Super Bowl Sunday is one week from today, and whether you're a football fan or not, the big game is a great excuse to throw a party. This year is especially significant because a Georgia team is vying for the trophy. Let's go Atlanta Falcons!
Preparing festive food is never more appropriate than when it comes to an athletic event. Each year when the big game rolls around, I get excited thinking about how I can incorporate the colors of my favorite team into my Super Bowl spread. My husband and I usually get together with a small group of friends to watch the game, and sometimes it's just the two of us. No matter the size of the crowd, my menu remains simple, flavorful and typically includes some go-to replays: Buffalo chicken dip, chips and salsa and homemade guacamole. I like to decide on what to serve as a main course first, such as a big pot of chili or BBQ pork sliders, then build the rest of my menu from there. I also almost always bake something, like vanilla cupcakes with buttercream frosting. I add festive flair with team-specific colored sprinkles and football-themed toothpicks.
When it comes to entertaining, especially when you're the host, the most important thing to remember is to have fun! If you're stressed out, your guests will know it. One of the easiest ways to remain feeling calm about the party is to let the supermarket do some of the work. There's absolutely nothing wrong with making a few things from scratch and combining them with some ready-to-serve items you picked up from the grocery store. Also, put those kitchen appliances to work! Hosting a party is a great time to enlist your slow cooker. Here are a few examples of some semi-homemade or readymade items I purchase for my Super Bowl gathering:
• Hot Wings
• Celery and Cherry Tomatoes with Ranch Dressing
• Tortilla Chips and Chunky Salsa
• Chocolate Chip Cookies
• Honey Roasted Peanuts
When planning what to serve, be sure to think about balance: flavor balance and actual balancing! You don't want your guests juggling their drink, plate and a fork and knife to slice through something complicated. Think finger foods and snacks that are easy to eat singlehandedly. Flavored popcorn, spiced nuts and bite-sized desserts are great options. A balanced spread will include something sweet, salty and hearty.
As for beverages, pick up some plastic or tin tubs from a local retailer and fill them with ice. You can request that guests bring their own beer (BYOB) and as the host, you can provide some non-alcoholic options like tea or soft drinks too. To take the party up a notch, you could even serve a signature cocktail. A bloody Mary bar or ruby red sangrias would be perfect for raising a toast to the Falcons.
Let's hope the commercials aren't the only thing entertaining during the game between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons on Feb. 5. Here's to a good game and a fun, festive ending to another football season. For recipes from today's column and more, visit SomeKindaGood.com.
Buffalo Chicken Dip
You need only five ingredients to make this Some Kinda Good Buffalo Chicken Dip. The secret is to incorporate a little juice from the jarred jalapenos. You'll also want to use a shallow baking dish, such as an 8X8. Don't plan on any leftovers.
1 8 oz. block cream cheese, softened
1 10 oz. can of chicken, drained
1/2 cup ranch salad dressing
1/2 cup buffalo sauce, such as Texas Pete
1/2 to 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
5-6 jarred jalapeno peppers, chopped (optional)
1 tbsp. jarred jalapeno juice
Tortilla chips and celery for dipping
Soften cream cheese in the microwave, then spread evenly into an oven safe dish. Shred the canned chicken using two forks. Top the softened cream cheese with the chicken. Pour a 1/2 cup of ranch salad dressing over the chicken, spreading evenly. Repeat with the 1/2 cup of buffalo sauce, and spread evenly. Sprinkle with bits of jalapeno pepper. Top with cheese. Bake in a 425-degree oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling hot. If desired, garnish with whole jarred jalapeno peppers.
Georgia native Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a food enthusiast, aspiring cooking-show host and writer. The personality behind the blog SomeKindaGood.com, she is a graduate of Georgia Southern University and is currently a student at Savannah Technical College's award-winning Culinary Institute of Savannah. Search Facebook for Some Kinda Good or tweet her @SKGFoodBlog.