TV. Party. Food.

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 chicken with homemade ranch dressing

    (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)

We brought:

  • 7 layer bean dip
  • a giant bowl of buttered popcorn
  • ranch dressing with carrot and celery sticks


(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!)

  • layer 1=beans; layer 2=guac

    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)

    Greek Yogurt pre-seasoning
spiced added – just stir!






  • 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!

1st quarter noshing in progress!







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.

Stand back. Ranch dressing research in progress!







And the 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
  1. 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.)
  2. Place dried chicken wings in a large bowl. Sprinkle with baking powder and sea salt. Toss well to coat.
  3. Arrange chicken in a single layer on the rack in the pan(s).
  4. Cook for 30 minutes. (Prepare the sauce while the chicken is cooking.)
  5. Turn heat up to 425 and cook for 20 minutes.
  6. Rotate the pan, turn the pieces over, and cook for 20 more minutes until pieces are lightly browned.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Serve wings with remaining sauce, homemade ranch dressing (see above), and organic celery sticks.

I think the Oscars are next. I’ll be ready!

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