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Super Bowl Prep

Posted by Reese On February - 4 - 2010

As I explained last year, I’m not really a football fan.  But, with the coming of Super Bowl XLIV I thought you might be looking for some suggestions on food and drinks.  Last year I offered some advice to lead you in the right direction.  Here are some quick links to last year’s posts to get you in the mood.

Drinks:

Food:

Of the options I’ve listed above my favorite drink choice is definitely the DIY Highball Bar.  It gives your guests a lot of drink options and let’s each person customize the drink to their liking.  As for food, I’d go for lasagna this year.  It’s simple, super tasty and just sounds really good right now.  Well, I hope this has given you some direction.  Enjoy Super Bowl Sunday everyone!

Super Bowl XLIII Food #5: Sweets

Posted by Reese On January - 30 - 2009

As you may have gathered from this week’s other food posts I firmly believe that no matter how healthy you eat the rest of the year, a Super Bowl party is no place for salads and rice cakes.  That said, there is one key category I haven’t touched on as yet, sweets.  I can say with near absolute certainty that if a dessert is present to me I’m going to love it.  That’s just how I am.  What about your party though?  What are your guests going to want and like?  Not surprisingly I have some thoughts on that.

Think homemade.  Even if its something dirt simple I think it always has a bigger impact if you put some effort in to it.  Like the other foods this week, I’d stick with something fairly simple and quick, unless you can make it the day before.  If that’s the case, go nuts.  Some quick, easy options:

Cupcakes - Tiny cakes are always good.  Get a good quality mix, or make them completely from scratch.  For the frosting I’d highly recommend whipping up a batch of your own as it will always taste better than the tubs of frosting you can buy.  My personal favorite is carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  So good.

Brownies - Another one you could buy at the store but will be much better made at home, even from a mix.  I usually reach for the Ghirardelli Double Chocolate brownie mix and throw in about 1/2 – 1 cup of walnuts.

Cookies - You name it and they’re going to be awesome.  Were I coming to your house for a party I’d vote for some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that are still a little moist in the middle, but that’s just me.  Colton suggested some sugar cookies iced to look like tiny footballs.  Although they do sound good, it sounds like a lot more work than I’d be willing to put in to sugar cookies.

Chocolate Fondue - This is Lucas’ choice for this year.  He’ll be serving it with fruit and cookies for dipping.  Some other tasty dipping options are pound cake and marshmallows.  If you’re wanting to booze this one up you could also add a bit of a flavorful liqueur to your dipping chocolate.  Amaretto and Kalhua spring to mind as winners.

Those are all great options but I have one final suggestion that ties in to the theme of a Super Bowl in Florida.  Make up a homemade key lime pie or two.  If you’ve never had real key lime pie made from scratch you are missing out on some serious deliciousness.  Below is the recipe I was given via a food newsgroup back in the mid 90’s when the internet was just getting rolling.  It’s always come out fantastic and I’ve never felt the need to change it up.

palmtrees500

Key Lime Pie
4 Egg Yolks
1 14 oz Can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 cup Key Lime Juice (I use Nelly and Joe's)
Zest of One Lime
8" or 9" Graham Cracker Crust
Fresh Whipped Cream
1) Preheat oven to 350F
2) Combine yolks, condensed milk, lime juice and zest with a mixer.
3) Pour the filling in to the crust and smooth with a spatula.
4) Bake for 15-20 minutes to firm filling.
5) Chill for at least an hour.
6) Top with fresh whipped cream.

Some quick comments on this recipe.  The filling that results from this recipe will only fill about 1/2 of the pie shell, the other 1/2 can be filled with whipped cream.  However, what I usually do is double the recipe so that it fills the crust completely and bake for 30-40 minutes.  Then still top the slices with fresh whipped cream.  Another twist is you can chiffonade mint and add it to the whipped cream once you’ve gotten to firm peaks.  This adds another layer of flavor and works well with the lime.

Super Bowl XLIII Food #4: Sliders

Posted by Reese On January - 29 - 2009

Take a moment to look at the picture below, what do you see?  A white castle?  Good.  Now let’s do some word association.  What’s the first thing that pops in to your head when you hear the words “White Castle”?  If you immediately said sliders then allow us to continue on.  If not, please take a moment to bring yourself up to speed.  White Castle’s signature food is the slyder, a diminutive hamburger meant to be consumed in multiples (like 6 or 47, if you’re bold).  I claim sliders (the other spelling being trademarked) are a perfect Super Bowl party food and can easily be made at home.

whitecastle500

Sliders are great for a party.  The ingredients are pretty cheap, they’re quick to make, go down easy and you can spice them up in a zillion different ways.  Viola! Great party food.  The first thing you’re going to want to consider when making your slider shopping list is the buns.  Keeping in mind that a standard slider is much smaller than your typical hamburger, standard hamburger buns are going to be much too large.  A couple ready options do exist.  You could go with premade (or bake yourself) dinner rolls which are tasty, but I think there is a better solution, Hawaiian rolls.  King’s Hawaiian makes rolls that are light, fluffy and lightly sweet.  A perfect pairing for the beefiness to come.

Next on the shopping list is meat.  The default is beef, but you could easily use pork, lamb, turkey, chicken or some combination of your own design.  My preference is beef though.  I’d recommend going with something on the fattier side as it will make your final burgers juicier and more flavorful.  My choice would be something like 80/20 or 85/15.  If you wanted to get really in to the meat you could even ask your butcher to grind a special cut for you.

Like other foods we’ve talked about this week there are numerous recipes for how to flavor and form the patties.  Being a huge Good Eats fan my recomendation would be Alton’s recipe.  If you’d like more info on exactly how he makes and cooks his sliders check out the Man Food Episode here and here.  Alton cooks his on a griddle, but you could just as well use a frying pan or even broil them.  I wouldn’t suggest grilling them since they’re so thin, probably have too much break up.

Finally you have to think about toppings.  As you well know there are nearly unlimited options on how to top a burger.  Some suggestions and links to recipes are below.

I could probably go on for another 5 pages, but I think you get the picture.

Finally, you’re going to want some sides.  There are of course the classics: potato salad, baked beans, pasta salad, potato salad, etc.  But, I’d say if you’re going to the effort to make sliders and have some cool toppings then change up the sides as well.  If you like chips try a chip you’ve not had like taro, plantain, lotus root or sweet potato.  If you’re in to potato or pasta salad cruise around the web and find an interesting recipe you’ve not had before.  Or, say to hell with all this fancy crap, make the classic recipes and enjoy the hell out of them.  Whatever you decide to do I’m sure you and your guests won’t be disappointed with these.

Super Bowl XLIII Food #3: Finger Foods

Posted by Reese On January - 28 - 2009

Generally when I think Super Bowl party I’m not thinking so much about a big meal so much as a bunch of tiny snack foods throughout the game.  Snacks are great because you can make a range of different items and people can munch to their hearts content.  Clearly it would be impossible for me to go over all the possible finger foods you could make so I’ll touch on some of the ones I like best and some of the tried and true favorites.

wings

Little Smokies - These are an absolute classic.  The general plan is to dump some Little Smokies into a pot, toss in some flavorful sauce and cook them on low until you’re ready to eat.  There are about 14 hojillion recipes for the sauce, but of them all this one sounds the best to me.  One of the recipes calls for chili sauce and grape jelly.  If anyone has an idea what chili sauce is, let me know. I have no idea.  Another classic use for the Smokies is tiny Pigs in a Blanket, always tasty.

Water Chestnuts and Bacon - A coworker recommended this recipe.  Although I’ve never had it, I am a huge fan of bacon, so I’m in.  Buy some whole water chestnuts (3 cans) and some lean bacon (2 packages, turkey works good).  Wrap each water chestnuts in a half slice of bacon, secure with a tooth pick.  Bake chestnuts on a cookie sheet for 45 minutes at 400, turn after 30 minutes.  Mix up 1 1/2 cups of white sugar and 1 1/2 cups of ketchup.  Place chestnuts in a baking dish, cover with sauce.  Bake at 350F for an additional 15 minutes.

Chicken Wings - Okay, so yeah, hot wings are a whole new level of awesome.  The classic sauce is mixture of butter and Frank’s Red Hot.  There are however a lot of other sauces you can choose from.  I just saw an episode of Good Eats that had a great method for cooking the wings without a deep fryer.  Here is Alton’s recipe and you can watch the video here and here if you like.

Baked Havarti - This is another old family favorite and its dirt simple to make.  Buy two tubes of crecent roll dough and a block of havarti cheese (I like havarti with dill for this).  Slice the cheese in to four equal slices (should be about 2″x3.5″x.5″).  Unroll one package of rolls and place the full sheet on a baking sheet.  Place the cheese in the middle, side to side, cap with the other sheet of dough.  Bake at 350F until golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Slice and enjoy.

Guacamole - No party is truly complete without guac.  This is another favorite that has many many recipes.  Here is one recipe that is good.  The recipe calls for either lemon or lime juice.  I’d go with lime, more of a classic flavor that way.  Another option is to buy the prepackaged guac in the produce section of your grocery store.  Side note, it’s good I’m not a food blogger or I might get strung up for that one.

Salsa - This goes hand in hand with guac.  If you’re going to buy premade get the stuff in the refrigerated cases.  Since these haven’t gone through the canning (jarring) process they don’t have to be cooked.  This will result in a fresher tasting salsa.  Seriously though, salsa is another one of those items that is really quite easy to make once you get the hang of it.  Here is a good basic salsa recipe.  From this you can branch off in any number of directions.  Add some fruit perhaps, other veggies, more chiles (yes please!), anything you like.

Cheese Dip - Or as Ted always called it, Spicy Chez.  This is another one that would get my foodie card taken away were I food blogger, but hey, it works for me.  Take a small loaf of Velveeta or a half of a large loaf and chop in to 1/2 inch cubes.  Place in a sauce pan with one can of Rotel tomatoes, your choice on the heat (go hot).  Melt over medium heat until creamy and combined.  If you want to make this a little more interest consider adding some cooked chorizo, ground beef or pork, or other sausage.

Popcorn - Don’t over look this simple snack.  The great part about popcorn is that it’s relatively healthy.  Since your guests are likely to be snacking for quite some time with popcorn they can eat a bunch and not consume a huge amount of calories.  If you’re looking to spice things up a bit try sprinkling some spices (chili powder or cayenne would be tasty) over the top of the freshly popped popcorn.  The small bit of oil (assuming you’re using microwave popcorn) on the corn should help the spices stick.

Clearly there are a lot that I’ve missed and I’ve really only glossed over those that I have suggested.  As with the other posts, if you have suggestions, by all means send them my way.

Super Bowl XLIII Food #2: Chili

Posted by Reese On January - 27 - 2009

When I hear someone mention the Super Bowl the first thing that springs to mind is cold.  Seems to make logical sense since the game is played in the middle of the winter.  Now, this year certainly isn’t the best example seeing as the game is being played in Tampa, FL where the temperature on game day is supposed to be in the high 60’s.  Not exactly wintery.  But, I’m guessing that a large portion of the viewers will be somewhere wintery.  So this post goes out to you.

snow

On a cold day there is nothing tastier than a well prepared bowl of chili.  To be clear, I’m not talking about Chili Verde or Texas beef chili here.  I’m talking all American chili with beans, meat and sauce.  This dish fits our criteria perfectly since the initial prep is very minimal, it can cook all day on the stove or in a crock pot and is ready whenever folks are ready to eat.

Where to begin though?  There are so many options.  If I can be perfectly honest with you all, I generally wing it when I’m making chili.  I buy some meat (beef, pork, turkey, chorizo, you name it), some beans (pinto usually) and some tomato sauce.  I sautee up an onion, a couple peppers and some garlic.  Add that mixture to my crock pot and add all the remaining ingredients.  Then I start adding herbs and spices; chili powder, cayenne, cumin, oregano, and salt to name a few.  Lid it up and let the whole deal cook for a while tasting it about once an hour and adjusting my seasoning appropriately.  If it needs to be a bit thinner I’ll add some chicken stock, thicker, some tomato paste.

I’m guessing however, that my method isn’t going to help you make chili for the first time so here are a few recipes that I think look good.

Halftime Chili

Boilermaker Tailgate Chili

Smokin’ Scovilles Turkey Chili

There are tons of ways to make this dish all your own.  Change up the meat; beef, pork, chicken, sausage, even faux meat, the sky truly is the limit on that one.  Vary your beans; nearly any beans can make a good chili.  Finally the most closely guarded secret of the chili masters is the spice blend.  Add what you like, make it scorching hot, or mild but super flavorful.

Another take away from this post is that Chili isn’t the key here, its the class of food, stew/soup.  There are a nearly endless number of recipes that you could make for the big game that would be just as easy to prep as this one.  Maybe a beef stew, chicken chowder, seafood chowder, jambalaya, you name it.  Hope this has inspired you to get your crock pot fired up.

Drop a comment below if you’ve got some awesome recipes I should know about.  I’m always up for fantastic food.