Election Day snacks: Pizza, wings, a good drink

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 3, 2015

By Deirdre Parker Smith


Today is the big day when we go out and vote for our town councils, our boards of alderpersons, our local leaders. It’s important to vote in local elections. Those are the people who set your tax rate, determine your garbage collection, you water and sewer rates.

While you’re waiting for results, or while you’re ignoring the whole thing (shame on you!), here are some easy snacks to prepare.

We were going to make a lot of jokes about mixed nuts and hot air popcorn, whine and cheese, but we’ll be good.

A drink to start?

If you want something non-alcoholic that will quench your thirst while awaiting results, try this simple concoction.

1 package frozen blueberries. Do not thaw.

Cranberry juice

Tonic water or club soda

Chill the juice and tonic water or soda well. Pour half juice, half tonic or club soda into a wine glass. Add frozen blueberries — red, white and blue.

If you feel the need for a little alcohol, substitute white wine for the sparkling soda. Or substitute vodka for the wine.

If beer is more to your taste, try a shandy, which is a drink of beer mixed with lemonade, ginger ale or ginger beer.

But if you need something stronger because your candidate didn’t win, try a lager and hard cider for a Snakebite. You’ll need a half pint each of beer — a lager or stout — and hard cider. Pour the cider in first, then the beer.

Please drink responsibly and be sure to fill up on these snacks, too.

An easy way to start is by putting out plenty of tortilla chips and bowls of salsa — mild, medium and hot. Try  a green salsa made with tomatillos and lime juice. The salty chips go well with drinks.

Set out a cheeseball or two or three.

From Taste of Home, a cheese ball with three variations

2 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 garlic cloves, minced

Pine Nut-Pesto Cheese Ball

2 Tbsp. prepared pest

2 Tbsp. minced fresh basil

2 Tbsp. plus 1/2 cup pine nuts

Horseradish-Bacon Cheese Ball

2 Tbsp. prepared horseradish

1/2 cup crumbled bacon

1 green onion, finely chopped

Salsa cheese ball

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1/8 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro

1 Tbsp. finely chopped onion

1 Tbsp. minced, seeded jalepeno pepper

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, Parmesan cheese and garlic until blended. Divide into three portions

For Pine Nut Pesto, In a small bowl, beat one portion of cream cheese mixture and pesto until blended. Stir in basil, chop 2 tablespoons pine nuts, stir into cheese. Shape into ball, roll in remaining pine nuts. Wrap in plastic wrap; chill until firm.

Editor’s note: Pine nuts are pricey, and almonds or walnuts make a good substitute.

For horseradish bacon: In a small bowl, beat one portion of cream cheese mixture and horseradish until well blended. Stir in bacon and onion. Wrap in plastic. Chill until firm.

For salsa, in a small bowl, beat one portion of cheese mixture, tomato paste and salt until blended. Stir in cilantro, onion and jalepeno. Shape into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap, chill until firm.

Make chicken wings without the mess of hot oil and serve with blue cheese or ranch dressing

Easy Oven-baked Chicken Wings

10 chicken wings

1/3 cup flour

1 Tbsp. paprika (hot, sweet or smoked)

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (or more)

3 Tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Dry chicken wings well with paper towels.

Combine flour and seasonings in a plastic bag and shake to mix ingredients. Add wings and shake some more.

Line a large baking sheet with foil and melt butter in oven on baking sheet. Add wings to pan and turn in butter to coat.

Bake for 30 minutes, then turn wings over and bake for 15 minutes more or until crispy and done.

Another way to cook is to place coated wings on a rack over the sheet pan, spray wings with olive oil or cooking spray and bake, turning once. The rack will allow the wings to crisp in the oven and cut down on fat.

Pita Pizzas

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

6 pita breads

1 1/2 best jarred marinara sauce

Selection of cheeses, meats and veggies

Put the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Place pita breads on two large baking sheets (do this after the wings, so the oven is still hot). Spread about a quarter cup of marinara on each pita and top with grated cheese and desired toppings. Bake about 8 minutes, until cheese melts. Also works well in a toaster oven set on broil.

It’s best to precook toppings such as Italian sausage or ground beef.

Put out mozzarella cheese, cheddar, Monterey jack, cooked chicken, pineapple, olives, pickled jalepenos, banana peppers, mushrooms, onions and bell peppers, etc.

Red Velvet Brownies

At least you’ll get a little more red and white into your meal this way. These are from Sunny Anderson of the Food Network.

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup cocoa powder

Pinch salt

1 Tbsp. red food coloring

1 tsp. vinegar

2 eggs

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

For cream cheese layer:

8 ounces softened cream cheese

1 egg

1/4 cup sugar

1/8 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Butter an 8-by-8-inch baking pan and set aside.

In a saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter. Remove the butter to a large bowl and add the sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, salt, food coloring and vinegar, in that order, mixing between additions. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and stir into the cocoa mix. Fold in the flour until lightly combined. Stir in the nuts, if using, and pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, saving 1/4 cup batter for the top.

For the cream cheese layer. Blend the cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla in a medium bowl. Gently spread the cream cheese over the brownie batter. Dollop the remaining batter over the cream cheese. Using a skewer or the tip of a knife, draw the tip through the cream cheese mixture to make a swirl pattern.

Bake brownies for 30 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before cutting.