Gridiron Grub: Gearing up

This has been an odd year to be a football fan. With college football ending last January and the NFL lockout lasting through the summer, sports fans have heard incessant talk about the sport but seen very little of it until the last few weeks of preseason games. Because of this, I was ecstatic that I was able to spend last Saturday at the home opener for the Penn State Nittany Lions. I am from Northeast Pa. and Saturday pilgrimages to Beaver Stadium are practically a birthright. The early morning wake-up; the drive through pristine mountains and countryside until the stadium appears on the horizon; thousands of tailgaters sharing food, drinks and stories…..there is nothing quite like it.

Tailgating was in full swing at 9am, the university band was blaring, crowds were cheering and even the first kick-off was returned for a touchdown. There was really only one thing missing at last week’s game: fall weather. At kickoff the temperature was peaking at 90 degrees and felt even hotter with 100,000 of my closest friends packed around. Besides an opening day win, the only thing that made the heat easier to bear was the vendors climbing up and down the stadium stairs with water and fresh-squeezed lemonade for sale. Which got me thinking.

Spiked Basil Lemonade

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When Guacamole is the Most Ambitious Menu Item

Guacamole for a party makes an easy dish – a few ripe avocados, some chopped onion, tomato, chilies and seasoning. Serve the guacamole soon after mixing and it will be the party’s star.

But what happens when you have to feed 30,000 people — breakfast, lunch and dinner — in more than 30 corporate tents at this past weekend’s U.S. Open? Well, you have to make a lot of guacamole.

Bennett and I checked out the third round of this (what people tell me) very important golf tournament, located just outside of D.C. this year at Congressional Country Club. We were able to check out the caterer’s own corporate tent and get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to pull off the edible win.

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March Food Madness: All 68 NCAA Tournament Teams Ranked by Their Best Drunk College Food: Part 2

Read Part 1 of the List

35. Notre Dame: Four Horsemen Basket

Ribs, chicken strips, mozzarella sticks, Parmesan shrimp and breadsticks. Perhaps designed to be eaten by a group, but on many occasion consumed by a single drunken Irish fan. Between the Buns; South Bend, Indiana (Photo: BtB)

34. Marquette: Chili Cheese Atomic Dog

Spicy Vienna beef Polish hot dog fried crispy and topped with onions, tomato wedges, chili and cheese.

Dogg Haus; Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Photo: Dogg Haus)

33. Texas A&M: Spicy Bacon Chicken Baked Potato

Thought a baked potato was only a vessel for sour cream and cheese? Think again. This one has BBQ chicken, bacon, butter, sour cream and cheese.

Potato Shack; College Station, Texas (Photo: DerekSteen)

32. Florida State: Wake ‘n’ Bake Dog

Too late for dinner, too early for breakfast? Try a hot dog wrapped in bacon on a fried egg with cheese.

VooDoo Dog; Tallahassee, Florida (Photo: VooDoo Dog)

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Bacon Streusel Maple Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Stats, spreads, percentages…um, let’s talk about what really matters during the Super Bowl. Commercials, the half-time show and of course — food! All the other stuff is extraneous, unless of course you win the pool, in which case football is great.

As for the food, the Super Bowl calls for a dessert sophisticated enough to bring to an event, but crowd-pleasing enough to…well, please a crowd. Enter the Super Bowl Cupcake.

The streusel on top framing that thick cloud of maple cream cheese frosting is not your everyday streusel. That my friends, is crushed bacon wrapped in some cayenne and brown sugar for a sweet and spicy flavoring, then paired up with some crushed almonds for added nutty goodness. This is the kind of killer combination that will make you glad you publicly declared to eat better for your New Year’s resolution.

Bacon Streusel Maple Cream Cheese Cupcakes

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Gridiron Grub: Venison & Ginger Beer Chili


A couple of weeks ago my Eagles were knocked out of the NFL playoffs and before that, my beloved PSU Nittany Lions embarrassed themselves in the Outback Bowl. Thankfully, while I drowned my sorrows last week, BS provided us with a look at overpriced NFL beer and provided me with some time to regain my composure so that I could return reinvigorated for the final 2 weeks of the 2010/2011 season.  The forecast for the games this weekend isn’t too promising and where I live we are expecting single digit temperatures. Needless to say, I will not be heading out to watch any games, but instead thought I would make a big pot of the ultimate winter comfort food….chili.

I don’t know if I have ever come across a bad bowl of chili. There are so many different ways to prepare it and they all end up being pretty delicious. While doing a little research for this post, I confirmed that the word chili is Spanish and the first recorded use was in 1604. The rough translation was: “a bunch of tasty shit stewed together for awhile.” Partly inspired by ML’s recent post about game meat, and the fact that I had access to locally hunted venison, I decided to go with a venison chili. This chili recipe started out a few years ago, straight from a Field and Stream recipe, but with small changes each attempt, I came to this week’s incarnation:

Venison and Ginger Beer Chili with Lime Cream

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Gridiron Grub: Playoff Time


The playoffs are here and the Super Bowl is not far behind, which means it’s increasingly difficult to avoid football no matter how hard you try. Whether it’s a game blaring at the bar Saturday night, co-workers talking about how the weather will affect the Philly game or friends inviting you over for a Super Bowl party; the NFL is about to launch a full-scale assault on America.

We are well aware that many ES readers may not be football fanatics. If you are one of those people who doesn’t watch or can barely stand football, I apologize. You probably have read these Gridiron Grub posts only if the dish sounded/looked good, which is fine because, well, it’s free. But my point is — whether you love sports or hate them, January is the time to start seriously upping your appetizer repertoire. Because nothing saves a bad football game like a good dip

So Feed Us Back: What’s your #1 killer go-to gameday recipe? Share a link or a recipe below.

And of course, we’ll show you ours. Here are our favorite party recipes bound to please foodies and footballers alike:

Bacon and Bean Nachos
Chipotle Guacamole

Cuban Mixto Sandwich

Fancy Jalapeno Poppers

Fish Tacos and Chips

French Onion Soup Sandwich

Peach Bourbon Wontons

Southside Park Slope Sandwich

Stuffed Mushrooms with Spinach, Cream Cheese and Ricotta

Sugar Cane Shrimp

Sweet Potato Pizza

Tequila Mango Salsa

Texas Caviar Dip

Tofu Buffalo Wings

Zucchini and Chickpea Spring Rolls

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