Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

32 Simple Snacks for Football Fans

posted in Appetizers and Snacks by startcooking team

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Jalapenos Stuffed with Sausage and Cheese

Football fans hanging around with friends, especially on a weekend, get just as hungry as all-night gamers . So what’s on your party menu for football viewing? We’ve put together the following items, which go beyond bowls of corn chips, pretzels and cheeses. We make no specific claims about their healthiness, so pace yourself if you suffer from health conditions. Your final menu choices will depend on how much prep work you feel like doing for your party.

The Easy & Traditional Snacks

These are the snacks that are easy to put together, and mostly require minimal effort.

  1. Kielbasa wedges . What meat lover doesn’t like kielbasa? Buy a length of kielbasa coil, peel off the “skin”, cut up some thick slices, then cut those in half. Serve with crackers and/or cheese.
  2. Garlic bread made with cheese. Whether you buy it or make your own, garlic bread made with three different cheeses will disappear fast.
  3. Meatballs. Little Sweet and Sour Meatballs served with toothpicks or Sausage Balls(shown below) are always a crowd pleaser.http://startcooking.com/public/IMG_1572k.jpg
  4. Mushroom caps. For a change of pace, try these bacon Stuffed Mushroom Caps(video).
  5. Chicken wings. Make chicken wings in the oven for an easy-to-prepare football snack that everyone will appreciate. Serve with the traditional sides — thick blue cheese dressing, celery and carrot sticks, hot sauces, and a fistful of napkins.
  6. Grilled sausages. If the weather’s still good (or you’ll grill in the snow), fire up the backyard grill and throw on some nice Italian or Polish sausages.
  7. Nachos and cheese dip. “Guilty pleasure food” at its best with this nacho cheese dip.
  8. Potatoes. Potato wedges a really inexpensive snack are great with ketchup or sour cream.http://startcooking.com/public/images/imgp2610_305.jpg
  9. Stuffed potato skins. Or if it’s not wedges, it’s potato skins, which can be assembled ahead of time for baking. Make sure to set out extras, like sour cream, chopped chives, crumbled bacon, and grated cheese.
  10. Classic cheese ball.  Need I say more?  Serve cheese balls with a variety of crackers or thinly sliced pumpernickel bread.
  11. Chex mix. There are an endless number of combinations to the snack most of us know as chex party mix. Customize the recipe to your liking, but keep an eye on the oven, as the onion powder tends to burn easily.

Lighter & Healthier Snacks

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Make Ahead Layered Salad

If you’re feeling slightly peckish instead of all-out hungry, here are a few suggestions. Most are pretty traditional, like the items above – just lower in calories.

  1. Crudites and dip. Cut up some celery, carrots, cucumbers, and red peppers into bite-size pieces and serve with a nice dip.
  2. Cold cuts. We feel that some of the best cold cuts and sliced meats come from Italian markets. Just roll each slice up into a tube, or fold into a wedge, and arrange on a platter.
  3. Olive selection. Even simpler than cold cuts or crudites. While you’re at that Italian or Mediterranean market, pick up a nice array of olives – from savory to spicy, with different stuffings, from pimento to cream cheese to even almonds.
  4. Cheese bites and (wheat) crackers. Cheese platters do not have to be boring. There are so many cheeses to choose from – go for different textures and flavors – and then add some grapes and nuts to the platter as well.
  5. A crazy big salad. A big salad is the perfect complement to most game day foods – and relieves the guilt of eating all the other (heavier) snacks. Chop items small and throw it all in — vegetables, fruits, olives, boiled eggs, cheese, etc. — depending on your tastes. Top with balsamic vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lime.
  6. Savroy Pies. Quiche can be served hot or at room temperature. Baked spinach pie, reminds me of spanakopita, only easier to make! A store bought pie crust makes these recipes easy as…

Sandwiches and Burgers

http://startcooking.com/public/images/IMG_1987.jpgWhat’s a game party without some sort of sandwiches. Here are a few variations, some possibly unique to this article.

  1. Hot sandwiches. Serve spicy Italian sausage with plenty of peppers and onions, topped with a rich tomato sauce or kielbasa with a stone ground, spicy mustard in split, crusty rolls.
  2. “Grilled cheese” burgers. You read that right. Make your burgers in one pan and keep it warm. Then, on order, make a grilledcheesesandwich (shown above) in another pan, using regular bread slices. Split it open (careful, it’s hot) and place tomato slices, pickles (optional), and a cooked burger patty. Have hot sauce or ketchup on the side.
  3. Tex-Mex Cheese Burgers. Need I say more! Check out the video.
  4. Pocket subs. Whether you call them hoagies, rockets, subs or something else, these are always a hit, especially with kids. Make sure you have lots of small Italian buns or sub buns, a variety of cold cuts, pickles, toppings and spreads.

Something Extra and Hearty

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Quesadillas!

These are for those colder football days, when you feel like something heartier.

  1. Perogies. Potato, onion and/or cheese perogies are so readily available in most supermarkets that you don’t need to make them from scratch. Serve with sour cream, salsa, dips, hot sauce.
  2. Pigs in a blanket. Don’t forget the kids in the snack list. We don’t know what it is about pigs in a blanket, but kids (and adults!) love them.
  3. BBQ ribs. You don’t need massive brontosaurus ribs like Fred Flintstone. Some regular sized, finger-licking, melt in your mouth  barbecued ribs will do just fine.
  4. Burritos. Beef and bean burritos are easy to put together beforehand or assemble on the spot and who knows better how to make them then The Pioneer Woman!
  5. Chili. A great, hassle-free, “simmer in the pot until you are ready for it” game food like chili (video) is hard to beat. Chili is also an excellent make-ahead dish, freeing you up to enjoy the game while it simmers.
  6. Meatloaf. Meatloaf isn’t particularly original, but if you like to get creative, you could shape it into a football.
  7. Calzones. While traditional calzones are delicious, this spinach and ricotta stuffed variation, flavored with a touch of nutmeg, is simply delectable. Buy prepared pizza dough to make it really easy.
  8. Pizza Loaf. This fast and simple-to-prepare pepperoni and cheese stuffed snack is sure to be a hit served with a bit of tomato sauce on the side for dipping. It’s a fair bit like calzones, but probably less work over all.
  9. Sweet potato fries. Be sure to pre-heat your oven for about 20 minutes to make sure that these baked fries come out crispy.
  10. Chicken kabobs. Kabobs are eaten in a number of countries across Northern Africa, Europe and South Asia. So you have many flavor choices for chicken kabobs. Or just buy some from the deli counter and throw them on the grill or bake in the oven.
  11. Samosas. These East Indian potato-filled pastries are said to taste great with beer – an alcoholic beverage of choice for football viewing. Making these from scratch is time-consuming. So just pick some up fresh from an Indian or Pakistani grocery store, or in frozen form from most large supermarkets.

Now if none of these look tempting, check out Cooking Light’s list of Football Party Recipes!

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9 Hot and Cold Dips for Every Occasion

posted in Appetizers and Snacks by Kathy Maister

Dips are a party delight that everyone seems to love. There are all kinds of dip options to match your taste or diet, and many can be made in advance.

Of course, dip needs something to stick to or sit on, and the choices here are also numerous – chips, crackers, veggies, bread sticks, or toasted pita bread, to give just some of the possibilities.

startcooking.com’s Vegetable and Dip Platter video, is a great starting point to learn how to cut vegetables for a party dip platter.

Cold Dips Recipes and Ideas

  1. Shrimp: If you’re looking to keep things healthy and tasty, this recipe can’t be beat. Low-fat cottage cheese substitutes for sour cream, which is usually used in most dips. You can indulge and be kind to your heart.
  2. Onion Dip and Spinach Dip: These classic dips are fabulous for reasons beyond the fact that they are just delicious. They can be made 2 or 3 days in advance of your festivities, and will just get better as they sit in your fridge. On party day they just need to be spooned into serving dishes and enjoyed!
  3. Black Bean: It’s healthy and it’s scrumptious! On a pita or a tortilla chip, this dip is guaranteed to get your party started. Don’t be afraid to spice this one up with a good dose of cayenne pepper.
  4. Guacamole: Be sure to use fresh ripe avocados. If your avocados are really firm, put them in a paper bag with a Granny Smith apple and in just a day or two they should be perfect!http://startcooking.com/public/IMG_4828.JPG
  5. 7 Layer Dip: This dip includes layers of bean dip, avocado, seasoned sour cream, olives, tomatoes, green onions and cheese. Plan to have lots of tortilla chips on hand because guests will want to get to the bottom of it!

Hot Dips Recipes and Ideas

  1. Artichoke: This hot dip could easily be the BIG hit at your next party! It’s rich, creamy and smooth with just the right amount of tangy zip from the canned artichokes. Even people who say they don’t like artichokes, LOVE this dip!http://startcooking.com/public/IMG_0597.JPG
  2. The Best Hot Spinach Dip Ever! Ramona Woo and my sister Marie Woolf, both of Greenville, South Carolina, have figured out the perfect balance of ingredients to make this version of spinach dip a real winner!
  3. Easy Cheesy Salsa Dip: Microwave 16 ounces of shredded Nacho-style cheese and 8 ounces of your favorite salsa together in a microwave-safe bowl on High for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave, stir, and return to High for 3 minutes or until cheese is completely melted. Serve corn chips—of course!
  4. Crab: “Here’s a delicious, piping hot crab dip, perfect for a winter gathering. The base is cream cheese, mayo and crab. It’s dressed up with green onions, parsley, horseradish – for kick, slivered almonds and Tabasco”.

Sweet Dips Recipes and Ideas

Keep in mind that dips can be sweet as well as savory.  Fruit Dip made with macaroons can be served in a bowl.

Or—for a really spectacular presentation—cut a whole pineapple in half lengthwise, scoop out the fruit and use the shell for your fruit dip!

Another sweet dip option is my Nutella Dip.

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Quick Tip:

If you simply have zero time to make a dip, you still have options. These days, your supermarket has interesting choices that can work in a pinch and still delight your guests. Hummus is popular and comes in interesting flavors — my favorites are red pepper or roasted garlic. You’ll typically find it in the veggie section of the store. Some companies are also making fresh onion dips . But at the end of the day, a simple Mexican salsa with tortilla chips works well, too.

Just be sure to take store-bought dips out of their original packaging and put them in an attractive bowl. Sometimes, presentation is the key to making store-bought taste a bit better.

Heck, you might even fool a few guests, too!

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Artichoke Dip

print recipe card posted in Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

Hot Artichoke Dip could easily be the BIG hit at your next party! It’s rich, creamy and smooth with just the right amount of tangy zip from the (canned) artichokes.
The only skills needed to make this dip are to be able to:

All of these steps could be done the day before your party!
Click the Recipe Card on the top of the post for the list of ingredients and amounts needed.

You could cook the bacon and the onion in a frying pan but I’m doing it in the microwave. Clean-up is much easier this way!

5 Slices of bacon will take about 5 minutes to cook in the microwave. Once cooled, chop the bacon up into crumbly, small bits.

Dice the onion. One medium onion equals approximately 1/2 cup of diced onion. One clove of garlic needs to get crushed. (That’s about 1 teaspoon of fresh garlic)

Put the onion and the garlic in a small bowl and add 1 teaspoon of butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Microwave the mixture on high for 1 minute to soften (or wilt) the onions. It will look like this:

Shred 8 ounces of Monterey Jack cheese and 1/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese. The Monterey Jack cheese will go into the mixture, and melts into a creamy and smooth consistency. The Parmesan cheese is for sprinkling on the top of the dip.

Parmesan (on the left) and Monterey Jack cheese

In a colander, drain 2 cans (14 ounce each) artichoke hearts and chop them up.

All of the above steps can be done the day before and the ingredients wrapped up and stored in the refrigerator.

The 8 ounces of cream cheese needs to be soft in order to blend it with the other ingredients. You can just let it sit (still wrapped) on the counter for about 2 hours. Or remove it from its packaging and put it on a plate. Then zap it in the microwave for about 30 seconds or until it is soft.

In a large mixing bowl, mix well the softened cream cheese, the shredded Monterey Jack cheese and 1/2 cup of mayonnaise.

It should look like this:

Now mix in the onions and garlic, and the chopped artichokes.

Spread the mixture into a 9-10 inch round baking dish. (The dip is going to be served in this dish as well, so be sure it looks nice!)

Sprinkle on the parmesan cheese…

and the bacon bits.

Now it is ready to go into your 350 degree preheated oven.

It will take about 30 minutes to cook. While it’s in the oven, cut some pita bread into triangles. (Tortilla chips also work really well with this dip.)

The dip is ready to come out of the oven when it is slightly puffed and the edges are just a little browned.

Enjoy!

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