Game Day and Beyond – Recipes for Get-togethers

Whether you are planning on watching a game with friends, doing dinner and a movie at your place, or are just after fuss-free menu ideas, we’ve got you covered. This list is full of laid back, casual fare that’s easy to prep, is do-ahead and feeds a crowd. The key to enjoying the party is planning. Always accomplish what you can before your guests arrive, so you can kick back, too.

Finger Foods and Apps

Crab, Pineapple & Black Bean Nachos

For a different take on nachos, try these with their bold flavors of crab, pineapple and jalapeño. While certainly not a traditional protein topper, if you enjoy crabmeat, you'll love the freshness they lend to an otherwise heavy dish. Serve as an appetizer, or even as a non-traditional main when paired with a salad or soup.
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Sausage & Cheese Stuffed Jalapenos

Chorizo sausage and smoked cheddar cheese fill these baked jalapeño poppers. They're a fun, easy game watching kind of app that delivers big on flavor. Make them ahead and warm them up to serve.
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Smoked Cheddar Beer Cheese with Soft Pretzels

An ooey gooey cheese dip meant for dunking. If you can't find smoked cheddar cheese, look for a smoked mozzarella, or use a mild white cheddar instead. Don't use smoked Gouda; I've found this to be too sweet. You may make the beer cheese ahead and rewarm in a pot or microwave to serve. Make sure you've got lots of big, chewy soft pretzels for dipping, and serve them slightly warmed.
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Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppadews

If your grocery store has an olive bar, there is where you're likely to find peppadews. They are sweet, pickled peppers with very little heat, if any. Piquant and flavorful all on their own as an appetizer, they are complimented and rounded by a creamy goat cheese mixture that is quick to put together. Make these ahead for an easy party snack.
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Buffalo Bean Dip

A slightly healthy take on classic party fare, but that doesn't mean it compromises on taste one bit. The beans add heft and a creamy consistency, and keep the dip from being overly decadent. Cream cheese and sour cream add richness and molten cheesy goodness, and it's topped with blue cheese crumbles for maximum flavor. Make ahead and bake just before serving.
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Taco muffins

These cute little appetizers are a fun addition to a Tex-Mex themed meal. They are easy to put together, using purchased salsa, shredded cheese and refried beans. The turkey layer is home cooked, though it is a simple stir fry and takes only 10 minutes. The muffins can be assembled ahead of time and baked off to serve.
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Gussied Up Hummus

Let's face it, a bowl of hummus served with carrot sticks may be an easy app, but can be quite dull. Up your hummus game by topping it with an easy tomato and cucumber salad that adds visual interest, contrasting texture, and amazing flavor. I highly advocate making your own hummus, as the taste compared to store-bought is unparalleled – and it really only takes about 5 minutes to throw together.
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Main Dish

Jacket Potatoes & All the Fixings

This is a meal for football watching – all of the toppings can be prepped ahead, and the potatoes slowly roast in the oven allowing free time away from the kitchen. In essence, you are creating a baked potato bar, with guests choosing from a variety of toppings for their spud. Or, for a simpler weeknight dinner, select, pre-top and serve.
Jacket potatoes are baked directly on the oven rack, without being wrapped. The result is a crispy skin with a fluffy interior, that is just waiting to soak up flavor. I love this "blank slate" dinner so much, I've included two more ideas for toppings below the recipe. The options are endless!
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Turkey Enchiladas with Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash

At first, this may strike you as an interesting combination of ingredients, however they all harmoniously combine to create one epic dish of enchiladas. I like to use a fresh tomatillo salsa for the topping, available at my local grocer, but jarred or canned green salsa will work just as well. You can prepare the filling ahead of time, but don't assemble the dish too far in advance as the tortillas will become soggy.
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Grilled Cubano

The key to a good Cubano is the bread. If you don't live near a Cuban bakery, or otherwise cannot find a good quality Pan Cubano (bread), use a soft French style roll – crust of a harder roll will get in the way of grilling and pressing the sandwich. My recipe is not an authentic Cubano, as it does not use mojo-marinated pork shoulder, but this version is easier to make and still delivers the flavor. Smoked turkey is a good stand in and makes for a lighter sandwich that you can enjoy any day of the week.
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Sheet Pan “Spinach-Artichoke Dip” Panini

Everyone's favorite party app becomes the main event with this easy sheet pan sandwich. Spinach artichoke dip slathered between pillowy foccacia bread and warmed in an oven – it's gooey and cheesy on the inside, crisp on the outside, and a true crowd pleaser. Make sure to squeeze out as much water as you can from the artichoke hearts, and cook them down with the spinach until all the liquid is evaporated, otherwise your filling will be too moist. You can make your own bread, or buy a good foccacia loaf that is about 9 x 12-inches, or a 12-inch circle.
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Sheet Pan Grilled Cheese

Sheet pan grilled cheese is the way to go it you're feeding a crowd. No need to stand in front of the stove flipping sandwiches. Instead, assembled them, ahead of time if you'd like, then pop them in the oven to melt and crisp up for one of life's most classic comfort foods. Mine are elevated from the norm with two types of cheese, sliced apples, a slick of dijon mustard and candied nuts… and they're great with a bowl of tomato soup for dunking.
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Winter Squash & Black Bean Turkey Chili

This chili has a few more steps than most, but it's not difficult. You will be well rewarded for your effort. A highly seasoned spice paste is used to create a depth of flavor and complexity that you will love. Make this on a crisp Sunday afternoon when you have time to stir the pot and let all of the ingredients come together on a low simmer.
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Super Moist Baked Turkey Meatballs

Turkey meatballs lack the fat that pork or beef meatballs carry, and can often end up dry. My method for ensuring a moist turkey meatball is simple. Soak sourdough bread in milk to soften, squeeze out the extra milk and mix the soaked bread into the meat and seasonings. This keeps the meatball light, never dense or chewy. After you've baked them off, the turkey meatball can be used to make spaghetti, or as I call for here, subs.
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A Sweet Finish

Best Fudgy Brownies – Won’t Believe They’re G.F.

(Adapted from David Leibovitz)
Gluten free aside, these are simply delicious brownies. I make them when I need to make a GF dessert, but also when I'm craving a moist and fudgy brownie, full of rich chocolatey flavor. Feel free to add nuts if you like, about a half cup will do.
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Triple Layer Peanut Butter Crunch Bars

A press-in chocolate cookie crust is the base for a creamy and rich peanut butter layer, topped with thick chocolate ganache. Like your favorite chocolate peanut butter candy, but better. Don't try to mix the peanut butter filling by hand, you really need to use a stand mixer for it to come together. It will take longer than you think, but just keep beating until smooth. A no-stir peanut butter with no added sugar is the best option for these bars. A natural peanut butter will be too grainy and may not set up firmly enough.
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Chocolate Crusted Key Lime Bars

When in doubt, add chocolate – it's the flavor you didn't know your limes were missing. With a crunchy cookie base, these puckery lime bars are a break from the usual, packing a little more oomph. If key limes aren't available, substitute with regular lime juice, but also add the zest from one lime to supplement.
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Peppermint Pattie Rich Chocolate Brownies

Buy an extra bag of peppermint candies at Halloween and tuck them in the back of your pantry for when the craving strikes – these are worth making. A rich, fudgy brownie with a layer of Peppermint Patties. To carefully spread the brownie batter over the candies, use a small, offset spatula.
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Butterscotch Blondies

(Adapted from Mark Bittman)
These blondies have the effect of causing one's eyes to roll back in their head. After coming to, the standard utterance is "oh my gosh." They are dense, buttery, moist and should be in your regular rotation. I've found the original recipe to be too oily from the butter, so have adjusted it to my liking. Though the recipe is written without, if you're looking for a little something extra, add a half teaspoon of cinnamon and some chopped walnuts – one word, "divine".
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Pumpkin Snacking Bars

Adapted from Martha Stewart
Martha's pumpkin squares are good, but mine pack something extra – almost twice the pumpkin. Admittedly, it was an accident the first time I made them this way, but I haven't looked back. They are moist, with the perfect amount of sweetness. I've also dialed in the spices exactly as I want them, though feel free to adjust the spice measurements according to your preferences. Perfectly delicious on their own, a drizzle of sweetened cream cheese across the top makes them extra special.
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Joanne
Joanne
3 months ago

Can’t wait to try these recipes! Thanks Alexis and Happy New Year 🥳