The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

On The Table

January 30, 2013

Cheryle Finley: Nacho bar scores big at Super Bowl party

JOPLIN, Mo. — For most people, the Super Bowl conjures up thoughts of football and commercials. Though the commercials are often better than the football, the party food is truly No. 1 on my list.

Topping the food list we find buffalo wings and pizza. But my favorite listing? Nachos. They can be as simple as a stack of chips smothered in cheese sauce or loaded with the enough works to make them a hearty meal. I’ve always been partial to the plain, old cheese sauce and chips with a jalapeno or two, but I would never turn down a plateful of super nachos.

Who helped make nachos popular? I bet you didn’t know it was sports broadcaster Howard Cosell. According to Wikipedia, he mentioned nachos on a few of the Monday Night Football broadcasts, introducing them to a new audience.

Vegetarian nachos can fill you up as much as chips buried in seasoned ground beef, chicken, turkey, steak or even Spam. Ladling chili over chips promises plenty of good taste in each bite. But does it always have to be a tortilla chip anchoring the nachos? How about a bed of fries, potato chips or even popcorn?

In Memphis you can find barbecue pork sitting on top of tortilla chips, then topped with cheese, barbecue sauce and jalapenos. Hawaii has pork and pineapple nachos. Old Chicago Italian nachos boast pasta chips, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, Italian sausage and sweet Italian peppers served with pizza sauce. You can even find a recipe for Alaskan king crab nachos.

Tell guests you are supplying a nacho bar for Super Bowl Sunday and you are sure to be popular. The bonus is that it’s super easy. Prepare the toppings ahead of time by chopping lettuce, onions, tomatoes and jalapenos, and offer sour cream, salsa, olives, refried beans and guacamole, too. You can also offer regular cheese sauce and white cheddar cheese sauce for variety. My friend Betty Saferite shared her tip of adding a can of cream of celery soup to the Velveeta and Ro-Tel dip. I now do that each time I make cheese dip, because it adds a creaminess to the mixture. Put those slow cookers to work by keeping the cheese dip and meat warm. Keep perishables in bowls, then sit them in a container of ice to make sure the nacho bar can be enjoyed during the entire game.

Looking for store-bought snacks? Flavored chips, popcorn nuts, pretzels, dips, chips and salsa, ready-made Chex mix, cheese and crackers — there’s lots to be found on the shelves. Or you could order a pizza and wings and leave the shopping and prep to someone else.

I checked online for some Super Bowl drink ideas, and every idea that came up included beer, so you are on your own for that one. Apparently, any brand will suffice when you are watching football, as long as it’s cold. Enjoy the food, commercials and game, in whichever order suits you.

As a preview for Super Bowl Sunday, my friend Lori Langerot and I visited Hackett Hot Wings and ordered more than we thought we would be able to eat. But I wasn’t surprised that we ate every last wing. We ordered three different flavors, and they were so good. We licked the bones clean.

On Tuesday I’m looking forward to visiting Carol Parker at noon on channel 16. Shiver the Special Olympics bear will be there. We will talk about the polar plunge that’s happening on Feb. 9, and we’ll share dishes that should appeal to Shiver.

I have three more recipes from last week’s featured cookbook, “The Looneyspoons Cookbook.” I had to choose the soup recipe because the name is so timely. The “Fairest Wheels” are a perfect make-ahead snack for game day. Make a BLT wheel by chopping the bacon, lettuce and tomato and stirring them together with mayo, then roll up and finish the same as the chicken wheels. Buy the hot red pepper jelly for this dish, then mix the remainder with cream cheese for a tasty dip.

On the marshmallow squares recipe page, it says, “He who eats too much sweet, have too much seat.” I grew up with Jan Brady saying, “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha,” so this dessert brings back memories of a crush on Greg and wishing they would put longer dresses on Cindy.

Have a great week and happy eating!

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