Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Beer Cheese!!!

Okay, so my annual Kickoff Party is a week and a half away. I have a bunch of things to do. The menu is all set. With Labor Day coming up this weekend, I can take advantage of the sales. I'll load up on chips and pretzels, as well as beer and soda. Since my place is the official Homegating Headquarters for all game day festivities, I usually buy in bulk so that I'm always prepared, especially for unannounced guests. It makes my life easier that way.

You can't have a good football party without several dips and chips. That's pretty much a standard when you're homegating. Of the many dips I usually haul out during the course of the season, I thought I'd introduce you to my Beer Cheese Dip. It's so easy to whip up (literally) because it's all done in the food processor (one of my favoritest kitchen appliances). It takes just minutes to prepare.

I developed the beer cheese dip after my bestie asked if I could replicate a cheese spread that her local restaurant would place on tables instead of the standard basket of bread and butter. The chef wouldn't share the recipe, so she had me culinarily (is that a word?) dissect it. After a lot of trial and error, I came up with a pretty damn good facsimile. I unleashed it on my co-workers and it was a hit. Hence the legend of the Beer Cheese Dip.  And now you, my lucky fellow homegaters, are privvy to it. Go ahead, shock and awe your guests...

Beer Cheese Dip
(makes 1 pint)

1- 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
10 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded*
1 tbs red onion
1 tsp Worchestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1/2 bottle lager or ale** (you don't want anything heavier than that, or it will overcome the dip)
1 bag of pretzels


1.  Place the red onion in the processor and process until it's finely minced.

2.  Add the shredded cheese and begin to process. With the processor running, drizzle the beer in a little at a time. What you want to do is develop a cheese "puree." Once the cheese reaches that consistency, add the cream cheese, Worcestershire sauce and the hot sauce. Process until smooth.

3.  If the dip seems too thick, add more beer and process until you reach a smooth consistency.

You can double or triple this recipe to make however much you want.

Serve with pretzels and enjoy the games!

* Don't use the pre-packaged shredded cheese because that cheese is tossed in cornstarch to keep it from sticking. Trust me, you don't want to use it. You can shred a block of cheese easily in the food processor using the shredder disk.

** Non-alcohol beer is perfectly fine.

See you next week for more ideas and another recipe!

Friday, August 8, 2014


Kickoff Krunch Burger

Welcome to Homegating101!

Football season is almost here (a moment of silence, please). This is the time of year that has my house rocking pretty much every weekend. It's the inspiration for Homegating 101. What first started out as an annual Super Bowl party, turned into an annual kickoff party, which eventually turned into a weekly gathering—especially after I began subscribing to the DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket.

Right now I’m prepping for my annual kickoff party. The box of football-themed bowls, plates, glasses, cups and tablecloths is getting pulled out of storage. It will be ready for action for the next 20+ weekends. I’m working on the game day menu. Along with the obligatory wings, chips and dips (those recipes will be shared in the coming weeks), I'll be serving a “main feature” dish.  For this year’s party, I’m rolling out: Kickoff Krunch Burgers.

The Kickoff Krunch Burger is a mixture of ground chuck with sautéed, minced onions, Worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper and a splash of beer (because beer is very important during football). It’s topped with melted havarti cheese, spicy horseradish slaw, and anchored by a handful of potato chips, all delivered on a Kaiser roll. Low-cal? Hmmm. But calories don't count during the game, right (wink-wink)?

You don’t need a charcoal or gas grill, unless you have one in your yard. As an apartment-dweller, I rely on my electric indoor grill, griddle, cast iron pan and oven. You can cook these burgers on any appliance you want. Each preparation will yield a slightly different result, but they will all be delicious.  The ground chuck makes for a hearty burger and acts as the perfect foil for all its accoutrements. The spicy crispness of the horseradish slaw topping provides a nice contrast to the richness of the havarti. And as for the potato chips, well, they’re just plain fun and provide that famous crunch.

Kickoff Krunch Burgers
(makes 6 burgers) 

3 lb ground chuck
1 medium onion sautéed in 1 tbs of canola oil
tbs Worcestershire sauce
Splash of lager, pilsner, or ale (you don't want to use anything heavier)
Salt & pepper to taste
1 slice of havarti cheese

Horseradish Slaw:
1 cup each of shredded red and green cabbage
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tbs prepared horseradish (or more to taste, depending on how hot you like it)
1 tsp celery seed (optional)

Handful of your favorite potato chips
6 Kaiser rolls

1.     Heat 1 tbs of canola oil in a small sauté pan. While that’s heating up, mince the onion. Add the onion to the pan and sauté until it is soft and golden. Let cool.
2.     In a mixing bowl, add the ground chuck, sautéed onions, Worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper  and splash (about 2 tbs) of your favorite lager or ale. Mix thoroughly and form into 5-6 ounce patties (they should be about ¾- to 1-inch thick). Place a thumb print in the middle of each so that they keep their shape while cooking. Let rest in the refridgerator while you make the coleslaw topping. (Note: These can be made 1 day ahead – or you can make them in advance and freeze the patties until you’re ready. But make sure to let them thaw out before you cook them)
3.      Shred the red and green cabbage (I like using my food processor with the shredding attachment for this, but you can shred it however you like) and place in a clean mixing bowl. Sprinkle with the celery seed, if you’re adding it.
4.     In another mixing bowl, add the mayonnaise, sour cream and 1 1/2 tbs of prepared horseradish. (If you like things a little hotter, you can add more horseradish). Mix thoroughly and add to your shredded cabbage. Toss until the cabbage is fully coated. Refridgerate until ready. (Note: This can be made a day ahead, but don’t go any longer than that because the cabbage will start to get soft and you don’t want to lose that crispness)
5.     Heat your grill, cast iron pan, electric grill or electric griddle to medium high (if using the oven, pre-heat to 400 degrees F). Place the patties on the surface and cook 5 minutes on each side for medium. (If using an instant-read thermometer—which I live by—the temperature should read 150 degrees) The last minute before you take the burgers off the heat, add a slice (or 2, if you prefer) of the havarti and cover. Once the cheese is melted nicely, remove from the heat and let rest for 5 minutes.
6.   After the burger has rested, place a nice handful of potato chips on the bottom of your Kaiser roll. Place the patty on top, followed by the coleslaw and then the top of the roll.
7.     Place on a platter, bring into your game room, and back away quickly as the gang attacks.

And there you have it! I hope I've inspired you to do a little cooking and invite a few friends over to enjoy your favorite games. Check in next Wednesday as I share more recipes and game day stories!

(Special thanks to Anita at Hungry Couple for helping me get Homegating101 off the ground!) 
     [Edited by Alyssa Petersen]