6 Easy Snacks for Your March Madness Viewing Party

March Madness is finally upon us. The annual college basketball tournament is basically Christmas for a certain set of people, which means that when it comes to viewing parties, plain old chips-and-dip just won’t do. If you’re hosting a crowd for a March Madness gathering, you need to bring bring your “A” game. To help you do that, here are six recipes for snacks that will be sure to keep even the rowdiest of fans happy.

1. 15-Minute Chili

bowl of chili

15-minute chili | iStock.com

Forgot to prep for your party? No worries. This incredibly easy chili recipe from Onion Rings and Things comes together in just 15 minutes using ingredients you may already have in your pantry or freezer. That means you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time cheering on your favorite team.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded, cored and chopped
  • 1 (28-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans
  • ½ cup salsa
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Grated cheddar cheese, chopped onions, and sour cream, for topping

Directions: Brown the ground beef in a large pot over medium-high heat. Season beef with salt and pepper. Add onions and garlic to the pan and continue to cook until onions are soft.

Add the bell peppers, stewed tomatoes, both types of beans, salsa, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Stir to combine. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes, until warmed through.

Ladle chili into bowls. Top with cheese, onions, and sour cream, then serve.

2. Carolina-Style Pulled Pork Sliders

Pulled Pork Sliders

Pulled pork slider | iStock.com

North Carolina may be as famous for pulled pork as it is for basketball. So why not marry the two and serve Carolina-style pulled pork sliders at your March Madness viewing party? A unique two-sauce cooking method produces sliders that are perfectly tangy and slightly sweet, and are sure to be a hit with your guests. Recipe from Crème de la Crumb.

Ingredients:

For the pork:

  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • ½ white onion, sliced
  • 4- to 6-pound boneless Boston butt or pork loin roast

For the first sauce:

  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

For the second sauce:

  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

For the cole slaw:

  • 2 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
  • 2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage (or substitute broccoli slaw or other packaged cole slaw without dressing)
  • ¼ cup mayo, plus more for slider buns
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Directions: Layer the onion slices in the bottom of the slow cooker. Place pork roast on top. Whisk together all the ingredients for the first sauce in a medium bowl. Pour over the roast, then cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.

Thirty minutes before you plan to serve the sliders, remove the pork from the slow cooker. Shred the meat with two forks. Remove onions and any liquid from the slow cooker. Return the meat to the slow cooker.

Whisk together all the ingredients for the second sauce in a medium bowl. Pour over the shredded meat. Cover and cook for another 30 minutes.

While the meat cooks, prepare the slaw. Toss the sliced cabbage with the mayo, sugar, cayenne pepper, and salt. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Slice slider buns in half. Spread about 1 tablespoon of mayo onto half of each bun. Top with pork, then slaw. Serve immediately.

3. Wisconsin Beer-Battered Cheese Curds

Beer Battered Wisconsin Cheese Curds and dipping sauce

Beer-battered cheese curds | iStock.com

Bite-sized, deep-fried cheese curds are a Wisconsin specialty. You’ll even find them on the menu at the Kohl Center where the Badgers play. Fortunately, you don’t need to head to America’s Dairyland to enjoy these tasty snacks, which are easy to prepare at home. Recipe from Tasty Kitchen.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 whole eggs, beaten
  • 12 fluid ounces light beer
  • 2 cups cheese curds, room temperature

Directions: Add the oil to a medium pot and turn heat to medium-high.

As you wait for the oil to warm, prepare the batter. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt to one bowl. In another bowl, beat the eggs. Pour in the beer and mix to combine. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients to form a batter (make sure there are no lumps).

Using a slotted spoon, dip the curds into the batter. (You can dip a handful of curds at the same time.) Let excess batter drip off, then carefully transfer curds to the pan with the hot oil. Let cook for about 1 minute. If the cheese starts to ooze out, they’ve cooked too long.

Remove the curds from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat the process until you’ve cooked all your curds. Serve immediately, either plain or with your favorite dipping sauce.

4. Baked Chipotle Onion Rings

close up of onion rings on white plate

Baked onion rings | iStock.com

Deep-fried snacks are delicious, but heavy on the calories. If you’d prefer a lighter and less greasy snack that still packs a lot of flavor, try this recipe for baked chipotle onion rings from Alaska from Scratch. Flavoring the breading with a little adobo sauce gives these rings some extra kick, and baking them is not only healthier, but also makes for easier clean up.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, sliced into ¼-inch rings
  • 2¼ cups buttermilk
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotles
  • ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ⅓ cup regular breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • Coarse sea salt

Directions: Combine the buttermilk with the adobo sauce in a large bowl. Add the sliced onion rings, cover, and let soak in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the panko, regular breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Set half the breadcrumb mixture aside.

Use tongs to dip the buttermilk-soaked onion rings into the breadcrumb mixture, thoroughly coating both sides. Transfer onion rings to prepared baking sheet. Once you’ve used up all the breading in the first bowl (or if it’s too wet to stick the onions), start dipping the rings in the reserved breadcrumbs.

Generously spray entire pan of breaded onion rings with cooking spray. Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until brown and crispy. Season with coarse sea salt and serve immediately with your preferred dipping sauce.

5. Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich

ice cream cookie sandwiches

Ice cream cookie sandwiches | iStock.com

The Melting Moments ice cream cookie sandwich is a beloved treat on the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing. You can create your own version of this fabulous frozen treat by following this recipe from the Cooking Channel.

Ingredients:

For the sandwich filling:

  • 3 pints vanilla ice cream
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon

For the cookies:

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (8 ounces), at room temperature
  • 1⅓ cups packed light brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions: To prepare the filling, soften the ice cream at room temperature until it is spoonable but not melting, about 20 minutes. Transfer it to a large bowl and drizzle with the bourbon. Work it into the ice cream with a wooden spoon. Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze until hard, 3 to 4 hours.

To prepare the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl until combined. Set aside. Beat together the butter and both sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and eggs until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the flour mixture, reduce the mixer speed to medium-low, and beat until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Scoop 2 ounces of dough per cookie (about 3 tablespoons or a medium-size ice cream scoop) onto the baking sheets, about 3 inches apart. Bake, rotating the trays front to back and top to bottom halfway through cooking time, until lightly browned and the edges are set, 10 to 13 minutes. Cool a few minutes on the trays, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Line the trays with new parchment paper and bake the remaining cookies.

Scoop a very generous mound of ice cream (about 2/3 cup) onto one cookie and top with a second cookie. Repeat with the rest of the cookies and ice cream. Serve immediately.

6. Oklahoma Caviar

black bean salsa

Black bean salsa | iStock.com

No, it’s not fish eggs. Oklahoma caviar (or cowboy or Texas caviar) is really just another name for black bean salsa. This recipe from Dishin and Dishes provides a healthy dose of fresh veggies like peppers and tomatoes, plus protein-packed black beans and fiber-rich black-eyed peas.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped (6 to 8 onions)
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 to 6 jalapenos chopped (use more or less depending on how hot you want the salsa)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/3 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 can black-eyed peas, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 can white shoepeg corn
  • 1 small can chopped black olives
  • 8 ounces zesty Italian dressing

Directions: Add all the ingredients except the dressing to a large bowl. Mix to combine. Pour dressing over, and stir again until all ingredients are thoroughly coated. Cover and let sit for at least 1 hour. Serve with tortilla chips.

Follow Megan on Twitter @MeganE_CS

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