Originally Published in the Greenwood Daily Journal Saturday January 28, 2012
I know I have mentioned this before but I am really not a sports fan. I try to hang when I am a part of a conversation that veers off to talk of the Colts, Pacers or other such topics that are sports related. I smile and nod and pretend to know what they are talking about but I don’t think I fool anyone.
The thing is, I am fine with this. In my opinion, as long as I understand the rules of the sports my own kids participate in that is really all that matters. I need to be able to follow that at least. It’s not like I force my friends and family to care about grey salt, fondant or new recipes using duck.
I also think I have mentioned before that I really just prefer to be the hostess. I don’t want to sit there for 2 hours watching a game I don’t understand, I want to bring you drinks and cook a big spread to be enjoyed during the halftime show. This gives me an excuse, an out if you will, to avoid making what I call ‘Sports Small Talk’. I just can’t fake it.
The good thing is that people who know me, I mean really know me, do not expect me to pretend. I get a pass for the afternoon. So when I hear that the biggest event in sports is coming to my city I at first had mixed emotions. It wasn’t until I saw what a huge positive economic impact this mammoth event will have on Indianapolis and the surrounding area that I started to come around. Some see this as one of the biggest reasons to party in the cold and frosty streets, I see this as jobs, a boost to the local economy and a great way to make a memory for my kids. The excitement in the area is building and I am excited that everyone is excited.
My husband and I dined downtown last Saturday and were impressed with what we saw going up so far. The planters were filled with beautiful winter plants, heated benches were being installed near the sculptural goal posts on Georgia Street and a neat mural was being installed on the side of the towering JW Marriot. Watching that was impressive in and of itself. I loved that when we left the restaurant the host wished us a super weekend, he was just warming up I guess!
We are going to make our way to Downtown Indy next week to visit the NFL Experience. I couldn’t say no. They both were excited at the prospect of possibly seeing an NFL player so I will oblige them this. I want them to see what all of the hoopla is all about, anyway.
So, imagine my surprise when I am asked by Red Gold Tomatoes to join them at the Taste of the NFL dinner! This Indiana company asked me and 6 other food writers from around the country to join them at the dinner that benefits Gleaners Food Bank the night before the big game. I can not think of a better reason to celebrate this huge event coming to our city than this. There will be a chef in attendance from every NFL home city so I am pretty excited about that. Ted Allen from the Food Network television show Chopped will be there as well as several NFL players both active and retired. Of course Miss America will be there as well but that is really not the draw for me. Guests are also asked to bring food for the food bank and there will be silent auctions all evening to raise money for those that need it.
Needless to say I am excited about this for many reasons. Not the least of which is that I get to be all swanky and dressed up for a night. Now that I have gotten past the fact that I needed to find suitable attire for this event I am excited at what this dinner can do for our city. This large gathering of people, some of which are very fortunate, should raise not only awareness of the need to share with others less fortunate than ourselves but also some much needed funds for Gleaners.
So I am shoring up my list of goodies that I will be making my crew on Superbowl Sunday, making sure that I don’t overdo it like last year. No one wants to eat boneless sticky wings for dinner for a week when you make too many like I did last year. Furthermore, one can only eat so many twice baked potato boats. I have several things in mind but I think I will just stick with a few of the classics. Sometimes the more you over think a dish the more likely you are to mess it up.
First up will be a simple and easy Buffalo Chicken Roll Up. I have made this a few ways depending on what is on sale and how many I have to feed. Improvise here as you will. Whether you use pizza dough to make one large loaf shaped roll or make individual ‘hot pocket’ style portions using crescent roll dough the taste is the same. Do what feels right for you and your skill level. I like to serve this with celery sticks and fresh blue cheese dressing. Also, sometimes I make use of a rotisserie chicken for this. If you are pressed for time it is a real life saver to be able to pick up one of those, add some hot sauce and some cream cheese, roll it in some dough and call it a day. The flavor is incredible and let me tell you…your family will be impressed!
Buffalo Chicken Roll Up
1 can of thin crust pizza dough
3 C of cooked chicken, cubed
1 8 oz package of low-fat cream cheese, cubed
Franks Red Hot Buffalo sauce, enough to coat. More if you like it hot.
1 egg, beaten
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl add the cubed chicken, cubed cream cheese and toss with as much hot sauce as you would like. I used 3/4 of the bottle on mine. Set aside.
Remove the pizza dough from the can and spread out on a large cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment, a Silpat or sprayed with a bit of non-stick spray.
On the dough, spoon the chicken out and spread around to within 1 inch of the edges. Roll, jelly roll style, and tuck in the ends. Brush the top with a bit of beaten egg. I top this with a sheet of foil so it doesn’t get too brown but that is entirely up to you. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check it after 20 to make sure it is baking evenly. Allow to rest for 5 minutes or so before slicing.
Fresh Blue Cheese Dressing
Add the following ingredients to a clean, empty glass or plastic container with a tight fitting lid
1/2 C blue cheese
3 TB buttermilk
3 TB light sour cream
2 TB light mayonnaise
2 TSP white wine vinegar
1/4 TSP sugar
1/8 TSP garlic powder
salt/pepper to taste
Tighten the lid and shake. This can be refrigerated for 2 weeks.