January 24, 2012

Game Day Goodies vs. New Years Resolutions

Because I'm a neurotic Giants fan, and because I feel the need to brag just a little bit, I MUST say this once before I get to the meat of this post....


Sunday, January 22nd, was a great day for Giants fans everywhere. Of course, there were only two of us loyal fans at my apartment, surrounded by a motley mix of other people, but Jackie and I get the bragging rights today. Our boys in blue brought it home, and the Giants are going to the SuperBowl! Here's a quick look at the defining moment of the game (just in case you missed it):

There is the field goal that ensured victory. In about two weeks, the Giants face down the Patriots... is this to be a repeat of 2007, SuperBowl XLII? Let's hope so! 

Alright, alright... I'm done crowing for now, but prepare for the onslaught when the Giants win again. (Or for my moaning and groaning if they lose). You've been warned.

My intention today was to provide you with several recipes for great food to serve on game day. Normally, I make fairly typical football food, with my own special twist. No worries, you're still going to get some great recipes. But you're also going to get some basic idea templates that you can customize to your own tastes. 

This year, my game day food was doing battle with the dreaded "New Years Resolution".  Some of the most popular resolutions are: 
                                                  a) Spend more time with family/friends
                                                  b) To get fit/lose weight. 
                                                  c) Quit smoking (or other unhealthy habits)
                                                  d) Get out of debt

Care to guess which resolution was fighting with my football goodies? In this scenario, I am the nefarious villain, out to destroy all willpower with my heinous weapons of butter and chocolate. Oh, and don't forget the nachos! Mwahahahahahaha!  

I had the choice to be good or to be downright evil. Sigh. 

This year, I voted for good. Even though I've made a few questionable menu choices, I'm going to provide all the healthy options for those of you with a resolution to keep. Some of these are so simple, they don't even require cooking! 

I'm starting with the most evil thing on the menu. If you lose all willpower, dash to the store for ingredients, make a dozen of these, and then eat them all? Don't come around blaming me! 

First on our list today... 

Chocolate "footballs" 

Chocolate Covered "Footballs", aka strawberries. Fruit is healthy, right?! Plus, if you use dark chocolate, that makes this heart-healthy too, doesn't it? (Nod your head yes, then pretend I know what I'm talking about). 

 This really is a fun and simple way to impress your game day guests. All you have to do is wash your strawberries, then dry them completely. Melt some of your favorite chocolate (I really do like dark the best!) in a small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Be careful not to burn your chocolate! You can add a bit of shortening if you want, but it's not necessary. Then, just dip in your strawberries, and place them on some wax paper to cool. I toss mine in the fridge for about 30 minutes to speed that process along. I have a very impatient nature when it comes to chocolate and strawberries. 

When the chocolate has hardened, melt a tiny bit of white chocolate and place it in a piping bag. Add the football lines and laces, cool again, and voila! Chocolate Covered Footballs. (Hint: If you don't have white chocolate, I bet some royal icing would work fine too!)

Since I seem to be taking this meal backwards, we'll proceed to the main source of sustenance for our day. Normally, I go a little crazy cooking, but it's been a hectic week. Plus, there was all that New Years Resolution mumbo jumbo. In the end, I ditched the zillion calorie feast and prepared something much more basic, which also turned out to be a heck of a lot more satisfying. 

Ta da! It's a create-your-own salad bar! 

The best part about this? Absolutely no cooking. Unless, of course, you are like me and insist on 'real' bacon bits. That might require a few minutes with some pig and a skillet. But that's it. Seriously. 

Here's a rundown of our salad bar ingredients: 

(3) types of greens: Romaine, Baby Spinach, and Spring Mix

 Toppings: Cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded carrots, green apple slices, corn, bacon bits, diced ham and turkey, pepperoni, garbanzo beans, artichoke hearts, radishes, broccoli, green pepper, sunflower seeds, croutons, red onion, mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, and golden raisins

Cheese: Cheddar, Feta, Parmesan, and Blue Cheese

Dressings: Ranch, Honey Mustard, Caesar Vinaigrette, Spicy French, Poppyseed, Chipotle Ranch, Basil Parmesan Vinaigrette, Italian, and Asiago Peppercorn  

You can customize this any way your heart desires. Go big, go small, try new things... and be sure to buy paper plates. Next time, I might try make-your-own sandwich stations. Fun, right?

SO. That was healthy, in keeping with the New Years Resolutions. The last item on my backward menu isn't always healthy, but can be made that way with the right choices. (P.S. I completely lost my head and forgot to take a photo! Whoops, my bad!) 

My favorite appetizer was inspired by fellow Giants fan, Jackie. She brought a similar dish to my home once, and I haven't been able to let it go since. It's amazingly delicious, and I was dying to put my spin on it. 

Ready for it? 

Buffalo Chicken Dip. Yum, yum, yum! It's hot wings without the mess. And, it's super easy to make in a pinch (*Note: I made this recipe for another post, and the instructions there are easier to understand and more detailed… check the link here!)

Start with 2 cups of cooked and shredded chicken. I poach a few chicken breasts, then shred them myself, but you can use the stuff in the cans if it's easier. Healthy so far.... 

Next, place two blocks (8 ounces each) of cream cheese in a saucepan or your crockpot, over medium-low heat. I use the "light" version, but you can always go the "fat free" route. To that, add 1/2 - 3/4 cup of Frank's hot sauce (or your favorite brand). If you like it less spicy, go for the 1/2 cup. 

Still pretty healthy if you make the right choices.

Mix the cream cheese and hot sauce around until melted and combined. Next, stir in 8 ounces of sour cream. Again, I usually go with "light", but you can cut a lot of calories with the "fat free". Stir in 1 ounce of dry ranch dressing mix, then about a cup of grated cheddar cheese. Once the cheese melts, stir in your shredded chicken. Warm through. 

And... you're done! Typically, I would serve this with tortilla chips, but it is complete perfection with celery sticks. Wings, celery, and dipping sauce all in one handy mix!  

Minus the chocolate, this game day celebration was not only fun, but no one had to break their good intentions. All in a day's work around here. 

So, sayonara, alvederzane, and I'll see you later! Miss me while I'm gone  :)  

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