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15 Game Day Snack Upgrades To Instantly Elevate Your Party

Based on the last two years of viewership for professional football's Big Game, more than 111 million people will be watching later this week. For those of us lucky enough to have the day off, we'll be somewhere surrounded by people, a large TV and most importantly: snack food. Over a billion, that's with a "b," wings will be served this Sunday. Without a doubt those wings will be accompanied by millions of platters stacked with various snacks, assortments, appetizers and delectable finger food.

But we're tired of the same 'ol thang. Delivery pizza is lazy.

Bean dip is really just refried beans with different packaging.

Using cheese out of of a can as the sole topping for your nachos? Please.

It's time. It's time for food to be a centerpiece, not a mundane afterthought. It's time for party-goers to ask each other, "Have you seen the chocolate-dipped strawberry footballs?" instead of "Did you see that car insurance commercial?" It's time for dual-purpose snack tables to become more prevalent in homes across America. Of course we want the option to instantly play old-school paper football whilst still providing a portable, durable surface for the food cornucopia.

Welcome to our first comprehensive list of game day upgrades that will leave your friends and family yearning for more food, regardless of the game's outcome.

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Turf Table

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Turf Table

At first it seemed like the high school glory days would be coming immediately back to me as my first paper football flick went straight through the middle of the uprights. It felt as though nothing could stop me from entering the soon-to-be established paper football hall of fame. And then I shanked the next four flicks in a row. My dreams came tumbling down. But then I remembered that this paper football setup, outfitted with a custom turf tablecloth and hand-painted uprights, was a snack table five minutes earlier. I felt a lot better, even if that meant remembering the loss for eternity.

Materials Needed:

  • duct tape
  • strip of turf, enough to cover table you're using
  • 1" x 2" x 2' select pine
  • (2) 1/2" galvanized floor flange
  • (2) 1/2" PVC tees
  • (2) 1/2" PVC adapters
  • 1/2" x 5' PVC Pipe
  • (8) #8 or #10 3/4" panhead screws
  • wood glue
  • white spray paint
  • small can of yellow paint
  • folding table
  • commercial scissors
  • tape measure
  • screwdriver/drill

Instructions:

  1. Cut piece of artificial turf to fit the size of your table.
  2. Measure sections for where you want the yard markers to be, cover the rest of the table with tape.
  3. Spray paint the yard markers with white spray paint
  4. Cut (4) 8" pieces and (1) 12-1/2" pieces of PVC pipe. Apply small amount of glue to inside of two opposite facing holes of one of the PVC tees. Insert (2) of the 8" pieces into the holes. Repeat with the other PVC tees and 8" pieces.
  5. Apply glue to the sides holes of the PVC tees and insert the ends of the 12-1/2" piece. This will be your crossbar. Let dry.
  6. Apply glue into the PVC adapters and place the uprights into them.
  7. Connect the (2) PVC adapters to the galvanized floor flanges.
  8. Screw the floor flanges to the pine. This will be your base for the goal posts.
  9. Spray paint the goal posts yellow.
  10. Make a paper football.
  11. Play.

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Game Day Concessions at Home

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Sometimes it's the little things that add up to something greater. That's definitely the case when using creative concession packaging to help bring the game day atmosphere to your living room. We found great options all over the Internet and party retail stores including packaging for peanuts, pretzels, hot dogs and popcorn. "PEANUTS! GET YOUR PEANUTS HEEEEEEEEERE."

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Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry Footballs

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It wasn't easy finding a way to upgrade chocolate-dipped strawberry footballs. But where there's a will, there's a way. Use dark chocolate chips for the dark brown football aesthetic, and then pipe melted white chocolate chips for the laces. We recommend practicing piping with frosting on a plate or napkin beforehand, especially for first-timers.

Ingredients:

  • 15 medium to large strawberries
  • 2 cups of dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips

Additional Supplies:

  • microwave safe mugs
  • parchment paper
  • 1 piping bag with #2 tip

Instructions:

  1. Microwave the chocolate chips inside of a mug for 30 seconds on high.
  2. Dip strawberry into melted chocolate
  3. Let excess chocolate drip back into the mug
  4. Place on parchment paper, allow strawberries to dry for 10-20 minutes
  5. Microwave white chocolate chips in a mug for 20 seconds and stir
  6. Pour melted white chocolate into piping bag
  7. Pipe the laces onto the strawberry
  8. Chill and serve

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 Cheesesteak Dip

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Spinach Dip is a classic. No one is saying to completely replace it, per se, but it's always nice to provide some diversification for your taste buds. And in this case diversity means translating a Philadelphia classic sandwich into a dip with top sirloin and four different types of cheese. When in the history of mankind has adding more cheese been a bad idea?

Ingredients:

  • 8-12 oz. of sliced rib eye or top round
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 stick of cream cheese
  • 1 cup of mixed shredded cheese (we used white cheddar, provolone, pepper jack)
  • 3 tablespoons of whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons of chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking oil
  • sliced bread of choice

Instructions:

  1. Cut sliced steak into bite sized pieces or smaller
  2. Fire a large skillet with the cooking oil on medium heat. Add the chopped steak until cooked to desired doneness.
  3. Sweat onions and peppers in saucepan until browned. Add the steak, cheese, milk and chicken stock.
  4. Stir until cheese fully melts.
  5. Season to taste.
  6. Place in chosen container and serve with sliced bread.

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 On-The-Go Peanut Trophies

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You shouldn't be awarded a trophy for signing up to play a sport. Participation isn't what trophies were created for. But now, we finally have use for these 4-inch cups—as containers to hold delicious peanuts. And as a bonus, only your hands will be touching your snack. We think you're a winner no matter how your team fares, and now you have the trophy to prove it.

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Football Pizza

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Find your favorite pizza recipe. If you're making your dough from scratch, make sure to carve out some extra time to let it rest. If you're using a store-bought dough, we've found them to be convenient, though a bit less malleable for making the football shape. Whoever originally thought of string cheese for the laces, you're a genius.

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Mini Bread Bowls

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Children. Puppies. Bread bowls. What do these things have in common? They're all cuter when they're smaller. Mini bread bowls can also help your wallet, since they're simply holed-out dinner rolls leftover from last night. But don't use the dinner rolls from three weeks ago, that's gross.

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Yellow Napkin Penalty Flags

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There's always a clumsy guy or gal at a party. If you don't think there's one, surprise! it's you. No longer can we allow them to spill drinks and/or accidentally change the channel during crunch-time and get away with it sans consequences. And since party referees are very expensive and completely unnecessary—we have to take this into our own hands, literally. She hits someone in the face with a poorly timed, inside-the-house football throw? Blow the whistle and throw the flag. He stinks up the living room as soon as he takes off his shoes? Blow the whistle and throw the flag. Let the party know what they've done.

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Chocolate Caramel Football Pretzels

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Football pretzels aren't the easiest to find, but as with almost anything, enough searching the Internet can usually take you to the promised land. But the pretzels themselves aren't enough. When you place chocolate caramels on top, slightly melt them to soften, then finish with another football pretzel, you've got a mighty fine, sweet snack sandwich. Don't stick the pretzels in the oven for too long though, or they'll get a bit too gooey and messy.

Ingredients:

  • football pretzels
  • chocolate caramels

Instructions:

  • Place football pretzels on baking sheet
  • Place 1 chocolate caramel atop each football pretzel
  • Bake at 300-350 degrees until chocolate caramels start to soften
  • Remove the pretzels from the oven and top with an additional football pretzel

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 Bell Pepper Dip Bowls

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The game's about to start. You're fresh out of bowls and your friends are clamoring for MORE DIP. When the stakes are high, bell peppers come to the rescue. To add some color to the table: cut the top off the pepper, hole out the inside and voila, instant bowl for your dipping pursuits. We found that the wider the bell pepper the more functional.

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Game Day Eating Playbook

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You have to remember that people only have so much room in their stomachs. And with all of these upgrades, you're going to have to give your guests a game plan on how exactly to consume the spread. Sure, you could create a handwritten menu, but we prefer executing a strategy with Xs and Os. Obviously, we take food seriously. Bring your A game.

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Nacho Bar

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The only thing better than nachos are nachos you can customize yourself. Put the power into the people's hands, and they will love you for it. We found that aluminum foil worked really well for a single batch in a toaster oven or for multiple servings in your standard oven, so you don't have to dirty all your baking sheets. You can easily find over a dozen different toppings just by walking through your local grocery store, which translates into thousands of delicious combinations.

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Blue Cheese Ranch

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No one in our office understands how our entire team has never seen this idea executed before. "Ranch or Blue Cheese?" is the standard question with any buffalo wing order, yet why haven't we ever combined the two? Our favorite recipes for both have a base of sour cream, buttermilk and mayonnaise—so it became an even bigger no-brainer to integrate them together. Find your favorite ranch dressing and add as much blue cheese or gorgonzola to achieve the perfect taste.

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Football Bread Dip

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Just when you thought that dips couldn't be upgraded anymore, here we are showcasing the grand dip finale. The football bread is easier than it looks, since you can use store-bought-french-bread dough. It does require you to tap into your elementary school art education while molding the dough into the ball shape. We thought the stripes and laces were a nice touch. I'm personally fond of filling the football bread with sriracha-spinach-artichoke dip, but to each their own.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tubes of french loaf dough
  • 1 egg + dabble of milk

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Roll out the first french loaf dough into a rectangular shape. This will serve as the bottom of the bread bowl.
  3. Form the 2 sides of the football with the remaining (2) tubes of french loaf dough atop the rectangular bottom.
  4. Cut the excess dough on the rectangular bottom that stretches beyond the sides of the football.
  5. Roll this dough to create the stripes and laces.
  6. The stripes are simply long, rectangular strips of dough placed atop the football.
  7. For the laces, make an extremely thin strip and top with smaller, thicker strips perpendicular to the thin strip, like football laces.
  8. Place the laces separately on the baking sheet, but next to the football.
  9. Brush egg wash onto the football.
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until crust starts to brown. Laces may needed to be taken out earlier.
  11. Fill inside of football with favorite dip, top with laces.

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Marshmallow Cereal Treat Football

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We knew once we found that football pans existed, we had to do something with them. Our best option was this cocoa marshmallow cereal treat football. In the midst of constantly using your oven and range for big game entertaining, it can be nice to prepare a dessert that needs neither. All you need are some pantry supplies, a mixing bowl, refrigeration time and white fondant for the laces and stripes. Even without much baking experience, we found that using fondant was easier than expected and took the presentation up a few notches.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of cocoa crispy rice cereal
  • 1 standard bag of regular marshmallows
  • half stick of butter
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • white fondant

Additional Supplies:

  • football pan

Instructions:

  1. Melt marshmallows and butter in the microwave for a little under a minute. Make sure they don't brown.
  2. Stir in cocoa powder.
  3. Add cocoa rice cereal to mixture, mix well with hands.
  4. Pack into football pan.
  5. Cool in fridge for one hour.
  6. Roll white fondant out. Cut into strips to decorate.

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Planters Peanuts. These recipes are not Kraft recipes.