Football season is winding down, sadly my New York Giants have been eliminated early by the Green Bay Packers, who I liked for one weekend when they defeated the Dallas Cowboys. Sorry my heart lies with “Big Blue” good, bad, or even while they were glorious relaxing on a yacht when they should have been focusing on the playoffs! There I said it. So as we rapidly approach Super Bowl Sunday, I wanted to throw down some quick and easy family favs! With Sunday being our family day of rest and reckoning, nothing makes me happier than cooking for my family all day long. It starts with a glorious breakfast of French toast, bacon, sausage, eggs, then straight on through to dessert. Some days it’s Sunday gravy with macaroni, Meatballs, Sausage, Braciole, or Roast Chicken, Pork Carnitas, or Crock Pot BBQ Pulled pork, but I go all out! So on game days, we do it extra special and I make some awesome apps and “nibblies” and the family throws down, so sexy, but oh so manly, grub! Today I thought I’d unveil some of the family favs. My game day chili is packed with all the usual suspects, two kinds of beans, two kinds of chili’s, spices, but instead of ground meat, for this recipe I will use finely cubed beef, which is slow cooked and served in corn bread cups! I break out my family’s secret “rule” for a cheese puff that is so sublime. I then move on to a beef empanadas, using a method I love, that I stumbled upon two years ago to replicate the flakiness of frying using puff pastry instead of my usual homemade dough. It might not be authentic Mexican but it tastes pretty damn good! Promise! Lastly to round off the variety of apps., I turn out some banging buffalo chicken dip and share my signature Gorgonzola Cheese Dressing that takes this dish over the top. An ambitious undertaking yes but simple, techniques and tricks will make this menu a snap. Make ahead shortcuts help make this all possible as you can make the chili, Gorgonzola dressing, and filling for the empanadas two days in advance and then just prepare as needed on game day, so you have time to sit with family and guests and even watch kick off!
I hope you will give some, or even all of these a try!!
Big Blue's Game Day Chili
A game day classic, that's simmered stove top, ready for game day in one hour!
- 2 lbs. of beef cubes, diced small, you can leave a bit larger if you prefer. Season with salt, pepper, and chili powder
- one onion diced.
- 1 small of chopped green chilis
- 1/2 chili in adobo (these are found in the ethnic aisle of most grocery stores) they are a smoked jalapeno that is spicy! I use a half because I have spice sensitive family members, but you could certainly use a whole. One tip, I freeze the leftovers because I only use one at a time. They freeze beautifully for six months, no need to defrost just chop and plop! What? It’s an industry term!
- 1 clove of garlic minced.
- 1 15 oz, can of Pink beans (I use Goya)
- 1 15 oz. can of Small Red beans or Dark Kidney beans, even Black beans if you prefer
- 1 oz. of Oaxaca Mexican Chocolate chopped,*this is a specialty item I order, or I sometimes find in TJ Maxx, It comes from the Mexican region of Oaxaca known for their beautiful countryside, as well as their chocolate. You can substitute or omit it all together, I have used cocoa powder or dark American chocolate, but the Oxaca is phenomenal and makes the chili sing! I promise your chili will be exponentially better!
- Two small cans or one 32 oz. can of Fire Roasted Tomatoes or you can use Whole Plum tomatoes, smushed in your hands and placed in the chili
- one 3 oz. can of tomato paste
- Spice profiles Chili powder, Chipotle Chili powder, salt, cracked black pepper, cumin
- Juice of one lime
- In a large Dutch Oven, heat a tablespoon of Crisco, lard, or Canola oil
- When oil is hot and smoking add the meat, careful not to crowd the surface as you want to brown the meat this is flavor you want! If you cannot fit all at once brown in batches removing until all of the meat is browned. Place onions, garlic and diced chili and chili in adobo in pot saute for one minute, add beans, simmer for one minute, add tomatoes, paste and meat back to the pot and continue simmering for 30 min. with lid slightly ajar.
- After 30 minutes, add the chocolate, I usually chop so it will incorporate. Stir well. Place lid on slightly ajar and simmer for another 30 min.
- You can let simmer longer, check for seasonings and add accordingly. I like to finish with the juice of a lime which helps to give the chili a clean flavor and balance acidity.
- To serve, you can spoon into cornbread cups, or bowls topping with Mexican cheese, cheddar, sour cream, guacamole, or any accompaniment you prefer! Let your hungry brood devour!!!
Crazy Cornbread Cups
A great accompaniment for chili or for anytime!
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour unbleached
- 1 cup of corn meal
- 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
- 3 tsp. of baking powder
- 1 cup of buttermilk (Susie’s version) add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to your milk, let sit for a minute to curdle, then add to the dry ingredients.
- 3 tablespoons of melted butter
- 1 egg slightly beaten
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.
- In microwave safe bowl melt 3 tablespoons of butter cool slightly
- In a large mixing bowl add flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt and pepper combine with whisk to disperse the baking powder into the flour an cornmeal
- Measure 1 cup of milk, adding 1 tablespoon of vinegar to replicate Buttermilk, add to dry mix, add melted butter, in same measuring cup slightly beat one egg, adding to dry mixture. Mix until incorporated but don’t over mix.
- Spoon evenly into muffin tin. Should yield 12.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until lightly golden.
- If using to hold the chili, use a spoon to hollow out to hold the chili, top with shredded cheddar cheese, and any chili accompaniments of your choosing, Devour!!
Oh So Easy Cheese Puffs
A delicious and cheesy puff that wows a crowd!
*Double the recipe, I promise your family will devour these!
- 1/4 cup of softened unsalted butter (do not use margarine)
- 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
- 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp. of celery salt
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper to taste (not a lot of salt because you are using celery salt)
- I also want to point out that I use predominately Kosher salt, never table salt for cooking. I also use Pink Himalayan salt but I will specify in recipes.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Cream butter and cheese together, you can use a mixer, but I use my hands it works for me!
- Stir in remaining ingredients. Mixing until a dough forms.
- Form small balls, place about two inches apart on ungreased sheet pan
- Flatten with fork, think cross pattern as if you were flattening Snickerdoodles.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden
- Serve hot
Sexy Beef Empanadas
A baked empanada that is flaky, tender, delicious, and so sinful!
- 1 sheet of thawed puff pastry
- 1/4 lb. of ground beef
- 2 tablespoons of golden raisins
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 1/4 of an onion finely diced
- 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 pack of your favorite taco seasoning blend
- salt and pepper to taste, adjust accordingly because of the high sodium amounts in the taco seasoning
- 1/2 chili in adobo or whole for extra heat
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- On lightly floured surface, roll out defrosted puff pastry to slightly larger rectangle
- Using medium round biscuit cutter or even a the mouth of a medium drinking glass, cut out shapes that will be the surface of the empanadas, I like to roll them out a bit after I cut them out to make more surface room to fill.
- Set aside.
- In a skillet or saute pan, heat 3/4 tbsp. of canola oil
- Finely dice 1/4 of onion and mince garlic, chop raisins on same cutting board.
- Add onion and garlic to frying pan, saute until soft and translucent. Add ground beef to onion and garlic, brown. Add taco seasoning, raisins, and a bit of water, mix and simmer 10 min. Take off flame and let cool
- When cool, spoon a bit of filling in the middle of the empanada`rounds. Careful not to overfill as you will be folding the empanadasin half. Crimp closed with the tines for the fork to ensure the filling stays contained within the pastry while baking.
- Bake 15-20 min. checking for doneness at 15 min. Do not over cook.
- Let cool slightly, then remove to serving plate. Serve with salsa, salsa Verdi, or sour cream. **I like to use a bottled Salsa Verdi, then add lime juice and fresh cilantro, and a Lime Zest Crema, I make with some sour cream, cayenne pepper, lime zest, salt, pepper and a splash of fresh lime juice, topped with chopped cilantro! It’s so delish! Try it and see for yourself!
Blazin' Buffalo Dip
A simple and easy dip that is great with crackers, crostini or cudites!
For the Blazin’ Bufflalo Dip
- 1 8 oz. package of softened cream cheese
- 2 10 oz. cans of chunk chicken
- 1 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese blend I use Mexican blend
- 1/2 cup of Texas Pete’s Hot Sauce
- 1/2 cup of Susie’s signature Gorgonzola Cheese Dressing
- 1 whole chili in adobo diced
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- In a large mixing bowl add softened cream cheese, Gorgonzola cheese, chicken, hot pepper sauce, chili in adobo, and shredded cheese, salt and pepper, mix well to combine.
- Transfer to pie plate and bake in oven for 20 -25 min. until bubbly and golden.
- Serve with crackers, crudities, or on homemade crostini. Enjoy!!
For the Gorgonzola Dressing
- 6 oz. of Gorgonzola cheese crumbled. (Gorganzola is an Italian cheese similar to Blue Cheese, I use this because I like the taste better and it’s less pungent then Blue Cheese, but really they are interchangeable in this recipe and I call it Blue Cheese dressing.
- 8 oz. of sour cream
- 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons of champagne vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, transfer to mason jar or container.