February 3, 2012

The Big Game

It's almost Super Bowl Sunday, and admittedly, I am so out of it this year, I didn't even know who was playing this year until I heard it on NPR yesterday. This is also a year when I've seen maybe one of the Oscar contenders, and that's about it. Can we say, not getting out and about that much?

Well, at least this weekend gives us all a reason to stay in and on the couch all day Sunday. Except maybe for your grocery run for some good eats. Super Bowl Sunday probably gives us our first chance to indulge since the holidays and getting back onto the workout wagon in January. But it's important not to go way off the deep end because you still want to stay on track for spring.

In this post, I've included a few of our favorite party-timers, and I've managed to cut a wee bit of fat from each. So maybe you can feel somewhat less of a couch tater with these. These are mostly appetizers, with a dessert thrown in there for good measure. Always, you know. ;-)

So enjoy the game, especially the commercials--some of which you can see online already, including the return of Ferris Bueller. Oh yeah.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 cup diced celery (about 2-3 stalks)
1 cup Frank’s Red Hot hot sauce
1 8-oz package light cream cheese, softened
1 cup light ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing

Place chicken in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Poach chicken in water 10-12 minutes over low heat. Cover to simmer and cook. Drain and shred chicken. In a separate bowl, mix chicken and celery with hot sauce until completely combined. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour to marinate. 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9" x 9" baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. In a saucepan over low heat, melt cream cheese and ranch. Whisk until smooth (be careful not to burn). Add chicken mixture and mix until completely combined. Spread in 9 x 9 baking dish and bake at for 20 minutes or until heated through. Serve hot or warm with Fritos Scoops (or another hearty chip that can stand up to thick dips). 

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip

1 8-oz package light cream cheese, softened
1 container light Alfredo sauce (such as Buitoni, found in the refrigerated section)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 package frozen spinach (10-oz box), thawed and drained
1 cup marinated artichokes, drained and chopped
1 15-oz can petite diced tomatoes with garlic and olive oil, drained
2 cups shredded Italian part-skim four-cheese blend (mix of mozzarella and parmesan at minimum), divided

Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a 9" x 9" baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. Combine cream cheese and Alfredo sauce until thoroughly mixed (use electric mixer if possible). Add garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Mix in vegetables and stir until completely combined. Add 1-1/2 cups cheese and mix thoroughly. Spread in baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake 30 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned on top. Serve with pita or tortilla chips, or sliced baguette.

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray an 9” x 13” baking pan with cooking spray. Line with parchment. Spray parchment and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add both sugars and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.

Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing just until combined. Using a rubber spatula, stir in chips and nuts. Scrape batter into pan and use spatula to spread evenly over top

Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown. The blondies should pull away from the sides of the pan just a little. Cool 15 minutes before serving. Makes 32 (2” x 11/2”) bars.