Easy & Quick Super Bowl Snacks

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Football is big in my family. My dad played through college and my younger brother currently plays in college. Shockingly, this doesn't mean I understand the game. What I do understand, however, is the importance of Super Bowl Sunday.  Every year growing up we would go to my neighbor's house for a different theme...build your own tacos, loaded baked potato bar, etc. I associate Super Bowl Sunday with good food, good friends & family, good commercials, and good football (at least I think good football). 

Last year, we did a bunch of appetizers on Super Bowl Sunday and I love that it's an excuse to make things loaded with melty cheese. This year we're doing the same (and I'm excited to test out a few new recipes you all might be seeing on the blog soon) and wanted to highlight two of my favorite, easiest, and quickest appetizers: Warm Cheddar Ale Dip and my Three Ingredient Baked Brie.

The Warm Cheddar Ale Dip is more famously known as simply "beer cheese" among our friends, because these are the 2 key ingredients. With a nice loaf of fresh bread, it's an indulgent treat. My Three-Ingredient Baked Brie is as simple as it sounds, and the flaky, buttery crust of the phyllo dough makes the perfect crunching noise as you cut into the gooey cheese beneath. Both of these are extremely simple to make and big crowd-pleasers. They take minimal prep and can be done before everyone arrives and kept warm, so you can focus on the game (or the commercials). 

Looking for the recipes?

Click each photo below to take you to the recipe page for each dish!


Homemade Baileys Irish Cream

 Homemade Bailey's Irish Cream is super easy and delicious! | themillennialmenu.com

People go crazy for my mom's Homemade Baileys Irish Cream recipe, and I've recently started making it for people and they can't get enough. Around the holidays, we've always got a bottle in our fridge. It's perfect for a nice cold glass cozied up on the couch catching up on your favorite show, for entertaining friends at a holiday party, or as a delicious gift.

When people ask what's in it, I basically just answer "sugar + whiskey" which is basically true. And cream. Three things that are all pretty amazing separately, and are even better when whisked together into a bottle of this creamy, sweet, indulgent treat. It's a really flexible recipe that you can't mess up - while the ingredients are all important to bring the flavor together, a little bit more or less instant coffee or hot chocolate powder won't make or break the thing...and a little bit MORE (or less, I guess) whiskey definitely isn't a problem, either. I hate to say this but - I don't use the nicest whiskey for this. I think if you did, it wouldn't be a bad thing, you just don't have to. I like nice whiskey in my cocktails, but since this drink is paired with indulgent cream and sweetened condensed milk, the alcohol itself isn't even the star of the show - it's the combination of the flavors that makes the drink. That means it's okay to get a cheaper option - no one will know, or care, especially when the whiskey does start to hit them!

I love that this recipe takes 10 minutes or less to come together, and it's a great treat to bring to holiday parties or to give as a gift to really impress people. My mom has found some beautiful recloseable bottles at the dollar store to serve hers in, but I've used Acqua Panna bottles that I've cleaned the labels off of. They look nice tied up with red ribbon and a recipe label. Or, like me, you can just make a few batches to keep in your fridge for those cold December nights.



Homemade Baileys Irish Cream

Makes about 2 liters (or 8 cups)
Prep time: 7 minutes
Cook time: 3 minutes (to boil water - microwave is probably fastest!)
Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee
  • 2 teaspoons hot chocolate mix
  • 2 tablespoons boiling hot water
  • 2 cups half & half (or non-dairy creamer)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 6 shots whiskey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
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Dietary Substitutions:
Gluten Free
Vegetarian Friendly
Dairy-free/vegan: Use non-dairy creamer and sweetened condensed coconut milk. Make sure to choose a vegan hot chocolate mix.

Directions

1. Dissolve 2 teaspoons hot chocolate mix and 2 teaspoons instant coffee in 2 tablespoons boiling hot water.
2. Mix in 2 cups half & half, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 6 shots of whiskey, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Whisk well to combine. Store in the fridge to cool before serving.

Yum.


Storing & Extra Ingredients

STORING - Homemade Baileys should be stored in the fridge. If stored properly, the Baileys can probably last up to a month (although I doubt you'll wait that long to finish the bottle!) - it might need to be shaken before serving again.

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - You'll likely have some extra half & half, which can be used in just about any recipe that calls for milk or cream with slightly different results. I used my extra half & half in a homemade mac & cheese recipe (coming soon!) and it came out great. Hopefully you can come up with some ideas for that extra whiskey, my favorite is a Classic Whiskey Sour (with an egg white!) I save up any extra hot chocolate mix or instant coffee for another batch of Baileys, because once you try this, you'll definitely want more!


Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes

 Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes is the easiest Thanksgiving recipe on your to-do list this year! Just one pot and only 12 minutes to cook these potatoes. Milk, butter, cream cheese....delicious! | themillennialmenu.com

Thanksgiving is my favorite meal of the year, and one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is the side dishes. I think I would be okay if there was no turkey, but I couldn't live without the mashed potatoes or stuffing (or my super easy homemade cranberry sauce recipe!). My mom's homemade mashed potatoes are almost exclusively served on holidays, so I knew I needed to honor her when making my own Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes for Friendsgiving this year. 

Enter: my beloved Instant Pot. I have adjusted to using my Instant Pot for so many staple things in my kitchen over the past year or two, from steel cut oats to hard boiled eggs to risotto to mac and cheese. I knew it could stand the test of mashed potatoes, and I was right.

The best thing about this recipe is it's all in one pot for easy cleanup. I steamed the potatoes in the pot (in ONLY 12 minutes!), mashed them back in there, and added all of the extras (um, hello butter) to stir together. The Instant Pot even keeps them warm for me until ready to serve - another perk of the all-in-one-pot method is the Instant Pot will keep your mashed potatoes at a consistent temperature, so you can make them early in the morning and have one less thing to worry about once the big day prep really gets into full swing.

There is one thing you need to know before making this recipe - you can't try to make mashed potatoes healthy. You just can't. They're best with A LOT of butter, with milk (or hey - even heavy cream), a good amount of salt, and finally, my mom's secret ingredient - cream cheese. It adds just the right of smooth, creamy tang to the potatoes. Thanksgiving is not the day to cut back on any of this goodness.

The other thing you need to know is your options for the mashing step. You have three options: a potato ricer, a potato masher, or your biceps + a wooden spoon. Here's how they differ:

1. A potato ricer is my mashed potato method of choice. I own this mostly for making homemade gnocchi (yum) but it also results in the absolute fluffiest mashed potatoes ever - with very little effort. The potatoes go into the ricer and it's super easy to squeeze them through the ricer easily. This method will lead to the smoothest mashed potatoes.

2. A potato masher is probably the most traditional method that most people use. This result is probably medium difficulty to achieve - the masher makes it easier than using a spoon and your arm, but isn't quite as easy as the potato ricer. This method will lead to potatoes that are slightly lumpy but still overall smooth.

3. Your biceps and a spoon - for the toughest among us. If you've got a sturdy spoon and some muscle power, you can make mashed potatoes by hand. This step requires the most effort and will lead to the most lumpy mashed potatoes - but some people absolutely love this texture, and if you're willing to put in the work, the taste is phenomenal with any method.

If you don't have an Instant Pot yetThe Instant Pot is always one of the best (and most popular) Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals - so if you're feeling like you absolutely need one of these in your life (you're right, you do) - keep your eye out for those deals coming up soon! In the meantime, you can boil your potatoes on the stove (which will take longer) and follow the same recipe. Keep them warm in a crock pot or in an oven-safe dish on low in the oven.

 



Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes

Makes about 10-15 servings
Other recipes with these ingredients: Cream cheese: Tortellini Soup with Spinach & Mushroom
Prep time: 15 minutes (10 minutes before, 5 minutes after)
Cook time: 20 minutes (12 in the Instant Pot + coming to pressure)
Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs Russet potatoes
  • 1/2 block cream cheese, cubed
  • 1 stick butter (yes, you read that right)
  • 1-2 cups milk, to taste
  • Salt, to taste




Dietary Substitutions:
Gluten Free
Vegetarian Friendly
Dairy-free/Vegan: Substitute dairy-free milk or use chicken broth instead.

Directions

PEEL & BOIL THE POTATOES
1. Peel 5 lbs. of russet potatoes and add them to the Instant Pot. 
2. Add 8 cups water on top of the potatoes in the Instant Pot and cook for 10 minutes on the "Steam" function.
3. When the potatoes are done, release the steam immediately and drain the water from the pot. 

MAKE THEM MASHED!
4. Time to mash the potatoes! Your options for this are a potato masher, a potato ricer (my personal choice) or a wooden spoon + a really strong arm. See descriptions of each method above.
5. Add 1 stick's worth of butter tabs, 1-2 cups milk (depending on your preference), 1/2 cup cream cheese cubes, and salt to taste.
6. Stir well to incorporate. Add any extra of the above ingredients - you can't ever have too much, and it's all about what your taste is! If making ahead of time, keep warm in the Instant Pot using the "warming" feature.


Storing & Extra Ingredients

STORING - The best thing about mashed potatoes is that they're the perfect thing to make ahead early in the morning and leave in your Instant Pot (or crock pot) all day to keep warm before dinner. Leftovers will last up to a week in an airtight container in the fridge. I've also read about freezing mashed potatoes - which I've never done but I trust it and think you should try it and let me know! 

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - This recipe will leave you with extra milk and cream cheese, which I'm sure you can find something to do with - if you need ideas, use up that cream cheese by making my Tortellini Soup with Spinach & Mushroom (it's the secret ingredient!).



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The Ultimate Store-Bought Frosting Hack

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To celebrate 1 year of blogging (Happy Blog Birthday...Blogday? to me!), I wanted to make a special treat. I went with cupcakes. Cupcakes were one of my first foodie obsessions back in high school. The search for the perfect cupcake in whatever new city I encountered has since expanded to the search for the best, the cheapest, the local specialty in any city I'm in.

Back to cupcakes. My mom is the queen of baked goods, and she is known for whipping up a batch of brownies, 7 layer bars, fruit pizza within 30 minutes of you telling her you're going somewhere. One of her baked good hacks is to revamp a jar of store-bought frosting to make entirely not-from-scratch cakes and cupcakes taste like she spent hours making them. Sorry to break the news to my third grade class, but we didn't make those birthday cupcakes homemade.

The secret is a tub of whipped topping, more popularly known as Cool Whip. At its heart, the recipe is equal parts whipped topping to equal parts frosting. This usually just boils down to a tub of whipped topping + a tub of frosting = me eating it with a spoon. The ratio can be whatever you want, but the whipped topping lightens up the frosting which can sometimes taste overly sweet and dense into something fluffy, creamy, and light. People couldn't believe it wasn't homemade.

I got all of my ingredients (the boxed mix, the frosting, and the whipped topping) at my absolute favorite store, Aldi. Within a few weeks, I will be obsessing over how much I love Aldi in a post here on the blog (Subscribe to the blog to be the first to read it!) I went with my favorite combo - chocolate frosting on vanilla cake (a classic) but you can really take this in any direction. There is a ridiculous variety of frosting and cake mixes in this world. Some suggestions for what to add a tub of whipped topping to? Dark chocolate frosting & well...just about anything. Cream cheese frosting & carrot cake mix. Strawberry frosting & chocolate cake to make a chocolate covered strawberry inspired creation. With the whipped topping, you can even substitute sugar free or light versions if you want to lighten things up a bit. My mom insists that sugar free is better than normal Cool Whip, but I still don't buy that anything sugar free can be better than the real thing. 



The Ultimate Store-Bought Frosting Hack

Makes 24 frosted cupcakes
Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time:  20 minutes
Total Time:  30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 box cake mix (note: usually requires eggs, oil, and water in addition to the box mix)
  • 1 jar frosting
  • 1 tub of whipped topping (like Cool Whip)

Directions:

1. Follow the directions on the cake box to make your cake/cupcakes. Bake!
2. Mix together 1 jar of frosting with 1 tub of whipped topping.
3. Frost! 

Yum.

 All from my favorite store, Aldi! 

All from my favorite store, Aldi! 


Storing & Extra Ingredients

STORING - Store in an airtight container in the fridge (due to the whipped topping). Cupcakes will last about a week...if you don't eat them all first, that is.

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - If you have extra whipped topping, my recipe for Fruit Pizza is always a big hit. When I was little, I LOVED refrigerated chocolate frosting because it basically became fudge. So do that. The end.


Warm Cheddar Ale Dip Recipe

 Warm Cheddar Ale Dip is the perfect crowd pleaser this Superbowl! Cheesy, gooey, delicious - and EASY! | themillennialmenu.com

The Superbowl is coming up (Here in Boston we're pretty excited about the Patriots!) and it's time to share one of my most popular recipes among friends: my Warm Cheddar Ale Dip recipe. Most of my friends who read this might not even recognize it by this name because to us, it's simply known as "beer cheese." Beer cheese is legendary and has gotten us through many fun nights.

My beer cheese recipe has seen it all - spending the night in a cabin with two dozen friends became a tradition senior year of college, and I've hiked in beer cheese up a mountain or through a trail in the pitch black an absurd number of times. The first time, I made it beforehand and carried it still warm...uphill...in the dark. The next time I learned to make it when we got there but either way, the pot was always empty when we left. I'm excited to share it with you today because it is one of my more sentimental recipes, associated with s'mores and campfires and the great outdoors and also semi-formals when we'd have friends over beforehand (because why not eat gooey cheesy beer dip in a nice dress?). And, it's here just in time for an epic Superbowl party - because beer and football simply go together.

The secret is using high quality ingredients since there are so few in the recipe in the first place - sharp Cabot Cheddar cheese, a solid ale (I went to college right along the border of VT and NH so I'm a fan of Switchback or a seasonal Harpoon option. Whatever you choose to dip in it (some have been known to eat it with a spoon), be sure it's high quality. I recommend a crusty baguette or loaf of fresh sourdough bread. Say hello to your biggest crowd pleaser.


Warm Cheddar Ale Dip

Depending on who you are (and who you're friends with), this can serve 8-10 people.
It makes about 3 cups of beer cheese.

Other Recipes With These Ingredients: Beer: You know what to do here // Cabot cheese: Grilled cheese.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups shredded Cabot cheddar cheese (depending on how thick you want your dip to be)
  • 1 - 12 oz. bottle of beer (an ale works best, or a lager)
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard (optional)
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 loaves of good bread (like sourdough) or 2 baguettes




Dietary Substitutions:
Vegetarian Friendly
Not Gluten Free, Vegan, or Dairy Free Friendly

Directions:

BEFORE YOU START: SHRED YOUR CHEESE & SLICE THE BREAD
1. Shred 2-3 cups of Cabot cheddar cheese
2. Slice your bread/baguettes into slices or chunks for dipping.

MAKE THE DIP
3.  Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan. 
4. Whisk in the 3 tablespoons flour and 1 teaspoon ground mustard (if you're adding it).
5. Season with ground black pepper, if you'd like.
6. Once the flour & butter mixture starts to bubble, pour in 1 12-oz. bottle of beer and whisk for 1 minute.
7. Slowly add the 2-3 cups Cabot Cheddar cheese, whisking as you go. Add as much as you want until the dip is the consistency you want.
8. Let the dip heat through, whisking frequently, 3-5 minutes.

SERVE & ENJOY

8. Serve warm with fresh sliced bread.

Yum.


Extra Ingredients

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - Drink the beer. Make grilled cheese with the Cabot cheddar. The end.