Do you watch football?
For NFL lovers, this is an important time of year- it’s wildcard weekend. Games get exciting. It’s “do or die” for a handful of teams who need to WIN to get to the playoffs! No matter which team you root for (Go Pats), it’s going to be good football.
Football, friends/family, and food– they just GO together. If you’re hosting the big game at your house, I’ve got a few crowd-pleasing recipes that your guests will love. I made them all for our holiday party last month, and each was a hit! Bonus: you can make three of them ahead of time! On the menu: bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers, spicy Asian turkey meatballs, hot Asiago spinach dip, and a layered Greek dip. Hungry yet?
Jalapeño poppers are classic sports-watching food. I’d never made them before and was surprised at how easily they came together!
It’s easier to make a lot of these little guys if you set up an assembly line with the ingredients. The process is simple: cut a whole jalapeno in half; scrape out the seeds; smear a spoonful of cream cheese in each half, followed by a sprinkling of pepper jack cheese; wrap in bacon; and secure with a toothpick. Done.
Then, you just arrange them on a baking sheet and cook ‘em up until the bacon is crispy. Scrumptious! You can also freeze the wrapped jalapenos and have them on hand to bake as needed.
Next up: meatballs. These were a little more time-consuming to make, but everyone loved them! First, combine the ground turkey with sesame oil, ground ginger, a couple of eggs, some minced garlic and onion, Panko breadcrumbs, and sesame seeds. Roll out little one-inch meatballs and place them on a baking sheet. While they bake into golden deliciousness, start on the sauce!
In a bowl, combine hoisin, rice vinegar, plenty of Sriracha, minced garlic, soy sauce, ground ginger, and sesame oil. Adjust the heat to your liking. When the meatballs have cooled, put them in a big bowl and pour the sauce right over them! Carefully stir the meatballs so that each one is coated in sauce. At this stage, you can serve them right up- or pop them in a freezer bag and freeze them until game time. Heat these saucy meatballs in a skillet and you’re good to go!
Who doesn’t love spinach dip? I’ve been making this unique version for years, using various cheeses and hearts of palm. It’s a guaranteed hit and perfect for game day.
Start by thawing frozen chopped spinach. Squeeze as much moisture out of the spinach as you can. Chop up some garlic and drained hearts of palm. In a big bowl, combine shredded mozzarella and Asiago cheeses, sour cream, the garlic and hearts of palm, the spinach, fat free cream cheese, and some garlic-and-herb spreadable cheese (I use Boursin).
Spoon the dip into a greased baking dish, sprinkling plenty of Asiago cheese over the top. You can cover and freeze the dip at this stage, or pop it into the oven until the cheese is hot and bubbly and browning on top. Serve it with good tortilla chips and watch it disappear!
Last, everyone loves a classic Mexican 7-layer dip. I found a Greek version that was fresh and delicious!
This is the only appetizer that I’m sharing with you today that really should be made the day of the big game- you want the ingredients to be crisp and fresh. The “hardest” part of the recipe is making the cream cheese mixture. Combine whipped cream cheese, lemon juice, dried Italian seasoning, and minced garlic- that’s it! Spread the mixture on the bottom of your serving dish.
Next, spread prepared hummus over the cream cheese mixture. Continue adding the ingredients in layers: chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and crumbled feta cheese. I chopped up some fresh mint and sprinkled it over the top. Serve this dip with pita chips for a healthier alternative to the traditional layered dip. Yum!
Hosting a crowd can feel intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. I love finding recipes that I can make ahead, so I can enjoy time with my friends (instead of being stuck in the kitchen). These appetizers let you simultaneously be a good hostess and a good football fan!
Who’s hosting the big game at their house? What are your go-to crowd-pleasers? Share with me!
Here are the recipes I shared today (thank you!):
Bacon-wrapped Jalapeños from Better Homes
Saucy Asian Meatballs from Gimme Some Oven
Garlicky Spinach Dip with Hearts of Palm from Cooking Light
Layered Greek Dip from Garnish with Lemon
**One year ago: Sunshine, candles, and the wisdom of a Ferris wheel.
Hungry for more? Check out the FOOD BLISS link above!