It’s a coin toss-up. Which gets more attention during football season: The delicious dish you made or the action on the big-screen TV?
It’s safe to assume attention will be divided and food is the half-time entertainment. It’s hard to compete when diehard fans are jumping across the family room floor because of an off-sides call. Still, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t come up with a few recipes that might be cause for a pause with the remote.
Whether you’re making a full-blown meal that can be eaten off TV trays or contributing an appetizer to the party buffet or coffee table, here are four recipes worth trying. All of them are meant to feed a small crowd.
Ham-Cheddar Cheese (Foot)Ball
This cheese ball will impress not just because of flavor, but because of its notable shape. Football fans will smile and dig in.
1/2 pound thinly sliced deli ham
1/2 medium onion, cut into wedges
2 cups (8 ounces) finely shredded Cheddar cheese
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, cubed
1 cup chopped pecans
1 slice Swiss cheese
Place ham and onion in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Add Cheddar cheese; pulse until blended. Add cream cheese; process until smooth.
Shape cheese mixture into a football; press pecans into cheese mixture. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Cut Swiss cheese into strips; arrange over top for laces. Serve with crackers. Yield: 4 cups.
When you taste this casserole, you’ll think it came from a complicated, from-scratch recipe. Really, though, it starts with frozen ravioli and has only three other ingredients. If you’re serving a crowd, make a double batch.
1 pound ground beef
1 jar (28 ounces) spaghetti sauce
1 package (25 ounces) frozen sausage or cheese ravioli
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. In a greased 2 1/2-quart baking dish, layer a third of the spaghetti sauce, half of the ravioli and beef, and 1/2 cup cheese; repeat layers. Top with remaining sauce and cheese.
Cover and bake at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until heated through.
Yield: 8 servings, each 1 1/2 cups with 438 calories, 18 grams fat, 77 mg cholesterol, 1,178 mg sodium, 42 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams sugars, 5 grams fibe, 26 grams protein.
Buffalo Wing Bites
This is the no-fuss, no-mess way to eat spicy buffalo chicken without the wings.
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix, divided
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup low-fat milk
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, optional
1 1/4 cups finely chopped cooked chicken breast
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded Cheddar-Monterey Jack cheese mix
1/4 cup Buffalo wing sauce
1 tube (13.8 ounces) refrigerated pizza crust
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, combine Parmesan cheese and 1 teaspoon dressing mix. In another bowl, mix mayonnaise, milk and remaining dressing mix. If desired, stir in blue cheese. Refrigerate until serving.
2. In a large bowl, mix chicken, Cheddar-Monterey Jack cheese and wing sauce. On a lightly floured surface, unroll pizza crust dough and pat into a 14-by-12-inch rectangle. Cut into 24 squares.
3. Place 1 rounded tablespoon chicken mixture on the center of each square. Pull corners together to enclose filling; pinch to seal. Place 1 inch apart on greased baking sheets, seam side down. Brush tops with butter; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese mixture.
4. Bake 15-17 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with dressing.
Makes 2 dozen, each bite (not including 2 cups dressing) with 165 calories, 12 grams fat, 18 mg cholesterol, 374 mg sodium, 9 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram sugar, 5 grams protein.
Spicy Ancho Beef Stew
This is a hearty stew with some serious flavor, perfect for serving up in bowls with crusty bread.
1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces uncooked chorizo sausage or other sausage, casings removed
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ancho chile pepper
2 teaspoons Mexican-style chile powder or chili powder
12-ounce bottle dark Mexican beer, such as Negra Modelo
14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Season stew meat with salt; set aside.
In a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven, cook the sausage over medium-high heat until browned. Remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Add beef in batches to pan and sear until deep brown all over, about 5 minutes per side. Remove beef to bowl with sausage.
Add onion to pot; cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
Stir in flour, ground ancho chile pepper and chili powder; cook 1 minute.
Add beer and undrained tomatoes. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 1 minute.
Return sausage and beef to pot, pushing beef into the liquid. Stir in potatoes, carrots and just enough water to cover the vegetables (about 2 cups). Return to boiling. Cover and bake 4 hours or until vegetables and meat are fork-tender. Spoon off excess fat before serving.
Makes 8 servings, each 1 1/2 cups with 391 calories, 15 grams fat, 79 mg cholesterol, 894 mg sodium, 32 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 4 grams sugar, 29 grams protein.