This household was super excited to get back a little bit of normal and watch some football on Sundays!
As soon as the Monday Night football theme song plays, childhood memories come flooding back. My parents were long time Packer season ticket holders and instilled this virtue in my sister and I. They bought the tickets back when Lambeau field was being built and held onto them through all the hard years of the 70s and 80s. I was very lucky when they transferred them to me after I got out of college.
We have seen so many great games, sitting in the stands overlooking the south end zone. Remembering back to the Super Bowl run in 1996, Antonio Freeman’s catch against Carolina was right in from of us almost like he was running directly into our section. Sitting in the pouring rain as the Packers beat the 49ers during that playoff run. And the chants of “Reggie, Reggie” when they retired Reggie White’s number into the ring of honor shortly after his passing.
Growing up we spent every fall Sunday camped in the living room watching football and eating “snackies” as my mom referred to them. For some long forgotten reason my mom disliked Terry Bradshaw, so when he joined the pre-game show she would refuse to watch and instead headed to the kitchen and made lunch or snacks. Back in the 70s and 80s the Packers were not very good so this was more about family time and food. We mainly stuck with some standards like chili, chicken bites, chipped beef dip and ham roll ups. We would start our pre-game celebration as soon as we got back from church and changed into our Packer gear.
I am trying to carry on the tradition and put out some snacks for the Packer games. To kick off the season we had the Covid crew (our neighbors) over to watch the game and have some snacks. I spent time searching the web where I found some new recipes to try.
One of my favorite recipes discovered earlier this year is Easy Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites. Like a lot of people, I started making bread during quarantine and this was one of our favorites. It’s easy and quick to make.
- 2 1/4 cups (11.25 ounces) all-purpose flour (see note)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 1 cup (8 ounces) warm water
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) very hot water
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- Coarse, kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- In a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, add the flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Mix. Add the water. Mix well, adding more flour, if needed, a bit at a time to form a soft, smooth dough that clears the sides and bottom of the bowl. It should be soft but not overly sticky.
- Knead for 4-5 minutes until the dough is soft and stretchy. Grease the inside of a gallon-size ziploc-type bag with nonstick cooking spray and place the dough inside. Close the bag, leaving room for the dough to expand, and let it rest for 20-30 minutes (or up to 60 minutes) until doubled in size. Alternately, the dough can rise in a lightly greased, covered bowl.
- Preheat oven to 500°F. The high heat ensures the pretzels will brown beautifully on the outside while staying soft and chewy on the inside. Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly grease with cooking spray.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly greased or floured work surface, and cut the dough into four thick strips. Cut each strip of dough into about 6-8 pieces. It doesn't have to be exact.
- Combine the very hot water and baking soda and whisk to combine well.
- Dip each pretzel bite in the baking soda solution (this helps give the pretzels a nice, golden-brown color). Let the excess liquid drip off before placing the pretzel bites a couple inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
- Sprinkle the pretzel bites with coarse, kosher salt. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.
- Bake the pretzels for 7-8 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove the pretzels from the oven, and immediately brush them with the melted butter. Keep brushing the butter on until you’ve used it all up; it may seem like a lot, but that’s what gives these pretzels their ethereal taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Over the summer, I made them with my niece, Alyssa. She’s is always up for trying something new and easily whipped up a batch for her family. The recipe recommends using a mixer but the dough comes together quick just mixing it by hand. Also, we then let the dough raise in a clean bowl instead of the zip lock bag. I had issues with the dough sticking to the bag when we originally did the recipe. We let the dough rise for a little longer than recommended and end up with puffier pretzel bites.
The secret to making these taste the best is to be liberal with the salt on the top right before cooking and also lather on the butter as soon as they are out of the oven. Once done, pair with your favorite queso cheese or just eat on their own. They are so good when warm out of the oven!
Make ahead tip: These work well to make ahead and freeze. The bites thaw out rather quickly and can be warmed up for in the oven for 5 mins. If you want to freeze them, don’t brush the butter on until you rewarm them and are ready to eat.
One of the newest recipes I tried is Crispy Goat Cheese Poppers with Honey. This is from the Comfort of Cooking blog which contains a lot of downhome recipes that are easy to make and remind me of my mom’s cooking but with a twist.
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 (11 oz.) log soft goat cheese
- 2 cups oil (grapeseed, canola or veg oil)
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 2 Tbsp. minced fresh chives
- In a medium bowl, combine flour and black pepper. In a separate bowl, whisk egg, salt and 2 tablespoons In a separate bowl, add panko.
- Roll goat cheese into 24 (1-Tablespoon size) balls. Roll each ball in flour, then egg, then panko crumbs, coating evenly. Freeze 20 minutes, or until firm.
- When ready to cook, set a deep saucepan to medium-high heat. Heat oil to 350 degrees F.
- Fry goat cheese in batches, 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined
- Arrange goat cheese poppers on a platter. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with chives. Serve immediately.
The Poppers were easy to make and quick to fry up. Home frying in the past hasn’t always been that successful so I was a bit nervous to try this recipe. Since it was a small batch of items the frying was quick and was able to be completed in 2 batches. Also, the oil needed wasn’t that much so it didn’t make a huge mess of the kitchen. The drizzle of honey really brought out the tangy flavor of the cheese. Overall it was a great success!!
Going to one of my favorite websites (Half Baked Harvest), I found Baked Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls which are super tasty!
- 1 1/2 cups cooked shredded chicken
- 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup buffalo sauceplus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 2 tablespoon dried parsley
- 2 teaspoon dried dill
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- kosher salt
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
- 20-22 square egg roll wrappers
- 1 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
- 3/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- juice from 2 limes
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.
- In a bowl, combine the chicken, yogurt, buffalo sauce, chives, parsley, dill, onion powder, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt. Stir in the cheeses.
- To assemble, spoon 2 tablespoons of filling onto each wrapper. Brush water around the edges of the wrapper, then roll up and place on the baking sheet. Brush each roll lightly with olive oil. Transfer to the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, then flip and cook another 8-10 minutes more, or until the rolls are crisp.
- Meanwhile, make the ranch. Combine all ingredients in a glass jar and shake or stir until creamy.
- Serve the egg rolls with fresh herbs and plenty of ranch for dipping.
Like a lot of her recipes, it gets a little involved but the outcome is worth it. I have made these a number of times and have shared them with our neighborhood covid group. They are always a big hit! In the first batch I put in 1/3 cup of buffalo sauce and this was too spicy for us. We cut it to ¼ cup which gave the rolls a nice kick but is cooled by the cilantro ranch dressing.
Make ahead tip: pre-make the chicken and the ranch dressing the day before. Then roll the egg rolls and bake the day of. Just make sure not to overstuff the wrappers.
Another easy make ahead snack is Brown Sugar Bacon Wrapped Smokies. Very simple and quick to pull together.
- 1 Package of Bacon
- 1 Package of Mini Smokies
- ½ cup Brown Sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking pan with foil.
- Cut Bacon into thirds. Wrap 1 piece of bacon around each mini smokie and secure with a toothpick.
- Combine cayenne pepper and brown sugar and roll each smokie in the mixture. (Note: They can be frozen at this point)
- Place on prepared pans and bake for 10 minutes.
- Flip smokies and cook an additional 10 minutes or until bacon is crispy. (Add an extra 5 minutes if baking from frozen).
Make ahead tip: Complete step 2 by wrapping the smokies with bacon and freeze. When ready to make, thaw the smokies, roll them into the spices and bake. This recipe makes a large amount so we always break it into multiple batches.
We are always looking for new recipes to try for game day. Please share your favorites in the comment section!