(BPT) – On game days, sports fans love to gather around the TV with family and friends, while treating themselves to fun foods and snacks. But hosting a gathering can keep you cooking in the kitchen when you’d rather be in on the action. Here’s an easy guide for creating delicious foods that will score big on flavor, while ensuring a stress-free experience for everyone involved – including you.
* Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Keep your menu simple, with no more than two items that require cooking in the oven to avoid holdups and concerns about getting it all done on time. Include room temperature, refrigerated and slow-cooker dishes that you can prepare ahead of time and not worry about.
* Fresh and refresh: serving platter pointers. Self-serve foods are always a hit, but a platter of fresh veggies and other items can look picked over, wilted and worn out by mid-game. Keep extra helpings in reserve so you can refresh the platters periodically. Better yet, make two platters: one to serve at the beginning of the game, and another to keep in the fridge to exchange mid-game.
* Mix flavors, textures and colors. To make any menu more interesting, choose a mix of contrasting items including creamy versus crunchy, spicy versus mild, and multicolored versus all one color. People feast with their eyes as well as their mouths, so appeal to both. For instance, serve spicy chicken wings with cool flavored dips, add color with lots of fresh fruits and veggies, and contrast melted cheese dishes with crispy breads and crackers.
* Kick up excitement with flavored cheeses. A plate of flavored cheeses is an easy choice for simple get-togethers as well as large parties, and there are many varieties to please adventurous and timid eaters alike. For example, the Arla Dofino brand of cheese offers buttery, creamy Havarti cheese in flavors such as dill, jalapeno and spicy Chili Loco. Its Gouda varieties include smoked cracked peppercorn, chipotle and chili lime, which are unique takes on rich, slightly sweet Gouda cheese. Create a simple cheese plate using chunks of a variety of naturally delicious cheeses, and serve with fresh fruit and nuts.
Fire up the crowd with the perfect game day recipe.
Chili is a crowd pleaser on game days, but this easy version is made with prepared chili and topped with a Havarti crust that will have everyone cheering about the food as well as the game. If you wish, make or buy chili in advance and keep it warm in a slow cooker, then at game time, divvy it into small ovenproof bowls, top with the simple cheesy crust mixture and pop it in the oven for 15 minutes. The final score: flavor 10, stress 0.
Firehouse Chili with Cornbread and Havarti Crust
Makes 4 servings as a main course or 12 servings as an appetizer
6 cups prepared chili from the deli section in your local grocery store
1 cup shredded Arla Dofino Creamy Havarti
2 cups cornbread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 seeded and minced jalapeno
1 tablespoon fresh lime zest
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Heat the chili and divide between four oven-safe servings bowls, set aside.
Combine the shredded Havarti with cornbread crumbs, cilantro, jalapeno and lime zest. Top the chili with the cornbread mixture and place in the oven until cheese melts and cornbread browns, about 15 minutes. Remove and serve right away.
For more recipes and ideas, visit ArlaUSA.com.