November 16, 2016

Simple Tips for Hosting a Harry Potter-Themed Fantastic Feast

If you're a Harry Potter fan, I'm sure you're planning to see the new spin-off film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I can't wait to see it myself! In the meantime, let's get into a magical mood with some simple ideas for hosting your own Harry Potter-themed Fantastic Feast! 

Since the new Fantastic Beasts film is set in the 1920s, let's stick with the time period and throw a roaring 20's party, with a speakeasy theme. 

For the costumes, think Great Gatsby, prohibition era, 1920's style clothing. Flapper costumes, lots of black and gold, sequins and pearls. Or you could always just throw on a wizard's robe and call it good. 

Now for the eats...there are so many fun ideas you can try for a Harry Potter theme party. 

Professor Sprout's Veggie Garden Treats 

For a healthy option, how about this great treat that features fresh veggies! All you need are some small plastic cups, fresh veggies cut lengthwise, and some type of dip. Hummus is a great choice, or your favorite salad dressing. 

source unknown

Goblin Gold Cupcakes 

For some sweet treat options, why not dress up plain Jane vanilla frosted cupcakes with a little Goblin gold? These great chocolate coins are widely available in holiday displays right now. Add them to your favorite bakery cupcakes and voila! And if you want to make your own cupcakes from scratch, try this recipe. 

HoneyDukes Candy Floss Cupcakes

I stumbled upon these gorgeous creations from the baking blog Bakingdom and tried to make my own (more simplified) version. Honeydukes is the candy shop in the village of Hogsmeade and there's also one at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. One staple of the shop is candy floss (aka cotton candy) and I thought this would be a great cupcake topper. 

The version shown features a pom pom topper, but either that or real cotton candy will work depending on what you can find. So cute! 

Scamander Strawberry Cordial 

During the Prohibition era (1920-1933), when Newt Scamander was having his adventures in New York, the only place to get a spirited drink was a speakeasy. Another name for a speakeasy was a blind pig, which is consequently the name of the one in the film.

These not-so-secret establishments were popular as the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcoholic drinks was illegal in the United States at that time. 

Here's a recipe for a Prohibition era drink recipe, that you can make with or without alcohol. 

More Harry Potter Wizard-esque Fun for a Fantastic Beasts Party! 

  • Drag out your Halloween decorations or scour the shelves of your local discount store for clearance price Halloween merchandise. I found some great skull decorations in a clearance bin at my local grocery store
  • Make your own broom
  • Incorporate creepy crawly bugs and other gross things (I painted some Dollar Store plastic insects gold and dusted them with green glitter for a more glam look)
  • DIY a Golden Snitch from a giant Ferrero Rocher and glittery accessories from the floral department of Hobby Lobby! 

Whatever you do to get in the mood for the new Fantastic Beasts film, I hope it's wizardly wonderful! Happy wizarding friends! 

November 2, 2016

Simple Ways to Jazz up a Boring Sandwich

November 3rd is National Sandwich Day, and there's no better way to celebrate the occasion than by enjoying the delicacy that inspired it. Thanks to the Earl of Sandwich, we're all a little better off. 

Would you believe that Americans eat around 200 sandwiches each year? From ham and cheese, to salami on rye, tuna melts and good old peanut butter and jelly, there's no shortage of sandwich combinations to enjoy. 

But don't just eat any old boring sandwich! Try some of these fun and simple ways to jazz up your ordinary lunch. 

Pour on the Sauce

Plain mayo and mustard are a fine starting point, but why not incorporate some other fun flavors? Stir together some store-bought pesto and a little mayo for a rich spread that's great on all sorts of sandwiches. Here are a few other tasty flavor combinations to try on your next sandwich. 

Wasabi + Mayo

Balsamic vinegar + Mustard

Gunshot Sauce + Mayo

Tobasco + Ketchup 

Lemon Juice & Sea Salt + Mayo

Curry + Ketchup

Rosemary + Mustard 

Sour Cream or Cream Cheese + Cilantro 

Relish the Relish

Love tart and tangy flavors? Pickles, olive and relish are a great option for you! Hot and spicy jalapenos can give a kick to plain old tuna salad. Or whip up a batch of homemade olive tapenade for your next boring ham and cheese. Even the humble grilled cheese gets new life with the addition of relish, sun dried tomatoes or olives. 

Spread the Spread

I'm not talking about condiments here...but extra things you can spread thickly on a sandwich to make it even heartier for those cold winter days. Tasty options like hummus (a favorite of mine) or pimento cheese, which can really add some oomph to a boring sandwich. 

Next Level Peanut Butter & Jelly 

I love a good PB&J as much as the next person, but sometimes even this beloved standby needs a little something extra. How about bacon? Trader Joe's has a bacon jam that has gotten rave reviews. Plus, they just got in a new product - Roasted onion and garlic jam. How about that for a memorable sandwich experience? 

Other ideas to give PB&J a boost? 
  • Toast the bread first, or make the sandwich and put it in a Panini press
  • Instead of bread, use toaster waffles to change things up 
  • Try almond, sesame or cashew butter with a tart jam like orange marmalade 

Dress it Up

You may have heard the saying that "we eat first with our eyes" and I believe it's true. Something that is presented in a creative or thoughtful way will always be more enticing than something just tossed onto a plate. 

 Try parchment paper and twine (see first image above) to give your sandwiches a little something special. I picked up some cute plastic napkin holders that would also be great sandwich servers, a bit reminiscent of the British tradition of serving toast. 

I hope your next sandwich is delicious! Happy National Sandwich Day!