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Football Food: Part 1

Those that know me well know that I am a huge football fan. And I’m loyal to my home state and the Minnesota Vikings, no matter how heartbreaking of a team they can be! Football season is one of the reasons I love fall. That and the beautiful colors from the changing leaves, and the craving for hearty comfort food. Football Sundays are the perfect excuse to indulge once a week! I’m going to highlight the football food we enjoyed for the first four weeks of this season. The middle of the season has been busy with weddings, traveling and house hunting. That and the fact that it’s been a terrible season for the Vikings has taken my focus away from football a little bit. But now that we are into November, it’s time to refocus! I plan to do a second post towards the end of the season with more football food ideas. In the meantime, here are weeks 1-4:

Week 1

The first week was a fabulous week for the Vikings! At the beginning of the season, people had high hopes for the Rams and low hopes for the Vikings, so when we beat the Rams on the road, it was very exciting to watch.

There is no better drink for football in my opinion (outside of beer) than a bloody mary. And when I make them, they are pretty much an appetizer and drink rolled into one. I love the fixings that go along with the drink! We enjoyed celery, bacon and a skewer of salami, cheese, pickles and olives. I think of it as an antipasti bloody mary and it’s a true combination of Italian and Midwestern!

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Next I made baked jalapeno poppers. I stuffed the peppers with a mixture of cream cheese and shredded pepper-jack. I then rolled the stuffed peppers in flour, then eggs, then breadcrumbs. I put them on a foil-lined baking sheet and baked them at 350 for about 30 minutes. They turned out beautifully crispy and gooey in the center. It was my first time attempting to make these at home and I can say they were a hit!

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Lastly, we enjoyed a true Minnesota staple: cream of chicken and wild rice soup. This is probably a dish that I will make my own recipe for and post on the blog one day, but this time we had been given frozen, homemade soup from my mom. So we simply reheated and enjoyed her home-cooking. It is one of my absolute favorite soups and is so creamy and comforting!

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Week 2

We went into week two cautiously optimistic. It was our home-opener against the New England Patriots. The Patriots really didn’t look very good in week 1, so we were hopeful we might actually have a chance of beating them. That hope didn’t last long as they beat us 30-7.

We enjoyed this week of football (in spite of the loss) up at Joe’s parents’ cabin near Ely, MN. I was going back to work a couple weeks later, so we decided to enjoy a long weekend at the cabin while we still had such a flexible schedule. When I ask Joe what his idea of football food is, he always answers with chili. So I made chili. I didn’t do anything earth-shattering here. I just chopped an onion and a red bell pepper and sauteed them while browning some beef. I then added canned tomatoes, canned beans and a packet of chili seasoning and then let it simmer so all of the flavors combined. It was extremely easy and turned out very delicious.

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One of my favorite football foods is queso. I decided to make a homemade version that combines evaporated milk with shredded cheese that is tossed with cornstarch. I added a couple cans of drained Rotel and let it simmer until thick. The queso was delicious with chips….

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…and we discovered it was delicious on top of the chili!

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Week 3

The third week brought a loss from the Saints. Unfortunately, the game wasn’t even very fun to watch. But, Joe & I had fun stopping off at a restaurant along the road on our trip back from a weekend at a cabin up north with friends. The restaurant we chose was Rough-Cut Grill & Bar in Milaca, MN.

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We wanted good football food, but didn’t want to be stuffed, so we decided to split an appetizer and a burger. Little did we know, the appetizer we ordered was enormous! It was fabulous football food. The appetizer was called Smokin’ Pork Fries and was a bed of french fries covered in pulled pork, chipotle barbecue sauce and ranch. Although certainly heavy, the fries were extremely delicious!

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After packing up 75% of the Smokin’ Pork Fries to go, Joe and I split the mushroom and swiss burger. The burger was juicy and flavorful and was served on a tender ciabatta bun. It was a very good meal and I highly recommend stopping at Rough-Cut if you ever find yourself driving on highway 169 in central Minnesota!

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Week 4

We got a glimmer of hope in the fourth week when we beat the Falcons 41-28. Unlike the couple weeks before, this was a fun game to watch. In addition to that actual food I like to enjoy while watching football, I love the company of other Vikings fans. This week I invited my immediate family over to enjoy the game and some food. I decided to have everyone bring some appetizers and I would supply a main dish.

The main dish I decided to make was Amy Thielen’s Booya-Pozole from her cookbook “The New Midwestern Table.” I always seem to make a couple modifications to a recipe these days, partly to simplify the process based on the ingredients I have available to me, and partly to put my own touch on a recipe. The main modifications I made this time was that I only used pork (the recipe calls for pork and chicken) and I smoked the pork on my Big Green Egg before adding it to the stew.

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The smoked pork added a wonderfully smoky flavor to the broth. The other main modification I made to the recipe was that I pureed part of the broth with only the vegetables in it to make it a bit of a smoother/creamier soup. But this recipe is truly wonderful as it is. It takes some time to prepare, but it is so hearty and wonderful, it is well worth the effort. And I always make a huge pot and freeze some to enjoy later in the winter.

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The spread my family brought was great. It ranged from guacamole to sushi to a sweet pumpkin dip for apples and gingersnaps. I had so much fun enjoying a Vikings win with my family!

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