Can you believe that the last conference basketball games are being played this weekend? Tournament Weekend is next week? Now that it’s March, it time for a March Madness menu that’s easier than ever…and ridiculously good.
I love March Madness! My favorite is when the Cinderella teams win…how great would it be if Gonzaga made it to the Final Four this year? It’s about time. Watching the games, though, is best with something to munch on…when your team is down, it’s good to be distracted by something gooey & cheesy…
…like, Loaded French Fries! If you’re a fan of loaded baked potatoes, then you’ll love this! Store-bought steak fries are baked till crispy on the outside…& soft & creamy on the inside…then, the fries are covered with avocado, crispy pork belly or bacon, cilantro & sour cream, then topped with cheddar cheese that’s melted. This stuff is addicting, and certainly was a hit when I made it for the Fleur-de-Lis Garden Club a week ago. The women loved it! I know you guys will too! Really, what is better than a french fry…covered in all that deliciousness…served hot…serve lots of napkins…you’re going need them!
Since we live in ACC Land…yep, Wake Forest is 30 minutes west…Duke & UNC, an hour away…& the Wolfpack is about 90 minutes east…Clemson, 3 hours southwest…a Southern snack is a must. Pimento Cheese is a staple here, and there must be a gazillion different recipes for this Southern favorite…I am not even going to try to recreate the wheel, but, instead, I decided to create a fondue. Hot Pimento Cheese Fondue is wonderful for game-watching! I like serving fondue because it’s a little “retro” and it’s comfort food. Can you think of anything better than cheese & bread? I can’t. Pimento Cheese is typically served with celery sticks, & I carry out that tradition with the fondue…I also like serving French bread rounds from The Fresh Market…baguette slices also work well…but, potato chips are the BEST! Gluten-free, crunchy & salty…the combination is terrific….the best part, you can put all the ingredients together the day before serving, then simply heat & serve. This, too, was a hit with the ladies!
Now for something on the lighter side. Everything Bagel Dip was inspired by a recipe I read on TasteBook several weeks ago. After making the dip once, I decided it needed some tweaking…I made it skinny by using fat-free Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, & Green Mountain Farms Cream Cheese & Greek Yogurt instead of cream cheese…I also added more of this & that, as well as a few other ingredients…& I was really happy with the new combination…as were the ladies! I served the dip with a variety of veggies, and you could add in a bunch of dippers…bagel chips, pita chips, tortilla chips, breads, crackers, pretzels…Everything Bagel Dip is so versatile, it can be served with anything! Try it slathered on a toasted everything bagel, then top with smoked salmon, sliced tomato & cucumbers…you’ll be hooked!
Now for the cocktail…I haven’t done one in a while, & I thought a specialty drink was a must for the Garden Club event. A couple months ago, we tried a cocktail made with citrus vodka, grapefruit juice & Cointreau, and it was so refreshing. It’s the perfect drink to sip on a hot day. You may also remember my Skinny Fizzy Grapefruit Cooler from a couple of summers ago…that has become a summer staple. When I was thinking of what to make for both my March Madness menu and for Garden Club, I decided to experiment & combine both drinks…the worst thing that could happen is the women wouldn’t like it…wine was being served anyway, so no harm, no foul. We mixed together grapefruit vodka (Absolut Ruby Red is my fave), grapefruit juice & Cointreau, then added Fresca & served. I was really impressed that these ladies loved it! You know, I wasn’t sure…alot of people don’t like that much grapefruit. The Cointreau, though, added a nice touch of citrusy sweetness, which balanced the tart grapefruit flavor well. Because the cocktail was so well received, I decided to name it the Fleur-de-Lis. I guess that really isn’t a great name for a March Madness menu cocktail, but, oh well. Ladies, thank you for being my taste testers that evening…I had a great time, & I would be happy doing it again…thank you for asking me…I am honored.
Have fun this month with all the tournament excitement! I hope you will try this March Madness menu…it’s beyond easy & everyone, I promise, will love it! Cheers!