Saturday, December 19, 2015

2X Baked Spuds!!


Last weekend the Northeast enjoyed an unusually warm weekend for December (no complaints here!). A couple of the Gameday Gang decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and hosted a homegate over at their place because they have a TV on their deck. That way we get some fresh air AND enjoy the games. Fantastic idea! You don't have to homegate inside all the time. If your place allows for outdoor entertaining while watching the games, go for it.

2X Baked Spuds are relatively easy to make and they travel well. You can bake the potatoes ahead of time and when you're ready, you can prep the filing and then bake them again. Whatever type of filling you make is up to you, but for this recipe I mixed sauteed hot Italian sausage with the potatoes, sour cream, scallions, garlic powder and cheddar cheese. It gets popped back in the oven to heat through and to melt the cheese. The Gang really enjoyed it - and the hostess even hoarded a few leftovers to a secret location in her fridge so that she could enjoy another one the next day before her hungry crew got to it.

2X Baked Spuds                                           

(serves 4-6)

5 large Idaho potatoes
8 oz container sour cream
6 hot Italian sausage removed
from their casings
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1/2 stick of butter
1 tsp granulated garlic
8 oz package of shredded cheddar
(reserve 1/2 cup)
salt & pepper to taste


1.  Bake the potatoes in a 400-degree oven for 45 minutes. Test with a fork for doneness. If the fork goes through the potato easily, they're done.

2.  Remove potatoes from the oven and let cool slightly. Once cooled a bit, slice in half and scoop the insides into a bowl. Mash until soft.

3.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix through. Spoon back into the potato skins and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of each potato.

4. Bake at 400-degrees until the cheese is melted and the potatoes are heated through.

There you have it!

Hope you try it! It makes a hearty snack for gameday and your company will really enjoy it. Enjoy your games!

Until next weekend - keep on homegating!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Jalapeno Popper Pizza!!


If there's one thing I can make week after week without boring the Gameday Gang, it's homemade pizza. They can't get enough of it. It's relatively quick and easy to make. Once in a while I shake it up and make something different from your garden variety cheese pizza. Last week I whipped up a Jalapeno Popper Pizza.

The gang is really into all-things-spicy, so I knew they would be on board with this one. As soon as I told them what was in the oven, their eyes lit up. The pizza is basically a riff on your standard jalapeno popper: cream cheese, cheddar and jalapenos - all laid out on pizza dough.  What you get is a nice bite of creaminess offset by spicy, vinegary jalapenos all on a crisp crust. It's pretty cool  -  or should I say, hot?

For this recipe I used pre-made pizza dough. Sometimes when time allows (or I'm just in the mood), I'll make the dough from scratch. But for the most part I go the easy route and buy the dough. I rolled this pizza into a sheet pan, but you can create it freestyle also. Since this recipe doesn't use pizza sauce, the cream cheese replaces the tomatoes, so I needed to thin out the cream cheese in order to make it spreadable. I used whipped cream cheese, brought up to room temperature and then thinned it out with some milk.  Once my base was set, I sprinkled a shredded cheddar jack combo over that and then topped it with the pickled jalapenos. I popped it into the oven and 8 minutes later we were in spicy pizza nirvana...

Jalapeno Popper Pizza                                          

(serves 4-6)

1 package pizza dough
(brought to room temperature)
16 oz package shredded cheddar-jack cheese
8 oz container whipped cream cheese
(brought to room temperature)
3 tbs milk (or more)
Fresh or pickled jalapenos
(it's up to you how much you want to use)


1.  Pre-heat oven to 525-degrees.

2.  In a bowl, thin out the cream cheese with milk until it reaches an easily spreadable consistency.

3.  Roll dough out to desired size and spread cream cheese on top.

4.  Sprinkle shredded cheddar-jack over cream cheese.

5.  Top with jalapenos.

6.  Place in oven and bake until cheese is melted and dough is golden (approx 8 minutes). Oven temps vary, so start checking the pizza after about 5 minutes (or earlier if your oven runs hot).

And there you have it! Hope this inspires you to try it. If you have a crowd that's into hot and spicy, this one will definitely fit the bill. Make sure to have a lot of ice cold beer on hand to wash it down.

Until next week, keep on homegating!!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Best Wurst Spread - Eva!


For some random reason, last week I got a hankering for liverwurst. Not sure why. I very rarely eat cold cuts, so this craving literally came out of nowhere  -  especially since I haven't had liverwurst in about 15 years. But I gave in, picked a little up and proceeded to make a sandwich with it (on rye, with mustard). As I ate the sandwich, I started contemplating the texture of the lunch meat, since liverwurst is a somewhat soft and spreadable in and of itself. I began thinking how I can incorporate this into something for one of the homegates. I finally came up with:  Wurst Spread!

I played around with a few flavor profiles and came up with a pleasant spread that works well on crackers, crostini or even as a sandwich. For homegating purposes, the spread worked nicely. I incorporated onions, fresh garlic, pickles, the pickle brine, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and cream cheese. Once again, my trusty food processor did all the work in seconds and all I needed to do was spoon it into a bowl and unleash it on the Gameday Gang. I got a few mixed reactions when I told them what it was (note to self: never reveal ingredients until people try it first). But eventually folks gave in, tried it and liked it.

Wurst Spread                                         
(serves 4-6)

1/2 lb liverwurst, sliced
8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/4 small red onion
1/2 clove fresh garlic, minced
2 tbs dill pickles, minced
1 tbs dill pickle brine
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp mustard
1 tbs chives (for garnish)


1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until it reaches a smooth consistency.

2. Serve with crackers, flat pretzels or crostini.

And once again, there you have it. Hope you give it a try at one of your homegates (or tailgates - it's portable!). If you do, please let me know how you like it.

Enjoy the games this weekend. Can you believe there's only 5 weeks left of the regular NFL season? It's going by fast  -  and my team better wake up soon! How about your team? Things start getting very interesting this time of the year, so we'll see how it all finishes out. But don't forget that we still have the Playoffs and then The Big Game! Lots more to come...

Enjoy it all and keep on homegating!!