Sunday, January 23, 2011

Super Bowl Parties: Competitive Snacking

The Chicago Bears are playing the Green Bay Packers today. Seeing as I have spent my lifetime nearly equally split between Illinois and Wisconsin, you'd think that it would be an exciting day for me. Well, it's not. I sort of don't care. What I expected to be huge amounts of excitement at the prospects of my two home-state teams playing each other has only resulted in apathy and feelings of laziness. The exciting history, rivalry, and energy of these two teams is doing nothing for me today.

You know why? Because today isn't even the Super Bowl! You see, the snacks at Super Bowl parties totally outdo snacks on almost any other day. Today is just that: any other day. That's right; I'm saving up my excitement for 2 weeks from now, when the actual Super Bowl happens. Today? Just a tease. Thoughts of weak beers and sad, store-bought dips fill my mind. Yeah, that's probably what all you suckers are subsisting on today. I understand though! I'm a very compassionate and understanding person, you know. You probably need to save your money and energy for February 6th for all the huge and delicious parties you'll be hosting - and inviting me to, correct? And I'm really hoping that you pull out all the stops. I'm picturing baked phyllo dough-based appetizers, various meats (hopefully in bite-sized form, perhaps on toothpicks), 5-6 different dips with both chip and vegetable options, something with melted cheese, and baked goods. Not to mention a plentiful selection of drinks!

Last year, I attended a Super Bowl party in Chicago, hosted by some of the stout men that have accompanied me on such adventures as Hot Doug's, Eating an Entire Awesome Blossom, and Family Dinner in the past. These are brave and hungry men (and some ladies in there too, also brave and hungry!), and they know how to throw down, snack-style. Check these pictures from that party:

First of all, they had a giant-screen television and a tall, lanky guy in a Bears jersey. The atmosphere was set. Not pictured: comfy couches. Great ambiance.

Chips and various dips.

The close-up reveals spinach dip, mango salsa, and guacamole.

Puffy Cheetos! These'll hurt the roof of your mouth a bit, so take it easy. If you even can!

Pigs in a blanket. Man, I love pigs in a blanket. I could eat hundreds of these.

Mostaccioli! Baked with extra cheese on top. That's what I'm talkin' about.

Wings. WINGS! I'm pretty sure these were from Buffalo Joe's, which I've been loving on since about 1995.

Meatballs! Like I mentioned earlier - on toothpicks. Delicious and easy to eat!

Hmm. Pot stickers. Anything goes!

A pizza! I think it was from CostCo. One of the stout men's moms brought this to the party. See, there were cute aspects of the party, too! Moms!

Italian beef. Delicious Italian beef, soaking in it's own juices. You place some of this on a nice, crusty bread, drop more of that meat juice on top, and eat it up. Ugh, my mouth is watering. Beef!!!

Beer. Actually, a pretty wonderful Wisconsin beer. Even those Chicago kids have to admit it - it's damn tasty.

My contribution: banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. Holy crap, I'm SO AMAZING!

Cut up fruit and pound cake. I know, I was skeptical too. But it came with a whipped cream-based dip (off to the side there). Dessert with dip! It's like two perfect things combined to make one more epic entity. Beautiful.

I think it's very possible that I may have been spoiled last year by this Chicago Super Bowl party. Man, the Bears weren't even playing and these people did it up. Imagine what would happen if the Bears were actually in the Super Bowl this year! I envision blue and orange jello shots, a remake of "The Fridge" burger from Ditka's restaurant, and perhaps actual bear meat. Wait, that bear meat would suck. Maybe I'd prefer that the Packers win and I attend a Wisconsin party: cheese and beer and fried cheese and cold beer and beer-battered cheese and maybe some kind of carb product in there somewhere, But wait! Chicago is famous for hot dogs and pizza and Italian beef - so many of my favorite things! On the other hand, Wisconsin has it's delicious fish fry and it's extensive collection of food on a stick. So many delicious choices...

Ugh, I'm so torn! I have no idea who I want to win this stupid game today! One more extremely important point: Packers is short for "Meat Packers," which is obviously hilarious, so points to them. But! The Bears had the Super Bowl Shuffle, so points to them! You can see my dilemma, right? What a difficult and challenging life I lead.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Years - You'll Do

So, New Years, eh? Yeah, not at the top of my list of favorite holidays. Come on now; it's not at all based around food! I mean, yeah, there's usually food involved, but it's not based completely on food like the famous holiday of Thanksgiving. Now that's a good one. So I went into this New Year's with few expectations and somewhat low energy. However! As soon as I saw the spread of food and drank at the party I attended, I immediately gave more of an eff. So easily swayed...

My favorite item of the night was a Nutella-based dessert. The thing about Nutella is that it's pretty much going to be delicious no matter what you do with it. I mean, really, you could dip pickles in it and it would still rule. With foods like this, foods that always taste amazing, it's difficult to make it better, so you really have to get creative and/or use your resources. I enjoy using the internet. It's on computers now! My companion and I found a recipe for Nutella-banana empanadas, so obviously, we made the shit out of them.

First, you mix the bananas and empanadas in a bowl. Easy enough, right?

Then you put a blob of it in some refrigerated pie dough you bought at the grocery store.

Next, make it like a pocket and pinch the edges to make it cute.

Then pretend they're raviolis. Wah wah! So funny.

Put them on a baking sheet, freeze for 15 minutes or more, then bake.
Empanadas were a good choice.

There was some more food involved, although those empanadas really took the top prize. I'm all about appetizers and desserts only, which is why I loved this party spread. Sometime you just don't want to eff around with main courses, you know? So, I give you, mostly appetizers. And one more dessert:

Ginger-rosemary cookies. The smell is nearly as good as the taste. Nearly. Not totally. I'm not stupid.

Crackas! White people love these.

Olive tapenade on little hard breads.

Garlic, olive oil, goat cheese, and marinara.

Guacamole and hummus in an eggplant shaped dish. I know, there's a lot going on in this picture, but trust me, it's okay. They didn't touch.

I know. I'm bored too.

Heirloom cherry tomatoes with basil leaves and mozzarella balls on toothpicks. Salt and pepper and drizzled olive oil on top.

Oh hay girl, a salami and cheese plate!

Let's get a close-up on a masterpiece. There's guacamole under there! Genius.

Baked macaroni and cheese with gouda and prosciutto.

Oh yeah, booze.

Alright, New Years, you'll do. You're no Thanksgiving, but I won't hate. You did good.