Food & Drink

Down Home Cooking: Game day food

Football season is here, so gather the gang and kick off the game with a winning lineup of easy, tasty foods that can be prepared in a snap.

Football seems to bring out the desire for party snacks, finger foods, dips, spreads, chips and desserts. The key to planning a football party is to serve foods that can be prepared ahead of time and sit out on the serving table for the duration of the game. Remember, you want to be where the action is and not be stuck in the kitchen.

Chicken wings are one of the first foods that come to mind. Recipes for wings range from the traditional Buffalo style to sweet, garlicky, spicy, jerked, oriental, un-breaded, breaded, fried, grilled, baked, broiled, smoked, sauce, no sauce and every flavor and variety in between. The traditional Buffalo wing sauce is made of two ingredients: hot sauce (I use Frank’s) and butter or margarine (butter is my choice).

To make a mild sauce, use 3/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup hot sauce; medium, 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup hot sauce, and hot, 1/4 cup butter and 3/4 cup hot sauce. I also add a touch of honey to my wing sauce. “Buffalo style” applies to foods that are slathered with this type of butter/hot sauce combination. If you don’t want to make your sauce from scratch, then check out the wide variety of bottled wing sauces on the grocery shelves. All are tasty and unique.

Snacks are an important part of any game plan. Keep it simple by serving a large bowl of tortilla chips with a few salsa choices such as black bean, mango, pineapple or salsa verde.

And have some cut-up veggies and dip on hand. Carrots, broccoli and cucumbers are always crowd pleasers. Serve the veggies with creamy ranch or French onion dips purchased at the store, or quickly throw together a homemade version made with mayonnaise, plain yogurt or sour cream and a commercial dip seasoning.

Round out the snack choices with cheese and crackers. A medley of cheeses can include Swiss, cheddar and jalapeno jack and will satisfy everyone’s taste buds.

One of my family’s favorite party foods is meatballs with sauce. I place a large bag of frozen Armour original or Italian meatballs in my crock pot; then I add two 28-ounce jars of spaghetti sauce or I combine one can jellied cranberry sauce with one bottle Heinz chili sauce.

Chili is a great make-ahead dish that can feed a crowd and be kept warm for a long period in a slow cooker. Set out bowls of toppings like shredded sharp cheddar cheese, sliced scallions, sliced black olives, pickled sliced jalapenos, chopped green chilies, sour cream or avocados sprinkled with fresh lime juice and let guests serve themselves. Substitute tofu chunks for a great vegetarian version.

Burgers, sliders, hot dogs, pulled pork (use the slow cooker), ribs (I make them in the oven) as well as sandwich variations are also easy main dishes to serve and always seem to be a game day hit.

When it comes to desserts, think hand-held. Cookies, brownies or bar cookies, cupcakes and caramel-corn require no dishes or silverware and are easy to eat.

Linda and Jimmy Terry, and Janis and Joe Kennedy, from Palmetto, Fla., wrote in to share their game-day recipes. The two couples live next door to each other and get together along with other neighborhood friends for college football games.

Linda is known for her hot Tex-Mex dip.

Janis sent in Joe’s recipe for Armadillo Eggs.

Another reader, Michelle from Bradenton, sent in her White Chicken Chili recipe.

And Michael from Bradenton, nicknamed the “dipster,” sent in his famous Mediterranean dip recipe.

LINDA’S TEX-MEX DIP

2 (10 ounce) cans refried bean dip

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 envelope taco seasoning mix

1 large bunch green onions, chopped

3 tomatoes, cored and chopped

2 (4 ounce) cans chopped black olives

8 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

Spread the bean dip in an ovenproof baking dish. Top with a mixture of the sour cream, mayonnaise, and taco seasoning mix. Sprinkle with the green onions, tomatoes, and olives. Top with the cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips. Yield 10 servings.

Source: Linda and Jimmy Terry, Palmetto, FSU Cookbook

JOE’S ARMADILLO EGGS

1 dozen jalapeno peppers, cut in half lengthwise, cleaned of pulp and deseeded

1 pound bacon

1 (16 ounce) roll pork sausage

1 (16 ounce) tub cream cheese

1 (16 ounce) jar sliced roasted red peppers

In each jalapeno half, fill “level” with cream cheese. Put a spoonful of sausage and top with 2-3 slices of the roasted red peppers. Wrap each “egg” with bacon and secure it with a toothpick. Place the cream cheese side up on a grill and cook on INDIRECT heat only (no direct flames under the eggs) for about 45 minutes.

Source: Joe and Janis Kennedy, Palmetto

MICHELLE’S WHITE CHICKEN CHILI

2 packages McCormick White Chicken Chili seasoning

2 lbs. boneless chicken breast, cut small

2 tablespoons Olive oil

1 can Navy beans

1 can Cannellini beans

1 can Great Northern beans

1 can Black beans

1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted

1 can Rotelle tomatoes with mild green chilies, undrained

4 cups (or more) water and or chicken broth (I use about 5 1/2 cups of liquid, which is made up of one regular can of chicken broth and water).

Heat the oil in a large soup kettle. Add the chicken; cook and stir about five minutes or until no pink remains. Drain and rinse all the beans. Stir in the seasoning mix, beans, soup, tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover and simmer about twenty minutes, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors. This can also be cooked in the Crock-pot. **Note - A regular can of plain, undrained chopped tomatoes can replace the can of Rotelle tomatoes with chilies.

Source: Michelle, Bradenton

MEDITERRANEAN DIP

1 small can of chopped green chilies

1 small can of chopped black olives, drained

8 ounces crumbled feta

3 small fresh tomatoes, chopped

1 bunch scallions, chopped

1 packet Good Seasons Zesty Italian Dressing Mix

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Water

Place and mix the chilies, olives, Feta, tomatoes and scallions together in a medium bowl. In a separate container, make the dressing by following the directions on the packet using balsamic vinegar, olive oil and water. Mix the dressing into the feta mixture (adjust to taste).

Source: Michael, Bradenton

MAHOGANY CHICKEN WINGS

15 chicken wings

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup molasses

2 tablespoons chili sauce

1 teaspoon ground ginger

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Place the chicken in a shallow glass or plastic bowl. Mix remaining ingredients; divide marinade (reserve some for basting the chicken while cooking), pour the rest over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour, turning occasionally. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a broiler pan with aluminum foil. Remove the chicken from the marinade; discard marinade. Place chicken in a single layer on rack in foil-lined broiler pan; brush with reserved marinade. Bake 30 minutes; turn. Bake about 20 minutes longer, brushing occasionally with marinade, until deep brown, juices run clear and the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink.

Source: Betty Crocker’s Good & Easy

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