When Super Bowl XLII is played Sunday in Glendale, Ariz., it will be among the top at-home party events of the year.
Whether you prepare the menu or you have your guests bring a dish, trade in the traditional six-foot party sub and chips for a menu of lower-fat appetizers and healthy main dishes.
Yes, you can even make some party foods lower in fat and calories if you think about the ingredients you are purchasing. That helps you and your guests keep those New Year's resolutions to eat healthier while you enjoy the party menu.
With the right recipes, flavor won't be compromised. Don't even mention the lower-fat ingredients to your guests. Most won't realize the difference. Sure, you will indulge with party foods, but the calorie and fat content won't be as high as it could have been.
Select a couple of appetizers and Barb's Taco Ring, and a crowd-pleasing main dish such as an easy-to-make casserole, and a fresh salad such as a Cobb Salad. If you are not the host of the party, any of these dishes can be prepared and taken to a Super Bowl gathering.
For the kick-off, serve the appetizers and the Taco Ring.
The Blade tested Avocado Parmesan Potato Bowls. The small red potatoes are precooked and then the potato meat is scooped out. The hollow potato skins are filled with an avocado mixture topped with crumbled bacon and Parmesan cheese. "It's delicious and not high-fat," says recipe tester Kay Lynne Schaller. The potato scooped out of the skin can be reserved for use in a salad such as potato salad or for mashed potatoes.
A sophisticated starter that builds on the flavor of jalapeno poppers is Bacon-Chile Rellenos. Made with crescent rolls, the flavors of smoky bacon, garlic, and herb cheese and the slight bite of heat from jalapeno chiles is popular. Serve a side of salsa.
Barb's Taco Ring from Anne Byrn's What Can I Bring Cookbook (Workman, $14.95) can be garnished with great fanfare. It's also a great recipe to take with you to a party. You can prep it but not bake it until you arrive at the party, according to the author. For a crowd, make two or three, she advises. It's as easy to make two as one.
Place the lettuce, tomatoes, and Cheddar cheese in little plastic bags and bring the guacamole and sour cream in separate containers. Use a platter or wooden board for serving. If you don't have a plate or platter large enough, cut a piece of sturdy cardboard that is as large as the ring plus a 2-inch margin on all sides. Cover the top with aluminum foil and tuck the ends of the foil underneath. Carefully arrange the baked taco ring on top.
For the Taco Ring ingredients, use either ground lean turkey or ground beef, about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds. Use low-sodium taco seasoning mix. Refrigerated crescent rolls can be regular or reduced-fat. "The regular are definitely flakier and taste better in the taco ring," she writes. When serving the taco ring, place a bowl of reduced-fat sour cream in the center and arrange the lettuce tomatoes, Cheddar cheese, and guacamole in little bowls around the taco ring.
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At half time, pull out the casserole out of the oven and the salad out of the refrigerator.
Half-Time Casserole Nacho-Style can be made as a vegetarian version or add shredded chicken for a heartier dish. Use whole grain rotini pasta. Cut back on the cheese, if you want a lighter version. It is a good, hearty dish that is easy to put together. It takes only 30 minutes to bake.
For a hearty salad consider a Cobb Salad made with greens topped with cooked diced chicken, crumbled cooked crisp bacon, hard cooked eggs, tomato, avocado, and crumbled blue cheese.
Or try a simple tossed salad, a Salade Nicoise, or a Spinach-Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing. All three recipes are in Crowd-Pleasing Potluck by Francine Halvorsen (Rodale, $19.95).
Bundt cakes and pound cakes, sheet cakes, and roulades travel well, writes Ms. Halvorsen. For layer cakes, layers can be made in advance, frozen up to 2 months and filled, frosted at your destination.
Some people find single plates and platters at flea markets and yard sales that they can pass along. Use a Friends and Family Plate which is designed to pass along.
Often for parties I make one sheet cake and one bundt cake in two contrasting flavors such as a chocolate frosted chocolate cake and a lemon pound cake. Cut small pieces because often guests want a little slice of each.
Game day will find your guests following play-by-play as they enjoy your party plate-by-plate. Give them reduced-calorie and lower fat options with plenty of flavor and small servings knowing they can come back for seconds.
May the best team win!
Kathie Smith is The Blade's food editor. Contact her at email@example.com or 419-724-6155.