Sunday, October 2, 2011

Football watch party ideas

If your house is anything like ours, most of our weekend is spent watching football.  College on Saturdays and NFL on Sundays, and we love to host watch parties at our place complete with a ton of food to snack on during the games.  Here are a few ideas from the past couple of weekends that I hope you enjoy.

Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip
Great way to use left over chicken breasts (I had some already cooked, diced, and in the freezer), plus this is a low-fat version of the dip and much healthier than the traditional buffalo chicken wing.
  • 2 cups of cooked chicken, shredded or finely chopped
  • 1/2 bottle (6 ounces) hot sauce (I used Red Hot, but you can also use less hot sauce if desired)
  • 1 (8 ounce) package of neufchatal cheese (reduced fat cream cheese), softened
  • 1 cup your favorite light bleu cheese or light ranch salad dressing (I used light Nature Fresh Bleu Cheese found in the produce section)
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded reduced fat cheddar or monterey (I used a combination of both, bu the key is reduced fat, made from 2% milk, makes the dip significantly less greasy than the traditional version) 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix chicken, celery, and cheese in a large bowl and set aside.  In a microwave safe bowl, heat the neufchatel for 30-45 sec until easily stirred with a spoon.  Add the dressing to the softened cheese and mix until combined.  Add hot sauce and combine again.  Then add sauce/dressing mixture to the chicken/cheese/celery and mix until incorporated.  Pour into a 9x9 square pan and bake for 20-30 minutes until bubbly but not brown. 
Serve warm with carrots, celery, cucumbers, tortilla chips, and crackers.  Yummy!!!

Sausage Bites
1 pkg of hillshire farms kielbasa 
your favorite mustard (we have a favorite spicy german mustard I get from a german specialty store, but any deli mustard will do)

Preheat the grill or grill pan over medium high heat.  Cut the sausage into 3 link, and then again length wise so each link is split down the middle.  Grill on both sides until slightly charred.  Cut into bite size pieces and serve with the mustard & tooth picks.

Cheese Platter
You have total freedom here to combine your favorite meats, cheeses, and accompanying topping and crackers.  One time a presented manchego, brie, and a balsamic parmasean w/prosciutto and chorizo, flat bread crackers.  Another time it was a merlot parmesean w/ proscuitto, salami, bruschetta, olives, flatbread crackers and baguette.  Just be creative and get what looks good.  You can always ask your grocer for cheese recommendations and samples.   

Vegetable Platter w/ Dip
I always want some veggies when I'm eating meats, cheeses and dips at a football party.  I usually put out a huge plate of carrots, celery, cucumbers, broccoli, sugar snap peas, and grape tomatoes with my favorite spinach dip (I make the spinach dip recipe on the back of the Knorr Vegetable soup mix - 1 pkg vegetable soup mix, 1 box of frozen spinach thawed and squeezed dry, 1 cup mayo, 1 cup sour cream.  I always use light sour cream to cut down on some calories but I can't stand the taste of light mayo).

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip
This was adapted from Alton Brown's recipe from the food network.  Again, I substitute light sour cream and use neufchatal cheese (light cream cheese) to cut down on some fat and calories.
  • 1 pkg chopped frozen spinach, thawed, drained, and water squeezed out
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 6 ounces neufchatal cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
 Heat cream cheese in microwave for 30 sec to 1 min or until soft.  Add sour cream and mayo and mix until smooth.  Stir in rest of ingredients and pour into a microwave safe dish.   Microwave on high 1 min at a time until hot and serve.  I like it with tortilla or pita chips, but also great with carrot sticks.  Keep in warm throughout the game by throwing it in your crockpot on warm.

Layered Taco Dip
A family favorite that is always a huge hit.  So simple yet such great flavors.
1 pkg cream cheese, softened (can use neufchatel again to lighten it up)
1 cup sour cream (option to use light again)
1 pkg taco seasoning mix
1 jar of your favorite salsa, the thicker the better
2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce (I usually buy the already shredded lettuce)
1 pkg of shredded cheddar or mexican blend cheese
1 small can of sliced black olives (optional)

In a medium sized bowl, blend cream cheese, sour cream and taco seasoning.  In a 9x9 or 13x9 inch baking pan, spread the cream cheese mixture evenly on the bottom.  Then spread the salsa on the top.  Then comes a layer of lettuce and cheese.  The olives go on top if you choose.  I usually serve the dip with tortilla chips but it also tastes great with celery sticks.

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