Never fear foolish mortals, your favorite sisters are back. Hocus Pocus 2, the highly-anticipated sequel to the 1993 cult classic film Hocus Pocus, will be available to stream on Disney+ starting Sept. 30. But as fans prepare their black flame candles and evil spell books, they may also be wondering what dinner recipe they should toss into their cauldrons for those spooky watch parties.
If I'm being honest, I did not understand the love for the original Hocus Pocus film when it was released way back when. Like many holiday movies, Hocus Pocus was often on my television during the Halloween season, but it was always more background noise than actual movie-watching.
But last year, my oldest children kept asking me if they could watch it. I knew I needed to give it my full attention to make sure it was age-appropriate, so I played close attention, on the lookout for mature themes that may need to be explained. While we watched the movie, I felt like someone had put a spell on me. I started to realize how many pop culture references I've made over the years come from the film, from Mary Sanderson's iconic I smell children line to Winifred's Another glorious morning ... makes me sick.
At the end of our movie night, I still wasn't a huge fan. But, just like a catchy Harry Styles song, the charm and character of the film grew on me.
Searching for a way to celebrate the return of the Sanderson sisters with my kids this year, I came across The Unofficial Hocus Pocus Cookbook by Bridget Thoreson. With recipe titles like "Dead Man's Toes," "Black Flame Cocktail," and, "Mischief Night Pasta," I knew we were in for a treat no matter what we made.
"I've been a huge fan of the movie since I was a kid, as has my editor," Thoreson tells Yahoo Life. "We thought that there must be other people out there who love the movie as much as we do, and we were right — there are millions."
"I wanted to do a project that celebrated the movie and all the best things about it," she adds. "A cookbook felt right because fall is such a great food season and it opened up a lot of room for playing with the themes and material from the movie."
For my first go with the cookbook, I settled on "Baked Witch Casserole," a shepherd's pie-like casserole dish that promised to be a hearty meal with its meat and potato ingredients list. The casserole requires several ingredients that need to be chopped or diced, like onion, celery and green pepper, and I think I may shorten my prep time in the future by using pre-chopped ingredients instead. But, since it was my first time making the recipe, I decided to follow all the instructions to the letter to make sure I didn't affect the flavor of the final product.
Thankfully Thoreson feels the same way about cooking as I do. She likes to keep her recipes simple and satisfying.
"The number one thing I wanted was for this book to be a fan book first and a cookbook second," she says. "I am not a chef, so no one is buying this cookbook to see what innovative thing I'm doing next. I wanted the recipes to be easy comfort food."
And easy it was: Prepping the ingredients was really the only labor-intensive part of the recipe. With a little more planning ahead of time, I could see this casserole, with its meaty filling and mashed potato crust, becoming an easy mix-it-all-together dinner for my family.
Want to try the Baked Witch Casserole for yourself? Thoreson shares her recipe with Yahoo Life.
Baked Witch Casserole
Courtesy of Bridget Thoreson/The Unofficial Hocus Pocus Cookbook
Should thou find thyself in a battle of wits against three witches or tackling a complicated recipe, you shall require the appropriate tools. A pottery kiln may leave the former unscathed, while proving overkill on the latter. For this simple and tasty baked casserole, a run-of-the-mill kitchen oven shall serve thee well enough.
Serves: 8 | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 1 hour
1½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and diced
½ cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium white onion, diced
½ cup diced celery
¾ cup chopped green bell pepper
2 pounds ground beef
1 cup crushed tomatoes
⅔ cup seasoned bread crumbs
1½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1½ tablespoons tomato paste
fresh parsley, for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2. Place the potatoes in a pot and fill with water until they are covered. Bring the water to a boil on high heat. Reduce the heat to keep the water simmering. Allow the potatoes to cook for approximately 15 minutes, until they are tender. (Test the potatoes by stabbing them with a fork.)
3. Drain the water when the potatoes are cooked.
4. Add the heavy cream, butter, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, and 1 clove of minced garlic. Mash the potatoes until they are smooth and the ingredients are well blended.
5. Place a cast-iron skillet on the stove and heat it on high. Just before the skillet starts to smoke, add the olive oil, onion, celery, and bell pepper, and sauté until they are soft.
6. Add the ground beef and sauté until it is cooked.
7. Remove from the heat and add the remaining salt, crushed tomatoes, bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato paste. Mix the sauce into the ground beef filling.
8. Spread the meat filling into a casserole dish or the cast-iron skillet. Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the meat filling. Place the casserole in the middle of the oven and let it bake for 25 minutes.
9. Garnish with parsley.
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