Tag Archives: lentils

SuperBowl /March Madness Party Tips and Potato Skins

It’s time to kick-off some tips for SuperBowl, (and every other Bowl) and get into March Madness parties…and any other ‘Football” parties anywhere in the world.(Too bad it is so long between World Cup matches,I love  them!)

Many of the recipes in the archives would suit a nice and easy buffet, which is the only way to go when it comes to watching events and for all-day parties.

Remember that there is probably going to be a lot of hands-in-the-air and jumping-up, either in celebration or in disgust, decided by the individual on how the plays go and who makes them!

Depending in just how long you anticipate your guests, some or all, to be there will help you to make the choices of foods to offer. Are you going to have fellow fans in for most of the pre-game programs as well as the game itself?Or just for the game, which will be long enough,(expect four hours for the SuperBowl.)
If you are expecting things to go on for some time, you are going to want some of the foods to come out at varying times; some substantial, some snack-type, some sweet. It does not matter how many or how few, people need food , people want interesting food and you don’t want to work too hard to make a nice spread. Much can be done ahead of time.

Ideas for your offerings can be founds among those already posted in this blog. They are:

Lentil Soup, Bean Soup [August Archives], Savory Bread Rolls, Taco Salad, Teriyaki Pork , Meatball Stew[Sept. Archives; which also tells of “Pitfalls and Parties”],Zucchini One-Bowl, Cookies and Sarah Ballance’s Pecan Bars [October Archives], Crispy Veggies, Vegetables with Cheese Sauce[November Archives], Ham, Broccoli, Potato & Cheese Casserole [Dec. Archives],Salads, Vegetable Pasta Salad [Previous Post]
All can be made ahead of the game day and, (with the exception of the Cheese Sauce and Salads), frozen even earlier and re-warmed before your guests arrive.

I will admit that I have waaaaay overdone the football theme at times. I made 2 kinds of cookies, one in cut-outs that were ball-shapes and helmet-shaped and iced them in the teams’ colors and , using the side of a spoon to ‘drop’ the Chocolate cookies, I made them reasonably football-shaped and put ‘laces’ on them with icing.[ October Archives]. I made chicken salad football-shaped, covered it in brown sesame seeds and made cream cheese ‘laces’. I made a Crab Cheese Ball the same way, but in walnuts:Football cheeseballfootballcheeseball

I made a quarter sheet cake and covered it with green colored coconut for grass, used white icing for hash marks and goalposts, wrote the teams names in the end zones and made candy shaped like footballs and helmets,(and colored them in the teams’ colors).

In other words, I went nuts.
There is no need for all of that, really.(OK, I will admit; I made the cheeseball when I made the one for New Year’s Eve; it is in the freezer and it will come out for the SuperBowl. But see? Many things, most things, can be made ahead of time. )

Chili is a traditional food here for the SuperBowl…and I will let you in on my shameful secret: It’s McCormick’s Mild Chili mix in a packet. I brown one pound of ground beef, drain it, add one can of petite diced tomatoes and one can of kidney beans .That is it. I usually two pounds and then it is two cans of tomatoes, two packets of mix and one can of light red kidney beans and one can of dark. How creative can I get?
If you make your own chili, good for you; I have never made one that I like as well as this easy recipe. It is ready in no time, (especially if you have pre-browned the ground beef; it will last in your refrigerator for days, or you can pre-brown the beef and freeze it. You can freeze the chili, too, but it takes almost as long to warm it as it does to toss it together in a pot and simmer it for a short time;that’s all it takes.)
Texans may get really get upset with me; they claim chili has no beans. Here, people add spaghetti; I have no idea why. If you are into trading ground turkey for beef, that is up to your taste but as far as I am concerned, there is not enough chili powder in the world to hide the fact that it is turkey. I don’t dislike turkey at all, but I do not believe that it is a substitute for beef in any recipe.

Do you know all of your guests well? Do you know their tastes and dietary restrictions? Is there any chance that someone will be bringing a guest whom you don’t know? Always have meatless alternatives; always have dairy and gluten-free and low sugar ones. It’s a nicer to have a variety and it’s healthier, too.
Don’t forget to look for ideas for more foods in the Meatless Protein Combinations [Sept.Archives]

No matter what you make, keeping the hot food hot and cold food cold is a challenge that you must meet. Depending on how for your TV is from your kitchen, you can keep food hot in pots on low heat on the stove, or in oven-proof stoneware or bakeware in your oven , set on 200F.(SuperBowl isn’t a time for your finest china and  your crystal anyway.) You can use slow cookers, warming trays, buffet servers and even press electric frying pans and rice cookers into warming service. Just make sure that you have a sturdy table and place it against a wall. Never have electric cords where anyone needs to walk by or around or where people have to reach over hot pots or servers to get to other foods and drinks.

ways to keep food warm for serving

ways to keep food warm for serving

Borrow slow cookers, or warmers if you must, but
you should have at least one slow cooker; you can get them for under $20. The big one here was about $35 and came with the little warmer as a bonus. The mini buffet-style warmer I have here was under $30, (and was given to me by my sister); the warming tray was left behind by the previous tenant and found when I moved into a place nearly thirty years ago. The electric frying pan was my mother’s.(Quality lasts.) If you anticipate doing entertaining, look for sales; you can get many of these at even lower prices. They make things easier, but are not necessities.(That is my rice cooker in the middle.)

It is easier to just prepare to put out small portions of cold foods and replenish the serving dishes, or if you have the room, prepare several dishes/platters and switch them out before the food becomes room temperature. Use a picnic cooler for extra storage room,(and place outside if the weather is cold).

You don’t want to miss the game and the fun …and let your guests see you working too hard; be a gracious host.

Make sure you hit your local dollar market/stores and pick up extra small, covered plastic storage containers for leftovers and for sending some home with your guests. YOU WILL HAVE LEFTOVERS ; that is a commandment! Never underfeed guest and never underestimate the appetite of sport fans, (especially male ones!) You may also want to pick up some covered, compartmentalized ‘carry-out’ containers; men love these and you can find them at dollar stores in packets of 10 for a dollar.
I often keep covered carry-out or pre-made item’s plastic containers in which to give away food. (“Recycle, Reduce, Reuse”). Foil pans are in all stores, (and cheap in dollar markets), and are also good for giving away food. Try never to give food on plates or in containers that you want to keep; you may not get them back. People may be too rushed to remember, or embarrassed if they break, or give them ‘back’ to the wrong person.(My aunt ‘returned’ my mother’s best cake dish to her next door neighbor.The woman took it and never told my aunt that it wasn’t hers!). If you want to use ‘real’ plates or bowls, use any odd pieces you may have or buy some at your local dollar store or  from you favorite charity thrift store. And put a note on your gift to pass the plate/bowl along.

Some people consider chicken wings another ‘must have’. My next post (I hope) will be on chicken wings and how easy it is to make them and how to make a variety of them.

 

3 Potato Skins  (9)

Make your own Potato Skins; make them healthier and wow ’em in the process.
Scrub potatoes and peel them in long strips. Place the strips in cold water and make mashed or Parsley Potatoes [December Archive], withe the insides, especially if you are making the Ham Casserole or other recipe for the party.

Line a flat baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Brush with vegetable oil of your choice,(I prefer regular olive or peanut oil), and sprinkle with salt,(preferably sea salt, but any will do).
Place the potato skins outside-down on the prepared baking sheet, brush the insides (top) with  vegetable oil and sprinkle them with…whatever you like! Some ideas are: Cheddar cheese; Pepper Jack cheese, parsley/ paprika/rosemary; chipotle; garlic/oregano; chives, with salt and pepper; Italian seasoning, (parsley, basil, marjoram); turmeric/ garlic; garam masala; or any group of herbs you like; mix or match them with cheeses, too.

Bake at 400F until very firm. When cool, these may be frozen wrapped well, with paper or plastic between the layers, and after thawing, can then be re-crisped in a hot oven before serving.

Don’t forget a fruit. A fruit tray is not hard to make and much less expensive if you do the slicing yourself. Fruits that will quickly oxidize,(turn brown), like bananas, apples and pears, will not do so as rapidly if they are dipped in either citrus soda or pineapple juice.Some people use lemon juice,[wince!].
If even THAT is too much trouble or you don’t feel that you will have the time, make a fruit salad, and feel free to use canned/jarred pineapple, plums, peaches, mandarin oranges, berries,(or frozen, thawed berries).This can be made a day or two ahead of time, and you’ll be glad it’s there.

Have plenty of ice and non-alcoholic drinks…good water, coffee, sodas and teas, with sugar and sweeteners on the side. Limit the alcohol if serving and cut it off long before your guests need to leave.Make sure they eat and drink plenty of clear fluids before and after.

Make sure there is a variety of chips, pretzels and/or popcorn or other non-sugary snacks. Avoid messy desserts and melting ones, such as those with whipped cream or ice cream, puddings and ‘molten cakes’. You are better off with cupcakes, muffins or bar-type cakes,(brownies, etc.), than a cake you need to cut. Cakes are seldom  pretty once they are  cut and are often a sticky mess; men, especially, don’t want to deal with the mess, (and you don’t need it on our floor or in the rugs).Plus, it takes up a lot of table room, you can put muffins and bar cookies stacked or in a basket.

I hope to get back with more recipes; if you have any questions, please shoot them my way! And no matter who wins or loses, I hope you at least get a kick out of the SuperBowl ads, like I do

Meatless Protein Combinations

The key to low cholesterol, Lenten, vegetarian , (lacto/ovo- vegetarians who eat dairy products and eggs; lacto-vegetarians who indulge in milk and milk products),
vegan, (those who consume and use no animal products), or absolutely fool-proof, non-offensive hosting are meatless-protein combinations. Some of them are not complete proteins, but are close enough. There are several types of non-dairy milks that are readily available in your local grocery store: Soy, Rice and Almond, which I find wonderful, and can not only be substituted for milk as a drink, but in cereal,(cooked or cold), rice, whipped into potatoes, etc. Again, please ask any guest as some of these may cause allergic reactions. There are also Oat and Hemp milks on the market. I have not used these; and I need to experiment more with tofu, seitan and other non-meat proteins.
[Recipes for suggestions with asterisks will be in upcoming blogs]
Examples of non-meat protein combos are:
Beans or legumes with grains, corn (vegan)
Beans or legumes with dairy products.
Grains with dairy products.
Rice or potatoes with dairy products.
Confusing? Not really. You already eat many of them without realizing it:
Macaroni and cheese
Pasta Alfredo
Cheese ravioli or tortellini
Cheese pizza
Cheese sandwich; grilled or on plain bread, or grilled open-faced under the broiler
(Try Cheddars, Swiss, Muenster, my favorite, Gouda, or Mozzarella or Brick
sprinkled with Parmesan.)
Cheese pinwheel breads*.
Cheese tacos.
Peanut butter sandwich, or crackers. (vegan)
Bean, (vegan), (or bean and cheese) burritos.
Bean dip* and corn chips. ( without cheese or sour cream, vegan)
Red (or black) beans and rice. (vegan)
Navy or Great Northern beans and rice. (vegan)
Cheesy rice.
Rice pudding, or rice with milks, (served as breakfast in the South.)
Oatmeal, wheat or rice cereal, cooked in milks.
Dry cereal in milks.
Cream cheese on a bagel, rolls, toast or crackers. (try mixing with honey or fruit
puree).
Cheese and crackers.
Baked potatoes, with sour cream, shredded cheese ,or twice-baked potatoes*.
Potato casserole with cheese or milk-based sauce.
Potatoes, scalloped or au gratin.
Potato soup with open-faced, broiled cheese sandwich, or crackers.
Bean soup* with noodles ( non-egg, vegan) or crackers.
Lentil soup* with rice, (or popcorn instead of crackers).(vegan)
Any of the above soups with corn bread or rice (vegan)
Vegetable Pasta Salad* , (vegan)
“Breakfast” burritos,* without meat.
A tossed salad, with cubed cheese and and/or sesame seeds, (vegan) or
A tossed or layered salad with either cheese or with sesame seeds and cooked
lentils,(vegan)
Herbed Garbanzo or other beans, rehydrated bulgur wheat, cooked rice or croutons, without cheese, ( vegan)
(These can be presented in a tomato or baked into a vegetable* )(vegan)

(To rehydrate bulgur wheat, bring 1 cup of water to a boil, remove from heat and
steep ½ cup of wheat for approximately 20 minutes. Drain and cool. Add to
salad. Serves four. These salads can be a real pick- me- up. They wake Husband
up better than a cup of coffee.)
And Custard or Cheese pies, pastries, torts and blintzes . (These being made with wholesome ingredients.) There are many Mediterranean and Eastern European specialties made with cheeses, eggs, farina or other grains, which can make a light meal when served with fruit .
Maybe you have a family, regional or ethnic favorite that comes to mind when
reading this list. Use your family’s taste and your own imagination for other
combinations. Remember to be careful with the use of dairy products when trying
to avoid cholesterol, and for vegans, who eat no animal products. For all others,
don’t forget the egg, a most useful food for Lent, vegetarians, (who eat eggs,
again, ask), or if your guest avoids beef or pork.
Egg salad*, in a sandwich or stuffed in a tomato*.
Deviled eggs*, or hard-cooked eggs, sliced and on a cheese tray or in a tossed
salad.
Scramble eggs with American or cheddar cheese, tempered with a few drops of
milk. Try using picante sauce or a meatless spaghetti sauce for a surprisingly
filling meal.
Omelets with almost any type of cheese; try adding onions, (with sautéed peppers and
tomatoes for a Spanish omelet), or make frittatas*, which are basically open-faced
omelets, with white cheeses and green onions; add any herb that catches your
fancy. And if you can’t manage an omelet or frittata, or you just break one, turn
it into scrambles eggs and pass it off as if
you’d planned to make it that way. It will taste just as good, and no one will
be the wiser. ( I dropped a Bundt cake on a table just before guests arrived for
dinner. I sliced it at an angle and arranged it nicely on a serving dish. No one would have been the wiser, if my sister hadn’t decided
to make an embellished version of the story the night’s entertainment.)
All of the egg recipes above could be served with a carbohydrate; biscuits,
muffins, croissants or toast, which aid in the absorbing the protein.
Try serving something other than white sandwich bread: toast wheat, multi- grain, Italian, rye, pumpernickel, and your stand-by, raisin, make an interesting and flavorful addition. If you have a bread machine, pull it out. It is an easy way to make something that seems a little special and you have used very little effort in doing so. On the other hand, some bread recipes call for vegan no-nos: egg, milk, or honey, which is not often thought of as an animal product.
Honey is the only food that will not spoil, ( if it crystallizes, you can warm it back to perfection in a microwave or better yet, with its opened container sitting in boiling water, stirring at intervals until smooth), but should not be used by children under two, and perhaps by folks with compromised immune systems, as it can contain spores which can cause a rare type of botulism, and infant digestive tracts are not ready to render them harmless, as older, developed ones do . Science knows that honey consists of about 90 per cent sugar and 10 per cent water, but has never been able to be duplicated it, no matter what you have heard. Once, a very tipsy relative by marriage came in bearing gifts. Lifting them out of her bag, she listed them off ; among which were peanut butter, candy, flowers to plant and a jar of honey. Doing a double take before setting the honey on the table, she woozily and laboriously focused in on the label and added, “This is clover honey, not regular bee honey.” Trust me; it was bee honey. Most of the honey purchased bottled in the United States is clover honey, made from nectar collected from clover flowers, because Americans like a nice, light, mild honey spread, but bees will utilize any nearby flower. There would be no apples, pears, peaches or any fruit without pollination from bees, and therefore there are many different honeys out there, often used in food processing. So, even in eating fruit you are utilizing bee power, so give them some respect, their stingers not bee-ing the only reason. In most larger supermarkets you can find Orange blossom, buckwheat or honeys made from other pollens and nectar. Generally speaking, the darker the honey, the stronger the taste. I suggest fruit spreads, jellies, jams and margarine, ( some softened, mixed with cinnamon and sugar, vanilla ), peanut and nut butters as spreads for you vegan guests…..or, rather, their breadstuff