If you’re inviting guests over to watch the game this year, be sure not to underestimate the importance of offering a good spread. As host, it’s your responsibility to keep those superfans nourished, energized, and/or mollified, for the next three hours straight. Frozen deep-dish pizzas are fine and all, but there is a good chance your friends will be asleep by the third quarter, and an even better chance they won’t be very impressed.

Here are some simple, delicious “Game-day Game-changer” appetizers to include with your usual wings, guacamole, and party subs:

Beer Cheese Mac Bites

Ingredients:
4 cups cooked Macaroni
1 T butter
2 T minced onion
1/4 c milk
8 oz. cream cheese
1 c Ale or lager
1 c Colby Jack Cheese, shredded
1 t salt
3 eggs, beaten
¼ c breadcrumbs

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter.  Add onions and cook until they are fragrant and translucent.

3. Add milk, cream cheese, beer, and shredded colby to the pan. Stir over medium heat until melted, and smooth. Allow sauce to cool. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add macaroni noodles, breadcrumbs, and egg. Mix well until thoroughly combined. 

4. Grease a mini muffin tin with oil or butter. Scoop macaroni filling to fill each cup, with a mounded top.  Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until set and golden brown.

Texas Taco Bites 

 

Ingredients:
– 2 t olive oil
-1 lb ground beef or turkey
-½ c onion, small diced
-½ c zucchini, small diced
-½ c black beans, cooked
-½ c red pepper, small diced
-½ c corn kernels
-¼ c water
-1 T tomato paste
-2 t chili powder
-1 t ground cumin
-1 t onion powder
-½ t garlic powder
-1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
-1 c cheddar cheese
-3-4 10” flour tortillas

Method:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook ground beef in 2 t olive oil. Drain excess grease. Add onion, zucchini, red pepper, corn, and black beans. Continue cooking until vegetables are soft. Add water, tomato paste,  and spices. Mix until well blended; add salt and pepper to taste.

-Allow mixture to cool. Add shredded cheddar and mix well.

-Cut tortillas into 2” squares and press into a mini muffin tin to make tortilla cups. If necessary, heat tortillas for about a minute in the oven first to make them more flexible. Place taco mixture in the cups, filling them about ¾ of the way full. 

-Bake for about 7-10 minutes, or until filling is set and tortilla cups begin to brown. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Flatbread Pizzas with

Cajun Shrimp & Alfredo

Ingredients:
-4 9” flatbread pita rounds
-1 T olive oil
-4 c fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
-½ tsp paprika
-1 tsp chili powder
-½ tsp granulated garlic
-½ tsp granulated onion
-¼ tsp oregano
-¾ c Alfredo sauce (recipe below)
-1 c Parmesan cheese, shredded
-1 c baby spinach, sliced into ribbons
-1 c red peppers, small diced

Quick Alfredo Sauce:

½ c cream cheese
½ c milk or water
½ T butter
½ t minced garlic or granulated garlic
¼ c Parmesan cheese

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast flatbreads directly on oven rack, until slightly crisp and golden, about 7-10 minutes.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 T oil. Add shrimp and saute until shrimp are no longer translucent. Add paprika, chili powder, garlic, onion, oregano, and a pinch of salt. Toss shrimp to coat evenly with spices; remove from heat.

For the Alfredo sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine cream cheese, milk, butter, garlic, and Parmesan. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally with a whisk, until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Assemble flatbreads with alfredo sauce, then spinach, shrimp, and peppers. Top with Parmesan cheese. Finish flatbreads in the oven until peppers are cooked and cheese begins to brown. Slice into wedges, and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice.

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