  looked more festive, but they are so sweet they don’t really need it. But, if you want to…

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Frosting

I used a simple buttercream frosting, but had been wanting to try some of the new commercial neon gel food colors. So I mixed the orange and pink together for a festive fall hue. It did a great job of providing concentrated color without changing the composition of the frosting with too much liquid. The only downside is that the colors don’t swirl as well as my typical paste food coloring.

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    Ingredients:

    • 1/4 cup butter, softened (to ice cream like texture).
    • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted.
    • 1 tsp. almond extract (or vanilla)
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 2 tbsp.
    • Food coloring to provide desired color.

    Directions:

    1. Beat butter with mixer on medium speed until light yellow.
    2. Beat in powdered sugar on low speed.
    3. Add in extract and salt and increase speed to medium. 
    4. Add in milk to desired texture and at three more minutes.
    5. Add food coloring to taste. Frost and enjoy.
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      Sprinkles make everything better!

    Oatmeal toffee cookies

    So this is my latest oatmeal cookie attempt. After two months on pediatric wards, I had brought  enough desserts to work that I was thinking about prophylatically placing a floor of nurses and residents on Metformin. So I went for something with less sugar and more fiber (but still enough of a chocolate reward).

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    These were an invention necessitated by an empty pantry. Having recently moved, I had not purchased chocolate chips, so instead used pieces of Heath bar. These are prebroken into pieces for your convience! I was also almost out of sugar, so artificial sweetner was a pinch hitter (with a little real sugar for texture). There is a LOT of oatmeal in these cookies, so they are very filling. If you like nuts, throw in 1 cups of walnuts or pecans. Enjoy!

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup butter, softened
    • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/4 cup Splenda
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1-1/4 cups flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
    • 3 cups quick-cooking oats
    • 1 cup toffee candy bar pieces

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Farenheit.
    2. Cream together butter, sugars, Splenda in a large bowl until smooth.
    3. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
    4. Combine flour, baking soda, salt. Stir into creamed mixture.
    5. Mix in quick oats and candy pieces.
    6. I used a 1/2″ scoop to create uniform small cookies. Heaping spoonfuls would also work. Drop these onto ungreased, nonstick cookie sheets.
    7. Bake 10-12 mins or just until edges start to brown.
    8. Allow to cool and store in airtight containers for up to a week. The flavors actually intestify the longer they are stored. (If cookie get hard, place a piece of bread into the container to lend the cookies some moisture).

    Need a Chocolate Bourbon Cupcake with Salted Caramel Frosting? Yes, Please!

    April 22, 2011.

    I was inspired by the 8th Annual Four Roses Mint Julep Competition hosted at O’Shea’s Irish Pub on April 21, 2011. It was a fun event featuring ten of Louisville’s premiere mixologists offering up such delights as Italian wine julep with rose ice cubes and a Julep Float. I was invited to attend by my medical school colleague and friend, Megan. She recently ran the Boston Marathon and eagerly anticipated post-training cupcakes. So what better things to combine than bourbon and cupcakes! I did exactly that yesterday.

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    I adapted Bourbon Chocolate cake recipe  from Better Homes and Gardensand a Salted Caramel Frosting Recipe from Chow.com. I used Ghiradelli chocolate and Woodford Reserve Bourbon (it was all I had on hand, otherwise I would have saved it for drinking!). These cupcakes were very well recieved by all. The cake was lighter than I had anticipated, but with a rich bourbon and chocolate flavor. The frosting was fabulous, with a complexity created by the homemade caramel and the sea salt. Homemade caramel can be intimidating, especially for a candy novice like me (I don’t even have a candy thermometer!) So I added some tips garnered from my experience (my first batch was a throwaway).

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    Bourbon Chocolate Cupcakes

      Ingredients

    • 1 cup butter
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1-1/2 cups water
    • 1/3 cup bourbon
    • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
    • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla

      Directions

    1. Set butter and eggs out to become room temperature.
    2. Line muffin pans with liners, I needed 32 with this recipe.
    3. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.
    4. Pour water and bourbon together in a glass and let set.
    5. Microwave unsweetened chocolate and bittersweet chocolate for 1 minute, stir and reheat for 30 seconds if needed to melt. I used Ghiradelli because they have bittersweet chocolate chips (less chopping needed).
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    6. Preheat oven to 325°. 
    7. Beat butter with electric mixer for two minutes, until fluffy and pale yellow.
    8. Gradually add sugar (1/4 cup at a time) and beat on medium speed until combined with butter.
    9. Add eggs and beat on medium for two minutes.
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    10. Beat in melted chocolate and vanilla.
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    11. Alternate adding flour mixture and bourbon/water mixture beating on low speed until all is added (I split each ingredient into fourths). At this point, the mixture should be very light and fluffy, resembling a mousse. 
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    12. I used a scoop to place batter into muffin cups and pressed the tops down (will be fluffy) with the backside of the scoop. A spoon would work as well. 
    13. I baked my cupcakes in a stoneware muffin pan, and 18 minutes was perfect (a wooden toothpick inserted in the center came out clean). Remove cupcakes and placed on a wire rack to cool.
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    Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

       Ingredients

    • 1/8 cup granulated sugar
    • 4 tablespoons water
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream
    • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter
    • 1-1/2 tsp salt (sea salt)
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 2 tablespoons bourbon

        Directions

    1. Stir together granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan with a wooden spoon. From this point on, Do not stir! This is key. I stirred my first batch and had to start over.
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    2. Bring to boil over medium heat. Do not walk away for anything, it takes about six minutes for the mixture to turn a dark amber color. However this happens quickly and it only takes seconds to burn. Here is the progression to a nice carmel color.
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    3. Remove from heat and slowly (by the tablespoonful at first) add in cream and vanilla. Stir with wooden spoon until smooth. If parts of the mixture cool and crystallize before thoroughly mixed, place pan on low heat and continue to mix until blended. Set aside to cool.
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    4. Beat butter until fluffy, about two minutes. Reduce speed and blend in powdered sugar until combined.
    5. Turn off mixer and pour in caramel and salt. I used a sea-salt grinder, but kosher would work. I happen to like the flavor and crunch of a coarser salt.
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    6. Add in bourbon to taste. Beat frosting on low to combine and then on medium-high for two minutes until airy and thoroughly mixed.
    7. Decorate cupcakes and enjoy! I found the frosting easier to use after letting it set up in bowl for twenty minutes. This recipe made plenty of frosting to make a large swirl on each of my 32 cupcakes.

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    Let me know if you try this recipe and have any additions or comments. I would like to try a moist filling similar to Cakespy’s Chocolate Stout cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Filling.