Super Bowl Party

Well, the New Year is here and you all know what that means: It's Super Bowl Time! Even if you're not among those who look forward to watching the game and enjoying all the munchies associated with the indoor tailgate parties that usually accompany it, you probably know and love someone who does. So, this year, instead of the almost sacred feast of hot wings, chips and beer, be creative!

Now, I'm not going to start preaching about a saintly diet and suggesting carrot sticks and water. Heaven forbid a big game without taste! However, you can save yourself some aches and pains down the road (maybe just a hop, skip and a jump depending on your fortitude) by holding back on snacks loaded with saturated fat and empty calories.

The recipes offered in this article are far from skimping on flavor and still manage to sneak in fruits, veggies, and carbohydrates. They range from tangy chicken veggi pitas to a down-right spicy pineapple salsa to garlic dill dip (you can always change the names if you need to be more sneaky). By offering a wide variety of foods, you're more likely to satisfy everyone surrounding the big (or not-so-big) screen TV.

Since there are dipping recipes offered in this article, I think I should also make a few suggestions about items for dipping and salsa-ing. Pita bread can be sliced into eight or more wedges and toasted for dipping or holding some chunky salsa. Also, many baked tortilla chips can now be found in your supermarket isles. Pretzels remain an all-time favorite football game treat and, if you don't have enough, you can always pass around mustards for dipping. Both treats are almost always fat free. Finally, I would be wrong if I didn't mention that the Garlic Dill Dip is terrific with fresh carrots, peppers, and celery.

While just about everything I present in this article is finger food, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share my recipe for Confetti Ratatouille. With slightly crunchy veggies and tasty Italian sausage, it can serve as a main entree that can easily be eaten in front of the tube! And, like all of the other recipes offered, it can be made the day before and simply warmed before being served.

So whether it's you that's going to be sitting through the pre-game show, the game and the post-game show or those you love, make sure that you will be satisfied now and years from now. Here's the starting line-up:

Confetti Ratatouille

If you like garlic and Italian sausage, this one's for you! But, the secret's in the wonderful blend of fresh, crisp vegetables that's added.
  • 4 Italian sausages, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 head of cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • 1 yellow squash, cubed
  • 1 small zucchini squash, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 c. black olives, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. marjoram
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • pepper to taste

In a large, deep skillet, warm sausage pieces over medium heat. Add remaining ingredients and mix until combined. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are crisp, but tender. Serve warm.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 40 minutes

Olive Tart

This tangy tart eats like a pizza. It can be served warm or cold and can be made up to 2 days before you plan to serve it. If you're lucky enough to have it, top the tart with pesto-garlic Monterey jack cheese.
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/8 lb. margarine
  • 1/4 c. sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. mixed pepper
  • 1/8 c. water
  • 1/3 c. tomato sauce
  • 2 1/2 oz. sliced black olives
  • 1/4 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 ripe tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 c. cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. To make the base, work the flour, margarine, sesame seeds and mixed pepper in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Add the water and work until the mixture forms a ball. Knead lightly. Shape into a 9" tart pan with a removable bottom. Bake for 15 minutes.

Spread the tomato sauce over the hot tart base, cover with the vegetables and sprinkle shredded cheese over the top. Bake an additional 15-20 minutes.

  • Yields: 1 - 9" tart
  • Preparation Time: about 1 hour

Chicken Veggi Pitas

These pitas are stuffed with chicken, fresh veggies, and a tangy salad dressing that is sure to please. Serving them in warm pitas helps get the stuffing to your mouth instead of your couch! For an extra special treat, use smoked chicken!
  • 1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinaigrette dressing
  • 1 1/2 c. cooked chicken, cubed
  • 1/4 c. low fat mozzarella cheese, shredded

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix until well-coated. Serve slightly chilled in warm pitas.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Garlic Dill Dip

Creamy dips are infamous for their high fat content, but not this one! A combination of yogurt and low fat mayo gives you all of the flavor without the fat.
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp. dried minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 c. plain yogurt
  • 1 c. low fat mayonnaise (you can also use nonfat mayo)

Combine all seasonings and mix until well blended. Add the seasoning mix to the remaining ingredients and mix. Chill for at least one hour before serving.

  • Yields: about 2 cups of dip
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes, plus chilling time

Pineapple Salsa

If you're into sweet and spicy flavors, this one's for you! Stuff a toasted pita and you're in heaven.
  • 20 oz. crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 tangerine, sectioned and sliced
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 T. lime juice
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

Mix all ingredients in a serving bowl. Chill until ready to serve. Tastes great with toasted pita wedges.

  • Yields: about 3 cups of salsa
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes