Super Bowl. Grammys. Oscars. ACC Championship (Go Tarheels!) — this time of year brings tons of TV-related social events. I love watching exciting TV with a crowd of friends and family, while drinking beer and eating lots of party food! Who doesn’t?
Before the Super Bowl party we went to this year, I spent some time thinking about Real Food noshes to contribute to the spread. (As usual, the seemingly simplest thing – homemade Ranch dressing – caused me the most heartache. But there’s a happy ending!)
Here’s how the party food came together.
Our friend provided:
- chili (I didn’t insist on seeing the recipe — but, generally speaking, a pot of stewed beans, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and ground beef is a pretty basic Real Food meal)
- tortilla chips (3 ingredients = corn, oil, salt = I’m totally OK with these as a snack food option)
- Pace salsa (I did check the label on this – no added sugar – yay! but it does have “natural flavoring” a.k.a. MSG. So while I wouldn’t myself buy it, I’m not going to stop anyone else from eating it)
- guacamole (I won’t divulge our friends’ secret recipe, but here’s mine)
- buffalo wings and drumsticks
(Buffalo sauce is another family recipe of theirs I can’t divulge. BUT the head chef did wonder how to make them crispy without resorting to frying? Good question. Naturally, a few days later I got my librarian on and found a Real Food recipe that is the BOMB! Originally, from The Real Food Dietitians. (At the bottom of this post you’ll find my take on this recipe. Seriously yum.)
- beer (smiley-face emoticon)
- 7 layer bean dip
- a giant bowl of buttered popcorn
- ranch dressing with carrot and celery sticks
7-LAYER BEAN DIP
(I know this has been a staple at parties for years and you probably don’t think of it as healthy; but with a few simple tweaks, it really is a pretty healthy thing to eat!)
In a baking dish, layer one can of refried beans
- Top with a layer of mashed avacados (2-3 depending on their size; I season them with salt, pepper, and lime juice)
- Add a layer of about 2 c. “taco-seasoned” Greek Yogurt (see my Taco Night post: I never buy those little packages that have like a hundred ingredients including sugar — it’s super easy to just throw in seasonings you have on hand anyway)
- Next layer on a few handfuls of shredded organic cheddar — don’t buy the pre-shredded stuff, it has that weird additive. (Here’s an early Cheese post, if you’d like to know more about my thoughts on cheese – and, gosh, who doesn’t?!)
- Next three layers = thinly sliced scallion, chopped tomato, chopped black olives
(That makes 7 layers, right?) Dig in!
POPCORN. OK. I love popcorn, this is no secret (I yammer on about it here and here.) It makes for great TV-watching munching! But I also think it’s a nice and healthy, Real Food snack. Popcorn, butter, salt. I cook it in a pan, on the stove. Old school.
RANCH DRESSING (here we go!)
Three thoughts converged to make finding the perfect homemade Ranch dressing my most recent food mission.
- Thought 1: We need some new healthy snacks around here. The boys like veggies and dip, right?
- Thought 2: There are absolutely no healthy (i.e. no sugar or other weird ingredients added) Ranch dressings at my regular grocery store.
- Thought 3 (totally unrelated to the snack issue; I was just thinking it one day and decided to do some research. Yes, I realize how pathetically dorky that sounds): I sure love kefir! I wonder if there’s anything else to do with it besides drink it?
And wouldn’t you know. Ye Olde Internet quickly yielded Kefir Ranch Dressing from Nourished Kitchen! I sure love the internet!
Sadly, this was NOT immediately a big hit with the kids, or me. Too mayonnaise-y, too onion-y, not salty/sweet enough, too runny…. So after 3 tries (maybe 4… I just know we went through a lot of carrots), here’s my favorite Ranch Dressing/Dip! Ta-da!
- 3/4 c. mayo (organic, etc.)
- 1/2 plain kefir (I love the Wallaby brand)
- 4 T. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 scant t. onion powder
- 2 t. garlic powder
- 2 t. sea salt
- 2 t. dried chives
- 1/2 t. dried parsley
- 1/2 t. dried dill
- 1/2 t. fresh ground pepper
- 1/2 t. stevia root powder
- 2 t. arrowroot power (to thicken, if you want it more dip like)
Whisk oil and kefir together in a large mixing bowl, then stir in all other ingredients. Great to dip veggies, great on a salad (I thinned it w/ a bit more olive oil for that), great on a baked potato, etc. Keeps, covered in fridge for about a week.
And the wings!
CRISPY BAKED BUFFALO WINGS
- 3 lbs chicken wings (drain and pat dry if previously frozen)
- 1 T. baking powder
- 1 t. salt
- 1/3 c. ghee or coconut oil
- 1/2 c. hot sauce (I like Frank’s Red Hot)
- 1 T. apple cider vinegar
- 1 t. garlic powder
- 1/2 t. paprika
- pinch of cayenne (leave out, or increase, depending on heat level you want)
- 1/2 t. salt
- Preheat oven to 250. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a cooling rack inside of it. (You may need two pans set up this way to fit all the chicken.)
- Place dried chicken wings in a large bowl. Sprinkle with baking powder and sea salt. Toss well to coat.
- Arrange chicken in a single layer on the rack in the pan(s).
- Cook for 30 minutes. (Prepare the sauce while the chicken is cooking.)
- Turn heat up to 425 and cook for 20 minutes.
- Rotate the pan, turn the pieces over, and cook for 20 more minutes until pieces are lightly browned.
- For the sauce, combine all of the sauce ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the ghee is melted, whisk to combine and remove from heat.
- Transfer cooked chicken pieces to a large, shallow container (like a 9×13 pan) and drizzle with 1/2 of the Buffalo sauce. Toss to coat.
- Serve wings with remaining sauce, homemade ranch dressing (see above), and organic celery sticks.
I think the Oscars are next. I’ll be ready!