Tapas, appetizers, small bites; whatever you want to call them, are some of my favorite foods! I love the option to eat small portions while enjoying a variety of different dishes! So while you are getting together with friends and family to enjoy the best college basketball has to offer, these recipes won’t break the bracket OR your bank!Meredith McGrath RD, LDN
#1 Cheeseburger Dip
I have to be transparent, I have never met a pickle I didn’t like! So although this appears like your typical ground beef dip recipe, that little hint of dill pickle takes it to a new level! You definitely get cheeseburger vibes! Although this recipe bakes in the oven, if you have time earlier in the day, I would recommend the slow cooker. This way you can “keep warm” and not miss any of the buzzer beater action.
Total Time: 30 minutes
- 1 pound 90% Lean Ground Beef
- 3/4 cup onion, diced
- 2 Tablespoon ketchup
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1-1/2 cups Cheddar cheese
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup dill pickle, chopped, divided
- 2 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup Roma tomatoes, diced
Heat nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add Ground Beef; cook 8 to 10 minutes, breaking into 3/4-inch crumbles and stirring occasionally. Add in onion and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. In a standing mixer combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese, ketchup, worcestershire sauce, garlic, pepper, and 1/2 cup of diced pickles until well incorporated. Add cooled beef mixture and mix until well incorporated. Remove bowl from mixer and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until ready to bake. Spread the dip into a 8″ cast iron or oven-proof skillet. Bake in a 375°F oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown and edges are bubbling. Remove from oven and top with remaining pickles, parsley, and diced tomatoes. Serve warm with potato chips or crackers.
#2 Grilled Meatball, Pesto Flatbread
Mama Lucia meatballs are a permanent staple in my house. They are so quick and easy, while being a family favorite and super versatile. This flatbread combines robust flavors from the marinara and pesto sauce, while adding varying texture between the fresh mozzarella and red onion. This recipe reminds you that you can prepare something pretty impressive in only 15 minutes!
Total Time: 15 minutes
- 1 package (12 oz.) Mama Lucia Italian Style Meatballs
- 4 artisan flatbread crusts
- 1 cup sliced red onion
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 10 oz. fresh Mozzarella cheese, sliced ¼” thick
- 4 tablespoons basil pesto
Arrange meatballs on a microwave safe dish. Heat on high for 2 minutes, set aside for later use. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the red onion and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes until transparent and fragrant. Place the flatbread on a parchment lined cookie sheet; spoon 1/2 cup of marinara sauce evenly over each flatbread crust, then arrange 5-6 Mozzarella slices on each flatbread. Slice the cooked meatballs in half and arrange across each flatbread. Spoon some of the red onion and garlic between each meatball. Place flatbreads into the oven for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and spoon 4 teaspoons of basil pesto across each flatbread, then let rest for 2 minutes before serving.
#3 Macaroni and Cheese Toppings Bar
Topping bars are very popular amongst groups! It allows your guests to create their own masterpiece and get a personalized experience. So if you are into people pleasing, this is a very easy way to satisfy the masses!
Total Time: 25 minutes
- 3 pkg Bob Evans Macaroni and Cheese
- 4 – 12 Tbsp Bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 4 – 12 Tbsp Green Onion, diced
- 4 – 12 Tbsp Broccoli, chopped
- 4 – 12 Tbsp Red Bell Pepper, chopped
- 4 – 12 Tsp Panko Bread Crumbs
- 4 – 12 Tbsp Prepared Pico de Gallo
- 4 – 12 Tbsp Sour Cream
- 1 Jalapeno, deseeded and chopped
- 1 Avocado, Cubed
Prepare Bob Evans Macaroni and Cheese per package instructions. Divide heated Bob Evans Macaroni and Cheese between 12 ramekins. For Loaded Macaroni & Cheese: top each with 1 Tbsp. Crumbled bacon pieces, a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and green onion. For Veggie Macaroni & Cheese: Top each with 1 Tbsp. Chopped Broccoli, 1 Tbsp. Chopped Red Bell Pepper and 1 tsp Panko Bread Crumbs. For Mexican Macaroni & Cheese: Top each with 1 Tbsp. Prepared Pico de Gallo, 1 tsp. sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped jalapeno and 1 Tbsp. cubed avocado.
#4 Spicy Beer Cheese Hot Dogs
This one was very fun for me! I have to admit that I have never made beer cheese but don’t worry, no experience needed! Probably my most favorite part of this was the recommended pretzel buns. It just took your ordinary hot dog to a new culinary level. And do not skip the sauteed onions and jalapenos. They definitely play a critical role in creating this artisan frank!
Total Cook Time: 20 minutes
- 4 Sugardale Hot Dogs
- 4 pretzel hot dog buns
- 1 medium onion, thin sliced
- 2 jalapenos, thin sliced
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 tbsp. flour
- ½ cup lager beer of choice
- 8 oz. sharp white cheddar, shredded
- ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
Heat grill to medium to medium-high heat. When grill is heated, place hot dogs on grill. Grill to preferred doneness. In a medium pan over medium-high heat, add oil, onion and jalapenos. Toss in the skillet until onions are soft and begin to brown. While the vegetables are cooking, prepare your beer cheese. In a small pot over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Once smooth, slowly whisk in the beer until fully combined. Add in the cheese ½ cup at a time and whisk until melted. Add in the cayenne pepper for taste. Assemble the hot dogs by placing in a bun, cover with beer cheese and top with cooked onions and jalapenos. Serve immediately.
#5 Maple Bacon Ice Cream
I almost hit the PASS button on this one because I did not think this would turn out well. To say that was shocked, is an understatement! After a few hours in the freezer, the creamy texture was incredible and the salty-sweet combo was unforgettable! This will certainly WOW your guests and hopefully keep everyone happy in the FINAL round!
- 10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
- ½ tsp. maple extract
- ½ cup toffee bits
- 2 (8 oz.) containers whipped cream
Place sweetened condensed milk in a large bowl. Stir in maple extract and toffee bits. Fold in the whipped cream and bacon. Place mixture in an airtight container. Freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight.