Game Day Recipes

Super Game Day Recipes

Watching a great football game is a super excuse to forget about the diet and just enjoy. Plus, it’s fun to cook the foods fans love; classic, easy to eat, flavorful food with crunch and zing. Make it simple and score big by using the following mix of store-bought and homemade dishes for game day. And, check out this list of easy tips to make your party a success!


Toasted Fontina and Onion Jam Panini
Reuben Roll Ups
Chicken and Black Bean Quesadillas
Super Spiced Cider

Store-Bought Shortcuts

From Heinen’s Refrigerated Cases:

  • Heinen’s Buffalo Chicken Dip paired with Chicken in a Biskit Crackers
  • Heinen’s Artichoke Dip paired with Sea Salt Bagel Chips
  • Heinen’s Onion Dip paired with Kettle Fried Potato Chips
  • Prepared Salsa Dip and Guacamole paired with Xochitl corn chips
  • Hummus with Crispy Pita Chips
  • Heinen’s Vegetable Tray

From Heinen’s Prepared Foods Department:

  • Heinen’s Buffalo Chicken Wings paired with Ranch Dressing and celery sticks
  • Heinen’s Appetizer Meatballs served warm in a crock pot with toothpicks
  • Heinen’s Pulled Pork served warm in a crock pot and served on slider rolls or dinner rolls
  • Heinen’s prepared sandwiches thinly sliced down into individual bite-sized portions

Toasted Fontina and Onion Jam Panini

Start to finish: 1 hour
Hands on time: 45 minutes

Savory little buttery rounds made with cheese and melted onions are a year round favorite. Men seem to love these hearty little sandwiches, but women gobble them up just as fast. Have the bakery slice the baguette for you. It will save you time and the slices will be neater.

Makes about 28 depending on how the bread is sliced

1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 pounds red onions, peeled, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 baguettes, sliced into about 56 slices
1/2 cup butter, softened
Salt and pepper as desired
2 cups grated Fontina cheese

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter. When it has melted, add the onions, sugar, salt, thyme and black pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring the onions until they become soft then turn the heat to low and cook the onions slowly stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes or until the onions are very soft and browned. Add the balsamic vinegar and turn the heat back to medium high. Cook the onions until the vinegar has evaporated, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Butter the baguette slices and lay them buttered side down on a work surface. Spread some of the onion jam on the unbuttered side of half the baguettes and salt and pepper it if desired. Top the onion jam with about 1 tablespoon of the grated Fontina cheese. Top the cheese with a baguette slice, buttered side up.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Arrange 4 or 5 rounds in the hot surface and lay another smaller heavy skillet that fits inside of the one your are cooking in to weigh down the sandwiches slightly. It should take about 2 minutes to cook the first side. Turn them over and cook the other side until brown, about 1or 2 minutes.

Arrange the cooked panini on a platter. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Make-ahead: The onions can be prepared a day ahead and kept refrigerated. The panini can be assembled and cooked a few hours in advance, arranged on a baking sheet and reheated at 350° F for 5 minutes. Good served warm or room temperature.

Download recipe .pdf

Crispy Rueben Roll-ups

Start to finish: 45 minutes
Hands on time: 30 minutes

Perfect for game day, this tangy, cheesy sandwich packaged in a new wrapper is sure to please.

Makes 36 pieces

1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus extra for coating tortillas
1/2 pound (1 cup) rinsed and drained sauerkraut
4 large lavash or 6 flour tortillas
1 1/2 cups grated Swiss cheese
3/4 pound pastrami, sliced thin

Preheat oven to 400° F.

In sauté pan, sauté the onions in 1 tablespoon oil for about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add the drained sauerkraut and cook for another 2 minutes.

Lay the lavash out on a large work surface. Spread each lavash with 1/4 of the cheese. Lay a few slices of the pastrami down the center and spread the remaining sauerkraut mixture over the pastrami.

Starting at an end that is crosswise to the pastrami strip, roll the lavash up jelly roll style, so that the pastrami/sauerkraut runs down the length of the middle. Lightly brush the rolls with vegetable oil. Place on a large baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned on the outside and melted on the inside. Cut each roll on the diagonal into 10 pieces (or 6 if using the smaller tortillas) and skewer with a toothpick. Serve with Russian Dressing for dipping.

Russian Dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup minced scallions
2 tablespoons drained chopped capers

Mix all ingredients together well, and chill until needed.

Make-ahead: Roll ups can be assembled 2 hours before serving. Can be baked and held covered in a warm (150°F) oven for 1 hour. Good served warm or room temperature.

Download recipe .pdf

Chicken and Black Bean Quesadillas

Whether you make these quesadillas ahead of time or have your guests assemble their own when they arrive, this snack is easy and fast, leaving you with lots of time to socialize.

Serves 6-8

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken (buy shredded rotisserie chicken in the cold case)
5 ounces Jalapeno Monterey Jack cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
One 15 oz can of Heinen’s black beans, rinsed and drained
Purchased salsa of your choice
Salt to taste
8 large flour tortillas
Vegetable oil

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat and when hot, add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and salt and pepper and cook another minute or until fragrant. Transfer the onion to a large bowl and toss with the chicken and cheese.

Combine the black beans and about 1/4 cup salsa in a food processor and pulse a few times to mix it up or mash it with a fork. It should still be a little chunky. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary

To assemble the quesadillas, spread the black beans onto 4 tortillas and top with the chicken mixture and remaining tortillas. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a tablespoon or so of oil to the pan. Add a quesadilla to the pan and cook on each side for about 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Flip carefully, pressing down on the top with your other hand. Transfer to a cutting board to cool slightly before cutting into 8 wedges. Repeat with the remaining quesadillas adding more oil to the pan as necessary.

Make-ahead: The quesadillas can be assembled 8 hours ahead of time and kept covered in the refrigerator. Once cooked they can be kept covered in a warm, 150°F oven for one hour. Slice right before serving.

Download recipe .pdf

Super Spiced Cider

Most will want a beer, but it’s always a good idea to have something festive for the kids and non- drinkers to make them feel like they are at a party as well. For those who’d like to make this drink more “festive,” provide apple brandy or Calvados on the side.

Makes 8 cups

2 large oranges
2 quarts apple cider
1 vanilla bean, split
2 tablespoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger
3 cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Orange peel and cinnamon sticks as garnish if desired

Peel the zest from the oranges using a vegetable peeler then cut the oranges in half and squeeze them. In a large pot combine the juice and orange peel with the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Simmer for 5 minutes then reduce the heat and keep warm.

Ladle into mugs and garnish with the orange peel and cinnamon sticks if using.

Variation: For a sturdier version add up to 1 ounce of apple brandy or Calvados to each mug of cider.

Download recipe .pdf

Carla has spent the past 30 years in the food world as a caterer, artisan baker, cooking school teacher, food writer and author of 6 cook books including the James Beard nominated Big Book of Appetizers. Her passion is sharing fresh, cooked-from-scratch weeknight meals that cut prep time and practically eliminate that nightly sinkful of dishes. Look for Carla on Facebook, Twitter (carlacooks), Pinterest and at where she blogs about everything from cooking for two to easy weekend entertaining for a crowd.

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