Game Time! Appetizers, Main Meal and Dessert

Well, I said I'd be back in January with recipes for healthier eating.  Think of this post as just that but for your upcoming football parties.  The recipes I'm posting here were inspired by football and a few walk-throughs in McFarlan's Collingswood Market.  I was trying to come up with some satisfying foods to make for a Super Bowl party that would be tasty and healthier than the traditional fare of chips, hoagies, queso dips, and the like.  

One of my go-to recipes is to make a big pot of chili usually a vegan/vegetarian version.  One that could be easily turned into a meat chili but still be on the healthy side.  I have both end-zones covered here - a 3-Bean chili that can be made vegan or vegetarian if you want, or you can add in ground turkey, ground chicken, or ground beef.  Added bonus - I have instructions on making it in one of three cooking vessels - an Instant Pot; Stove Top; Slow Cooker.  The recipe starts out vegan, it becomes non-vegan when you add toppings like cheese or sour cream to it.  It becomes a non-vegetarian chili once you add meat to it.  Got it? It's all good.

Looking through the Butcher's case at McFarlan's, I spied some chicken wings.  I like hot wings but I don't love the greasy (and sometimes flabby) mess of the chicken wing fat.  Plus I rarely if ever fry foods in my house - can't stand the mess or the smell.  Usually when I make wings, we oven "fry" them with hot sauce.  This time I wanted to change the wings up so I turned to an Asian-inspired recipe for Mahogany Glazed Chicken Wings - sticky, sweet, spicy, and crispy with nary an oil splatter to be found.

McFarlan's seafood case had containers of fresh Philips crab meat which reminded me of a fantastic crab cake recipe I used to make when I worked at the Reading Terminal Market.  Lots of lump and back fin crab meat, very little filler, and oven-fried for less mess and calories.  You can make crab cakes smaller to serve as hors d'oeuvres with a side of Red Pepper Dipping sauce.

Lastly, dessert, because you have to have a sweet treat at a party.  This is where we splurge and change things up a tad.  I love brownies but most recipes seem to turn out too cake-like.  I'm craving a dense fudgy brownie that is rich in chocolate goodness.  My recipe for Black and White Fudge Brownies are made with dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate and white chocolate morsels and they are baked in a slow cooker.  This ensures the brownies are moist and utterly decadent.  The only special equipment you need is a baking pan, tin or loaf pan that will fit into your slow cooker.

By the time kick off commences your game day party foods will be the big coin toss winner of the night!

3-Bean Vegetable Chili Ingredients: (this can be made w/or without ground beef/chicken/or turkey) (Vegan or Vegetarian; w/meat carnivore! Dairy/Gluten-Free)
  • 1 Pound Lean Ground Meat - low-fat beef or low-fat chicken or low-fat turkey (if using)
  • 2 Tablespoons Vegetable or Olive Oil - divided
  • 1 Large Onion– peeled and medium dice (about 2 cups)
  • 3 Medium Carrots - peeled and medium dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 Medium Celery Stalks - washed and medium dice (about 1 cup)
  • 6 Garlic Cloves—finely minced
  • 1 Large Red Bell Pepper— medium dice (about 1 cup)
  • 1 Large Green, Orange or Yellow Bell Pepper - medium dice (about 1 cup)
  • 1 Medium Zucchini—small/medium dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 Tablespoons Cumin
  • 1/4 Cup Ancho Chili Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Oregano
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Dried Thyme
  • 1 Tablespoon Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
  • 3 Cans Beans: Black Beans, Kidney, and White or Pinto Beans (15-16 oz each) – drained and  rinsed
  • 1 Large Can Tomato Puree Sauce (20-28 ounces)
  • 1 Cup Pure Pumpkin Puree
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 12 ounce bottle of a good quality dark or amber beer (optional)
  • 2 Cups Frozen Corn
  • 1 Can (14-16 ounces) Pozole or Hominy - drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup packed Cilantro– minced
  • Zest and Juice of 1 Lime - (about 1 tablespoon lime zest and 2 tablespoons lime juice)
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper—to taste
  • Hot Sauce - to taste
  1. Use a stock pot, Dutch oven or other large and heavy bottomed pot. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until it shimmers over medium-high heat. 
  2. Add in the ground turkey and brown it until it is thoroughly cooked through. Remove the cooked meat from the pot and set aside. (skip this step if make a vegetarian chili)
  3. Heat the 2nd tablespoon of olive oil in the same pot, over medium-high heat until it shimmers.
  4. Add in the onions, carrots, celery, and bell peppers; sauté and sweat them about 8-10 minutes.  If using the Instant Pot - saute all the veggies, onions through peppers in the pot using the saute function and cook for 20 minutes until the vegetables release their juices and reduce down by almost half the volume.
  5. Add in the garlic, stir and cook another 2 minutes.  Add in the zucchini and sauté another 5 minutes.
  6. Next add in all of the dry seasonings and cocoa powder; stir to combine and toast seasonings.
  7. Add in the beans, corn, pozole/hominy, tomato sauce, pumpkin puree and water and beer (if using). Stir to combine.
  8. STOVE-TOP: Add the cooked ground meat (if using), chopped cilantro, lime zest and juice. to the vegetable mixture.  If cooking on the stove-top, bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce down to a low simmer.  Simmer for 60-90 minutes, staring occasionally to keep the bottom from scorching.
  9. SLOW COOKER: If using a slow cooker - put all the ingredients into the slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours, or high for 2-4 hours.
  10. INSTANT POT: If using the instant pot, add back the meat (if using) to the pot along with the other ingredients.  Put the lid onto the Instant Pot and set for 18 minutes.  Allow the mixture to come to pressure then the timer will count down for the 18 minute setting.  Let the pressure cooker pressure come down naturally (aka NPR) for 15-20 minutes before releasing the steam valve and opening the lid. 
  11. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding in additional cumin, chili, oregano, lime zest and juice, salt and pepper, and/or hot sauce to taste as needed.
  12. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro.  Serve shredded cheddar, sour cream, tortilla chips, and or rice on the side.
  13. Makes about 6 quarts of chili or enough to last several meals and still freeze some for the rest of the year!

Mahogany Glazed Chicken Wings Ingredients: (Dairy/Gluten-Free)
  • 4-6 pounds Chicken Wings - cut into drummettes, wing-tips discarded (or save to add to chicken stock)
For the Marinade:
  • 1/2 Cup Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar or Mirin (or you can use Apple Cider Vinegar and 1 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar)
  • 1/2 Cup Molasses
  • 6 Garlic Cloves - minced
  • Zest and Juice of 2 Oranges (about 2 tablespoons zest and 1/3 cup orange juice)
  • 2 Tablespoons Canola, or Peanut, or Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Hot Sauce
  • 4 Cinnamon Sticks - broken (or use 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon)
  • 4 Whole Star Anise - broken (or use 1/2 tablespoon ground anise)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  1. Clean and prepare the chicken wings.  If using frozen wings, defrost.  If the chicken wings are still whole, cut into thirds - discard the wing tips or save and freeze for use in making chicken stock.  The wing tips don't have much meat on the me but are an excellent addition for stock making.
  2. Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a large container with a tight-fitting lid or pour into a 1-2 zip-lock bags.  Add in the cut up chicken wings and cover/close the container, covering the chicken wings with the marinade.  Refrigerate and marinate for a minimum of 1 hour up to 2 days.  The longer the chicken marinates, the better the cooked wings will taste.  Stir or shake the chicken wings occasionally to ensure even marination.  
  3. To cook - Preheat oven to 425 Degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Remove wings from the marinade and discard the marinade.  To avoid food-borne illness do not re-use the marinade as a dip or sauce as it's had raw poultry in it.
  5. Bake: Place the chicken wings in an even single layer on a sheet try lined with parchment paper, or heavy-duty aluminum foil, or lined with a Silpat.  Roast for 15 minutes, then turn the wings over to ensure even cooking.  Roast for another 10 minutes or until the wings are dark golden brown and crispy.
  6. Serve Hot: For best taste.  Cook wings will be tasty at room temperature too.  For best food safety practice, do not leave cooked chicken out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

Mini Crab Cakes with Red Pepper Dipping Sauce Ingredients: (Contains Dairy, Gluten)
  • 1 Pound Lump or Back Fin Crab - picked over to remove and shell pieces
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper - seeded and small dice
  • 3 Scallions/Green Onions - whites and green tops - small dice
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 Cup Mayonnaise (light or full-fat)
  • 2 Tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning or Crab Seasoning
  • Zest of 1 Lemon (about 1/2 Tablespoon)
  • Juice of 1/2 Lemon (about 1 Tablespoon)
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh or Dried Parsely2 Eggs - lightly beaten
  • 1 Cup Panko or Plain Dried Bread Crumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons Canola, Olive or Vegetable Oil
Equipment needed:
  • Sheet Trays
  • Parchment, Aluminum Foil or Silpat
  • Small Ice Cream Scoop or Tablespoon Measure
  1. Preheat oven to 425 Degrees Fahrenheit.  Line sheet trays with parchment paper, or heavy duty aluminum foil, or a Silpat.  Pour the vegetable oil oil the lined sheet tray to coat it entirely and set the tray aside.
  2. Mix: In a large mixing bowl, pick over the crab meat to remove and shells or cartilage.  Next add in the diced bell peppers, scallions, Dijon Mustard, Mayonnaise, Old Bay, lemon zest and juice, parsley, and the beaten eggs.  Fold to combine.
  3. Add: Next add in the Panko or Bread Crumbs, a little at a time, using only as much as needed to bind the crab cakes together.  You may not need the entire cup.
  4. Scoop: Use a small ice-cream school or a tablespoon measure and scoop out the crab meat mixture and form small 2-3 inch balls.  Lay each onto the prepared sheet tray and flatten out slightly.  Space each crab cake about 1-2 inches apart.
  5. Bake: Place full tray of crab cakes into the preheated oven and bake for 5 minutes.  Remove tray from oven and flip the crab cakes over and rotate the tray; return back to oven and bake for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until the crab cakes ore medium golden brown.
  6. Full-size: To make full-sized crab cakes, use a 4-6 ounce ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup dry measuring cup and scoop out the crab mixture.  Lay each onto prepared sheet trays and flatten out slightly.  Space 2 inches apart.  Bake for 8 minutes, flip and bake for an additional 6-8 minutes or until medium golden brown.
  7. Serve hot with Red Pepper Dip and/or other condiments on the side.  Makes 2 dozen mini crab cares or 1 dozen larger crab cakes.  
  8. Freeze for later use: The prepared crab cakes, unbaked will freeze well.  Wrap individually in plastic wrap and freeze flat in a freezer bake.  To bake, thaw slightly and add about 3-4 minutes to the baking time.
Red Pepper Dip Ingredients: (Contains Dairy; Gluten-Free)
  • 3/4 Cup Sour Cream (light or full-fat)
  • 8 Ounces Cream Cheese (light or full-fat)
  • 1 Shallot - minced
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Minced or Dried Parsley
  • 1 Large Jarred Roasted Red Pepper - drained, rinsed and minced
  • Hot Sauce - to taste
  • Pinch of Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to Taste
  1. In a mixing bowl combine the sour cream, cream cheese and whisk to combine.  Or alternatively you can mix this in a the work bowl of a food processor, blender or smoothie maker to combine.  
  2. Stir or whiz in the minced shallots, lemon juice, parsley, few dashes of hot sauce.  Whisk or puree.  
  3. Season to taste with additional hot sauce, salt and freshly ground pepper.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  
  4. Will hold for up to 5 days refrigerated.  Makes 2 cups.

Black and White Fudge Brownies Baked in a Slow Cooker: (Contains Dairy, Gluten, Sugar)
  • Equipment or Special Tools Needed:
  • Slow Cooker
  • Measuring Cups; whisk; spatula; mixing bowl; sauce pan; pastry brush; butter for greasing pans; parchment paper (optional)
  • Cake pan or loaf tin/pan that will fit into slow cooker
  • Paper towels 
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter
  • 1/2  Cup (about 3 ounces) Unsweetened Chocolate - chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar - packed
  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • Pinch Salt
  • 1/2  Cup PLUS 1 Tablespoon All-Purpose Unbleached Flour 
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Cup Semi or Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/4 Cup White Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Tablespoon Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  1. Preheat slow cooker on the high setting.  Grease the cake pan or tin that you are using and dust it with 1 tablespoon of the unsweetened cocoa powder.  Set aside.  If you don't have a cake pan or tin that will fit into your slow cooker, generously butter the inside of the slow cooker insert. Line the bottom of the insert with parchment paper cut to fit inside.  Butter the top of the parchment. 
  2. Toss: In a small bowl, toss the semi or bittersweet chocolate chips and the white chocolate chips with the 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour. Set aside.
  3. Melt: In a small sauce pan, melt the stick of butter over medium heat. When the butter is melted, remove from heat and add in the chopped unsweetened chocolate.  Stir to melt the chocolate.
  4. Mix: In a large mixing bowl, add the brown and granulate sugar and whisk to combine.  Pour in the melted butter/chocolate and whisk.  
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time into the sugar/chocolate mixture. Then add in the vanilla extract.
  6. Gently fold in the flour and salt until almost combined, then add in the reserved chocolate semi-sweet and white chocolate pieces.  Continue to fold until the mixture is thoroughly incorporated.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan/tin or slow cooker.  Set 2 layers of paper towels over the top of the slow cooker and put the lid over the towels (the towels cell moisture from dripping from the lid onto the brownies). Bake on high setting for 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours, or until a knife or skewer inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean (there will be some reside but it shouldn't be raw).  The top/center of the brownies will look wet and bubbly on top.
  8. Carefully remove the pan or the insert from the slow cooker and allow to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Loosen the edge of the brownies with a thin knife and turn onto a cutting board or platter.  Serve wedges or squares warm with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.
  9. Serves 6-8 - although these are very rich, so a little goes a long way!

Next month, for February, I hope to share some aphrodisiac and other chocolate inspired recipes.  I remember doing many a cooking class for Valentine's Day where I served an all chocolate diner to my guests.  Looking forward to recreating a number of those recipes for the blog!


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