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Footing the bill for a fall football feast

September 24, 2010|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI
  • Alicia Notarianni
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First. And. Ten. Move that ball again!

This was one of my favorite cheers as a high school cheerleader. On occasion, I'll stun my children by springing into a straddle layout routine and shouting a crisp alto at the top of my lungs in the middle of the kitchen.

"Once a cheerleader, always a cheerleader," I tell them, as I nonchalantly go back to chopping onions.

And here it is - football season. Truth be told, I never acquired a thorough knowledge of the game. I learned what I needed to know. Offense, defense, first down, touch down.

When it comes to the National Football League, a passion for the Pittsburgh Steelers is deeply ingrained. Beyond that, I have a cursory familiarity with the teams that strike me, and I know a bit about the odd player here and there.

While my knowledge of the game is limited, my spirit is unbridled. Set me in front of the TV without distraction for a really good game with teams I care about, and you might think my own son was playing.

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And, for the love of color commentators, don't forget the food.

What is a game without greasy, spicy, muscle-flexing fare for the fans? It ain't healthful, but it's tradition. I, for one, am not about to march into the family room for a game with a loaf of flourless bread. While I eat well in general, I believe arteries can tolerate a couple deep-fried jalapenos once every week or two, and I'll stand by that.

Of course, I don't want to overspend for the event. Here are some economical recipes my family likes to throw together for a football feast. Look for sales and don't be afraid to buy off-brands to really keep costs down.

Zesty pepperoni spread. Chop 4 ounces of pepperoni in a blender or food processor. Mix with an 8-ounce package of softened cream cheese. Garnish with sliced cherry tomatoes and parsley. Spread on your favorite cracker.

Easy crescent dogs. Slit hot dogs down the middle and insert narrow slices of American cheese. Separate triangles of refrigerated crescent rolls. Wrap a triangle around each hotdog. Bake at 375 degrees, cheese side up, for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

World's simplest creamy salsa dip. Combine a 15-ounce container of your favorite salsa, an 8-ounce package of cream cheese and a sprinkling of shredded cheese, and heat in the microwave until warm. Stir, scoop in onto fresh tortilla chips, and crunch loudly.

Seven-layer salad. If you're game for an indulgence just slightly less guilty, get a deep bowl and begin layering. A bag or a cut-up head of lettuce; 1/4 cup of chopped onions; 1/2 cup of chopped green pepper; and 1 package of frozen peas. Don't mix it, just layer it. Over the peas, spread a thin layer of mayonnaise. Add chopped bacon or bacon bits. For layer number seven, sprinkle on some shredded cheddar cheese.

If you over-indulge, here's a thought. Get off the couch, rally the squad, and cheer off those calories. But no aerial partner stunts in the family room.

Alicia Notarianni is a reporter and feature writer for The Herald-Mail. Her e-mail address is alnotarianni@aol.com .

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