Sports Snacks: Healthy Buffalo Chicken Dip

(Healthy) Buffalo Chicken Dip

Well.  Fall is basically here, guys. Football season just started, so it’s time to bring on the bevy of snack and appetizer recipes.

Instead of having you heat up some deep fried frozen snacks for your guests, I thought I’d bring you some super simple sinless snack options (try saying that five times fast). That way you can cheer on your team with delicious treats while maintaining your figure. Skinny snacks, for the win!!!

This one is soooo good.  I recommend making a double batch because this will be gobbled up by family and friends. You will be the hit of all football (or any other type of) gatherings!

Yes, might have a buffalo chicken obsession.

(Healthy) Buffalo Chicken Dip

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Feta Frenzy

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While most people have put away their painted eggs and finished off their remaining chocolate rabbits and jelly beans, we just celebrated Greek Easter earlier this month. To prepare ourselves for our excessive feta consumption, we whipped up a light feta dip for some friends.

Htipiti is a spread combining the salty cheese with roasted red peppers and spices, kind of like a Greek Romesco Sauce. We love to serve the orangey red blend as a dip with our absolute favorite chips, Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Tortilla Chips or as a spread atop a lamb burger or flatbread. The blend of Mediterranean flavors in every bite triggers our taste buds for the meal ahead.

Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Dip (Htipiti)

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Tiny Food Party

Scene: Cocktail party. Room full of people trying to schmooze and network with each other. Me, standing in a corner, balancing my drink on a ledge or in my arms, avoiding eye contact with everyone while trying to eat a cheesesteak to prevent the instant drunk that comes after drinking on an empty stomach. Enter: Tiny Food Party, a book that has changed every party I’ll ever host again.

Bite-size versions of large foods are the best for cocktail parties or any situation where there isn’t enough room for all guests to eat with a knife and fork, and are way more substantial than baby carrots. We’re not talking pigs in a blanket, here. But I was still apprehensive about throwing a party out of a book based on small food because: 1) I don’t like following recipes 2) I was afraid my guests would be hungry 3) I was afraid my guests would eat too much and not get drunk (frequent problem among my group) and 4) I was afraid I’d spend the entire party in the kitchen cooking.

And you know, I feel like, in general, the reason people don’t use recipes or cookbooks more is because the recipes are long and involved, and always involve a list of ingredients that either a) I do not have or b) I don’t feel like buying for one recipe. Also? The thing about entertaining is that I like to actually *enjoy* my parties and talk to my guests, instead of being stuck in the kitchen pumping out food and carefully plating things, using recipes I am unfamiliar with. I know my friends love my food, but they love my company even more. So when I was planning my own tiny food party, I did a few things that I believe are successful to any entertaining situation.

1)    Know your recipes: I used each recipe as a general guideline. Why? Because it was easier for me to make my standard potato salad than use their recipe.

2)    Know yourself: Many of the recipes had to be modified for drunk cooking, because hello, I’m not saying sober at my own party.

3)    Know your guests: I took the bacon out of everything. Sacrilege? Maybe. This book is absolutely wonderful in that everything includes bacon (from the BBQ sauce to the muffins), but I had a non-pork eater in the house. She’d never want me to modify my cooking for her, but then she just wouldn’t eat and would end up a drunk mess. Turns out she still ended up slapping my new boyfriend across the face, but whatever, at least it wasn’t my fault.

To test the real functionality of these recipes, appetizers and dinner were served without seating and with minimal utensils. The menu (the photos get worse as the night progressed, deal with it):

Tiny Apple Cider Sangria

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Gridiron Grub: Southern Seven-Layer Dip

The beginning of fall is always bittersweet for me, because I love summer with all my heart. The silver lining to this new season, though, is that fall equals the return of football, which equals daydrinking, snacking, and of course, tailgating!

I love tailgating. Lounging outside in the sun, downing beer, and chowing down on indulgent snacks? Hell yeah. Now that I’m a Texas transplant, I have fully committed to the southern tailgate lifestyle, and I am here to tell you it is way more intense than anything I experienced in Washington. Here in Austin, a city with no pro sports teams, college football reigns supreme. It doesn’t matter if you attended UT or not, on game days you proudly sport all the burnt orange you can muster and hook ’em horns with the best of ’em. My boyfriend, Rob, is a born-and-raised Austinite and a huuuuge Longhorns supporter with a reserved tailgate spot and season tickets to all the games, so I knew it was important to make a strong “I’m committed to this, y’all!” statement among the other fans at my first UT tailgate.

Mulling over all the traditional choices got a bit tedious. Chips, queso, pulled pork, chili, salsa… I couldn’t make up my mind and didn’t want to just settle for one of those cliché (albeit delicious, don’t get me wrong!) choices. Suddenly it dawned one me: why not combine all my favorite fatty football foods in one epic dish?! If people can do that with Mexican food, why couldn’t I do that with Southern food?! And thus, the Southern Seven-Layer Dip was born.

Southern Seven-Layer Dip

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A Salsa for Summer: Grilled Watermelon and Feta

As I get older and now that I have life all figured out (Ha!  Sense the sarcasm, folks), I am less embarrassed about stuff. I used to be the girl who turned beet red and just about died from humiliation over the tiniest things.  Now, if I trip in front of you (I most likely will) I’ll just smile and wave.  Saying something stupid?  I do it on the daily.  I’m okay with it.

The one thing I am consistently still embarrassed over is my iPod music selection. The worst part is that I voluntarily put all the crazy embarrassing music on there. Just to give you a taste, there are about 300 songs including Pitbull (face getting red), assorted 90’s rappers (getting redder), maybe some country (eyes closed in shame) and a butt-load of Glee renditions (maximum levels of musical embarrassment reached).  I’m just gonna tell you, I sometimes roll my eyes when listening to my iPod alone.  I need an intervention.

Why am I discussing this with you today?  Well, I had some willing taste-testers hanging around my kitchen while I made this killer salsa aaaaand my iPod was on the speaker dock. So, when I think about this salsa, I will forever associate it with the delicious flavors of fresh watermelon with a grilled char and tangy feta, along with the ear raping sounds of Miley Cyrus.  Oy.  Y’all, forget I wrote this, okay?

Grilled Watermelon & Feta Salsa

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Mojo Cubano: The Most Garlic You’ve Ever Eaten

When you love something, really love something, you can never have enough. I feel this way about a lot of things — primarily food and alcohol-related, of course — and I definitely feel this way about garlic. So I was obviously thrilled when my friend, Vanessa, who was giving me a Cuban cooking lesson (! best night ever, and there are more recipes where that came from) mentioned, “You like garlic, right? I bought plantain chips and I really wanted to make this dipping sauce for them…it’s basically just pure garlic and it’s one of my favorites.”

Turns out this is one of the easiest recipes ever, and yeah, it does pack a punch. If you’re one of those people who is averse to “smelling like garlic” (personally, I never understood those people) this is probably not the snack for you. I’ve been cruising the Cuban recipe sites (normal) and it looks like many of them use a version of this as a marinade or sauce for all kinds of dishes. Whatever, we like this as a straight-up dip for our fried plantains. Hardcore eaters.

Mojo Cubano Dip

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Gridiron Grub: Grilled Cheese BLT Dip

When I was in high school, we had a tradition every Thursday night before Friday football games.  Myself and a few of my  friends would finish up with practice and show up sweaty and famished at my house. For some reason my Mom not only condoned this, but encouraged it by offering to feed the huddled masses. Dinner was always the same on these nights; grilled cheese with bacon, lettuce and tomato on wheat bread. This tradition has permanently seared in my palate the sweet, smoky combination of late-season tomatoes, gooey cheese, thick bacon and chewy homemade bread as the perfect complement to fall days and Friday night lights.

Grilled cheese is somewhat difficult to pull off at a tailgate and even harder to bring when you are invited somewhere. Can you imagine the reaction to showing up to watch a game with a tray of soggy, lukewarm BLT grilled cheeses? From then on you would definitely be the asshole in charge of bringing the soda and chips. Because of that, I  have tinkered with a homemade grilled cheese/BLT dip over the years. It hits all the right notes, though early in the process I realized that lettuce just wasn’t a good fit so I switched to the dip staple: spinach. This has been my go-to takealong for last-minute tailgates and game-watching.

Grilled Cheese BLT DIP

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