Leading up to this Sunday's showdown between the Giants and the Patriots (go Big Blue!), we've been offering up recipes and ideas for those of you brave souls who are hosting Super Bowl parties at home. And if you've decided that you don't want to take the easy way out by ordering a party pack of barbecue, here are some tips to keep in mind this Sunday.
According to my wonderful Facebook friends, all of the things below are must-haves for any Super Bowl viewing party. Although I've successfully managed to avoid attending most Super Bowl parties throughout my 31 years (too much yelling, and far too much forced fraternization with the often-boring significant others of acquaintances or co-workers), these are all foods and beverages which I can attest to having seen at every Super Bowl function I've attended. (Many of these standards can also be seen at other important Texas gatherings: church potlucks, funerals, graduation parties, quinceñearas, etc.) Your mileage may vary.
10. Tortilla pinwheels
I think these are the pimento cheese sandwiches of Texas. You see them everywhere and no one can actually remember who brought them to the party. They just appear mysteriously, like Brigadoon, before fading back into the post-game mist. But not before you've polished most of them off, because they're actually crazy delicious.
Pizza is great for a crowd, obviously. And Houston has no shortage of great pizza delivery joints from which to choose, so this should be a no-brainer. Someone brings their bratty, picky kid to the party? Sit them in front of the cheese pizza: instant babysitter.
8. Tiny sandwiches
Maybe filled with pimento cheese, maybe not. It depends on how Southern your party guests are. I prefer my tiny sandwiches filled with more substantial stuff: ham and cream cheese or whatever weird shit old ladies are putting between slices of white bread with the crusts cut off these days. Like the tortilla pinwheels, these often appear magically and with no attribution.
7. Vegetable tray
Heavy on the carrots and celery, of course. This is the tray you hover over if you're trying to "eat healthy" on game day. Which you then negate by dipping every vegetable stick into the unnaturally thick sour cream/Ranch dressing dip in the middle. Twice.
6. Dr Pepper and iced tea
You obviously need to offer beverages to your party guests. This being Texas, Dr Pepper and iced tea are the beverages of choice. You can also sub in Coke, but never Pepsi. And don't pre-sweeten the tea for your guests: This isn't Georgia. Let them tackle that task themselves.
5. Brownies and/or Texas sheet cake
Dessert is a must. Brownies are great -- quick and easy, especially if you're taking the easy way out and making a box mix. But if you step up your game and make a Texas sheet cake, your guests will suddenly do a lot less talking behind your back about that storebought vegetable tray. Texas sheet cake is the crowning glory of Lone Star desserts, all covered in a gooey but crispy layer of chocolate fudge icing that makes other cakes (and brownies) wither in comparison.
4. Seven-layer dip and/or guacamole
Dip is essential because you don't need a plate or utensils to eat it, it only dirties up one bowl (two if you count the bowl of chips [avoid this by being extra-classy and serving the chips out of the bag]) and everyone loves it. You can go with standard guac or amp up your party with a fancy seven-layer dip. Unlike the veggie tray, don't go store-bought with this. It's too easy for grocery stores to mess it up, weirdly, but not at all difficult to make yourself at home.
Unless you own a Fry Daddy (hey, wanna be friends?!) and have mastered its use, don't do these yourself at home. Just order a shitload of them from Buffalo Wild Wings and be done with it. No one appreciates your fancy, frou-frou twists like Buffalo wings made from bits of real buffalo. Get some regular old hot wings, put the bucket on the table, spread around some napkins and cups of blue cheese dressing and enjoy. This is one area in which it's acceptable to do none of the work yourself.
2. Chips and queso
If you serve nothing else at your Super Bowl party, chips and queso must be present and accounted for. Alternately, if you decide to blow it up and throw the fanciest Super Bowl party since a Saudi prince had part ownership in an NFL team for one season and you serve everything under the sun on your buffet extravaganza, it will fail miserably if there isn't a Crock Pot of queso on there somewhere. This is
Sparta Texas. We are nothing without our queso.
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Southern Star. Saint Arnold. Karbach. No Label. Soon, this list will also include Buff Brew, 8th Wonder and even the crafty crews at Moon Tower Inn and Kitchen Incubator. For now, though, support Houston's emerging craft beer movement when you buy your six-packs, cans and growlers this weekend. Who ultimately cares if the Giants or the Patriots win? You're winning simply by drinking awesome beer.