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Big game weekend!

By Angie Sutton

www. mothersapronstrings.com

It’s the Big Game weekend, if you couldn’t tell by the TV sales, snack ads, pizza specials, and of all things, non-stop coverage on proper inflation of footballs.

Whether you tune in to see two teams battle for the Lombardi Trophy, the Katy Perry halftime show or you really don’t care who wins and just like to watch the commercials, the Super Bowl typically draws record viewers. Last year, more than 111 million people tuned in to see the Seahawks beat the Broncos.

The day after the Super Bowl is quickly becoming a favorite day for workers to take a vacation day, in part due to the gorging of food that happens on Super Sunday, or perhaps because of all the work it takes preparing to host family and friends.

If you’re gearing up to have a party for the Big Game, keep in mind a few tips to make sure your guests (and you) have a fun time cheering and discussing which whacky commercial is your favorite.

First, make sure you have enough variety of food for different tastes. Instead of just chips and salsa, consider adding a bean dip and cheese dip. Perhaps hummus and pita chips are something you’d like to try out. These can all be picked up ready-made at the grocery store to save time or you can follow one of the featured recipes.

Next, be ready for spills. They happen—always. We set a few rolls of paper towels in convenient locations so they’re quick to grab when the nacho cheese goes flying. The paper towels are to clean up what the dog doesn’t get to quickly enough.

You might also want to move non-essential furniture out of the living room to allow for plenty of seating.

Don’t skimp on the healthy stuff. My family might not ask for fruits and veggies, but if they are out, they seem to get gobbled up. They provide a pop of color to your offerings and you can even come up with some creative ideas. We like to put things on a stick. Well, bamboo skewers actually. A fun idea is to thread cubes of fresh pineapple, bananas and strawberries on a skewer and then dip them in chocolate. Top with shredded coconut for the banana split theme.

Make some of the items ahead of time and freeze until Sunday. It’s easy to pop in the oven to warm up. When your guests ask if you they can bring something, your first reaction may to be answer that you’ve got it. Honestly, your guests feel better about coming to a party if they can bring something along. I try to jot down a few concepts that I know will be easily portable for them. A bonus is that you get to try new recipes.

Take advantage of your slow cooker. Pulled pork sandwiches are always a hit, and you can do the legwork up early in the day and then concentrate on welcoming your guests and cheering at kick-off.

Stock up on extra ice. Even if you have a deluxe ice maker, grab a bag or two of ice from the store. You won’t regret it!

Think finger food. It helps make cleanup quicker too. Paper products are hands-down the way to go. Plastic cups with markers available to label them with names.

Food safety matters. Don’t let perishable food dishes sit out more than two hours. They make great leftovers, so just get them into the refrigerator. When preparing your food, make sure you are cooking your meat to the proper internal temperature. You can log on to http://homefoodsafety.org/ for many specific food safety tips. I have an extra box of one-gallon-sized resealable bags to send leftovers home with guests.

I hope these tips help you enjoy your day from kick-off to the cork popping.


Ultimate 7-Layer Dip

Make individual servings of these in small clear plastic cups. This is my basic recipe, and you can easily customize it by adding or swapping out ingredients. A pinch of cayenne pepper in the taco seasoning mix can kick it up a bit!

2 (16 oz.) cans refried beans
1/2 cup salsa, mild or medium
1 (1 oz.) package powdered taco seasoning
16 oz. sour cream
4 c. guacamole
1 1/2 c. Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 1/2 c. Monterey or pepper jack cheese, shredded
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
2 (4 oz.) cans of chopped black olives
1/2 c. chopped green onion

In a bowl, mix together the refried beans, half of the package of taco seasoning, salsa and 3 tablespoons of sour cream. Spread the mixture into a large rectangular glass dish. In a separate bowl mix the rest of the sour cream with the remaining taco seasoning. Spread the sour cream mixture on top of the refried beans. Spread guacamole on top of sour cream mixture. Sprinkle both kinds of grated cheese on top of the guacamole. Sprinkle evenly with tomatoes, olives and green onions. Chill in refrigerator for at least an hour before serving but overnight is best.


Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Source: Jeff Sutton, Manhattan, Kansas.

This is always served with a heap of coleslaw on a bun at our house. Serve with sliced pickles as an alternative.

3 Tbsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. salt
2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, peeled and quartered
3 to 3 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, cut in half

In a medium-size mixing bowl, stir together paprika, salt, fresh ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and dried thyme with a fork. Add in honey, vinegar and olive oil and stir to form a paste. Place onion on bottom of the slow cooker. Place the 2 pieces of pork on top of onions and then pour the honey paste over the pork pieces coating evenly. Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or until the meat is tender enough to be easily shredded with a fork.


Chocolate Cherry Bars

Line the pan with aluminum foil for easy removal of the bars for cutting.

2 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 1/4 c. butter, softened
1 can (21 oz.) cherry pie filling
1 tsp. almond extract
1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 c. vegetable shortening

In a bowl, combine flour, oats, sugar and butter until crumbly. Reserve 1 1/2 cups for topping. Press remaining mixture into an ungreased 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes. Edges will begin to brown. In another bowl, combine pie filling with extract. Lightly spread over the crust. Evenly sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture over the top of the filling. Bake another 20 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack. Melt the chocolate chips and shortening together in the microwave and stir until smooth. Drizzle over the top of the still-warm bars. Cool completely and cut into bite-sized pieces or small squares.


Cheese Ball

Source: Diane Meisinger, Hillsboro, Kansas.

I like this recipe because you can make it a few days ahead of time, and it is easy to transport if you’re headed to a party.

2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese

10-12 oz. Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 small can crushed pineapple, well drained
3 Tbsp. green onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
About 1 c. chopped pecans

In a large bowl, soften cream cheese in microwave until you can stir it. Add Cheddar cheese, crushed pineapple, onions and Worcestershire sauce and stir until well blended. Refrigerate for an hour and then divide into two balls. Roll each into finely chopped pecans until evenly covered. Serve with crackers. Keeps in refrigerator up to seven days.


Christmas Meatballs

Source: Mabel Penner, Whitewater, Kansas.

While the name implies they should be eaten during the holidays, these meatballs are hearty enough for the appetites at the big game. They transport and keep nicely in a slow cooker.

2 eggs
1 pkg. onion soup mix
1/2 c. seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 c. cranberries, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1 (16 oz.) can whole-berry cranberry sauce
3/4 c. ketchup
1/2 c. beef broth
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. onion, finely chopped
2 tsp. cider vinegar

In a bowl, combine eggs, soup mix, bread crumbs, cranberries and parsley. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into 1-inch balls; place 12 to 14 balls on a microwave safe plate. Cover with waxed paper, microwave on high 3 to 4 minutes or until no longer pink. Remove to paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining meat balls. In a 2-quart microwave safe baking dish, combine ketchup, beef broth, brown sugar, onion, and vinegar to make sauce. Cover and microwave on high for 3 to 4 minutes or until heated through, rotating once. Gently stir in meatballs. Cover and cook on high for 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through. Makes 3 dozen.


Creamy Crab Dip

Source: Joan Stegman, Offerle, Kansas.

1/4 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. sour cream
1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 (6 oz.) can white crabmeat, drained and picked over
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. red bell pepper, chopped
Salt and ground pepper

In a medium bowl, mix mayonnaise, sour cream, seasoning and lemon juice until smooth. Add crab, green onions, and bell pepper and stir until ingredients are well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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