The “Big Game” is on Sunday, February 5, and while millions will gather to watch football and clever commercials, millions more will be there for the food. Whether you’re hosting a game viewing party or a game-protesting movie marathon, easy-to-make yet delicious fare is sure to be a hit. This menu supposes a half-time or intermission buffet; round out your day with some snacks on the coffee table (a dip with chips and carrots along with party mix, for example) and a beverage or two and you’re all set. There’s a healthy chili (well, depending on how you garnish it it’s healthy!), a satisfying snacker sandwich and a tangy chopped salad. In other words, a little something for everyone!
Mom’s Mini Ham n’ Cheese
One bite of these tasty little sandwiches is a walk down memory lane for me. My mom came up with this combination, and this recipe is as close to authentic as I get it without my hometown bakery and butcher shop. We would set up an assembly line on the kitchen table and make dozens at a time when the bakery had the “right” rolls. I’ve tried everything from hamburger buns to croissants over the years, but the premade dinner rolls from the grocery store bakery seem to do the trick. These freeze beautifully and make great after school snacks or a quick “I’m too tired to cook” dinner with a simple green salad. (Try arugula drizzled with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.)
12 bakery dinner rolls
3/4 pound sliced deli ham
6 slices Swiss cheese
¼ c. plus 1 T. Miracle Whip® salad dressing (or mayonnaise)
2 T. yellow mustard
1 t. dry minced onion
Combine the Miracle Whip®, mustard and onion in a small bowl and set aside. Cut the rolls in half with a serrated knife
and separate the top and bottom; line up the cut rolls on a cutting board or counter top. Cut the cheese slices in half. To assemble the sandwiches, place 2 slices of ham (fold it to fit on the roll) on the bottom portion of each roll and top with ½ a slice of cheese folded in half. Spread the top portion of each roll with a scant teaspoon of the mustard sauce. Wrap each sandwich in a piece of aluminum foil. At this point, the sandwiches may be refrigerated overnight before an event or stored in the freezer for up to 2 months.
To serve, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake sandwiches 15 to 17 minutes until the center is piping hot. From frozen, bake 30 to 35 minutes. Serves 12 as an appetizer; 6 as a dinner portion
White Chicken Chili
Using a slow cooker is a smart play on game day: you can cook and serve your dish piping hot right on the buffet table. I like the idea of serving this super healthy chili in mugs since they’re easier to carry and hold on to while sitting on the couch.
2 T. olive oil
2 pounds ground chicken (or turkey)
2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 ½ c. frozen white petite corn
1 white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. salt
½ t. white pepper
1 T. dried oregano
1 T. chili powder
2 T. ground cumin
1 32 oz. box low-sodium chicken stock
1 bag fresh baby spinach
Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and the chicken. Cook the chicken, stirring frequently and mashing the chicken with a fork to separate it. Place the chicken the crock of a slow cooker (3.5 to 5 quart size) and add all remaining items except the spinach. Stir thoroughly to combine. Cook on low 10 to 12 hours; on high 5 to 6 hours. One hour before serving, taste and adjust seasonings. Add the spinach, one handful at a time, stirring after each addition. If the chili is too thin for your preference, thicken it by making a slurry: remove a ladle of hot liquid to a small bowl and whisk in 2 t. cornstarch. Stir the slurry into the chili; replace the cover and finish cooking.
Serve hot with one or more garnishes: shredded Monterrey Jack cheese; sour cream, chopped cilantro, lime wedges, chopped jalapenos, and crumbled tortilla chips. Serves 6 to 8.
A chopped salad is a perfect party food; since everything is already cut into bite-sized pieces, your guests don’t need a knife! This can be labor-intensive, so one option is to chop everything the morning of your event and store the ingredients in plastic bags until just before tossing and serving. This is also a good use of any leftover veggies, meats or cheeses in the fridge; substitute what you prefer or what you have on hand!
1 head iceberg lettuce
4 oz. hard salami or pepperoni
4 oz. block Swiss cheese
1 red pepper, diced
½ red onion, diced
1 14 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 c. cherry tomatoes, quartered
Wash and dry the lettuce; chop into bite-size pieces and place in a large serving bowl. Cut the salami and Swiss cheese into ¼ inch cubes and add to the bowl. Add remaining ingredients; toss well. Serve with honey-lime vinaigrette or a dressing of your choice on the side. Serves 6 to 8.
Juice and zest of 2 limes
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
Combine lime juice, zest, vinegar and honey in a bowl and whisk to combine. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the oil. Whisk until well-combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.