Final Four Snacks
31 Mar, 2015
The Final Four might have a different presence than the Super Bowl but the massive culmination of the NCAA Tournament still casts an awe-inspiring aura over the sports world for two evenings in late March or early April. As bracketeers everywhere cling to their 7th-seeded Spartans or heavy favorite Wildcats, there will be plenty of mouths to feed and plenty of ways in which to do so. As we prepare to wrap up another outstanding round of March Madness, here are some highly recommended and appropriate snacks for each Final Four team.
While Wisconsin folks don’t only consume large amounts of cheese, meat and beer it would simply be culturally irresponsible to include a Wisconsin Badgers snack that did not include large amounts of all of the above.
Slow Cooked Spicy Sausage & Beer Cheese Dip
- 16 oz. hot crumbled sausage (any variety)
- 1 small diced green bell pepper
- 1 small diced onion
- 4 minced garlic cloves
- 12 oz. Wisconsin-brewed light beer
- 6 cups Crystal Farms cheese
- 8 oz. cubed cream cheese
- 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
1) In a large skillet, cook sausage, green pepper, onion over medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until meat is fully cooked and veggies begin to soften.
2) After draining excess sausage fat, place sausage, onions and peppers into slow cooker.
3) Add beer, shredded cheese, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper and stir everything together.
4) Cook on low heat for about 2 hours or until heated through and cheese and melted entirely. Stir well throughout 2 hours.
5) Serve with tortilla chips
(Recipe from Lisa Huff, Snappy Gourmet – http://snappygourmet.com/slow-cooker-spicy-sausage-beer-cheese-dip/)
You could go numerous different ways with a Kentucky-inspired snack. The undisputed champion of the sports snack world, chips and salsa, could be made to honor their 38-0 record and ability to always get the job done. However, we’ll add a little class to the occasion by pulling a crowd-pleasing special from two other well-known Kentucky staples.
Derby Bourbon Shrimp
- 1 pound raw, frozen, peeled, deveined and tail-removed shrimp (40-50 count)
- 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tsp. Cajun seasoning
- 4 tsp. Woodford Reserve bourbon
- 1 English seedless cucumber sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- Bourbon smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
1) Defrost shrimp and stir into a bowl with olive oil, Cajun seasoning and bourbon.
2) Saute contents from above until cooked through and pink in color.
3) Season to taste with salt and pepper
4) Place a dollop of sour cream on a slice of cucumber and top with cooked shrimp and paprika.
(Recipe from Kentucky Derby – http://admin.kentuckyderby.com/party/food-and-entertainment/recipes/snacks-and-appetizers/derby-bourbon-shrimp)
As was the case with the Wildcats, you have many different options for Duke but we’re going in a direction that seems to make perfect sense given their nickname and the Easter weekend in which they’re appearing in the Final Four.
(Blue) Deviled Eggs
- 6 eggs
- 1/4 cup mayo
- 1 tsp. white vinegar
- 1 tsp. yellow mustard
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. black pepper
- Smoked Spanish paprika for garnish to taste
1) Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan and cover with enough water that there is at least 1 inch of water above the eggs.
2) Heat eggs on high until water begins to boil. Cover and turn the heat to low, cooking for 1 minute.
3) Remove eggs from heat and leave covered for 15 minutes then rinse under cold water for 1 minute.
4) Remove egg shells and gently dry eggs with paper towels
5) Cut eggs in half lengthwise, removing yolks and placing into medium bowl. Place egg whites on a serving platter.
6) Mash the yolks into a fine crumble and add mayo, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Mix well.
7) Evenly disperse a heaping teaspoon of the yolk mixture into each of the egg white and sprinkle paprika on top.
(Recipe from Mary Nolan, Food Network – http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/classic-deviled-eggs-recipe.html)
As is the case with many Midwest states and cities, Michigan is very diverse and features a plethora of comfort foods, leading us to one of the great comfort foods of all-time and one that will be a major crowd pleaser for Saturday’s massive national semifinal matchup against Duke.
Crunchy Mac and Cheese
- 3 tbsp. butter
- 12 oz. coarsely graded extra sharp cheddar cheese
- 12 oz. coarsely graded American or cheddar cheese
- 1 pound elbow pasta
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne (optional)
- Salt and black pepper to taste
1) Boil pasta in salted water until just tender. Drain and rinse under cold water.
2) Heat over to 375 degrees.
3) Use 1 tbsp. butter to heavily grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
4) Combine grated cheese and set aside two heaping cups for topping.
5) In a large bowl, toss the pasta, cheeses, cayenne (if using) and salt to taste. Place in prepared dish and evenly pour milk over surface.
6) Sprinkle reserved cheese on top and dot with remaining butter. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.
7) Raise heat to 400 degrees and bake 15-20 minutes or until crusty on top and bottom.
(Recipe From Julia Moskin, New York Times – http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1015824-crusty-macaroni-and-cheese)