Quick & Easy Harry Potter Party

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I’ve always been very “meh” on Halloween. Every year I think, “maybe next year I’ll do something—anything.” And yet every year, October 31st rolls around and I’m like, “Whatever, can I decorate for Christmas yet?” 

But this year, I realized that Halloween makes the perfect excuse to celebrate something I do love:
Harry Potter.

I was late to the Harry Potter game … by the time I got around to reading the first one, the seventh and final book was just a few weeks away and I finally figured, “What the hell, I’ll see what the fuss is about.” 

Um, I so *got* the fuss.

I read the first two books in one day, and started the third one at ten o’clock that same night before finally succumbing to HP-dream-filled sleep. I tore through the rest of the books that week.

Simply put, I think it’s the best series every written. Period. Go ahead, fight-club me on it. Are there more technically perfect books, are there a handful of classics that are “better.” I don’t know, whatever. Maybe. But story-wise, I don’t think it gets better than Harry Potter.

I’m in constant awe over the fact that not only does each book perfectly mirror Joseph Campbell’s hero journey, but the entire series is one big hero’s journey as well. The writer in me can’t even begin to comprehend the genius of this.

Okay, but enough geeking about the book.

Onto the party! Or sort of party. It was really just me, my husband, sister and dog having a get together and celebrating all things Harry Potter.


The Costumes

As mentioned above, I’m not much one for dressing up. So much effort! There was no busting out a Doby mask or Hufflepuff robes or elaborate Voldemort makeup.

I kept it simple, and bought a cheap Hogwart Houses ties on Amazon (Gryffindor for husband and sister, Ravenclaw for me). I got a Slytherin scarf for the dog, because I don’t have children and I CAN DO WHAT I WANT.

I also got a wand for the sister, Harry Potter glasses for the hubs, and we all added a gray sweater. 

 

 

And because we all know there’s no such thing as a boring “still” picture, in Harry Potter world, this is everything.


The Food

 

Quidditch Broom Sticks

  • String Cheese, cut into thirds, with the bottom part of each section “stringed” 
  • Pretzel Sticks
  • Chives for the “twine” 
 

McGonagall Hats

  • Keebler “Fudge Stripe” cookies turned upside down
  • Hershey kisses (we used dark chocolate)
  • Butterscotch or Carmel sauce to “glue” the hershey kisses to the cookies. (alternatively, you can also warm the bottom of the hershey kiss in a warm skillet to melt the chocolate just enough to make it stick to the cookies).
 

Snape’s Snack Mix

(The snack mix has zero connection to Snape in theme. He's just my favorite character, this is my favorite snack mix, and well, alliteration.) 

  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 4 generous dashes of Worcestershire sauce (you can skip it if you have to)
  • 1 package Hidden Valley Ranch mix
  • A few shakes of onion powder (optional, I just like the extra flavor) 
  • Tablespoon or so of oregano and/or rosemary if you have them. Basically, any flavors you tend to like, throw 'em in! This recipe is forgiving!
  • 2/3 box or so of Crispix Cereal
  • 1/2 bag of Bugels
  • 1/2 bag Fritos 
  • 1/2 box of Cheese-Its
  • 8 oz shelled pistachios (or nuts of your choice)
  • (I usually add pretzels, but I forgot this time and didn’t miss them) 

Melt butter in the largest pot you have. Add the Worcestershire sauce, ranch mix, onion power, herbs, and mix well. 

Gently stir in the ingredients one at a time until everything is well coated.

Line two baking sheets with foil (for easy clean up) and spread the snack mix onto an even layer on each.

Bake at 325˚ F for a total of 45 minutes, being sure to stir at 15 minute increments or it WILL burn! 

Spread onto paper towels to cool, store in airtight container.

 

Cho’s Chili

In the effort of keeping it simple to watch the movies instead of cooking (mind you, we only got though one movie), we opted for chili. It’s simple, make-ahead, and we could pretend that the pot was a cauldron.

This is our go-to recipe—we’re split on whether or not this is spicy. I say yes, husband says “nope!” 

If you definitely don’t want spicy, do only 1/2-1 jalapeño instead of 2. If you want more spice, add the seeds of the jalapeños.

Also, we forgot to take a picture of the final product, just the "in progress." But, eh ... it looks like chili ;-)  

 

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2-3 cups yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1-2 jalapeños, minced (without seeds unless you like it QUITE spicy)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups fruity red wine (Merlot’s a good one -- or go with a South American wine, it's cheap, fruity and delicious!) 
  • 2 big cans San Marzano tomato
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed
  • salt, (to taste) 

Optional toppings

  • red or green onion, diced
  • sharp cheddar, grated
  • fritos
  • cucumber, diced
  • sour cream


STeps 

1. Heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat in large pot. Add the vegetables in two batches (onion, bell peppers, jalapeños), and sauté for 5 minutes, until caramelized. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. 

2. Push vegetables to one side of pot, and add ground beef to the empty side (this will ensure the meat is exposed to more direct heat, resulting in better browning). Cook until browned and cooked thru. Push the beef to the side with the vegetables, and add the Italian sausage to the hot side of the pan and brown, being careful not to break it up too much (there should be biggish chunks of sausage in the chili). Drain excess fat. 

3. Add tomato paste and spices, stirring to incorporate. 

4. Add wine, canned tomatoes and beans. 

5. Simmer covered for at least an hour, stirring occasionally. 

6. Remove lid, and simmer uncovered for another 30-60 minutes or until some of the liquid has burned off and the chili has thickened slightly. Taste and add salt as necessary. 

7. Serve with green or red onions, cheese, Fritos, and sour cream available for topping 


The Drinks

I’m lucky enough to be married to a skilled cocktailer, and when I requested that he whip up a few Harry Potter themed cocktails, he was MORE than up for it.

My first and most important request was a Butter Beer cocktail (obviously), but I really wanted one that wasn’t too heavy/creamy/sugary, and he rose to the occasion marvelously.

Taste testing these puppies was quite a chore, I assure you.

We also did a variation on one of our favorite cocktails, The Jasmine, which is a tart-bitter gin drink. Only for the party, we improvised and added an egg white and called it … The Dolores Umbridge.

Lastly, there was the Polyjuice Cocktail, which is definitely the show-stopper of the three AND the healthiest ;-) 
(note: since these cocktails were all his genius, the recipes live on his website, but I’ve linked to each below!) 


The Entertainment 

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Start with The Sorcerer’s Stone and go from there! Bonus points if you decorate the TV area like we did.

(Note: movies are easy, but for the TRUE Harry Potter experience, might I suggest the Hermione-approved plan of a reading party? Everyone takes turn reading a chapter?)


And above all, embrace the perfectly imperfect part of your party and have fun! 

Mischief Managed

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