The Patriots have made it to the Super Bowl. Most people who will be enjoying the game have it easy. Plunk in front of the TV on game day and enjoy a colorful array of snacks along with a good beer.
The food preppers need to put a little more thought and work into it. One way to go is to ask friends to bring their specialty dish. On the Vineyard, if you’re lucky, that might be a local scalloper wrapping his or her fresh haul in bacon to bake. Maybe it’s a homemade venison chili or a nice smoked bluefish pâte.
This year, I suggest taking a look at Pinterest or the Internet, and plug in “super bowl party ideas” and images. Up pop hundreds of dishes. One that wowed me shows a rectangle guacamole football field, complete with yard lines carefully drawn with thin strips of sour cream and salsa-defined end zones. Surrounding the guacamole field is a stadium divided into segments, each filled with chips, pigs in a blanket, pretzels, Chex mix, cheese cubes, and so on.
Of course, you have to skip over the silly and unappealing suggestions — like Rice Krispies bites with blue and red coloring. But some of the ideas take your standard snacks and upgrade them with clever presentations. A Super Bowl nacho bar, for example, or individual dip cups, layered with guacamole, bean dip and sour cream topped with shredded cheese and chips. Deviled eggs, simply decorated with strips of chives arranged to resemble stitching on a football, is another simple idea.
On top of these, you’ll find dozens of dessert ideas blaring a Super Bowl theme. So take a look and have some fun with your pregame food plan.
Below are my recipe suggestions. It’s hard for me to take the total junk-filled route, so I’m going with tender Parmesan meatballs turned into mini meatball subs for a crowd; a homemade ranch dip with veggie sticks, and deviled football eggs.
Mini Meatball Subs for a Crowd
Makes 1 dozen
The idea here is to take a dozen snowflake rolls or slider buns that fit into a baking dish, top with these homemade meatballs, a simple flavorful tomato sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan, and pop into the oven for a pile of warm, cheesy mini-meatball subs. You can substitute ground turkey for beef.
1 pound ground chuck beef (85 percent)
⅓ cup freshly grated parmesan reggiano
⅓ cup fresh bread crumbs or pank
⅓ cup water
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley leaves
1 egg yolk
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
¾ tsp. kosher salt (½ teaspoon table salt)
Freshly ground black pepper
SIMPLE TOMATO SAUCE
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans (28 ounces) whole tomatoes, drained, roughly chopped in the food processor
2 tsp. dried oregano
large pinch of sugar
salt to taste
Fresh basil and/or fresh parsley, chopped
mozzarella cheese, shredded
Parmesan cheese, to taste
1 dozen snowflake rolls (preferable) or slider buns (both found at Stop & Shop)
For the meatballs: Combine all the ingredients (don’t forget the water, which helps tenderize) into a bowl and mix lightly. Form 12 to 15 meatballs. Preheat oven to 375°. Place meatballs on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or foil. Bake for about 15 minutes. Let cool.
For the sauce, add olive oil and garlic in a soup pot or large saucepan over low heat and sauté until garlic is golden, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, oregano, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer gently uncovered until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir in basil or parsley, and taste. Add additional salt if needed. Add the meatballs and refrigerate.
On game day when ready to complete, preheat the oven to 375°. Warm the meatballs in the sauce. Break the rolls apart, if attached, and place the bottom of the rolls in a lasagna-style baking pan. Top each roll with a meatball, a bit of sauce, a small handful of mozzarella and a sprinkling of Parmesan. Place the top buns over the meatballs and sprinkle a bit more Parmesan on the tops. Cover with foil and bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until hot.
Veggie Cups with Ranch Dip
Makes approximately 1 dozen cups
Individual veggie cups make a nice presentation and mean you can double-dip all you want. Use the short, clear plastic cups found at the supermarket. Present the finished cups on a nice, flat platter.
⅔ cup low-fat buttermilk
½ cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise
¼ plain yogurt (or sour cream)
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1½ Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. minced fresh chives or parsley (if available)
Veggies: cucumber, celery, carrots, red or yellow peppers, cut into uniform sticks
To make the dip, whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, yogurt, garlic and vinegar in a medium bowl. Whisk in oil until creamy. Season with salt, pepper, and chives.
Place a couple of tablespoons of the dip in each cup. Add one of each of the vegetables (carrot, cucumber, celery, and peppers) into a cup, for a total of 5 to 6 pieces. Place all the cups on a flat platter or 2 large plates.
Deviled Football Eggs
Makes 1 dozen footballs
6 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. fresh chives
Pinch of cayenne
Chives for football garnish
Place eggs in a medium saucepan and fill with enough cold water to cover the eggs by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. When the water begins to boil, turn off the heat and let eggs remain in pan, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove the eggs and place them in a bowl of cold water before removing the shells.
Carefully slice the eggs in half lengthwise. Remove the yolk and place in a small bowl. Mash well with a fork or muddler and mix in the mayonnaise, salt to taste, and a pinch of cayenne. Mix until smooth.
Place filling in a pastry bag and pipe back into the egg white.
To garnish, cut the chives into even pieces. Place one piece lengthwise, and then three shorter pieces crosswise to resemble the stitching on a football. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
This article by Catherine Walthers originally appeared on mvtimes.com.