But more than that, I love sharing that love of cooking with friends and family. From creating menu’s for birthdays, dinner parties or a nice dinner for two…the best part of that is being a part of everyone sharing a wonderful meal and conversation together. Having received compliments on my cooking in the past, I thought, ‘why not share this with everyone I can?’ and the internet makes it all possible. If you like what you see, please send me on to others.
Now – on to the Big Day!!!
Event Menu Tips:
When putting together a menu for any party, whether it be game day or birthday or luncheon, the trick is to create a balance of options for your guests. Balance is achieved by providing a mix of the following: hot and cold, meat, cheese and veggie/fruit; sweet and savory; and smooth and crunchy. Here are some tried and true recipes and easy ideas that will enhance your game watching experience.
The game day menu is:
- Slow Cooker Meatballs
- Spinach Artichoke Dip with Pita
- Veggie Tray with Ranch Dip
- Can of Pitted Olives (black, kalmata, or green) Chilled
- Southwestern Caviar with Tortilla Chips
- Spicy Nuts*
- Beverage of your choice – soda, beer, sparkling water
As you can see a great deal of the menu is low maintenance. The Meatballs can be put in the morning of the game; the beverages, pretzel, olives and spiced nuts* can all be put out right before the guests start arriving; the spinach artichoke dip takes 40 minutes for prep and bake time and the Southwest Caviar can be made the day before.
Slow Cooker Meatballs
This is seriously one of the simplest recipes I have ever come across. Takes 10 minutes in the morning and it is great for any pot luck or, in this case, game day spread.
- 1 bag pre-cooked frozen meatballs (you could use homemade meatballs if you have some, but not necessary)
- 1 12oz jar cocktail sauce
- 1 16oz jar grape jelly
Turn your slow cooker on and heat the cocktail sauce and grape jelly until warm and melted together. Pour in the frozen meatballs and cook for 6-7 hours on low setting or 3-4 on high. You can stir occasionally to get the sauce on all of the meatballs, but don’t do that too often as it will extend your cook time. Serve with toothpicks on a tray or let guest scoop up by the spoon full.
Spinach Artichoke Dip
I originally came across this recipe as just an Artichoke Dip, but added the spinach to give it a little color.
- 1/2 Cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 8 oz softened cream cheese
- 1 14 oz can artichoke hearts, chopped
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 5 oz frozen spinach, thawed, towel dry and chop (approx 1/2 frozen box)
- Pita bread, cut into triangles
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and stir together until incorporated. Dump the mixture into an oven safe bowl and cook for 28-35 minutes until top is golden brown and mixture is heated through. *Note: To save a step, if you have an oven safe dish that you like serving in, cook in that and pull it out of oven straight to the table. Serve with pita bread or the veggies out with the dip. It all goes well together.
This is NOT raw fish, but really a fun Southwest inspired salsa. I got this recipe from my cousins and it has made me a hit at many a pot luck or picnic. Like I said, it can be made a day a head of time and served with tortilla chips.
- 1 can shoe peg corn
- 1 can black beans
- 1 can white hominy beans
- 1 can garbanzo beans
- 16 oz hot/med picante sauce
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 4 tomatoes, chopped
- 3 Tbls Zesty Italian dressing
- chopped cilantro
- chopped jalapeno’s (optional)
- 1 Tbls minced garlic
Open all cans, drain juice, pour into large bowl. Chop onion, tomatoes, cilantro and jalapeno and mince garlic. Add to beans. Pour in picante sauce and Zesty Italian. Stir together, cover with saran wrap and store in the fridge until it needs to be served. Serve with tortilla chips. Note: This normally makes a large batch. Leftover salsa is great with omelets and scrambled eggs the next day to add a Southwestern kick to your breakfast.
- Veggie Tray with Ranch Dressing – buy four or more different veggies and put on tray with a bowl of Ranch dressing. Who doesn’t love Ranch Dressing?! Do your chopping/slicing day of party to prevent drying out.
- Pretzels – pour in a bowl
- Olives – open can, dump most of the juice and pour in a bowl or if you have a few different kinds of olives, serve in multi-part dish. If you are part of my family, generally one or more of these olives will end up on the floor anyways.
- Spiced Nuts* – these are a great way to add crunch to your table with almost no effort. You can buy all kinds of spiced nuts at the store. *If you are adventurous, you could make your own. There are many great recipes for spicy or herb coated nuts. I’ll look into those for later.
Make sure to have the following on hand:
- Bagged Ice – no-one wants to drink warm soda or mixed cocktails
- Plates – either your appetizer or dinner plates or paper – depending on the number of guests and your level of desire to clean up after the party is over.
- Utensils – your normal flatware or plastic
- Mixers – if you will be serving cocktails
- For Fun – Yellow & Red Flags – your guests can throw out during the game or at each other for fouls or challenges during the party. Ex: one guest is hogging all the meatballs, throw a flag for holding.
Now, I am aware that none of these are ground breaking recipes or new ideas and some are down right sinfully simple, but remember the point of game day is the BIG GAME, so do not stress about the food…put out the food you are comfortable with and and have a great time!