Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Superbowl Recap (the food, I mean)

By now we all now which way the game went. Frankly, I couldn't care less - I watch for the commercials ;-) You may or may not have already been witness to my vent about the hullabaloo over a certain commercial (if not, you can read it here). This year's commercials were a bit... odd. Did you think so? A lot of dark, sad stuff. Anyway, moving on to the FOOD!

I spent quite a bit of time planning out this year's party eats... I wanted to be free to enjoy the day (and the food), so it had to be self-serve, healthy, and have a long counter-life, lol. Enter the Nacho Bar! Wooohoo! I'd seen quite a few nacho bar ideas on Pinterest lately, and had a LOT of fun building my own. Even Dex got in on it!

The day before the big game, I precooked the taco meat and the chili meat, shredded the cheeses, and made the cheesecake (my once a year treat).

Sunday morning, I chopped the veggies, started the crockpots, set stuff up and was a little shocked to find myself done! It was so easy!

Here you can see my crockpots - one had bison chili, the 3-top had bison taco meat (ground bison browned with Mrs Dash Taco Seasoning), refried beans and shredded chicken, and the last one kept our real nacho cheese sauce (recipe below) warm all day.

Here's what the table looked like with all the toppings in place...

Fun, right? I had a tray of lettuce, one of shredded cabbage, then all the veggie fixings. Filling, tasty, healthy. BOOM. Mission accomplished. It was actually kinda funny - one of our friends said late in the day, "Chelle, I'm really glad you didn't decide to do something healthy for the food... this is fantastic!"


Here's the lineup...
bison taco meat, shredded chicken, and bison chili were the protein stars, then I had sliced mini peppers, Tostito's scoops (for the kids), and Tostito's Natural Corn Chips. Toppings included clean sour cream (no crap fillers or chemicals), plain greek yogurt (I use that instead of sour cream - same flavor but more protein), 3 different salsas, hot sauces, sliced olives, green onion, red onion, tomatoes, black beans, corn, cilantro, guacamole (clean - just avocado, onion and spices), limes, refried beans, shredded sharp cheddar & pepper jack, and homemade nacho cheese sauce.

In addition, I whipped up a new recipe from Pinterest - Beer candied bacon. It went so fast that I didn't even get to taste it! LOL!

Beer Candied Bacon
by Tide and Thyme

1 lb. thick cut bacon (I used applewood smoked, uncured bacon)
1/2 cup brown sugar (I used Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Dark Brown Sugar )
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp dark beer (I used this )

Preheat oven to 400 F, then mix together brown sugar and beer until it forms a thin syrup.
Now line a baking sheet with foil, place a wire cooling rack on top - lay the slices of bacon over the rack, overlapping a bit if necessary.
Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and brush your syrup over the tops of the strips, then flip them over and brush the other side.
Return to oven and repeat process every 5-10 minutes, until the bacon is crispy and browned.
Cool on the wire rack for at least an hour before serving.

It's all about the beer on this one... I would imagine Guiness would be an excellent choice, though I went with a coffee-flavored stout I found at Whole Foods in the single-bottle area. I hear the final result was phenomenal, I'll have to make it again sometime so I can try it, lol.

The other big star recipe was the Homemade Nacho Cheese Sauce. OMG! I don't think I've ever had a real nacho sauce - just the canned crap or the velveeeta stuff. I really wanted to do a clean and whole-food one, but have always been a little afraid to try - cheese is so touchy when you cook with it. Well, over on Fifteen Spatulas, I found this gem of a recipe and it was incredible! It only took 10 minutes to cook!!!! I made 2 batches, poured them into my dip crockpot, and by the end of the game it was all GONE! Everyone raved over it.

You can easily switch it up by changing what cheeses you use, I went with a simple sharp aged cheddar, but you could do pepper jack, smoked gouda and sharp cheddar, gruyere... lots of options. The key is to buy your cheese in block form (mine was only $3 for 8 oz at Albertsons), and shred it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese has stuff in it to keep it from clumping - that'll inhibit the creamy melty'ness you're going for here.

I used my trusty cast iron, and was amazed at how quick it came together!

It's almost done! Whew, that was FAST!!!
Homemade Nacho Cheese Sauce
by Fifteen Spatulas

2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp flour (I used King Arthur All Purpose Unbleached Flour )
1 cup whole milk
1/4 tsp sea-salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
8 oz block sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Melt the butter in a medium size skillet over medium flame. Once the butter is melted add the flour. Whisk until it combines into a smooth blond paste and starts to bubble around the edges.

Add the milk to the skillet and continue whisking. Once the milk is incorporated, raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Once the milk has reached a boil, quickly lower the heat and reduce to a simmer. Allow the sauce to thicken slightly.

Add the cayenne pepper and salt and whisk to combine.

Add the cheese and gently stir, allowing the cheese to melt. When the cheese is completely melted and the mixture smooth in consistency, the nacho cheese sauce is ready to serve. Enjoy immediately, as the sauce will get firm as it sits.

Fifteen Spatulas has a photo step-by-step on their site here. And again - this is so easy and so incredibly tasty!!

And then of course, there was the Cheesecake. This is the cheesecake that I make once a year. It takes 2-3 days to put it together and set properly. It takes a lot of time in the kitchen. It includes a whole lotta sugar. Lol. This is a serious treat, hence the once a year aspect. In fact, I've got over a half of it left in the fridge and no one has touched it - I think we're all still in a sugar coma from the sliver we each had on Sunday. Yeah, it's that rich. What is that beast? It's a White chocolate, raspberry, sour cream, fudge cheesecake. Even typing that out gives me a sugar rush, hahaha! And in case you're wondering... nope, not gonna share the recipe. It's my secret. At least for now ;-)

So... that was our Superbowl Yum-Fest. What was yours like?

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