A few weeks ago I won a pair of tickets through work (thanks Hulu!) for The Mindy Project’s PaleyFest panel. For those of you who don’t know, PaleyFest is an annual TV festival with panels featuring the cast and creative talent from most of the hit TV shows out there. For years I’ve been streaming the panels online, hanging on to every last word that my favorite cast and creators let slip about their upcoming seasons. I’ve been wanting to attend a panel in person for as long as I can remember (one of the things on my “Living in LA Bucket List”) so I was ecstatic when I found out that I had won tickets, especially to a panel for a show that I’ve grown to love as much as The Mindy Project.
The event, titled “Inside the Writers Room with The Mindy Project”, was held at The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills. The lineup consisted of Mindy herself, Ike Barinholtz (aka Morgan Tookers) and the rest of the talented writers of the show. Let me just say that these men and women are insanely talented (not to mention hilarious), and as I left I found myself wanting to change professions and start writing for TV. Maybe one day… Want to watch the panel for yourself? Click here.
Anyways, at the panel we got a little sneak peak screening of the upcoming season 5 premiere and I truly think this was one of the best episodes of The Mindy Project I’ve seen yet. I left the event feeling more inspired, creative and hungry than ever — I was watching The Mindy Project after all, and we know that girl can eat! With so many memorable food moments over the last 4 seasons, it was actually hard to narrow down a concept for my premiere party snacks. Should I make bear claws (two for each guest of course)? Or maybe I should serve some meat sticks so everybody has enough protein in their diets? Eventually I decided to break things down by Mindy’s three favorite food groups — Booze, Appetizers and Desserts.
Check out the gallery below to see the recipes featured in this post:
Booze — “Ex-Squeeze-Me” Sangria
Mindy Lahiri clearly likes to wet her whistle with an alcoholic libation from time to time…
But which drink is her favorite? In season 1, Mindy and the gang hit up a club where she finds herself stuck drinking red wine over ice because of course they didn’t serve sangria at the bar. She’s been seen sipping on this fruity drink multiple times throughout the show’s run as well, so I’ve decided to mix up a pitcher of this classic wine cocktail for my party.
The best part about Sangria is that it is a completely versatile drink, so you can mix up the recipe however you see fit. Red or White? That should be the first question you ask yourself. Once you’ve picked your poison you can craft the perfect pitcher by pairing your wine with fresh fruit slices, juice and an added kick of extra booze.
I took the red route for mine, pairing a bottle of Pinot Noir (Little Black Dress seemed like a fitting brand) with fresh apples, oranges and grapes. Freshly squeezed orange juice adds a nice tartness to the drink and also pays homage to Mindy’s classic catchphrase. (“Ex-squeeeeeze-me?!”).
I decided to use Triple Sec in my Sangria, mostly because I had it on hand already. The sweetness of the liquor proved to be a nice touch, but if you don’t have Triple Sec feel free to substitute spiced rum for the same effect. Finally, top it off with some Sprite or Club Soda for a little fizz and serve over ice. Tip — The longer you let the drink sit before serving the better, as the fruit will absorb the booze and taste delicious when your glass is empty.
Appetizer — “Beyoncé Pad Thai” Chicken Wings
Like Mindy, appetizers are one of my favorite parts of a meal because nothing beats a plate of hot and crispy fried food…am I right?! Every time my college roommate and I went out to eat there was always this unwritten rule that we would be splitting some appetizers before the main course. Mindy agrees…
Now for the real question — What kind of appetizers would Mindy serve if she were hosting? Ok fine, that was rhetorical.
Can Mindy run for president? She’s got my vote!
I didn’t want to make traditional chicken wings though, so I started wracking my brains for a more creative idea. Then I remembered this moment, and “Beyoncé Pad Thai” Chicken Wings were born.
Rather than deep-frying my wings, I decided to take a slightly healthier route by baking them. Let me just say, and my family and friends will back me up, that when cooked properly you won’t be able to taste the difference. I baked my wings for about an hour in a 400° oven and they were nice and crispy, plus the meat was falling off the bone when we ate them! Side note — I accidentally bought full chicken wings and had to butcher meat for the first time in my life…so that was fun. Separating the flats from the drums actually wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be though, but next time I will make sure that part has already been done before I buy them.
While the wings bake, you’ll want to make the pad thai sauce to toss them in. For my sauce, I used a combination of chunky peanut butter, soy sauce, fish sauce, sriracha and lime juice (plus a few additional spices) until my desired flavor and consistency was reached. Once the wings are done, toss them in the sauce and serve immediate. A garnish of cilantro and green onions with an added drizzle of sriracha was the perfect way to top this dish of. Don’t forget a side of ranch for dipping!
Dessert — Castellano Cannoli Cake
In case you didn’t already know this, our girl Mindy is a big fan of desserts.
No really, a BIG fan.
Aside from bear claws (which she eats two of every morning, so we’ll classify those under “breakfast”), Mindy’s favorite dessert seems to be cake. Although when she was with Danny she didn’t shy away from a good cannoli.
They didn’t forget to put the filling in…she ate it already.
When we last left Mindy, she had just gotten down and dirty with Danny in the elevator only to find that Jody was waiting upstairs for her to share the news about the apartment he had just bought for her. So who does she choose?! Will she end up getting back together with the love of her life, Danny Castellano, or will she get caught up in Jody Kimball-Kinney’s southern charm? You’ll just have to wait until the premiere to find out! If you’re on Team Danny though, you’ll definitely want to make this Cannoli Cake to show your support for the Italian Stallion.
Start by baking a classic white cake following the directions on the box (unless you choose to bake the cake from scratch). After the cake has cooled completely, take the end of a wooden spoon to poke holes all over the top about 1” apart. Pour one can of sweet condensed milk overtop and let the cake rest for 1-2 hours.
Next, you’ll want to drain the ricotta cheese so your frosting isn’t too wet. Use cheesecloth if you have it, but if you don’t you can extract the liquid by placing the cheese in a paper towel-lined colander. Set a second paper towel overtop and place a heavy jar on top to help squeeze out the water. Let the cheese sit for anywhere from 30-60 minutes before prepping the frosting.
Combine the ricotta and mascarpone cheeses with vanilla extract in a large bowl, then add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Slowly add in sweet condensed milk one tablespoon at a time until you reach a smooth, frosting-like consistency. Ice your cake and sprinkle mini chocolate chips and more powdered sugar over top for the final touches.
Finish up your last bites of cake, wipe the wing sauce off your face and grab a glass of Sangria because it’s time to follow the drinking game rules below as you watch the season 5 premiere of The Mindy Project!