Championship Sunday. The best Sunday of the year. Seriously. Unless the Steelers are in the Super Bowl, I don’t get too invested. Super Bowl Sunday is more about commercials and half-time shows. Non-football people watch the Super Bowl. It all detracts from the game.
Hence, Championship Sunday is a far superior football day. There are not one but two important games and they are typically much more exciting than the big one.
So this is what I was hoping for this Championship Sunday–some fantastic gridiron action and a tasty 1970s dinner! And lucky for me (and Cleve) I got exactly what I wished for.
I chose #51 specifically for the AFC Championship Game. I made New England Clam Chowder because I was rooting for the Pats. It killed me to cheer for Tom Brady & Company, but as a member of Steeler Nation it is my duty to wish nothing but the worst for the Ratbirds (that’s what the Browns Backers call them). And furthermore, I don’t like purple. I just don’t–I don’t look good in it.
I also selected this dinner because winter finally arrived in Baltimore and chowder is good and hearty. A terrific winter meal.
On to my Championship Dinner!
The timeline on this one was pretty easy. Everything could be made ahead of time–only the addition of the clams, milk, and cream had to happen right before serving. So #51 was perfect for this big football day–the soup could be finished at anytime: halftime, between the games, whenever I got bored if a game was a massive blowout, etc.
Oh, and a note before I go on: I tried to lighten this dinner up a bit because I am back on Weight Watchers. I stopped going to meetings in September and, well, let’s just say that between DiS! and the holidays I woke up one day and none of my pants fit. And then I threw a fit. It was not pretty.
So please bear with me–the dinners will still be prepared as close to the originals as possible, with minimal tweaks. I will be calculating the WW points for everything. Let me know in the comments if you’re interested in those.
But for now let’s forget about that–I baked Cheese-Beer Bread!
For #51’s Cheddar Cheese Bread I modified a Basic Beer-Cheese Bread recipe from Cooking Light magazine. This is my version:
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3 cups all-purpose-flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup reduced-fat cheddar-jack shredded cheese
- 1 (12-ounce) bottle MGD 64 (or as I call it, Baby Beer).
- Cooking spray
- 2 tablespoons melted margarine
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion to pan. Brown. Stir in pepper and garlic.
- Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Add onion mixture, cheese, and beer to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. I used my mixer because, well, I could.
- Spoon batter into a loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Drizzle 1 tablespoon margarine over batter. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon margarine over batter. Bake an additional 25 minutes or until deep golden brown and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on rack.
I added about 8 more minutes on the baking time to get the top a nice, buttery, golden brown. But dude, that’s a damn fine loaf of bread right there!
Also earlier in the day I cracked open the cans of apricots and peaches and prepared all of the vegetables for the Chef’s Salad. For the salad I used cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives, 1 chopped egg, green pepper, green onion, 2 oz sliced turkey breast lunch meat, fat-free shredded cheddar cheese, and fat-free 1000 Island Dressing.
I like it when my salads look like rainbows. I also like it when I have enough for lunch the next day. Which I did. This made 3 servings. 1 of which I will be enjoying today in the lunch room.
As for the chowder, I assembled everything up until the last steps. I followed the directions for #51 but used two 10 oz cans of baby clams (not minced–baby’s what they had on sale) and 1/4 turkey bacon instead of salt pork. I swapped the pork for the sake of fat/calories–not because they don’t have it at the Safeway. Believe me, they are lousy with salt pork at the Safeway.
So I diced the bacon, browned it. Diced the onions, cooked them. Cubed the potatoes, added them to the pot with 1 cup of water. 1 cup of water was nowhere near enough water to cover the potatoes so I added another cup. And I also added 2 bay leafs. It just seemed like the chowder needed bay leaf.
I simmered the potatoes until they were soft and then shut off the heat. I then sat my ass on the couch with a baby beer and watched some Ravens versus Pats action.
So fast forward to the bit of time between the AFC and NFC games: I assembled the salad, sliced the cheesy bread and stirred in the milk, clams, and cream (I subbed fat-free evaporated milk for the cream) to finish the soup. The chowder was rather thin once I added the canned clams and the diary so I let the pot simmer ever so slightly to thicken it up. Probably an extra 15 minutes or so. Also, I added a healthy dose of Old Bay. That’s my nod to you, Baltimore.
Dinner is Served!
The day’s results:
Baltimore Ravens 20
New England Patriots 23
This was a great game. The Pats won, but it really didn’t matter who won: we all won because it was so exciting. I love it when a game like that goes down to the wire. And both teams (as a whole) played really well. Neither team made a poor showing. But I hope that they keep prescription medications and sharp objects from Billy Cundiff. I’d hate to be him today. I already heard one guy on the radio blame everything from world hunger to Kim Kardashian’s failed wedding on this poor dude. Right now my co-workers are tearing him a new one. Yeowch.
New York Giants 20
San Francisco 49ers 17
This was another nail-biter. And went into OT with all of their newfangled rules about possessions and whether or not you can score on a field goal, yadda yadda yadda. So the NFC Championship was a good game and the weather was so San Francisco with the mist and the fog and the water droplets on the camera. Cleve joked that it looked like Eli Manning was throwing passes in heaven. Which of course reminded me of this:
Ah, Grease 2! Also (and this is hilarious) when I put in a Google image search for “grease 2 turn back the hands of time” this popped up on the first page:
During the NFC game I pulled for the Giants because during the last week of the season I said that the Giants were going all the way to the Super Bowl. Cleve was all “pish-posh, silly girl.” But look at ‘em–on their way to Indianapolis. Yay to me and my football prognosticating skills! I really wish I had put some money on that. I don’t think people were betting on them to get it done. So I was happy that they won. But not as happy as if I had won some cash.
Ah, but how was the food?
The Clam Chowder: Like an awesome quarterback sack. A highlight, but not the turning point of the game. It wasn’t as thick as I would’ve liked, but for a reduced-fat version it was definitely chowdery and definitely clammy.
The Chef Salad: Like Joe Flacco. Solid, but unspectacular. Got the job done. Not appreciated by Baltimoreans.
The Cheddar Cheese Bread: The Full Bundy (4 touchdowns in one game). Shit, this bread was outrageous. Reminiscent of Red Lobster Cheddar Bay biscuits –but, you know, not 500 calories a pop. Aside from the awesome football, this loaf made my entire goddamned day.
The Apricots and Pears: I want to compare it to Bill Belichick’s sweatshirt because it’s just lazy. But canned fruit isn’t offensive (as is Belichick’s sartorial nod to Flashdance), and I didn’t even eat any of the apricots and pears. Since I can’t think of a clever comparison I’ll just put in this photo, without commentary:
But please, feel free to add your own.
So another Championship Sunday has come and gone.
Now I’m looking forward to the David-Tyree-Caught-The-Ball-With-His-Head Super Bowl rematch. I don’t think that I’ll be cooking for the Super Bowl (I wanna let someone else do the cooking), but I think I may just have to do a Hawaiian-themed dinner for the Pro Bowl next weekend. I have something in mind. I’m feeling a little pineappleish.