10 Super Bowl Party Shortcuts

While we are strong advocates of home cooking, we don’t think there’s anything wrong with using a few store-bought items now and then if it makes entertaining easier. Don’t panic: We’re not going to tell you to fill an angel food cake with raspberry Jell-O, top it with Cool Whip, and cover it in sweetened coconut and chocolate chips. But we do have a few ways to cheat on our recipes if you’re pressed for time at your Super Bowl party, or check out convenience foods that Chowhounds find worthwhile.

1. Rotisserie Chicken. Shred a rotisserie chicken and use it in our version of enchiladas suizas or to top nachos.

2. Boboli or Flatbread. Topping flatbread with high-end ingredients makes a fast, easy appetizer. Try crème fraîche, red onion, and lox or chorizo and olives, then cut into bite-size pieces.

3. Microwave Popcorn. Pick up a no-salt, no-butter microwave popcorn like Newman’s Own, then make the seasoning mixture from our Parmesan and black pepper popcorn recipe. Put the popcorn in a bowl after it’s popped and drizzle the mixture over it. Toss and serve. Our black sesame and mustard seasoning mixture is another option.

4. Frozen Limeade Concentrate. Make a round of easy slushy margaritas by using frozen limeade concentrate instead of freshly squeezed limes.

5. Precut Melon. While they’re not particularly seasonal, our booze-soaked watermelon pops are always a hit at parties. Use precut melon and soak it in vodka and Chambord, then freeze.

6. Frozen Pizza. Getting a good-quality frozen cheese pizza and topping it with fresh vegetables and/or meats is a no-brainer. Try pancetta and peppers or marinated mushrooms and blue cheese (our suggestion calls for homemade marinated mushrooms, but you can substitute jarred).

7. Hummus and Eggplant Dip. Take a shortcut on our Eggplant and Hummus Pita Crisps by using store-bought hummus and eggplant dip.

8. Ice Cream. Our Pistachio-Strawberry Ice Cream Cake looks impressive, but it’s easy to make when you use store-bought ice cream.

9. Marinated Steak Strips. Premarinated steak strips can be seared and wrapped in corn tortillas for steak tacos, or used to top a steak salad (our recipe calls for a tomato vinaigrette, but you can substitute a dressing of your choice).

10. Cut-Up Vegetables. Serve prepped vegetables with a flavorful homemade dip like rémoulade, romesco, or blue cheese dressing. Lightly steam cauliflower, broccoli, or tiny waxy potatoes and serve them alongside the raw stuff to add some variety. But choose carefully when you buy precut vegetables—they can be really dried out.

CHOW’s The Ten column appears every Tuesday.

Roxanne Webber is an associate
editor at CHOW.

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