Dinner with the Professors – Hogwarts Dining

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The main theme of my Harry Potter party was “Dinner with the Professors” where each guest got to enjoy a Hogwarts style dinner and be assigned a Hogwarts professor role.  Like I said in my first post, I decided to make everyone a professor instead of assigning them as the students to make the party a little more adult and not have to wrestle who would be Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

Hogwarts is known for their hearty and mouth-watering food, and I wanted every one of my guests leaving with full and satisfied stomachs.

For appetizers, I set out some veggies and pita chips with Greek yogurt dip (Martha Stewart’s recipe).

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 I also made a warm and cheesy marinara dip to go with some crostini (Mozzarella Fonduta recipe here).

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Dinner consisted of:

1) Short Ribs – This recipe from Giada de Laurentiis was originally meant to be eaten with pasta, but I decided to just cook the meat and serve it with potatoes instead.  It IS time consuming and rather pricey, but the result is super luscious meat that becomes more tender, the longer it simmers over the stove.

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2) Drumsticks – My mom made this special for my party, but unfortunately, I do not have a recipe at the moment.  My mom goes off by her own tastes and not strict measurements, which is a true sign of a great chef.  I wish I had that ability.  Like the short ribs, the chicken was also very tender, and the meat slid right off the bone.  These are drumsticks that Ron Weasley would definitely scarf down.

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3) Fried Smashed Potatoes with Lemon – Another Giada recipe that is definitely a keeper.  This recipe is a wonderful twist on your standard potatoes, and offers a zesty and vibrant flavor due to the lemon dressing.  The key to smashing potatoes is to very gently press on them and not push them down all the way.  It took a few potatoes to get the smashing right, so I say boil a few extra for trial and error.

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We ate by candlelight and underneath the Bewitched Ceiling.

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To create the Bewitched Ceiling, I just used stencils of different size stars and spray painted them gold once they were all cut out.  I then just used regular Scotch tape to stick onto the dining room ceiling.

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Dinner is served!

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For dessert, my guests caught their very own edible Snitches (Ferrero Rocher chocolates – peel off the sticker label and brown paper to leave a gold shaped sphere that looks like a Snitch), and me and the other birthday girl were surprised by our very own birthday cake. Image

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Banana chocolate meringue pie: very special indeed!

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I also served apple cider floats that posed as butterbeer.  The apple cider was heated over the stove with some cinnamon sticks and served in mugs with caramel flavored ice cream.

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When the ice cream melted in the apple cider, it created a white froth on the top and looked a lot like what I envisioned butterbeer to look like.  The cinnamon stick was a delightful garnish in the mug. The sweet and sticky caramel from the ice cream complemented extremely well with the warm apple cider, and I felt like I was experiencing what Harry Potter and his friends must have drank at Hogsmeade.

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I used the measurements given in the recipe here, but if I was to make them again, I would use smaller mugs/cups or make more cider and ice cream to fill the mug.

 

Once everyone filled their tummies with seconds and thirds, I allowed the guests to open their parchments to find out which professor they were.  For most of them, I matched one quality of each guest to their professor (for example, one of my friends is a nurse, which is why I assigned her Professor Sprout, who nursed people back to health with her Mandrake potion).  I made myself Dumbledore, since I was the host of the party, and he’s the headmaster at Hogwarts.

The description of each role definitely gave my guests a good ribbing, but I made sure to add some positive comments to soften the blow =P

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To make the scroll holder, I used a toilet paper roll and printed out a name tag and pasted it on there.  I embellished it with a little black ribbon on the edges.

 

Here are all the professor descriptions I wrote for each person:

1) You are Professor Minerva McGonagall, Transfiguration teacher and head of Gryffindor house.  You like to be in control and keep things in order.  You are a strict disciplinarian but are admired by many for your intelligence and drive.  Even though you intimidate most students, you have proven just as much that you have a big heart and go to extremes for others.  You are a strong warrior and remain to be Dumbledore’s right hand (wo)man.

2) You are Professor Remus Lupin, the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher during Harry Potter’s third year at Hogwarts.  You used to be best friends with Harry Potter’s late father.  Serving as teacher and mentor, you taught Harry to face his fears and defeat evil.  Not many are aware that you are secretly a werewolf.  Despite the mischief in your youth and the occasional wild streak every full moon, you turned out to be a very wise and gentle soul.

3) You are Professor Gilderoy Lockhart, the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher during Harry Potter’s second year at Hogwarts.  You are extremely vain, but also, extremely charming.  You have published many best-selling books and won Witch Weekly’s Most Charming Smile award five times.  Unfortunately, you are not a very adept wizard and turned out to be a fraud.  Despite being somewhat dimwitted, you are extremely gifted at wiping other people’s memories with Memory Charms.

4) You are Professor Sybil Trelawny, Divination teacher at Hogwarts.  You are odd and eccentric and not understood by many.  You strongly believe in horoscopes and fortune telling and are very passionate about your craft.  Not everyone believes in the powers of Divination, but other people’s opinions never seem to bother you.  Your predictions are hardly every correct, but you have made several substantial prophecies that came true, especially those concerning Harry Potter.

5) You are Professor Pomona Sprout, head of Hufflepuff house and the Herbology department.  You are not a very tidy person, but a little dirt never bothered you.  You prefer to stay indoors and tend to your plants.  You have proven to be extremely knowledgeable and patient in your field.  Those at Hogwarts rely on you to nurse them back to health with your various herbs and spells.  You are very approachable, and no one ever has a bad thing to say about you.

6) You are Professor Severus Snape, Potions master and head of Slytherin house.  You are very serious and mysterious and like to keep to yourself.  You don’t like many people and not many people care for you either.  Underneath the dark facade though is a very noble and courageous wizard.  You were picked on a lot in the past, but love and honor always drove you forward.  Many question where your loyalties lie, but you have proven to be Dumbledore’s dark knight.

 

If you’re not sick of Harry Potter just yet, I still have a few more posts about my party that I will write in the next week or so.  Please also check out the links below to more posts based on my Harry Potter party.

  1.  Harry Potter Overview – a look into my magical celebration.
  2. Owl Post Invitations
  3. The Art of Transfiguration: Transforming My House into Hogwarts
  4. DIY Aragog/Giant Spider Decoration

A Magical Evening – Harry Potter Party Overview

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Although there were no actual spells or enchantments cast nor flying owls soaring around at my birthday party, that is not to say there was no magic created that night.  My Harry Potter birthday party was a complete success, and despite all the hours and stress put into the project, I am incredibly pleased with how it all turned out and would do it all over again, if I had the choice.  I also cannot thank my friends and family enough for helping me out, especially after falling ill two weeks before and falling behind on decorating.

Because there was so much put into this party, I will write several more detailed posts on it within the next few weeks, including how I made the decorations and what activities were held at the party.  But for now, this post will show you an overview of what my party was like.  Enjoy!!

As written on the invitation, the party guests were to follow the spiders to the grand entrance to Hogwarts.  Here, they can also park their broomsticks as well as meet Aragog, Hagrid’s giant pet arachnid.

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Once they entered Hogwarts, they were greeted with appetizers and got to embark on a scavenger hunt looking for Voldemort’s Horcruxes.

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Hogwarts décor would not be complete without some candles and the Golden Snitch.  That Snitch was actually handmade by me! =)

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Beware of Moaning Myrtle and the thriving basilisk in the bathroom!  The Chamber of Secrets has been opened.  Enemies of the heir, beware…

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Arguably, the best feature of the party was the photo booth.  I recreated the scene where Harry Potter gets flooded with Hogwarts acceptance letters at the Dursley house and used it as the backdrop for photos.  I am still amazed that two of my friends and I were able to make this look astounding.  I also made my own photo booth props to play with and placed them on the wizard’s chess table.

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Dinner by candlelight and starlight!  We ate underneath the Bewitched Ceiling.  As you can see in the picture below, each person received a personalized scroll that designated who was which professor.

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Dinner is served!  Marinated chicken, short ribs, and lemony potatoes… a hearty meal fit for Hogwarts.

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No Hogwarts dinner is complete without dessert.  Guests caught their very own edible Snitch (Ferrero Rocher chocolates) and were served butterbeer (apple cider floats).

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Me and the other birthday girl, who collaborated with me on this birthday party, also received our very own surprise with a chocolate banana meringue birthday cake and presents.  I got the last Harry Potter book to complete my set =D

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After dinner, my friends got a chance to win the House Cup by playing a trivia game.  Admittedly, those questions I came up with were very hard!

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Although not everyone was a winner that night, every guest got to go home with a goodie bag, which included a quill pen, a chocolate dipped pretzel wand, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavored Beans (really just regular Jelly Bellys.. my sister told me how traumatized she was after someone fed her the vomit flavored one), and homemade Chocolate Frogs with a peanut butter filling inside.

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The night was indeed magical, and the best party I’ve thrown thus far.  It just goes to show that turning 28 does not mean you have to deny the kid inside.

Please check back all this month for more detailed posts on my Harry Potter party!

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12 Foolproof Tips on How to Throw a Successful Oscars Party

Hello, Craftster Chic Readers ~

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Another blog post like I promised based on the Oscars.  If you are planning to host your very own Oscars bash this Sunday, here are 12 helpful tips on how to throw a successful Oscars party.  I tried to come up with tips that specifically cater to Oscar parties and not bore you with the same old party planning advice.  Let’s start the show!

1)      Oscar Menu.  The most fun but also the most stressful part is the food.  Unless you have TV dinner tables for everyone, it’s better to have smaller bites of food instead of a full-on sit down meal.  Since it’s a viewing party, think more finger food and munchies style, but still keep people full by offering a variety of options and not just appetizers.  Serving small bites also keeps the meal very posh.  If your food needs to be eaten with utensils, make sure it’s not too messy nor requires much effort to jab your fork into.

2)      Your Sanity.  If you absolutely can’t stand cooking or find cooking a whole meal stressful, consider takeout or catering and add one or two dishes of your own.  Also, consider enlisting a friend to help you out.

3)      Ambience and Décor.   Since the Oscars are so high class, I believe that less is more when it comes to décor.  The look should be clean and pristine without being too stuffy.  Instead of glitzing everything in gold, go for gold touches or outlines.  Last year, I used dinnerware that was mostly clear or white with gold rimmed edges.  Leave the all-gold items for the Golden Globes.

4)      Guestlist.  Know who to invite.  Don’t drag someone to the party who can’t stand long awards shows.  Also, keep in mind of your own expectations for the night.  If you care about who wins what and want to hear each speech, you can’t expect a chatty Cathy to sit quietly.  But, also, understand that the more people there are, the more excitement there is to see each other and have separate conversations.  Just go with the flow.  You can always tape the show.

5)      State of Dress.  Your party can be an opportunity to dress up and look glam or be a second Halloween and wear costumes based on the nominated movies.  It can be equally as fun though if everyone wears PJs, and you hand out big necklaces and rings to wear.  Big jewelry is key to notice the bling in photos.

6)      Red Carpet Moment.  Speaking of photos, pictures really are priceless.  You may have the greatest pics of your food and décor, but c’mon.  We all know that you dive right into the pics of yourself and your friends, every time you revisit them =P  So bring out the narcissism, and lay out a red carpet.  Silly photos are the best, and it’s also fun to reenact memorable red carpet moments.  Some weird but memorable red carpet moments include: Angelina Jolie making a too obvious effort to show off her slit by sticking out her bony leg; a disheveled Kristen Stewart hobbling awkwardly along on crutches and posing with some more awkwardness without them (I guess she at least tried); and Sacha Baron Cohen dressed as The Dictator and dumping Kim Jong Il’s ashes (really just pancake mix) all over Ryan Seacrest.

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7)      Arrival Time.  It’s best to start the party about an hour before the show starts to allow pre-show mingling.  It will also leave ample time for the laggers who always show up fashionably late.  If your friends like to watch the red carpet arrivals, you can start the party a little earlier.

9)      Food prep is key.  When prepping any meal for a party, be sure to get as much cooking done as possible 1 or 2 days before the big night.  Trust me that it takes away so much stress on the day of.  You already have to play hostess and may even have to drop by the store last minute.  Since this is a viewing party, you also need to make sure that all the food is done well before the show starts, so timeliness is crucial.  Most food should be reheatable.  If there is any food that has to be served right away after cooking, make sure that there is minimal cook and prep time.

10)  Hungry Guests.  Be sure that there is food to eat when the guests arrive.  Especially if you’re doing a glam dress-up party, your guests may have been more preoccupied with getting ready than eating lunch, and they’ll arrive huuuuunggrrryyy.  Just watch the Jennifer Lawrence GIF below to get the idea of what your guests will feel like.  I like to have all the food done by the time the guests arrive, but if you’re short on time, at least have appetizers set out for them.

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11) Oscar Prediction Race.  If you and your guests are game enough, compete against each other to see who can predict the most Oscar winners.  Predictions should be made BEFORE the show airs.  If most of your friends arrive late though and can’t fill out their entire ballot in time, pause the show every so often before they announce the winner.  Just watch out for cheaters and their smartphones!

11)  TIVO Reliant.  If you have a DVR, I would definitely recommend recording the show.  Many times, something comes up, or people run a little late, and it’s not much fun if you’re constantly watching the clock.  You also want to give people time to settle and take pictures.  Recording the Oscars lets you start the show on your own time.  {Keep in mind though that sometimes the awards show runs even longer than the extra half hour the DVR gives.  Last year, it cut out right during Ben Affleck’s closing statement when accepting the Best Picture award: “All that matters is…”  CUTTHE END.  FINITO.  So of course, we were left hanging and wondering if Ben Affleck had some sound advice.  Luckily though, you can find detailed Oscar coverage online.}

12)  Know your trivia.  If you’re going to host a theme party, you better know enough about it to keep it interesting.  There’s a wealth of articles dedicated to this special night, so at least skim them so you can dazzle your guests with a few cool facts.  In addition, brush up on who’s nominated and who’s the favorite.  Pick your own favorites too!  I personally like to root for the underdog or the unknown actor if they gave a meritable performance.

 

And there you have it!  Please check out my first post based on last year’s Oscars party, if you haven’t already.  If you decide to host your very own Oscars party, please share and send me links to your pictures!  I would love to see them and become even more inspired.

Still to come is how to make these star decorations and golden star stirrers.  Check back by the end of the week for the how-to!

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Oscars Party Flashback

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The glitz, the glamour, the gowns…  Only less than a week until The Oscars are here!  The Academy Awards is set to air on March 2nd at 4 pm and hosted by the always quirky Ellen DeGeneres.  And in honor of Oscars week, I will upload several posts on how to throw a successful Oscars party.  Today’s post showcases my Oscars party last year to provide you inspiration!

Many find awards shows to be too long, too boring, too pretentious, too predictable…  And yet, ever since I can remember, I was always excited for awards season and did not mind listening to the long, droning speeches.  Hey, in my opinion.. even the Best Makeup Artist should have his/her heyday as much as the year’s Best Actor or Actress.  Although, TV shows have proven to be better quality than movies lately, I still find awards season to be alluring and continue the tradition of watching them.

After finding my love for cooking in recent years, I realized that I wanted to host my very own Oscars party.  Luckily enough, I found one friend who was okay with watching awards shows, so I made it a party for two.

Below are pictures of the serving table and descriptions of each menu item:

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I knew for my Oscars menu that I wanted to have little bites of food to make the dinner look more gourmet, but to also offer a variety of dinner items so as not to go hungry.  [We aren’t starving celebrities whose every lump gets photographed after all!]  I also wanted my party to look very clean and refined, so I did not go heavy handed on the decorations or dinnerware.  A simple orchid and white and gold color scheme was all the décor I needed.

Menu included:

-Rainbow Fruit Skewers – As you can see, each fruit represents a color of the rainbow.  Originally, the recipe called for pineapples and blueberries for the yellow and blue, but I already had bananas on hand and leftover blackberries from the Black Swan drink (see below).  Yes, I know blackberries say black in the name, but the juice is somewhat purplish-blue, so I say they count =P  I’m sure the pineapple would have been a better accompaniment in flavors, but I do think the subtle sweetness of the banana balanced out the acidity of the other fruit.

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-Sweet and Sour Chicken – This is a much more simplified version than what you get at your local Chinese food place, but it’s still pretty good and close enough.  You can also get it to that crispy but meaty consistency.  Recipe link: http://madeitateitlovedit.blogspot.com/2012/03/sweet-and-sour-chicken.html

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-Roasted Broccoli – I found this gem on Pinterest, and my friend and I absolutely LOVED it!!  All you need to do is combine and shake broccoli, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a Ziploc, and then sprinkle with garlic.  Once roasted in the oven, most of them come out crispy and almost taste like chips, if not better!  Make more than you think you need because these bites go fast.  Recipe link:  http://how-do-it.com/This_is_our_favorite_way_to_eat_broccoli_or_cauliflower_of_all_time_My_husband/

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-Polenta and Chicken Tartlets – This recipe is from Food Network’s Giada De Laurentiis, whose food and home style I definitely like to embody.  Instead of the circle cutouts she used, I used star and gingerbread man cutouts to make shapes in the polenta.  Since the polenta was soft enough, I was able to squish the legs of the gingerbread man together to make an Oscar!  I could see these cutouts used for making butter cookies as well.  Recipe link:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/polenta-and-chicken-tartlets-recipe.html

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-Brie Bites – I saw this recipe last year on an Oscar dinner party special and knew I definitely wanted to make this since I didn’t have a cheese component.  They also look like a gourmet, classy treat that you’d find at an actual Oscars after party.  Recipe link:  http://abc.go.com/shows/the-chew/news/Fun-Stuff/Oscar-Daphne-Brie-Bites

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-Black Swan Cocktail – So although this drink was a couple years behind (Black Swan came out in 2011), I believe that 2011 was the last year of really good movies, and the cocktail looked too good to pass up.  The color was utterly beautiful too, and the muddled berries were a great treat while drinking.  I used fizzy lemonade that I had leftover from another party and found that the carbonation gave the drink an extra boost of freshness.  Recipe link:  http://www.bourbonblog.com/blog/2011/01/15/golden-globe-cocktails/

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-Dessert: Mini Cheesecakes – I served dessert later on in the night to let the rest of the dinner settle.  These cheesecakes are a lighter version of this beloved dessert, and the small size saves you even more of the guilt.  Mini chocolates were also served.  I didn’t make the caramel that was called for in this dessert, but it looks heavenly.  Recipe link:  http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/salted-caramel-cheesecakes-50400000125434/

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Onto the other fun stuff:

-Oscar Prediction Competition:  My friend and I decided to wager on who would make the most correct Oscar predictions.  Prize was treating the winner to a movie.  Since this is a very popular game on Oscars night, I easily found the Oscar ballots online and printed them out.

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-Red Carpet:  What’s an Oscars party without a red carpet?  I looked up fabric prices, but they were way more than what I wanted to pay for, so I decided to use red posterboard instead.  I stapled 3 or 4 of them together and trailed it from the kitchen to the viewing area.  Of course, it was very awkward at first to pose for the camera, but silliness took over and brought out some really great photos.

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-Dress Code:  We decided to dress up since we rarely do that anymore, and it did make for some very nice red carpet pictures.  Of course, if you are throwing your own party though, make people feel comfortable and allow them to wear slippers, like I did.  Or have a PJ party and hand out big jewelry to wear to make their outfit jazzier.

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Guess who won the Oscar prediction race?  I did!!  No long speeches though =P

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Stay tuned this week for more tips on how to host a successful Oscars party and a tutorial on how to make these easy star decorations and gold star stirrers.

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