Normally I wouldn't really pay attention to the Super Bowl. I'm not a sports fan and I don't have cable, so it's not hard to ignore. I have to confess that I actually used to hate the Super Bowl because it always seemed to fall on the Sunday when my family would celebrate my birthday. I'm the only girl in a long line of boy cousins and they and the other men in my life would be glued to the TV during my birthday party, leaving me no one to play with. The NFL ruined countless birthdays for me.
The only reason I get excited about the Super Bowl, or football in general, is because it gives me an excuse to try out new recipes.
All of these recipes in today's column work well as Super Bowl food or just plain party dishes, simply because no plates or utensils are required to eat them.
As I've said before, I'm from the south and one of my favorite southern foods is pimento cheese, which is a spread typically put on crackers, stuffed in celery or layered on finger sandwiches. I thought that a batch of my recipe for pimento cheese mixed with cream cheese would make a perfect filling for jalapeno poppers.
As a safety precaution, I will often wear gloves when handling jalapenos (especially this volume of jalapenos), because if you handle them and then touch your eyes you are in for a world of hurt.It's best to use disposable kitchen gloves or medical gloves, as I'm not sure that gloves for things like carpentry would be food safe. They may be coated in a powder or made of a chemical that is not meant to be ingested. If you don't wear gloves while handling the peppers make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
The queso recipe I've included is a homemade version of the classic Velveeta, hamburger and salsa dip that most people are familiar with. My mom always made the classic version for gatherings when I was growing up, but I can't bring myself to pump my loved ones, or yours, with globs of processed "cheese food," so this is an easy way to have dip without mystery ingredients. Also, the spice mixture that I use in this dip is the same one I use on tacos.
I feel like a Super Bowl dessert needs to also incorporate finger food. Something like cake or pie seems too fussy, and forks and plates seem like they would get in the way of yelling at the TV. Dessert and cheese balls may not seem like two words that go together but this dish will surely satisfy your sweet tooth. If you would really like to get into the Super Bowl spirit, you can shape your cheese ball into a football shape, rather than a disk.
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Pimento Cheese Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers
14 jalapenos (peppers should be big enough for stuffing)
8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. grated cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 4 ounce jar of pimentos
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the stem end of the peppers off and then cut them in half. Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds and membrane. Place the brick of cream cheese on a plate and microwave it for one minute. Mix the cream cheese, cheddar, garlic, pimentos and cayenne. Fill the peppers with the pimento cheese; don't over-fill the peppers. Melt the butter in a skillet and use to toss the breadcrumbs. Roll the top of each pepper in the bread crumbs. Bake the peppers for 15 to 18 minutes. Serves 8.
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground beef
1 1/2 cups of milk
4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups cheddar cheese
12 oz. salsa
Brown the ground beef, drain it and toss it with the spices. Melt the butter in a saucepan and whisk in the flour (whisk for a minute or so but do not let it brown). Whisk in the milk and continue to stir until it creates a thick sauce. Whisk in the cheese and stir until melted. Add in the beef and finally the salsa. Serve with tortilla chips. Serves 16.
Nutella cheese ball
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup Nutella
2 tablespoons brewed coffee
1/4 cup powdered sugar
6 chocolate cream-filled cookies
Place the cream cheese on a plate and microwave for one minute to soften. Mix the cream cheese, coffee, powdered sugar and Nutella. Place a piece of plastic wrap in a bowl, scrape the Nutella mixture into the plastic wrap lined bowl. Cover the mixture with the excess plastic wrap and let it chill in the fridge for at least two hours. Crush the cookies in a food processor until a fine crumb is formed. Once the cheese ball has chilled, pull the plastic wrap off the top, place a plate over the bowl and turn it upside down to transfer the ball from the bowl to the plate. Press the crumbs onto the outside of the cheese ball to create a crush. Serve with chocolate graham crackers. Serves 16.