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Big game noshes

By Angie Sutton

www.mothersapronstrings.com

It's not a big game without awesome snacks! The ideas are an endless list of salty, sweet, portable, dippers, crispers and soups.

The key to having everyone enjoy the evening is using disposable everything. Prepare chip and cut veggie dip in individual plastic cups for easy serving. Your guests will appreciate how portable these are and avoid mixing their baked beans with sour cream dip. If you can serve it on stick, then do it. Toothpicks and bamboo skewers can tame cheese cubes and cut fresh fruit. Place a large trash can, with a fresh liner, nearby so guests can dispose of their used plates more conveniently.

Decor can be as simple as using a color theme for your tablecloth and service. Make little table tents to label each dish as guests bring their contribution. The discount store is a good place to find football-themed thermal can covers to give to each guest as well as other gridiron goodies. Borrow the kid's chalkboard to add to the theme with a play of your own!

These tips and recipes will guarantee your goodies will be gone by half-time!


Big Game Pretzel Bars

The combination of sweet and salty makes this bar the perfect defensive play during the big game.

Ingredients:

2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 (12-oz.) bag bittersweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 c. pretzels, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. chocolate sprinkles

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-by-13-inch cake pan with parchment paper, allowing overhang on the long ends.

2. In a medium bowl, stir or sift the flour, baking soda and salt.

3. Using a stand mixer, cream the butter with both sugars. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. At low speed, mix in the dry ingredients. Stir in the chips and pretzels.

4. Spread batter in the pan and top with the sprinkles. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden; the center will still be a little gooey. Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool completely.

5. Run the edge of a knife around the side of the pan and lift the bar out using the parchment paper. Cut into 24 squares or 48 bite-sized pieces.


Ultimate Baked Beans

These baked beans are packed with everything you need for kickoff!

Ingredients:

1. lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. bacon, diced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. packed light brown sugar
1/4 c. ketchup
1/4 c. barbecue sauce
1 Tbsp. prepared yellow mustard
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 (15.5-oz.) can pork and beans, undrained
1 (15.5-oz.) can light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15.5-oz.) can great northern beans, rinsed and drained

Directions:

1. In a large skillet, brown ground beef, bacon and onion until meat is done and onion is translucent and tender. Drain.

2. Combine remainder of ingredients, except beans, in a bowl. Add to meat mixture and mix well.

3. Stir in beans.

4. Dump in a greased 2.5 quart baking dish. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour.

Apron Strings Tips:

This dish can be put in a slow cooker on low setting for three hours instead of in the oven. This makes it easy to serve and keep warm from the buffet table during before and during the game. Offer a large ladle for ease of serving. This recipe can be doubled and put in a roaster on 350 degrees F. for an hour and then moved to the buffet table. This dish is packed with enough meat and beans to make it a stand alone main dish.


Bacon-Wrapped Little Smokies with Pineapple

Ingredients:

1 pkg. beef little smokies
1 pkg. bacon
1 fresh pineapple
1 c. light brown sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Peel and cut pineapple into bite-sized pieces.

3. Cut each strip of bacon into thirds.

4. Wrap each smokie with a piece of bacon, top with a piece of pineapple and secure the bundle with a toothpick. Line them up on a cookie sheet.

4. Crumble about 1 cup of brown sugar across the top of the bundles (I like to press some into the pineapple). Broil for 5 minutes at 425 degrees F and then turn oven to 400 degrees F and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.

Apron Strings Tips:

Soak your toothpicks in water for 10 minutes before using in the oven. Avoid colored toothpicks as the color will leach onto your pineapple. The fruit combined with the bacon gives this a fresh taste. If fresh pineapple is not available, canned will do.

Not a pineapple fan? Simply wrap your little smokies with bacon and place them on the baking sheet. Melt one stick of unsalted butter in the microwave and mix 1 c. light brown sugar in it until the sugar is dissolved. Pour this mixture over the bacon-wrapped smokies. Then evenly spread 1 additional cup of light brown sugar over the top. Bake as directed in the above recipe.

Peppered bacon is a great way to kick up the taste of this fan favorite!

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