I don’t want to jump any of you out of your late summer sleep, but I have something important you need to hear.
Please put down your iced tea and this pocket mystery you’re reading, and listen to me intently.
The football season is here.
That’s right, in a few days your peace and quiet – not to mention your chances of parking downtown – will be shattered by legions of black and gold clad fans descending on Iowa City like a swarm. of murderous hornets. They will fill downtown restaurants and bars until they have consumed everything in sight.
Do not mistake yourself. I love Hawkeye football.
I still remember listening on a squeaky radio station to Iowa’s superb 10-7 victory over Nebraska in 1981. I was thrilled again later in the season when they beat Michigan in Ann Arbor. and ultimately won an invitation to the Rose Bowl in January (the less said about this game, the better).
Four years later, on a beautiful afternoon in October 1985, my family ran to my dorm in Augustana to watch Rob Houghtlin hit the game-winning goal against Michigan’s No.2. I was so excited that my Hawkeyes were ranked No.1 and then landed another offer at the Rose Bowl in November (again, the less said about this game, the better).
By the time I was in senior school at Notre Dame, I felt like a salmon swimming upstream as I struggled to catch the Hawkeye scores in the local news dominated by the Fighting Irish. I once went to a bar to watch a game and asked the bartender if a TV – on at least two dozen around the place – could be tuned to the Iowa game with Ohio State.
He agreed, and that’s when things started to get a little funny. I was cheering big plays for the Hawkeyes when nothing was happening in the Notre Dame game which led to confused looks from everyone there. At one point, I let out a loud âYes! To a score from Hawkeye, one Notre Dame fan turned to another and said, “I guess Iowa did something right.”
Indeed, they did. In 1990 the Hawkeyes once again qualified for the Rose Bowl and – you know the drill – least was said of that game, yada, yada, yada.
Thus, I have many positive memories associated with Hawkeye football. However, I hope you will notice that each of these memories has two things in common.
One, these are all Hawkeye victories, and two, I’ve experienced them all over a hundred miles away. In other words, it’s easy to like the Hawkeyes when they’re on TV or when you read about them in the âBig Peachâ clippings from the Des Moines registry that my father sent me regularly while I was at university. But being a Hawkeye football fan can be a bit more difficult when you live in Iowa City and have to beat the crowds and noise.
Which brings me to this week’s recipe set. If you don’t have tickets for Saturday’s game, why not just stay home and watch it on TV?
I’ll even provide the snacks, or rather, I’ll give you some suggestions on what to do. I tried to vary things a bit by including sandwiches and dipsâ¦ appetizers and drinks. They’re all easy to put together, which means you won’t miss a play.
And if you don’t like football, these recipes will be perfect for any casual get-together you might choose to throw this fall. Isn’t there a new season of âStranger Thingsâ coming up?
So get ready and Go Hawks! Or not. It’s really up to you.
Ham and cheese sliders
These tick two boxes on my requirements for a home tailgating dish. First of all, they are a snap to make. Seriously, you can put them together in 30 minutes or less. Second, they are delicious. I made them for dinner one night and ate the leftovers for lunch a few days later. They were fabulous both hot and cold.
The recipe comes from the My Baking Addiction site.
- 4 tablespoons of melted butter
- 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 tablespoon of dried parsley
- â teaspoon of onion powder
- â teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1 package of sweet Hawaiian buns
- Â½ pound of ham cooked with deli honey, thinly sliced
- Â½ pound of thinly sliced ââcheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, combine the butter, mustard, honey, parsley, onion powder and garlic powder.
Do not separate the rollers. Instead, use a serrated knife to cut the buns in half as you would a bagel (basically you want a sheet of connected “bottom” buns and a sheet of connected “top” buns)
Spread half of the ham on the bottom of the rolls. Then add the cheese. Finish with the remaining ham.
Brush some of the melted butter mixture over the cut half of the tops of the rolls. Place over ham and cheese. Brush remaining butter on top of rolls. Sprinkle with a little more parsley, if desired. Cover the rolls with foil.
Bake for about 7 minutes. What you want to do here is heat the ham and melt the cheese, so they may need a few more minutes. Once the cheese has melted, remove the foil and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes. This time you want to give the top of the rolls a slightly crispy texture.
Cut into individual rolls and serve.
I don’t know why I didn’t think about doing it before. Whip up nachos, but swap the chips for everyone’s favorite appetizers: tater tots.
I found this “recipe” on the Bellyfull.net site. You can vary it as you see fit. For example, I used both tortilla chips and tater tots. I also added browned ground beef.
- 28 oz. Tater Tots frozen bag
- A pack of taco seasoning
- 2 cups grated Mexican blend cheese
- Sliced ââblack olives
- Sliced ââjalapeÃ±o peppers
- Pico de gallo (or crushed tomatoes)
- Fresh cream
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
Toss your tater tots into the taco seasoning. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake according to package directions.
Sprinkle with grated cheese and return to the oven for 1 to 2 minutes to melt the cheese. Serve with black olives, jalapenos and pico de gallo.
Chili con queso with hot and crispy tortilla chips
I found this recipe in “Sara Foster’s Casual Cooking”. This is a great twist on the old-fashioned nacho cheese dip. Manchego cheese is a soft, hard cheese that perfectly complements the flavor of Monty-Jack. After that, it’s a pretty traditional cheese dip with jalapeÃ±o, beer, and a little spice for good measure.
As for the homemade corn chips, I was willing to tell you to skip them and just go with the Tostitos. Then I tasted these homemade little babies, and I was hooked. They are light and crisp with a great crunch. Plus, as you prepare them, you can salt and season them as you like.
- 4 ounces of Manchego cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
- 4 ounces of Monterrey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
- 2 teaspoons of cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Â½ cup of dark beer
- Â½ roasted green pepper, chopped
- 1 roasted jalapeno pepper, minced
- Â½ teaspoon ground cumin
- Â½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, cilantro or chives
- Sea salt
- Tortilla chips (or make the homemade chips that follow this recipe)
To make the dip: Combine Manchego cheese, Jack cheese and cornstarch in medium bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes, until tender and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly to prevent it from browning. Add beer and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to boil and add cheese mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking constantly and waiting for cheese to melt before adding more. When all the cheese has been added and is melted, turn off the heat and stir in the bell pepper, jalapeÃ±o, cumin, red pepper flakes, parsley and salt to taste. Transfer the chili con queso to a fondue pot and serve hot with the tortilla chips.
To prepare the hot crispy tortilla chips, you will need:
- 8 corn tortillas
- Olive oil for brushing or frying tortillas
- Sea salt
Cut each tortilla into 4 wedges.
To fry the tortillas: Fill a medium skillet with Â¼ inch olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the tortillas a few at a time and fry for 30 to 45 seconds, until golden and crispy. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
A few years ago, I found this recipe in the book “Damn Good Food” from Hell’s Kitchen restaurant in Minneapolis. At first I was skeptical, but once I gave them a taste I became a follower. Now I serve them at every party I throw and I keep singing their praises.
However, there is always a caveat to my praise: these drinks are causing a stir. Seriously, they go down so easily that you might not realize how much alcohol they contain.
- Â¾ cup frozen lime
- Â¾ cup of beer (they recommend an IPA)
- Â¾ cup of tequila
Place everything in the blender and blend until smooth.