Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Football Party on a Budget

My friends and I love to get together to support our teams (Brewers, Packers & Badgers) with tailgates and parties. Its easy to tailgate before a Brewer game because tickets are reasonable and the team plays locally. Badger & Packer tickets are not as easy to come by because all games are sold out (Packers are sold out for my entire lifetime!) so you have to buy online at inflated prices and the stadiums are hours away.

For the first Packers game of the season, my friends hosted a get-together at their house and did a taco night and asked everyone to bring something to go with the tacos.  I decided to make my friend's salsa that I had had the weekend prior. I toned down the spice quite a bit in my version but everyone really liked it because it's so fresh! (Find the recipe at the bottom of this posting.)

Other sides included this cucumber tomato salad and puppy chow!

Recipe at the bottom of this post
Leinenkugel's came out with a new fall variety pack of shandy beers and I decided to give it a try. The Old Fashioned Shandy doesn't taste like a beer at all, more of a Southern Comfort Old Fashioned. It took me two tries to decide that this was ok.

The other flavors are a Cranberry Ginger Shandy that reminds me a little of a Moscow Mule and a Harvest Patch Shandy that resembled a pumpkin beer but more sweet.

We ate and and drank and watched the Green & Gold do their best against the World Champion Seattle Seahawks. They put in a valiant effort but didn't come out the winner.

Every year, our favorite wine sales rep from Fox Run Sentry Liquor (RIP!) invites us to a tailgate at Miller Park. He supplies the meat and tickets and just asks us to come with a side and enjoy the game with him. This gigantic taco salad hit the spot for us and kept us busy while the brats were cooking away.
I made a new recipe of Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treat cups. They were such a hit, most ate these before they ate the rest of the tailgate goodies.

The seats were on the 2nd level of Miller Park and gave us a great view of all the action, including the famous Racing Sausage Race (congrats Chorizo!). The Brewers put in a valiant effort but couldn't hold on to bring us a win in the end. The team really crumbled in September this year and didn't even make the playoffs when they were the best team in baseball for the majority of the season. That's ok - I'll still cheer on my Brew Crew boys!

Ok - now onto the party that I threw for the Thursday night Packers game against our forever rivals - the Minnesota Vikings. These are always well debated games so I thought I would get everyone together at my place and cheer our boys on.

I'm on a tighter budget so I thought long and hard about a way to throw a party with great food, for a low price.

Drum roll please.......Baked Potato Bar.

I shopped for almost everything at Woodman's and put out the whole smorgasbord for under $20 and had leftovers.

10 lb. Bag of Potatoes - 1.69
Chives - cut from my garden
Stadium Cheese - $2.50
Fresh Broccoli - $1.00
Green Onion - $.69
Ranch - $2.00
Sour Cream - $1.29
Bacon Bits - $2.39
Shredded Cheese - $2.09
Butter - $1.50
Cheese & Sausage - $3.00

The chili was provided by a friend that came to the party - Wendy's chili - a perfect addition for the tater bar.

I had never done a mass quantity of potatoes in the oven before and most recipes said 45 mins - 1 hour for the potatoes. NOTE:When you are cooking 10 decent sized potatoes at the same time, they will take almost double that time. I just kept setting the timer for another 15 minutes and then would give them a poke until I felt they were done. They turned out perfectly!

I put a little olive oil on each piece of foil, then sprinkled a little salt on it, wrapped the foil around each one tightly and put them on a pan.

The tater bar was a huge success and I have a few potatoes and toppings leftover to enjoy this week. This definitely helped me save money and provide my friends a great dinner they could customize to their own taste. My friend also brought some cookies that I didn't take a picture of (FAIL) but they were pumpkin spice and delicious (WIN). They tasted like FALL - YUMMY! 

My friend brought McKenzie's Black Cherry Hard Cider for me to try and it was delicious! My cousin told me they have a pumpkin too that she loves so I will have to get some of that as well to enjoy this Fall. But definitely in moderation. Each bottle is 200 calories! Yikes!
The Green and Gold boys dominated the Vikings and brought in a huge win which makes a lot of us feel a lot better about the season, now that we have more wins than losses on our side.


Salsa -
3 Tomatoes, diced no seeds
1 Green Pepper, diced
1/2 White Onion, diced
4 Green Onions, diced
1 can Black Beans, rinsed
2 Tbsp. lime juice or to taste
1/4 cup fresh cilantro - chopped
Sprinkling of salt
1 Tbsp Crushed Garlic
Poblano Pepper, diced, no seeds (You can use any pepper if you want it hotter)

Creamy Cucumber Salad -
2 - 3 cucumbers - peeled and chopped
3 medium sized tomatoes - chopped
1 green pepper  - chopped
1/2 cup light Miracle Whip (could do 1/4 Miracle Whip & 1/4 Mayo too)
Stir all ingredients together and refrigerate for a few hours. Best served the day it's made.

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