“Eating food is my favorite thing in the whole world. Nothing is more blissful,” Australian author Justine Larbalestier once said. Perhaps that is why what’s dished out on the kitchen’s food bar at a game day gathering tends to be just as important as the game itself. Food soothes. It helps the eater work off nervous energy. Mike Barber’s Blender Salsa is perfect for anxiety-busting game noshing. It packs a surprise hit of honey, which Mike says “helps with the heat.”

If you’re cooking, then the secret is to keep it simple, at least that’s the consensus from the recipes we gathered. Petey’s Sweet Turkey Chili, a recipe concocted by Heather Wilson’s husband, is quick to mix up and, after a good simmer, serves a roomful. Mandy Monk’s Game Day Enchiladas use rotisserie chicken so prep is quick and easy. Dana Witt’s Brunswick Stew is a little more involved, but you can make it the day before.

Saints fans may be excited to give Patricia Franklin’s Baked Shrimp a “geaux.” She lives in land-locked Arkansas but when her Louisiana family sends shrimp, she whips up this dish. But better watch the pepper. Even she says her Baked Shrimp can carry a kick.

And for the sweet teeth in the crowd, Anita May’s Peanut Butter Cheese Ball promises to be devoured before halftime.

Quick and Easy Blender Salsa
Mike Barber

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 10-ounce can original Ro-tel tomatoes
  • 1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2-1 jalapeno, seeded (or not if you like spicy)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Small to medium size handful of cilantro, washed
  • Juice of 1 lime

Put all the ingredients in the base of a good blender or food processor and pulse 30 seconds to combine or until all the ingredients are finely chopped and salsa is desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste. Serve with chips or over tacos.


Petey’s Sweet Turkey Chili
Heather L. Wilson

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 28-ounce can of Bush’s Vegetarian Baked Beans
  • 2 16-ounce cans of Bush’s Chili Beans, kidney beans, mild chili sauce
  • 1 16-ounce can of light red kidney beans, drained
  • 1/2 1.75-ounce packet of French’s Original Chili-O Seasoning Mix1 pound ground turkey

Brown ground turkey in a large soup pot. Add the baked beans, chili beans, kidney beans, and chili seasoning, plus 2 ½ to 3 cups water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes to let the flavors combine. Turn off heat and let sit an additional 10-15 minute. This allows the chili to thicken. Add hot sauce for a sweet and spicy kick. Serve with favorite toppings.


Game Day Enchiladas
Mandy Monk

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 whole traditional- or original-flavored rotisserie chickens, shredded
  • 12-ounce package cream cheese
  • 1 packet taco seasonings (about 1 ounce)
  • 1 4.25-ounce can diced black olives
  • 1 16-ounce bag of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 medium-sized can sliced black olives
  • 1 10-ounce can mild Ro-tel tomatoes
  • 10-15 tortillas (either corn or flour)

Preheat over to 350. In a medium saucepan, mix together chicken, cream cheese, a handful of shredded cheese, Rotel, seasoning and diced olives over medium heat until well blended. Fill each tortilla with a spoonful of chicken mixture, roll, and place seam side down in a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Save a little of the chicken mixture to spread over the rolled enchiladas.

Top with remaining shredded cheese and sliced black olives. Bake 25 minutes, until cheese is melted. Top with sour cream or plain Greek yogurt. Serves 10-12.


Brunswick Stew
Dana Whitt

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 celery ribs
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound cooked, shredded pork
  • ¾ cup barbeque sauce
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen lima beans, thawed
  • 1 16-ounce package frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
  • 1 16-ounce package white shoepeg corn, thawed
  • 1 cup mirepoix (diced celery, carrot and onion sautéed in butter)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
  • Hot sauce, to taste

Cut celery, carrots and onion in half; combine vegetables, chicken and next 3 ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 1 hour or until chicken is very tender. Reserve broth. Bone and shred chicken, and set aside.

Pour reserved broth through a wire mesh strainer into a bowl, discarding vegetables. Return broth to stockpot and add remaining ingredients, including shredded chicken. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour or until desired thickness. Remove from heat and discard the bay leaf.


Baked Shrimp
Patti Franklin

INGREDIENTS

  • 4-5 pounds large, headless shrimp
  •  1 pound butter, melted
  •  1 bottle Italian dressing
  •  4-5 tablespoons black pepper, or less to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Combine ingredients and pour into a roaster or Dutch oven. Bake, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes. Shrimp are done when they turn pink.


Peanut Butter Cheese Ball
Anita May

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 8-ounces package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (not all-natural)
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter chips
  • Graham cracker sticks, teddy grahams, and/or apple slices for dipping

Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, peanut butter and brown sugar in large mixer bowl until blended. Spoon onto a large piece of plastic wrap; bring up all four corners and twist tightly forming into a ball shape. Freeze for 1 hour 30 minutes or until firm enough to keep its shape. Place peanut butter chips and chocolate chips in flat dish. Remove plastic wrap from ball and roll ball into morsels to completely cover, pressing morsels into the ball if necessary.

Place ball on serving dish; cover and freeze for 2 hours or until almost firm. (Can be made ahead. If frozen overnight, thaw at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.) Serve with graham cracker sticks, teddy grahams, or apple slices for dipping or spreading.