While football season may look a little different this year with its fewer games and a somewhat socially distanced, reduced-capacity stadium, one thing is for sure—my football snacks are coming out of hiatus.
If you find yourself hanging out at home hosting a small gathering rather than heading to campus, here are some easy entertaining recipes to make you feel better about having to watch the games on TV.
In my opinion, every gathering should involve a good cheese ball. They’re versatile and easy. You’ll find several holiday variations already on my website. A spider-looking cheese ball for Halloween? Did that. In two different sizes, in fact—a large spider and mini creepy-crawler bite-size cheese balls. A pumpkin-shaped cheese ball for Thanksgiving? Did that, too.
And now I’ve whipped up a football-shaped Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball to add to the cheesy collection. Double the recipe if you find you’re serving a larger crowd, and either make one large football or create two footballs for ease of serving.
The Pecan Praline Baked Brie brings some pizazz to your snack tray options. It’s as delicious as it is beautiful and the perfect combination of sweet and salty. Bonus points for being ready in less than 30 minutes!
And last but not least, don’t forget about your canine friends. My crew goes absolutely bonkers over the Peanut Butter Molasses Football Cookies. You’ll want to keep them separate from your human snacks, though. They’re so cute that they’ll easily be mistaken for human treats, and even though they’re human grade, your guests will likely find them bland.
5 slices bacon, cooked and chopped, divided
1⁄3 cup pecans, chopped, divided
1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 green onions, chopped
2 Tbsp. ranch seasoning and salad dressing mix
2 Tbsp. barbecue sauce (I use a sweet to balance the saltiness of the ranch)
1 stick string cheese (for football laces)
In a small bowl, combine half of bacon and pecans and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add cheddar cheese, green onions, ranch seasoning, barbecue sauce, and remaining bacon and pecans, and mix well. Turn mixture out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Completely wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Remove cheese mixture from refrigerator and, with plastic wrap still attached, shape into a football. Remove top of plastic wrap, and pat reserved bacon and pecans on top and sides of cheese ball. Carefully transfer onto a serving dish. Cut string cheese to resemble the laces of the football and place on top.
Makes 6-8 servings.
PECAN PRALINE BAKED BRIE
1 (8-oz.) wheel brie
1½ cups pecan halves, lightly toasted
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
4 Tbsp. butter
½ cup light brown sugar
1⁄3 cup heavy whipping cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove brie from package and place on a baking sheet (leave rind on cheese). Bake brie for 12 to 15 minutes.
While brie is baking, toast pecans in a skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt corn syrup, butter and brown sugar, stirring constantly until bubbly. Add heavy cream and continue to stir for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat, add pecans, and set aside to cool.
Transfer brie from oven to a serving plate and, when ready to serve, pour warm praline sauce over the top. Serve immediately with crackers, fruit, graham crackers, etc.
Makes 6-8 servings.
PEANUT BUTTER MOLASSES FOOTBALL COOKIES (FOR DOGS!)
1½ cups oat flour (or whole wheat flour)
2 Tbsp. molasses
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
2 to 3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
Plain Greek yogurt (for frosting)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, molasses, peanut butter and melted coconut oil with ½ cup water. Allow mixture to rest for 15 minutes.
Turn out dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Use a rolling pin to roll into a ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Using a football-shaped cookie cutter, cut out cookies. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper and bake until firm, about 10 to 12 minutes for small cookies or up to 20 minutes for larger cutouts or thicker-rolled cookies.
Transfer cookies to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Add ¼ cup Greek yogurt “frosting” to a small piping bag and create football laces.
Place cookies in refrigerator for yogurt to harden.
Makes 2 dozen mini footballs.
Aimee Broussard is a Southern food blogger and award-winning cookbook author. Seen on QVC, Rachael Ray and more, she is a self-proclaimed accidental entrepreneur with a penchant for porches and sweet hospitality. Find her online at aimeebroussard.com.