Posts Tagged 'Game Day Recipes'

Slow-Cooker Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

Football party season is upon us (Dr. O is out enjoying one as I write), which means it’s time to break out our very best game day recipes.  I found one this past week that is easy, perfect for entertaining (slow cooker!), and is actually pretty healthy: Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches from the January/February 2011 issue of Everyday Food.  The recipe isn’t on the Everyday Food site yet, so I’ll share it with you here.

Slow-Cooker Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches
Serves 8 | Active time: 25 min. | Total time: 4 hr. 25 min.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced small
1 can (14.5 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup hot-pepper sauce, such as Frank’s (I used Cholula)
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses
8 hamburger buns

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high.  Add chicken thighs, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring once, until meat is golden brown, 5 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, transfer to a slow cooker, leaving as much oil behind as possible. Repeat with chicken breasts.

To skillet, add onion, garlic, and bell pepper and cook over medium, stirring constantly, until onion is translucent, 6 minutes.  Add 1/4 cup water and cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits from skillet, 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and transfer to slow cooker.

To slow cooker, add crushed tomatoes, hot-pepper sauce, Worcestershire, mustard, and molasses; stir to combine.  Cover and cook on high until chicken is very tender, 4 hours.  Shred chicken and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve on buns.

Note: Refrigerate the finished dish in an airtight container, up to 5 days, or freeze, up to 3 months.

Nutrition per serving: 358 cal; 10 g fat (3 g sat fat); 35 g protein; 31 g carb; 3 g fiber

Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

These sandwiches were SO good!  I have a basic barbecued chicken sandwich recipe that I’ve been using for years, but this recipe has so much more depth of flavor. Unless I’m short on time, I’ll take this sandwich any day.  I should note, though, that the inclusion of the word “spicy” in the recipe title isn’t a joke.  I was cautious and cut the hot sauce to 3 tablespoons instead of 4; the heat was still enough to make our noses run.  (Our New Mexico and Arizona friends joke that we’re still “in training” when it comes to eating spicy food…  Somehow, I think this will be a lifelong process!)  Anyway, if you like it hot, go with the full 1/4 cup; if you don’t do spicy food, you might still get a hint of heat if you cut the hot sauce to 2 tablespoons.

Since I’m used to cooking fattier cuts of meat (like pork shoulder or chuck roast) in the slow cooker, I was a bit skeptical about how well the chicken breast would shred.  It was amazingly easy!  I guess that just goes to show that the slow cooker can do amazing things with meat, lean or not.

I won’t be cooking on Super Bowl Sunday, but I’m absolutely putting these sandwiches in my game day arsenal.  Give them a try the next time you need to make a casual supper for a crowd.


If you’re originally from Nebraska and you don’t live there anymore, you probably miss eating at Runza. For those of you who aren’t from Nebraska (or who haven’t had the good fortune of eating a Runza while visiting Nebraska), you’re probably wondering what in the world a Runza is. Some might call it a meat pie, though I can’t say I find that phrase very appetizing. Another friend basically suggested that I was making glorified Hot Pockets. (In a way, Josh, you’re right.) I would describe an original Runza as a small loaf of bread stuffed with seasoned ground beef, onions, and cabbage. I always get mine with cheese, but they get way more dressed up than that. (Swiss cheese mushroom Runza, anyone? How about a BLT Runza?)

Runza is a Nebraska original (started in Lincoln in 1949), and while we do have two franchises in Colorado, it’s pretty unlikely that I’m going to drive all the way to Ft. Collins or Loveland to have one. Therefore, I make my own. Until recently, it had been years since the last time I made Runzas. There’s been something about this Husker football season (maybe related to the fact that we have a game-worthy TV and more kitchen space now?), though, that has been stirring the craving.

I found a recipe on that (with a few minor tweaks) perfectly replicates that unmistakable Runza flavor. Making them is a bit time-consuming (and messy), I’ll admit, but it’s totally worth it. Plus, any extras freeze beautifully.

Here’s the recipe with my modifications:

Serves 10

Dough Ingredients:
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup sugar (modified from 1/2 cup)
2 (0.25-ounce) packages active dry yeast
1 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup milk (I use 1%, but I’m sure 2% or whole would be fine)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup shortening (I use butter-flavor Crisco)
2 eggs

Filling Ingredients:
1 pound lean ground beef (I use 93/7 or 95/5 so I don’t have to drain it)
2 small onions, chopped
4 cups chopped cabbage
1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 1/4 cups of shredded mild cheddar (or any cheese of your choosing)

In a large mixing bowl, place 1 3/4 cups of flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Heat milk, water, and shortening to 120F – 130F. (I heated the mixture in a saucepan on the stove and used a candy thermometer to check the temperature.) Pour over flour mixture; add the eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on low until blended. Beat an additional 3 minutes on high. Stir in the remaining flour (2 3/4 cups); knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic (about 6 – 8 minutes). Place dough in a greased bowl; cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 hour.)

Dough Before Rise

Dough Before Rise

Dough After Rise

Dough After Rise

Meanwhile, brown beef and onions in skillet. Add cabbage, salt, and pepper; cook until cabbage is wilted and starting to become translucent. Continue seasoning filling with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Punch dough down. Divide into 10 equal pieces and roll each piece into a square on a lightly floured surface. Top each square with 1/3 cup meat mixture and 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese. Fold dough over the filling, crimp edges tightly to seal, and place on greased baking sheets. (I used a pizza stone; you could also line your baking sheets with parchment [but NOT wax paper].) Bake at 350F for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot.


Perhaps this is blasphemy, but I think this recipe actually produces better sandwiches than Runza does itself. The filling taste is spot on, and the bread is absolutely incredible. The first time I tried this particular recipe, I didn’t roll the dough quite thin enough, so the bread was a bit overwhelming. This time, the Runzas were perfect. Perfect! Plus, I have six left in the freezer for later (to be baked for 25 minutes – rather than 20 minutes – at 350F, straight from the freezer). The bread is fractionally more heavenly fresh than it is frozen, but we’ll still have incredibly delicious Runzas without the mess. Runza lovers, you have to try this one… It won’t disappoint!

A few additional notes: Since I am absolutely crazy, I weighed the dough on my kitchen scale and portioned the pieces out by weight. I started with 34 ounces of dough, so each piece was just under 3 1/2 ounces. I did the same thing for the filling. I started with 31 ounces of filling, so each Runza got right around 3 ounces. Feel free to eyeball it, seriously; I just wanted my portions to be about equal.

TIPS:  If you really don’t want to deal with making bread dough, you could probably use frozen dough. I really feel that this dough recipe makes the sandwich, though, so I’d strongly encourage you to at least give it a shot.

Also, if you’re going to freeze your Runzas, first put them on baking sheet and then place them on a freezer shelf for about an hour. Once they’ve started to firm up, transfer them to freezer bags.

Update 1/29/10: I’ve started preheating my pizza stone before I bake the Runzas whether they’re fresh or frozen. Dr. O and I were disappointed to discover that the bottom of our Runzas hadn’t cooked through on one occasion, and this solves the problem. If you’re baking them on a baking sheet rather than a pizza stone, I’d still recommend preheating it. With the preheated cooking surface, fresh Runzas are ready in 20 minutes and frozen ones are ready in 23 minutes (at my house, at least!). Also, I’ve discovered that you can “hold” fresh Runzas in the refrigerator for an hour or two before baking. Just give them 21 or 22 minutes in the oven. I feel ready to serve these for a game day party now that I know I’ll have time to clean up the mess before everyone arrives!

Original recipe link (without modifications): Runzas

Kielbasa Black Bean Chili

I (lightly) catered a party last month for a friend who is involved in the Junior League of Denver, and she gave me a copy of Colorado Classique (the new Junior League of Denver cookbook) as part of my payment.  The JLD cookbooks are a well-known source of fantastic recipes, so I was really excited to receive my very first one.  I had the pleasure of tasting the peanut butter bars from the book at my friend’s house (absolutely incredible – I’ll be making and posting them soon), but I wanted my first selection from the book to be something well-suited for the winter-like weather we experienced here in Denver last week.  I chose to go with the Kielbasa Black Bean Chili, and boy did I choose well.  Dr. O and I enjoyed it so much that I have another pot simmering on the stove right now so we’ll have some to enjoy with football tomorrow.

To make the stew, I started off by heating 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in my 8 1/2-quart Dutch oven.  (You could probably get away with one that’s a bit smaller.)  Next, I tossed in 1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) of turkey kielbasa (quartered lengthwise and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces) and cooked it until it started to brown.  (This took 10 minutes at my house; the recipe indicated 12 minutes.)

Using a slotted spoon, I transferred the kielbasa to a bowl and set it aside.  You need to have to 2 tablespoons of oil in the pot before the next step, so add or subtract from the drippings if necessary.  (My turkey kielbasa didn’t render much fat but did soak up some oil, so I had to add oil to the pot.)  Still using medium-high heat, I added 2 cups of chopped onions, 1 coarsely chopped red bell pepper, 1 coarsely chopped green bell pepper, and 4 chopped garlic cloves to the pot.  I sauteed them until they were beginning to brown (6 minutes at my house, 10 minutes in the recipe).

To the vegetable mixture, I added four 15-ounce cans of black beans (drained and rinsed), a 32-ounce box of chicken broth, a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes in juice (undrained), 3 tablespoons of chili powder, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 1/2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 3 small bay leaves, 1 1/2 tablespoons of dried oregano, and 2 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin.  I brought the chili to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduced the heat to medium, covered it, and simmered it for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, I returned the kielbasa to the pot and reduced the heat to low.  I simmered the chili, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When it was nice and thick, I seasoned it with salt and pepper to taste and served it with sour cream and a sprinkle of chives.

Kielbasa Black Bean Chili

I could happily eat this once a week through the end of winter…  It’s amazingly delicious, warm, and comforting.  Plus, the recipe yields 8 servings, so we were able to have dinner twice plus a lunch for Dr. O on one night’s worth of cooking.  It was wonderful the first night, but a tip included with the recipe was spot on: The chili really was even better the next day.  This makes it perfect for casual entertaining; I’m going to put the chili, Dutch oven and all, into the refrigerator and then just gently reheat it tomorrow for the game.

TIPS:  The bottom of my Dutch oven got pretty brown when I was browning the kielbasa, and the onions picked up the color when they were sauteeing.  It didn’t cause any problems with the chili in terms of flavor or appearance, so don’t worry if this happens to you.

Kielbasa Black Bean Chili
Serves 8

2 tablespoons olive oil, or more if needed
1 1/2 pounds turkey or beef kielbasa or Canino’s Bratwurst, quartered lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups chopped onions
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
4 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 32-ounce box organic chicken broth
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
3 – 4 tablespoons chili powder, depending on desired spiciness
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 small bay leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons salt, or more to taste
Sour cream and chopped green onions for topping


Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.  Add kielbasa or bratwurst and saute 12 minutes or until beginning to brown.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer kielbasa or bratwurst to a bowl.  If necessary, add more olive oil to drippings in pot to measure 2 tablespoons, or discard all but 2 tablespoons of drippings.  Add onions, both bell peppers, and garlic.  Saute 10 minutes or until beginning to brown.  Add beans, broth, tomatoes with juice, chili powder, sugar, vinegar, bay leaves, oregano, and cumin.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.  Return kielbasa or bratwurst to pot.  Reduce heat to low.  Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until chili is thick, stirring occasionally.  Season with salt and pepper.

Chili can be made a day ahead.  Cool slightly; cover, and chill.  Rewarm before serving.

Source: Colorado Classique

Super Bowl Snacks: Past Posts

Happy Super Bowl Sunday, everyone! The afternoon’s parties are rapidly approaching, so I thought I’d give a few last-minute snack suggestions based on past Sweet and Saucy posts. You might consider:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chex Bars
Baked Potato Bar
Fresh Salsa
Sparkling Limeade
Mint Chocolate Brownies
Barbecued Chicken Sandwiches
Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Chews
Slow-Cooked Tex-Mex Chicken and Beans
Sweet Party Mix
Jumbo Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies
Almond Fruit Bars

Happy snacking!

Super Bowl Snacks: Lighter Beef Chili

Would any Super Bowl party be complete without chili? I’m not so sure. I want to preface this all by saying that I’m not about to get into the “beans or no beans debate” – I’m not a chili purist. I’ll play nice with all the Texans and say that real chili doesn’t have beans, so we can agree that this is really chili *with* beans. Or something. 🙂

Anyway, my recipe for today – Lighter Beef Chili – comes from the January/February issue of Everyday Food. This recipe is nice because it’s lean and it’s quick. Prep time is only 25 minutes, and it’s ready to eat only 15 minutes later. You could easily keep it on the stove over low heat if you want to keep it warm for a few hours.

I started by warming 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. I added 1 medium onion (chopped) and 4 garlic cloves (chopped), seasoning with salt and pepper. I cooked the mixture until softened, about 4 minutes.

Next, I added 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of chili powder, and 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder. I cooked and stirred everything until it was fragrant, about 1 minute. I added 1 pound of ground beef sirloin and cooked it, breaking it up with a spoon, until it was no longer pink (about 5 minutes).

Finally, I added 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) of undrained diced tomatoes in juice and 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) of pinto beans (drained and rinsed). I brought the mixture to a boil over high heat, reduced it to a simmer, and cooked the chili until it was slightly thickened, about 12 minutes. I served mine with sour cream and scallions.


This chili is good – it has a nice texture and I appreciate that it’s on the healthier side. It doesn’t have a really strong flavor, though, which is what I’m used to when I eat chili. Once we added our toppings (we ended up throwing some crushed blue tortilla chips in there as well), the flavor really improved. Grated cheddar or pepper jack would be really nice too. Since it’s mild, this is a perfect kid-friendly chili. I would just use extra seasoning or a variety of toppings to dress it up a bit more for the adult crowd.

Recipe link: Lighter Beef Chili

Super Bowl Snacks: Annie’s Artichoke Dip

Several years ago during my wedding festivities, my maid of honor (Annie) made this absolutely amazing artichoke dip. It rivals any dip I’ve ever had in a restaurant. She was kind enough to share the recipe with me, and now she’s agreed to let me share it with all of you. You’ll love it!


1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese (light is fine)
12 ounces shredded mozzarella
1 cup mayonnaise (light is fine)
1 cup grated Parmesan (Annie subs Asiago)
1/4 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or more, to taste)
2 jars marinated artichokes

Drain artichokes well and tear them apart with your fingers. Combine all ingredients and mash. Bake uncovered in a casserole dish at 350 F for 30 minutes of until center is bubbling and top is golden brown. Serve with bread, crackers, or veggies.


I had to scoop out a bit for the photo so you could see the creamy goodness under the crusty top. My mom and I have made this for numerous family functions and people just go crazy for it. Thanks, Annie! 🙂

Super Bowl Snacks: Stuffed Strawberry Cheesecakes

While I LOVE the more traditional game day snacks like pizza, chili, and yesterday’s Pigs in Blankets, I think it’s a good idea to balance things out a bit with a few healthier options. I found a great recipe in the August 2006 issue of Shape that presents a fun twist on fruit and dip – Stuffed Strawberry Cheesecakes.

I started by washing and patting dry 24 large strawberries. I sliced off each stem end and made a small hole in each berry using a 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon. (The recipe says to use a knife, but I thought it was easier to “scoop” using the measuring spoon.) I set the berries aside.

Next, I made the filling. In a small bowl, I combined 4 ounces of light cream cheese, 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. I mashed and stirred everything together with a fork until it was smooth and well combined. I used the same 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon to spoon the filling into the strawberries. Scrumptious!


TIPS: There are a couple of things you can do to prevent your strawberries from getting soggy. One, make sure you rinse and dry them *before* you remove the tops. Two, when you set them aside after the scooping step, I’d set them upside down over paper towels. That way, any extra moisture will drain out while you’re making the filling.

Recipe link: Stuffed Strawberry Cheesecakes

Super Bowl Snacks: Pigs in Blankets

Since the Super Bowl is rapidly approaching and many of us will be attending or hosting parties, I thought it would be fun to dedicate the rest of the week to great game day snacks. There are tons of tasty little snacks in the freezer section of the grocery store – taquitos and mini quiche, anyone? – but I just can’t bring myself to serve processed convenience food to guests. I’m making it harder than it needs to be, I know. I just really enjoy the thrill of creating something delicious.

I decided to start with a popular game day snack – Pigs in Blankets – using a recipe from the September 2007 issue of Everyday Food. I will admit to taking advantage of a convenience ingredient here: frozen puff pastry. Since it takes about 3 days to make puff pastry from scratch, though, I think this one is OK. 🙂

Frozen puff pastry needs about 40 minutes to thaw before it can be used; thawing one sheet (1/2 package) was step one. Once the pastry had thawed, I unrolled the sheet, cut it lengthwise into 10 equal strips, and then cut each strip into equal thirds to yield 30 1-by-3-inch pieces. (This was actually pretty easy because my puff pastry had been rolled into thirds and then frozen; there were creases right at the 1/3 and 2/3 marks.)

I took 30 cocktail franks, patted them dry, and the rolled each one in a strip of pastry. I placed them seam-side down on rimmed baking sheet. Next, I brushed the top of each pastry with some lightly beaten egg and the sprinkled the batch with poppy seeds.


The recipe said to bake the pigs at 400F for 25 – 30 minutes. Good thing I was watching… Mine were puffed, golden and heated through at 17 minutes.


These were really yummy little snacks! I served them with ketchup. They’re best consumed in one bite, though… Puff pastry’s delicate, flaky layers can produce some major crumbs.

TIPS: If you wanted to add cheese to the mix, you could probably put a strip of cheese on top of the pastry strip before rolling the franks (or just use cheese franks, if you can find them).

Recipe link: Pigs in Blankets (it’s the first recipe listed in the article)

Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Chews

Last night, I made Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Chews from Pampered Chef’s Celebrate! cookbook. I make these several times per year, and for good reason – people go CRAZY for them. Seriously crazy. The combination of oats, brown sugar, butterscotch caramel ice cream topping, and chocolate is a definite people pleaser. They’re also super easy.

I started by combining 2 cups of old-fashioned oats (quick oats are fine too), 1 1/2 cups of flour, 3/4 cup of brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a large bowl. I added 2 sticks of melted butter and stirred the mixture until it was crumbly. I set 1 cup of the crumb mixture aside and pressed the rest into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan sprayed with cooking spray. That went into the oven for 15 minutes at 350 F.

Next, I whisked together 1 cup of butterscotch caramel ice cream topping (I buy Mrs. Richardson’s at Kroger) and 1/4 cup of flour in a small bowl. I drizzled that over the baked crust. The recipe says to “carefully” spread the topping to the edges of the crust using a spatula, but I just pick up the pan (with hot pads, of course!) and tilt it until the topping evenly covers the crust.

Making the top layer of the bars is the last step. I combined 1/2 cup of chopped pecans with the reserved crumb mixture and sprinkled that – along with 3/4 cup of semisweet chocolate chips – over the top of the caramel mixture. I baked that at 350 F for 15 minutes, set the pan on a cooling rack, and let the bars cool.

(Click here for way, way better photos.)

Ideal cool time is 2 hours; you *could* serve the bars warm and gooey with ice cream at about the halfway point if you wanted to risk having your family or guests pass out in ecstasy. 😉

TIPS: Don’t overcook these bars. Once you see that the topping has browned and you notice some bubbling, take them out. If you overdo it, the caramel layer will bake into a hard-candy-like substance on the edges of your pan, and you may need to trim the edges.

Also, I tend to cut the bars into smaller portions if I’m bringing them to a party where there are going to be other foods to sample. The normal serving size (24 bars from a 9 x 13 pan) isn’t large, but the bars are rich.

Recipe link: Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Chews

Sweet Party Mix

As my last pre-Thanksgiving post, I’d like to share one of my very favorite game day snack recipes. This is a big weekend for football, and I’d hate for you to go hungry. 😉

I received the recipe for Sweet Party Mix from a dear friend who went to dental school with Dr. O. This mix is addictive, truly. The recipe makes enough for about 12 people (maybe more), so I try not to make it unless we’re going to have some help in the eating department.

For ingredients, you’ll need:

1 stick butter
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 12-oz. box Crispix
1 bag of pretzels (I use half of a 12 – 15 oz. bag)
2 cups peanuts
M&Ms (I use one medium bag of peanut M&Ms)

Microwave the butter, corn syrup and brown sugar in a medium bowl for 2 minutes. Stir well. Add vanilla and baking soda. Stir. Pour Crispix into a brown paper bag. Pour butter mixture over the top of the cereal and shake well. Microwave the mixture in the paper bag for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes. Add pretzels and peanuts. Shake together and cool on wax paper. Add M&Ms if desired.


This mix is soooo good. The Crispix is really the best part. Dr. O is constantly leaving the pretzels and peanuts behind because they don’t soak up as much of the yummy goo. Shame, shame.

TIPS: You’ll need a grocery-size brown paper sack for this recipe. I always just ask for an fresh one when I go through the checkout line at the store. You’ll want to shake the heck out of this to make sure the ingredients are well-coated, and a large sack will give you the room you need.

For cooling the mix, I cover my dining room table in wax paper and spread it out. You’ll need a decent amount of space! Also, make sure you don’t add the M&Ms to the mix until it has cooled. Otherwise, the M&M colors will run.

The Daring Kitchen

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