Score Big: Game-Day Entertaining



Family Features photo

Peppers are part of the recipe and the serving bowls in Hidden Valley’s Pick-A-Peck-Of Peppers Fiesta Ranch Dip.


Family Features photo

Try making a batch of Spicy Smoked Almond Relish with Honey Baked Chicken Wings for the next gathering of football fans in your home this winter.

The Arizona Cardinals’ quest for a return engagement at the Super Bowl may be done for another season, but there is still plenty of good football in the near future.

So football fans will still come together for the viewing party of the season. This year, as you prepare to host a hungry crowd for the big game, intercept unhealthy appetizers and lighten up your favorite game-watching dishes by infusing vegetables. Jodie Shield, mom and childhood nutrition expert, knows first-hand the challenge of making dishes that not only taste good, but are good for you.

“People don’t traditionally think veggies when they think about game-day entertaining, but incorporating vegetables into your favorite recipes is an easy way to feel good about the food you are serving while still scoring points for home team health,” says Shield. “Veggies are full of nutrients and flavor, are a great way to add flavor, texture and color to your recipes, and can even be used as edible serving pieces.”

To ensure your guests enjoy their veggies before and after the final whistle is blown, here are some of Jodie’s tried-and-true tips for making vegetables delectable on game day and every day.

Shred the evidence. Shred veggies, like broccoli, carrots, bell peppers or mushrooms, and toss them into turkey-sliders, sloppy Joes, quesadillas, tacos or pizza. A small amount will blend right into your favorite dishes and boost the nutritional value, too.

Contain their interest. Tempt big and small appetites by using the vegetables themselves as edible serving pieces. Serve veggie dips in hollowed-out bell peppers, mashed potatoes in potato skins or even squash soup in mini pumpkins.

Dip it. Don’t be afraid to pair up vegetables with tasty sauces or dips. A 2006 study found that children eat more vegetables when paired with a moderate amount of ranch dressing.

For great veggie-filled recipes, check out the recipes below or go to or

Original Ranch Spinach Dip

Preparation time: 30 minutes; chill time: 30 minutes; makes 2 cups

1, 1.1-ounce packet of Hidden Valley Original Ranch dip mix

16 ounces sour cream

10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained

8 ounces water chestnuts, rinsed, drained and chopped

1 round loaf French bread

Fresh vegetable sticks

Combine Hidden Valley Original Ranch dip mix, sour cream, spinach and water chestnuts.

Chill 30 minutes or until just before serving.

Cut top off the bread and remove center (use firm bread pieces as dippers).

Fill bread bowl with dip.

Serve with cubed bread and vegetables.

Pick-a-Peck-of-Peppers Fiesta Ranch Dip

Preparation time: 10 minutes; serves 8

1 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

1/2 cup nonfat, plain yogurt

1, 1.1-ounce packet ranch dip mix

2 each: green, red, orange and yellow bell peppers

Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt and ranch dip mix in a medium-size bowl; place in the refrigerator to chill.

Meanwhile, remove the tops of the bell peppers, rinse and remove seeds.

Slice one green, red, orange and yellow bell pepper into quarters. Place one quarter of each color bell pepper into a food processor and chop until fine. Remove and drain excess water.

Add the diced bell pepper mixture to the fiesta dip and stir until well combined.

Pour the dip into each of the remaining whole bell peppers and serve with the remaining bell pepper cut into strips.

Carrot Oven Fries

Preparation time: 5 minutes; cooking time: 25 minutes; serves 4 to 6

1 pound carrots (about 5 or 6 large) peeled and cut into 4-inch-by-1/4-inch sticks

1 teaspoon olive oil

1, 1.1-ounce packet ranch dressing & seasoning mix

1 teaspoon corn starch

Vegetable cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the carrots together with the olive oil, cornstarch and ranch dressing & seasoning mix, and toss until well coated. Use a sheet tray or quarter sheet pan. Spray generously with cooking spray.

Arrange the carrots in a single layer on rack and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until crispy. Bake for 35 minutes for extra crispy fries.

Introducing Farmhouse Originals

It’s no secret that adults and kids alike enjoy dipping their veggies into Hidden Valley Original Ranch dressing. The makers of Hidden Valley dressing are excited to introduce four new flavors that will make vegetables delectable for the entire family.

New Hidden Valley Farmhouse Originals dressings step beyond ranch to add robust, fresh-from-the-farm tasting flavors to even the simplest of dishes. Flavors include Roasted Onion Parmesan, Hickory Bacon & Onion, Garden Tomato & Bacon and Creamy Parmesan.

To learn more about the Farmhouse Originals dressings, and for great tips and kid-friendly recipes, visit

Source: Hidden Valley

Feed fans fun finger foods

The average Big Game Day party has 18 guests, all of whom expect a steady stream of fun, satisfying and delicious foods to keep them energized during football's biggest game of the year.

This year's game plan to feed the hungry crowd can incorporate easy-to-prepare finger foods that will delight your guests, while giving you and your budget a break.

Visit for all of these recipes and additional ideas from Diamond Foods.

Four quarters of finger foods

Here's a complete menu of hearty and satisfying finger foods that give your guests manageable snacks throughout the big game and leave you with less cleanup and more time for cheering on your team.

1st quarter

To encourage your guests to mingle and walk around, start off the game with finger foods at multiple food stations decorated in team colors. Try a hot appetizer like Spicy Smoked Almond Relish with Honey Baked Chicken Wings.

2nd QuarterTime for some satisfying and hearty snacks, such as Cashew Cocktail Tuna Melts or Walnut Chicken Sliders with Almond and Roasted Pepper Mayo. Serve these hot sandwiches with fresh veggies, crackers and assorted dips.

3rd quarter

Bring them back from half time with something spicy, such as Spiced Deluxe Mixed Nuts. For those who are ready for something sweet, set up a fondue station in the kitchen and serve Deluxe Mixed Nuts Caramel Fondue.

4th quarter

For the finale, send everyone home with their own reusable container of Butter Popcorn with Dry Roasted Peanuts and Parmesan Cheese.

Spicy Smoked Almond Relish with Honey Baked Chicken Wings

Makes 25 wings

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon hot water

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

25 (about 3 pounds) chicken drumettes, patted dry

Chopped cilantro, for garnish

Dipping sauce

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 cup minced onion

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

1 tablespoon chipotle chile in adobo sauce

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 cup tomato sauce

1 cup ketchup

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 cup Emerald Smoked Almonds, chopped

In medium bowl, combine honey, mustard, oil, water and salt; mix well. Add chicken wings; toss well, coating completely. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Arrange chicken on a wire rack over a baking sheet; spoon on marinade. Bake, turning and basting occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through, about 45 minutes.

Dipping sauce

In small pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook, stirring, until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add ginger, chile, garlic, cinnamon and allspice; cook 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and balsamic vinegar; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in almonds. If the sauce seems too thick, stir in a tablespoon of hot water. Transfer to a bowl; garnish with chopped cilantro. Arrange chicken wings on a platter; serve immediately with the dipping sauce and a bowl of the extra chopped almonds.

Butter Popcorn with Dry Roasted Peanuts & Parmesan

Makes about 6 cups

6 to 8 cups Pop Secret Movie Theater Butter Popcorn, popped

2 cups Emerald Dry Roasted Peanuts

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon dried oregano, crushed

1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon raw sugar crystals

1/2 teaspoon large sea salt crystals

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, combine the popcorn and peanuts; set aside.

In a small pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add oregano, chile powder and salt; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour over the popcorn mixture; toss well. Add cheese, sugar, salt and pepper; toss well. Transfer mixture to a baking sheet; bake, stirring occasionally, until dry and toasted, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve immediately.

Big game day party tips

If your guests ask, "What can we bring?" recruit your team to bring party supplies in team colors or to simply lend a hand with final preparations. Here are a few other tips to make your big game party enjoyable for everyone.

• Keep the guest list manageable - how many can you comfortably seat in the main viewing room? Can you rearrange furniture to maximize viewing space?

• If possible, set up a few yard games outside so guests can stretch their legs at halftime. Games like ladder golf or a beanbag toss are a fun diversion or have those armchair quarterbacks show their skills in a football-throwing contest.

• If you need to store guests' coats, empty your own coat closet before the party, so guests can easily store and access their coats and you minimize the hassle of digging through a pile of coats, matching them to their owners after the game.

• With a casual get-together, make your clean up a snap by placing multiple trays, baskets or containers in discreet locations so guests can dispose of used plates, napkins, glasses and utensils.

Source: Diamond Foods

Courtesy of Family Features


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.