The Food Doesn’t Always Have To Be Artery Clogging

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Ask just about anyone what they eat while watching a hockey game and the answer will almost invariably include pizza, beer, wings, burgers, dogs, more beer or even “whatever’s in the house”.

Having bourne witness to many a carbo/meat overload over the years, I have a few suggestions for fighting the drooling sluggishness that tends to set in during the second intermission when food coma strikes and I have to pause the DVR until the Neanderthals wake back up, finish scratching themselves and replenish their beers.

Now, I love a good pie just as much as the next guy, but sometimes ya gotta mix it up a little, ya know?

The words ‘light’ and ‘healthy’ are rarely used in conjunction with the idea of watching a game with a houseful of mates in your mancave, but a variety of nibblies that stray from chili/velveeta dip or poutine can not only be entertaining but will keep your energy level up as well.

Some of these snacks won’t sound terribly manly, but I’ve never had any leftovers by the end of the evening (lots of bottles to recycle, but no food left whatsoever).  Oh, and what these dishes may lack in testosterone, they more than make up for with the bad breath and burping that will ensue.

There is some cooking involved, so if you aren’t qualified to properly operate a fully functioning kitchen (yes, an actual kitchen, not a hotplate on a bookshelf), I would advise that you invite a friend or two to assist in your endeavour.  Just be sure to have their favourite beverages on hand and in adequate quantity.

~~~~~Cold Lamb Sandwich

Your guests asking for a burger?  This is guaranteed to knock their socks off and give them a heck of a protein rush for the beginning of the game.

Lots of thinly sliced roasted lamb

Your favourite sandwich bread

Store bought mango chutney

Mayo

Thinly sliced red onion

Salt and pepper

~~~~~Spinach salad with goat cheese “fondue”

Bag of prewashed baby spinach

1 cup toasted pine nuts

1 cup chopped cooked bacon

¼ cup chopped shallots or red onion

2 Tbs Red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

8oz goat cheese

Toss everything (except the cheese) together in a big bowl.  Melt the goat cheese either on the stovetop or microwave.  Pour hot cheese over spinach.  Toss again.

~~~~~Bagel crisps with cream cheese bell pepper spread

A block or two of Philadelphia cream cheese

A jar or two of roasted bell peppers

3 green onions, sliced very thin

Sprinkle of black pepper

1 bag of bagel crisps

Mix cheese, bell peppers, onions and black pepper together in a bowl.  Serve with bagel crisps.

~~~~~~~~~~Caprese on a stick

2 cups balsamic vinegar

Toothpicks

Little Buffalo mozzarella balls in water

Teenie tomatoes

Fresh basil

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Bring balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small pot.  Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until liquid is reduced by half.

Skewer a ball of cheese, a tomato and a couple of basil leaves on a toothpick.  Drizzle with olive oil, the vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

~~~~~Chicken fingers (because SOMETHING has to be deep fried, right?)

A lot of peanut oil

Flour

Dried parsley, tarragon and a pinch of ground rosemary

Salt and pepper

A couple eggs beaten with a little heavy cream

Chicken tenders (halved if they’re ridiculously big, extraneous tendons removed)

Pour peanut oil into a big pot, about half way full.  Heat on high until about 350º.  If you don’t have an oil thermometer, test by sprinkling a bit of flour into the oil. If it sizzles, it’s hot.  Reduce heat to medium high.

Combine flour with about a handful of parsley, 1/3 as much tarragon, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Toss to combine.

Dry chicken, dredge in flour, then egg, then flour again (you can do this more than once if you like a really thick crunch).

Deep fry until golden, about 10 minutes.

Serve with bbq or wing sauce and crudite.

~~~~~Onion rings (because we need to use up the flour and eggs)

Onion cut into rings

Leftover eggs and flour mixture from the chicken fingers

Dredge, dip, dredge, fry, eat!

~~~~~~~~~~Cucumber palate cleanser

After the fried stuff, these sound gross, but they taste really, really good!

1 English cucumber (one of the ones you see at the grocery store wrapped in a condom) thinly sliced

2 Tsp Kosher salt

2 Tbs White vinegar

1 Tbs Sugar

Mix in a lidded container, shake, stick in fridge for at least an hour.

~~~~~Spicy garlic edamame

2 Tbs peanut oil

2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine

Dash of ginger powder

A bag of shelled, frozen edamame

1 Tbs asian hot sauce or a sprinkle of red pepper flakes or a diced scotch bonnet pepper

Soy sauce

Sesame seeds

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and ginger, cook 5 minutes, stirring.  Add edamame and hot stuff.  Cook five minutes.  Sprinkle with a little soy sauce and sesame seeds.  Serve hot.

~~~~~Peanut Sesame Noodles

Once again, not your typical hockey fare, but this stuff absolutely evaporated.  Even the guy who said he doesn’t like Asian food ate it!

At its simplest, the dish is just boiled Japanese soba noodles, peanut butter, soy sauce, and vinegar.

You can dress it up by adding garlic, ginger, green onions, bell pepper, carrot, cucumber, hot sauce, meat, cabbage…pretty much whatever you like.

Unhealthy recipe #1:

~~~~~Quickie Sausage Rolls

Not as good as authentic pub grub, but we’re watching a hockey game.  Whose gonna notice!?

1 package skinless breakfast sausages (Jimmy Dean works well)

1 tube of Pillsbury crescent rolls, separated and flattened slightly

1 egg beaten with a little milk

HP sauce

Coleman’s mustard

Preheat oven to 375º

Cook sausages over high heat until browned on all sides, about 3 minutes.

Drain sausages on paper towels and then roll up in crescent rolls.  Place on nonstick baking sheet, brush each with a little of the egg wash.

Bake for 15 minutes.  Serve with HP and mustard.

~~~~~

And finally, in honor of the South Park episode that inspired this post, here’s how to make your own tater tots (aka ‘oven crunchies’ or ‘potato pom poms’).

The first mistake most people make when making their own tots is to shred the tato.  If you closely examine a tater tot (which I have since, as you know, I have nothing better to do), the tuber is not shredded, the pieces are super teenie cubes (aka brunoise).

The second mistake is breading the tot. I’ve heard of people dipping their tots in everything from crumbled potato chips to panko breadcrumbs.  Tots are traditionally held together with corn flour and some other stuff I can neither pronounce nor spell.

Seasoning should be light and in powered form.  Onion, garlic, parsley and salt are good basics.  I’ve read some people just use Lawry’s Seasoning Salt or even Old Bay for their unique take.  Some people even stuff ‘em with a tiny cubes of cheese.

The best recipe I’ve found thus far is here (although you have to mute the ad on the right).

http://www.helium.com/items/1755762-how-to-make-homemade-tater-tots

My take on the tot is a complete pain in the arse, will cause you to throw pots, pans and possibly pets through your kitchen window and drive you to say screw it and order an extra large pizza with too many toppings, extra grease, please.

But I’m still gonna give you the recipe anyway.

1 lb fingerling potatoes

Garlic powder

Onion powder

Salt

Corn starch

Rice flour

Peanut oil

Fill a large bowl with cold water. Set aside.

Peel potatoes and place in bowl to prevent browning.

Slice potatoes into 1/8” slices, then into 1/8” sticks, then into cubes.  Return each batch to the water until all the potatoes have been cubed.

Drain potato cubes onto paper towels and sprinkle lightly with garlic, onion and salt.

Allow to rest at least 15 minutes.

Return potatoes to bowl and toss with a dash of corn starch and a small handful of rice flour.  Form a test tot, and heat the peanut oil to about 375.

Deep fry your tot, taste, adjust seasonings to uncooked tato.  If your tot did not hold together, add a large egg yolk to the mix and try again.  Or, if you get really frustrated, you can turn the tots into patties and pan fry them.